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This article deals with the use of the term Latino. For the articles about the peoples covered by the term, see Hispanic and Brazilian American.
For the singer known as Latino, see Latino (singer).

Latino (and the form Latina for females), as used in American English, generally refers to an American of Latin American descent, especially Hispanic American heritage.[1] It is a word borrowed from Spanish latino, shortened from latinoamericano. [2]


[edit] Usage in the United States

The term "Latino" refers loosely to any person having Hispanic or Latin American background and is often taken to be a synonym with "Hispanic". However, while official use of the term Hispanic has its origins in the Census Bureau in the 1970s, activists like MECHA, Crusade for Justice, Brown Berets, Black Berets, and the Young Lords often preferred the term Latino because they felt it is more inclusive of the broad range of peoples in Latin America.

Other groups such as the Mexica Movement reject the label entirely and describe it as a racist term that denies indigenous identities. The group states that "Latino" falsely lumps together people of different races merely because they have been colonized by Spanish Europeans. The group states that "Latino" fails to acknowledge that the vast majority of Mexicans and Central Americans are actually of majority indigenous bloodlines, with European ancestry playing a minority DNA role.

However, those of European-Spanish descent, even when born in Latin America, may prefer the term Hispanic. "Latino" is typically contrasted with European American and African American. It is often incorrectly given racial connotations.

The term "Latino" is typically understood by some to mean immigrants from Hispanophone countries in North, Central and South America and their U.S.-born descendants.(This understanding is incomplete.) Brazilians are sometimes categorized as Latinos, and sometimes self-categorize as such. The term refers specifically but not exclusively to Persons of Latin American origin. People from Spain self-categorize as latinos in the Spanish language, but in that case it means "Latin," rather than 'Latin American' or 'US citizen or resident of Latin American origin' (a 'Latin American American', in other words), as the Spanish are one of the Latin peoples of Europe.

The population of Latin America is racially heterogeneous. The most common backgrounds are the European and the mestizo, which a mix of European and Native American. Yet there are people in the region of other ethnic backgrounds such as exclusively Native American, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian, as well as any combination of these and with European. Inhabitants having a background in countries of the Western Hemisphere where other Romance languages are widespread (such as Aruba or Haiti) are usually thought of as "Caribbean" rather than "Latino". This is because they do not speak Spanish nor Portuguese and because they do not share in the Spanish or Portuguese culture. Inhabitants of French Guiana and the French West Indies, for example, are typically thought of as having more in common culturally with their English-speaking Caribbean neighbors than they do with residents of Mexico and Central and South America.

The English language does not distinguish between the male and female genders. This leads many native English speakers to say Latino when referring to a woman. Some see this as incorrect, as the Spanish form "Latino" is male. Some speakers, especially those with knowledge of Spanish, will use the correct Spanish form Latina when referring to a female.

[edit] Usage in the United States (Past and Present)

The Spanish term Latino (for males) or (Latina for females) actually translates to "Latin", 1) Latins - (4)a member of one of the Latin peoples; specifically : a native or inhabitant of Latin America [3] 2) Latin - (4) of or relating to the peoples or countries using Romance languages; specifically : of or relating to the peoples or countries of Latin America [4]. Latinos are speakers of romance languages (Spanish) and by definition are Latins. The Spanish word "Latino" became more common and was used for 'political correctness' to refer to persons of or descendant of Latin America, not to give the impression that Latinos were not Latin, but because most people of Latin America referred to themselves as "Latinos", using their native Spanish language. The terms Latin and Latino are used interchangeably to describe Latinos and their culture, i.e. Latin Jazz, Latin music, The Latin Grammies is an event being held in New York City this year, (2006) in which other "Latins" including Brazilians and Spaniards will participate in. For links of Mayor Bloomberg and others using the Latin and Latino term, click on this [5] and go down to the second video. See Also [6],[7]and[8].

[edit] Analysis and critique of the term (Past and Present)

There has long been debate about the use of the term Latin in the name Latin America and by extension about the term Latino. But the use of the word Latin evokes the geographical and historical, not racial, commonality of Latin American peoples, whereas a racial or linguistic definition might exclude millions of descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, or the descendants of African slaves or of Asian immigrants.

Due to the fact that "Latino" is generally recognized, incorrectly by the average American as a synonym of "Hispanic", some Brazilians (Portuguese speakers), when included under the Latino definition may or may not feel comfortable, but the latter seems to be the most common occurrence. Other non-Spanish speaking people originating from other Latin American countries may feel similarly due to the perceived negation of their language and diverse ethnic heritage by the generalization of the term.

Much like the terms Black, African American, etc., the term Latino (as well as Hispanic) can carry many connotations and implications, many of them emotional and/or politically significant, and is thus impossible to objectively define, perhaps. Generally speaking, however, in the U.S., both terms (Latino and Hispanic) are usually used and understood to describe (roughly) (A) people from predominantly Spanish-speaking countries in the Western Hemisphere: e.g. Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic; and (B) their descendants.

[edit] Related terms

The two terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are not strictly interchangeable. The latter term applies to any Person with origins in any Latin American country, including Brazilian Americans, although as already noted, not all Brazilian Americans accept the designation. "Hispanic", however, applies to Americans with origins in the Latin American countries other than Brazil; i.e., it only applies to Americans with origins in Hispanic America - the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. The Hispanic American countries are cultural descendants of Spain; Brazil is a cultural descendant of Portugal. Generally speaking, when in doubt, "Latino" is the term to go with in reference to anyone with Latin American origin, as it is usually understood to apply to both Hispanics and Brazilian Americans. However, definitions may vary and in colloquial speech this distinction is often not made. In casual conversation, speakers may also be imprecise with their usage of the terms.

[edit] Use in Europe and Latin America

The Spanish adjective latino (feminine: latina) directly translates to English as "Latin". The dictionary of the Real Academia Española defines seven senses for the term, which can refer to Lazio in Italy, the Latin language, any of the world's Romance languages spoken in Europe or America, or speakers of these languages.[9] It is also worth mentioning that in Spanish, these terms are by convention not capitalized as they are in English.

In Spain, Puerto Rico and Cuba, the term latino directly translates into Latin. Spaniards view themselves as being Latins, the same as Italians, Romanians, French, and the Portuguese. The term Latino or Latin does not refer to race.

Most people in Latin America consider "Latino" to be a culture or a lifestyle to some degree, which includes Brazil as well as Spanish-speaking countries in the region (excluding Spain). Many Latin Americans therefore describe themselves as "Latino" whether they are of white, black, Amerindian, Asian, or mixed descent.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

de:Latino es:Latino fr:Latinus it:Latino pl:Latynos pt:Latino fi:Latino


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