MTV’s <em>Decoded</em> asks, “Are Hispanics white?”


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/06/mtvs-decoded-asks.html


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#2

Most Hispanics HAVE European ancestry. Why do you think they speak Spanish and Portuguese, etc.

Having been to Mexico a few times, Mexicans run a gamut of heritage and colors, from the lighter “would pass for a European” to the dark red-brown of the more direct Native South and Central American decent (who seem to have more of the manual jobs, I noticed), and everything in between. It is rather a fools errand to classify them as a race (well more so than usual, as so many people don’t neatly “fit”). It is more of a geographic or possibly cultural grouping.


#3

That is true of race in general but even moreso for hispanics in the U.S… I have students in some of my classes who note that they WERE considered “white” before they moved to the United States.


#4

Having grown up in Venezuela we have some semblance of race, but identity tends to be given more weight when talking about where one comes from. Mostly because latin america is such a mix of everything that it becomes absurd drawing clear lines between different groups of people.
I think the few instances where those lines of race are more clear cut is when people talk about native populations.


#5

Oh boy, here we go again, latino is alright, latinx is just something I heard for the first time in this video. Like it or not, Spanish uses the male nouns as gender neutral words, and it is not derogative in any sense. Please let this madness of “inclusive language” stop. If you see a lot of latinamerican girls somewhere it is ok to say “Look, some latinas” (but don’t point, that’s not ok), if you see a mix of females, males, lgbt, extraterrestrial latinos and so on, it is ok to see “look, some latinos”. Everybody is (was?) happy with this, everybody understands this.

Being a natural language like any other, Spanish evolves to accomodate new words and idioms for making it easy to communicate, but believe, nobody in their house says something like “los y las estudiantes” (The male and female students), much less “lxs estudiantes” that only appears in political speeches, we at home and between friends use just “los estudiantes” (The students) and that’s it.


#6

From that ever-reliable source of information, Wikipedia:

Even among Europeans those not considered white at some point in American history include Southern Europeans (Italian, Spaniard, Greek, Portuguese, etc.), Irish people and Central Europeans (Germans, Poles) and Eastern Europeans (Russians) but mostly notably Polish people due to the Partitions of Poland.


#7

I’m happy to see the word “race” removed from the census, but the idea remains. If they simply want to know about your ancestry, they should list regions and allow you to choose as many as you want. But they didn’t, they mix “white” and “N African” in the same list, rather than using “European”. This tips their hand.

The video barely touches on how long your family must be in residence to acquire the “Latinx” stamp. Presumably full blooded Germans in Argentina for generations are Latinx, but my Ukrainian grandfather who lived in Brazil before emigrating here was not, though he had a Brazilian passport. But what if he really “felt” Brazilian? Isn’t that what matters?


#8

this was interesting up until latinx. seriously. Census are dumb i usually go with other and write puerto rican. also have zero care if im refered to as latino or hispanic because im only ever gonna be puerto rican


#9

I used to travel to Mexico City for work. I’m as white looking as you could possibly imagine but I’m “half Mexican”, and speak Spanish decently enough to get around without sounding like a total gringo. Deep conversations are tough - but the basics I can handle. Anyhow, I’d go with two other gringo looking coworkers and a guy from India. Indian people in Mexico look Mexican. At restaurants we’d be given three English menus and the Indian guy would be given a Spanish one. The water always would go to the Indian guy to get our full order. The Indian guy was tough to understand in any language, and despite his best of efforts and intentions to try to speak Spanish the waiter would always be like “wtf is with this Mexican”. At that point, I’d intervene and say something like “He’s not Mexican - he’s from India” and the waiter would be even more confused. “Wait, you speak Spanish and he doesn’t??” It was a real hoot.

Bottom line is … not all hispanics look like the guys that mow your lawn.


#10

It’s a contradictory situation. Race isn’t “real”, and so it can’t really be measured in an objective sense. But society still believes in it, so it’s important to make some kind of effort to understand the specifics of the phenomenon. It does matter whether someone thinks of themselves as “white”, despite the arbitrary nature of that designation.

Even after demonstrating that these things aren’t real, as you say: the idea remains.


#11

Irish guy claps with fervor!

We will need Earthling or ______ .

That is how we should see our People.


#12

That’s a hysterical story. In my children’s “test in” HS, the majority of students are a mix of kids including Filipinos, middle Eastern, N African, South Asian, East Asian, Central Asian, and Latino. Guessing a kid’s origins is futile. It’s a vision of the future, where everyone are “light brown people” and what really matters in school is your grades.


#13

Who, whoa, whoa, this is about the US.
People outside the US do not primarily identify as latin american. Which is something that needs unpacking here.
This is all about how people in the US are viewed, an immigrant leaves their country a Chilean, and is immediately transformed into a Latino upon arriving on the US, whether he wants to or not, even us tourists must tick a box before visiting your lovely country.
(I’m aware of the history oh the Latino movement, I’m not saying its not useful or that its bad, I’m just saying that the idea of being forced to take a side is very constraining)

And this goes back to my original point, to the best of my knowledge, latino and latina are English words, to the extent that they’re used outside the US they are borrowed from American English usage, (Some older TV shows outside the US used the term “Latinoamerica” because they were broadcast to several countries, but individuals were usually referenced by nationality, and today, you see it used by Telemundo, which is an American network) so if English users want to use latinx then it seems valid. Personally, I’m not a fan, but I don’t care if it gets traction. OK, sure, go for it, do with language as you please.


#14

Everybody? I don’t think the Latina in the video, Kate Lanzo, is happy with that. (If you watched the video, you might remember that she’s the one who suggests using Latinx, “if you want to be gender inclusive, which you should be.”)


#15

In my my upbringing I wasn’t taught to think of myself as white.

For the record: I’m pretty fucking “white”. I was just told by my adults that Jews of a certain extraction and predilection for rye bread and borscht (me) weren’t white because that was a narrative convenient to their sociopolitical worldview.

White does not mean “white”.


#16

Therein lies the “(was?)” of my message, everybody was happy with this standard, common, daily and officially sanctioned usage of the Spanish language, until very recently a very small and vocal minority started to lambast against hundreds of years or natural evolution of the language for merely political and feel-good reasons. I can assure you that Ms. Kate Lanzo doesn’t speak fluidly with such punctual over usage of redundant genderisms when she is with her family and friends. Remember that the purpose of a language is to express and transmit your ideas, not to try to be politically correct and avoid offending people.

If you can understand Spanish, here is the condemnation of gender inclusiveness by the Spanish Royal Academy: http://www.rae.es/consultas/los-ciudadanos-y-las-ciudadanas-los-ninos-y-las-ninas

For some weird reason some people started getting offended by this naturally occurring form of the language, and is probably the same people that in English wants to use another word for “woman” because there is “man” in it.

I really hope this is a fad, if it isn’t, in some years those usages of the language will be included and approved by the Royal Academy, because they were a natural evolution of the language, and that’s fine, but I see the trend in the other way, whatever makes the language easier to transmit ideas, stays, and this kind of usage just makes it more convoluted and pointless.


#17

Maybe there’s a better way to describe their issues with the language? Every time I see “offended” I see it as a way to dismiss someone’s position as an emotional appeal, when in this and most other cases, that’s not what it is.


#18

You are right, probably there is a better way to describe this situation, but from my point of view, is that in Spanish and other romance language the usage of male words for describing groups appeared naturally and out of necessity, it wasn’t like an misoginistic guy just said “therefore all these words will be male to offend some people”, that wasn’t the case.

But, most of the groups defending inclusive language seems to think that’s what happened, so, for guilt inducing reasons, many school curricula was changed to teach children a very weird and non-sense way of communicating, that wasn’t required at any point to get your ideas across. For example recently I saw a phrase that reads “The dogs are chasing the cats of the neighbours”, but it was written like “The dogs and bitches chase the tomcats and queens of the male neighbours and female neighbours”, and yes, that was the correct answer so that everybody was happy and get your homework points.


#19

While I speak some Spanish, I speak it poorly, and my issue was not with Spanish pluralization, but the English phraseology.

I haven’t looked at all the critics’ statements, but I get the sense that their concern is not so much with the past and origins of the masculine pluralization, but with present usage. As an Anglo I haven’t got much to say, though I see the same sort of conservatism in English over using the plural as neuter, and that’s an attempt to stop language from evolving, which I believe is misguided. (In English it’s also a false conservatism, since the plural as singular neuter’s been used for many centuries, but that’s very tangential).


#20

Drives me nuts when I hear old timers refer to hispanics or latinos as just “Spanish”. At least make an effort! The Spanish live in Europe!

The whole discussion about race and ethnicity reminds me of a Cuban guy I knew in college. Funny guy, super smart, and someone that was always looking to ruffle people’s feathers and challenge people’s views. He was very dark skinned but with Latin-ish features (think Sammy Sosa, only darker), and so he tried to join the Black Student’s Association. They did not like it one bit! Gave me some food for thought on this topic, for sure.