White Hispanic and Latino Americans

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White Hispanic and Latino Americans
Total population
20.3% of all Latino Americans[1] (2020)
Regions with significant populations
All areas of the United States
81.4% of Latinos
32.0% of total population
57.7% of Latinos
22.5% of total population
83.0% of Latinos
21.2% of total population
 New Mexico783,097
76.7% of Latinos
37.4% of total population
American English • American Spanish • Mexican Spanish • Portuguese • Spanglish • Nuyorican English • Miami English • Portuglish
Catholic Church, sizeable Protestantism
Minority Atheism • Judaism
Related ethnic groups
White Latin Americans, White Mexicans, White Americans, Latino Americans, Spanish Americans, Portuguese Americans, Italian Americans, French Americans

In the United States, a white Latino[3] is an individual who self-identifies as white and of Latino descent. White Latino Americans are a broader category, and may include people of Puerto Rican descent who self-identify in addition to Spanish-speaking populations.

Based on the definitions created by the Office of Management and Budget and the US Census Bureau, the concepts of race and ethnicity are mutually independent. For the Census Bureau, ethnicity distinguishes between those who report ancestral origins in Latin America (Latino Americans), and those who do not (non-Latino Americans).[4][5][6] From 1850 to 1920, Mexicans in the United States were classified as white[7] while some Latinos were classified as "Mulattoes", "Indians" or, "Other" if they were not purely of European ancestry. "Mexican" was officially added as a racial category on the United States Census beginning in 1930 in connection with the growing Mexican population, but was removed due to political pressure. Classification was up to each census official's discretion before the establishment of a centralized Census Bureau in 1902.[8] A designation for Latino citizens returned in 1970, again coinciding with an increase of immigration from Latin America. As had been the case historically, classification of Latinos presented difficulties in the United States, for the country did not have large mixed-race domestic populations. "Latino" will remain as an ethnicity.[9] Many employers had already given "Latino" the same demographic weight as a racial group for some time.[10] The US Census Bureau asks each resident to report the "race or races with which they most closely identify."[11]

White Americans are therefore referenced as white Latinos and non-Latino whites, the former consisting of white Americans who report Latin American ancestry, and the latter consisting of white Americans who do not report Latin American ancestry.

As of 2020, 62 million or 18.7% of residents of the United States of America identified as Latino. Of those, 12.5 million, or 20.3%, also self-identified as white.[12]


Some white Latinos in the United States of America today are descended from original Spanish colonists who settled the so-called "internal provinces" and Louisiana of New Spain. As the United States expanded westward, it annexed lands with a long-established population of Spanish-speaking settlers, who were overwhelmingly or exclusively of white Spanish ancestry (cf. White Mexican).[13] This group became known as Hispanos. Prior to incorporation into the United States of America (and briefly, into Independent Texas), Hispanos had enjoyed a privileged status in the society of New Spain and later in post-colonial Mexico.

Racial identity[edit]

Concepts of multiracial identity have existed in Latin America since the colonial era, originating in a Spanish caste system that apportioned different rights to people based on their degree of European, African, and Indigenous American ancestry. During the 20th century, the concept of mestizaje, or 'blending', was adopted as a national identity by a number of Latin American countries in order to reduce racial conflict.[14]

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of US Latinos identify as "mestizo", "mulatto", or another multiracial identity.[14] Such identities often conflict with standard racial classifications in the United States: among Latino American adults surveyed by Pew Research who identified as multiracial, about 40% reported their race as "white" on standard race question as used on the US Census; 13% reported belonging to more than one race or "mixed race"; while about 20% chose "Latino" as their race.[14]


White Latinos by state - 2019 ACS[2]
State Population % of state % of Latinos
Texas 9,047,039 32.0 81.4
California 8,847,910 22.5 57.7
Florida 4,435,909 21.2 83.0
New York 1,575,875 8.1 42.4
Arizona 1,587,446 22.5 71.9
Illinois 1,305,053 10.2 59.7
New Jersey 1,101,694 12.4 61.4
Colorado 894,253 15.9 74
New Mexico 783,097 37.4 76.7
Nevada 486,470 16.4 57

As of 2019, 58.5 million or 18% of Americans identified themselves ethnically as Latino. Of those, 38.3 million, or 65.5% (11.8% of the total US population), also self-identified as white.[15]

The respondents in the "some other race" category are reclassified as white by the Census Bureau in its official estimates of race. This means that more than 90% of all Latino Americans are counted as "white" in certain statistics of the US government.[16]

Latinos who are native-born and those who are immigrant identify as white in nearly identical percentages: 53.9 and 53.7, respectively, per figures from 2007. The overall Latino ratio was 53.8%.[17]

In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that high intermarriage rates and declining Latin American immigration has led to 11% of US adults with Latino ancestry (5.0 million people) to no longer identify as Latino.[18] First generation immigrants from Latin America identify as Latino at very high rates (97%) which reduces in each succeeding generation, second generation (92%), third generation (77%), and fourth generation (50%).[18]

White Latinos are widespread, with Florida and Texas being 2 states with some of the highest percentages of Latinos self identifying as white.[19] New Mexico has the highest percentage of the overall population identifying as white Latino with 37.4%.

Population by national origin[edit]

Population by national origin 2010[20]
Latino national origin Self-identified white population % of total Latino population Percent of self-identified white population
Mexican 16,794,111 63.0% 53%
Puerto Rican 2,455,534 9.2% 53%
Cuban 1,525,521 3.5% 85%
Salvadoran 663,224 3.3% 40%
Dominican 419,016 2.8% 30%
Guatemalan 401,763 2.1% 40%
Latino South Americans 1,470,464 5.5% 66%
All other Latinos 2,018,397 6.8% 50%
Total 26,735,713 100% 53%

Some Latino American groups that have white majorities or pluralities originate in countries that do not. For example, Mexico's white only population is 9% to 17%,[21][22] while Mexico is majoritarily mestizo, meaning that they have mixed European and Native American ancestry, while 52.8% of Mexican Americans are white, or identify themselves as white in the Census (See the table). The differences in racial perceptions that exist in both countries are considered: The concept of race in Mexico is subtle not only including physical clues such as skin color but also cultural dispositions, morality, economic, and intellectual status. It is not static or well defined but rather is defined and redefined by the situation. This makes racial distinctions different from those in other countries such as the United States.[23][24]

Other important differences lay in the criteria and formats used for the censuses in each country: In Mexico, the only ethnic census including categories other than Amerindian (dated back to 1921) performed by the government offered the following options in the questionnaire:[25]

  • Full European heritage
  • Mixed Indigenous and European heritage (the term "mestizo" itself was never used by the government)
  • Full Indigenous
  • Foreigners without racial distinction
  • Other race

The census had the particularity that, unlike racial/ethnic census in other countries, it was focused in the perception of cultural heritage rather than in a racial perception, leading to a good number of white people to identify with "Mixed heritage" due cultural influence.[26] On the other hand, while only 2.9% of the population of the United States identifies as mixed race[27] there is evidence that an accounting by genetic ancestry would produce a higher number, but historical and cultural reasons, including slavery creating a racial caste and the European-American suppression of Native Americans, often led people to identify or be classified by only one ethnicity, generally that of the culture they were raised in. While many Americans may be biologically multiracial, they often do not know it or do not identify so culturally.[28]

Representation in the media[edit]

Judith Ortiz Cofer noted that appellation varies according to geographical location, observing that in Puerto Rico she was considered white, but in the United States she was considered a "brown person."[29]

Since the early days of the movie industry in the United States of America, when white Latino actors are given roles, they are frequently cast in non-Latino white roles.[30] Latino Americans began to appear in the American movie industry in the 1910s, and the leading players among them "were generally light skinned and Caucasian".[30]

Myrtle Gonzalez was one such American actress in the silent film era; she starred in at least 78 motion pictures from 1913 to 1917.[31] Anita Page was an American actress of Spanish descent who reached stardom in 1928, during the last years of the silent film.[32] Page was referred to as "a blond, blue-eyed Latin" and "the girl with the most beautiful face in Hollywood".[33][34] Hilary Swank an American actress and film producer recipient of numerous awards, including two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Clough (née Dominguez), was born in El Centro, California, and was of Mexican descent.[35]

Telenovelas (soap operas) have been criticized for not fully reflecting the racial diversity of Latino Americans, and for underrepresenting non-white Latino, Latino Americans, and non-white Latin Americans.[36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44] For example, in the 2005 US Latino telenovela Olvidarte Jamas, white, blond, and blue-eyed Venezuelan American actress Sonya Smith portrayed Luisa Dominguez who is a poor mestiza woman; the actress had to wear a black wig. Sonya Smith, however, was the first actor of Latin American descent to portray a Latina without stereotypical perception (portrayed as blond and blue-eyed Latina, not a Latina mestiza nor mulatta nor Mediterranean-looking Latina) in a Hollywood film Hunted by Night, an English-language movie with an all-Latino cast.[citation needed]

Marriage trends[edit]

A total of 27% of Latinos marry outside their ethnicity. Non-Latino white/Latino intermarriage is the most common intermarriage in the United States representing 42% of interracial/ethnic marriages compared to white/black at 11%. Intermarriage rates between whites and Latinos do not differ significantly among the genders (with Latina females slightly more likely to marry whites).[45]


Genetic research has found that the average non-European admixture is present in both white-Latinos and non-Latino whites with different degrees according to different areas of the United States. Average European admixture among self-identified white Latino Americans is 73% (the average for Latino Americans regardless of race is 65.1%), contrasting to that of non-Latino European Americans, whose European ancestry totals 98.6% on average.[46] "Average admixture," however, can be a misleading measure, as it conflates vastly different population groups and ignores marked differences within individual Latino groups. Each Latin American country has a unique demographic history. Mexican Americans and Central Americans may be more racially mestizo, for instance, but the same is not true of American Latinos from countries with higher proportions of white Latin Americans, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. The genetic profile of American Latinos varies from group to group and is a result of unique immigration histories.[47] For instance, the Cuban exiles "fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s and ’70s were almost entirely white, educated and middle or upper class."[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Table 4. Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race: 2010 and 2020". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "2019 American Community Survey". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  3. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Social & Demographic Statistics. "U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  4. ^ Luis Fraga; John A. Garcia (2010). Latino Lives in America: Making It Home. Temple University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-4399-0050-5.
  5. ^ Nancy L. Fisher (1996). Cultural and Ethnic Diversity: A Guide for Genetics Professionals. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8018-5346-3.
  6. ^ Robert H. Holden; Rina Villars (2012). Contemporary Latin America: 1970 to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-118-27487-3.
  7. ^ https://www.webcitation.org/69hd5KAIE?url=http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0076/twps0076.html. Archived from the original on August 6, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Hochschild, Jennifer; Powell, Brenna (2008). "Racial Reorganization and the United States Census 1850-1930: Mulattoes, Half-Breeds, Mixed Parentage, Hindoos, and the Mexican Race". Studies in American Political Development. 22 (1): 59–96. doi:10.1017/S0898588X08000047. S2CID 146658895.
  9. ^ "Race/Ethnicity and the 2020 Census".
  10. ^ "Respectful Collection of Demographic Data". September 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2000". Quickfacts.census.gov. Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  12. ^ "Table 4. Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race: 2010 and 2020". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  13. ^ Fitzgerald, Kathleen J. (February 18, 2014). Recognizing Race and Ethnicity: Power, Privilege, and Inequality. Avalon Publishing. ISBN 9780813349312 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ a b c Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana (July 10, 2015). "'Mestizo' and 'mulatto': Mixed-race identities among U.S. Hispanics". Pew Research Center.
  15. ^ "2019 American Community Survey". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  16. ^ "T4-2008. Hispanic or Latino By Race". 2008 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  17. ^ Grieco, Elizabeth M. "Race and Hispanic Origin of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2007; American Community Survey Reports" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Lopez, Gustavo; Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana; Lopez, Mark Hugo (December 20, 2017). "Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations as Immigrant Connections Fall Away". Pew Research Center.
  19. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". factfinder.census.gov. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  20. ^ Sharon R. Ennis; Merarys Ríos-Vargas; Nora G. Albert (May 2011). "The Hispanic Population: 2010" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 14 (Table 6). Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  21. ^ "CIA — The World Factbook – Mexico". Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  22. ^ "Mexico — Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  23. ^ Alejandra M. Leal Martínez (2011). For The Enjoyment of All:" Cosmopolitan Aspirations, Urban Encounters and Class Boundaries in Mexico City (PhD thesis). Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 3453017.
  24. ^ McDonald, TK (June 24, 2016). "The Economics of Mexico's Middle Class". Investopedia.com. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Navarrete, Federico. "El mestizaje y las culturas" [Mixed race and cultures]. México Multicultural (in Spanish). Mexico: UNAM. Archived from the original on August 23, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  26. ^ "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (PDF). Academic investigation (in Spanish). university of the State of Mexico. 2005. p. 196. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  27. ^ Jones, Nicholas A.; Amy Symens Smith. "The Two or More Races Population: 2000. Census 2000 Brief" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  28. ^ Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary Americans Reclaimed Their Pasts (New York University Press, 2010)
  29. ^ Pauline T. Newton (2005). "An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer". Transcultural Women Of Late-Twentieth-Century U.S. American Literature. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 161. ISBN 0-7546-5212-2.
  30. ^ a b "Silent Films, Sound, Resisting Stereotypes, The New Generation, Assessment, Oscar Winners and Nominees, Latinos., Latinas". Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  31. ^ Rosa Linda Fregoso (2003). MeXicana encounters: the making of social identities on the borderlands. University of California Press. pp. 108–111. ISBN 978-0-520-23890-9. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  32. ^ Anita Page: Star of the silent screen. Independent.co.uk (September 8, 2008).
  33. ^ Heroes, Lovers, and Others. Books.google.co.uk.
  34. ^ Latinas in the United States. Books.google.co.uk (June 30, 2006).
  35. ^ "Dowling Family Genealogy Frances Martha DOMINGUEZ". Ancestry.com. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  36. ^ Quinonez, Ernesto (June 19, 2003). "Y Tu Black Mama Tambien". Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  37. ^ The Blond, Blue-Eyed Face of Spanish TV[dead link]. Washingtonpost.com (August 3, 2000).
  38. ^ Blonde, Blue-Eyed Euro-Cute Latinos on Spanish TV. Latinola.com (October 24, 2010).
  39. ^ Latinas Not Reflected on Spanish TV. Vidadeoro.com (October 25, 2010).
  40. ^ What are Telenovelas? – Hispanic Culture. Bellaonline.com.
  41. ^ Racial Bias Charged On Spanish-Language TV. Articles.sun-sentinel.com (August 6, 2000).
  42. ^ Skin tone consciousness in Asian and Latin American populations. Boston.com (August 19, 2004).
  43. ^ Corpus: A Home Movie For Selena. Pbs.org.
  44. ^ Soap Operas on Latin TV are Lily White Archived May 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ "Key facts about race and marriage, 50 years after Loving v. Virginia". Pewresearch.org. June 12, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  46. ^ Bryc, Katarzyna; Durand, Eric Y.; Macpherson, J. Michael; Reich, David; Mountain, Joanna L. (September 18, 2014). "The genetic ancestry of African, Latino, and European Americans across the United States". bioRxiv 10.1101/009340.. "Supplemental Tables and Figures". p. 42. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  47. ^ "Reports for Caribbean and Latin American Customers". May 15, 2019.
  48. ^ Bardach, Ann Louise (January 29, 2015). "Why Are Cubans So Special?". The New York Times.