As part of a series of stories Patch is working on using the recently released U.S. Census data, I want explore how Latino residents answered the census questions about race and ethnicity.
On the 2010 form (attached), responders are asked to answer two questions:
- Is the person of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? If the answer is yes, the responder is asked to specify whether Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano; Puerto Rican; Cuban; or Other, followed by a space to write in nationality.
- What is the person's race? The options are White; Black; American Indian or Alaskan Native, followed by a space to specify tribe; Asian Indian; Chinese; Filipino; a number of other Asian and Pacific Island races; or other, with a space to specify.
The questions are the same on the 2000 Census short form.
On the 2000 Census long form (remember, there were two forms sent out during the last census; some people got the long one, some got the short one), additional questions help elaborate on a person's race and ethnicity. These include:
- What is the person's ancestry or ethnic origin?
- Where was the person born?
Today I updated the figures on the I wrote immediately following the release of the 2010 data on race and ethnicity for San Leandro to more accurately reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of the city, at least according to census data.
Hispanic or Latino people make up about 27 percent of the population of San Leandro. That's clear from the data. But the results become more confusing when you include the race of Hispanics or Latinos in the data.
The city's white population is 37.6 percent if you include those Hispanic or Latino census responders who consider themselves white. However, putting Hispanics/Latinos into a separate category, the non-Hispanic white population of the city is 27 percent.
I'm curious just how clear, or murky, the Census race question is to most Hispanics/Latinos (these terms bring up a whole separate set of questions). For my husband, the question was frustrating.
My husband's father was Dutch; his mother is Guatemalan. White Guatemalan? Indigenous Guatemalan? She would probably consider herself white, but in reality she, like most Central Americans and Mexicans, is probably mixed race, or Mestizo. So where does that leave my husband?
Because he's very proud of his Guatemalan side, he checked the "other" box on the census race question, and filled in "Mesoamerican Mestizo." I wonder how census data crunchers interpreted that.
If you or someone you know is Hispanic/Latino and had trouble figuring out how to answer the race question on the census form, let me know (or, for that matter, if you're from a different racial/ethnic background; maybe the questions are confusing for Asians and others, also).
I'll compile a series of answers that hopefully will shed some light on how Latinos perceive themselves, and just how accurate census data about the Latino population really is.