The Definition Of Hispanic Is Whatever You Want It To Be

After the 2010 Census data was collected some were surprised by the percentage of Hispanic residents, specifically in Florida. The surprise was that a higher percentage of Floridians weren’t “Hispanic”. The narrative began, and generally still exists, that large populations of Hispanics across our state, and specifically in South Florida, simply weren’t counted. That may be true to a degree but when I dug in deeper after the report was released, I found that a concrete reason why higher populations of “Hispanics” weren’t identified in our state was due to the way people answered the Census. 

I’ve often characterized the term “Hispanic” as being overly simplistic. You’ve probably heard me say that Hispanic means about thirty different things in South Florida because basically it does. This is due in part to the huge diversity of our Hispanic population. This is where pollsters often miss big in Florida. Simply including X percentage of Hispanics in samples is often a fool’s errand. To that end, the Pew Research Center recently completed a study of Hispanic ID and found that 5 million, or 11% of the Hispanic population, based on the way the government would characterize people, doesn’t ID as Hispanic. 

And that’s the big takeaway here. What’s the definition of Hispanic? It’s whatever you want it to be, identify with or don’t identify with. We commonly see that these non-Hispanic identifiers will ID as “white” instead. What’s the definition of Hispanic to you? 

Photo by: Getty Images

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