A Pew survey released this week shows that Hispanics/Latinos don’t exactly like those federal government labels to describe their ethnicity.
Only 24 percent said they actually use those terms to describe themselves. If they have to choose between the two — and 51 percent said they have no preference — Hispanic is preferred 33 percent over Latino at just 14 percent.
More than half — 51 percent — use their family’s country of origin for self-identification, i.e. Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran or Dominican. That percentage drops to 28 percent when you get into the third generation in this country.
On average, 21 percent describe themselves as American, with just 8 percent of the first generation doing so. That rises to nearly half — 48 percent — by the time you get to the third generation.
Eighty-seven percent said it’s important for immigrants to learn English in order to succeed in the United States. Three-quarters said most people can get ahead if they work hard, compared to 58 percent of the general population feeling the same.
Pew also found that most Hispanics don’t see themselves as fitting into the government’s race categories; half check a Census or similar box as “some other race” or offer “Hispanic/Latino,” 36 percent pick white and 3 percent choose black.