On Friday, ThinkNow Research released a poll that offers a glimpse at how U.S. Latinos self-identify — and the results aren’t very surprising.
In a post published on Medium, the market research company providing consumer insights on the Latino community shared their findings. Of the 508 Latinos in the country that they surveyed, most, or 44%, preferred the label “Hispanic” to describe themselves. That term headed Latino/a, which polled at 24%; country of origin (e.g. Salvadoran), 11 %; country of origin plus “American,” 7%; and “American,” 6%. The least preferred term, according to the poll, was “Latinx,” which was favored among only 2% of the pool.
While there has been a push in modern times, particularly by academics, media professionals and activists, to use Latino/a, and more recently Latinx or Latine, to describe people living in the country with origins in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean, similar polls have shown for decades that the community generally still refers to themselves as “Hispanic,” especially in the Southwest and western regions.
Unsurprisingly, 43% of the people polled were on the West Coast. Just 9% were in the Midwest, 12% in the Northeast and 36% in the South. It’s also important to note that the poll skews more Spanish-speaking, more foreign-born and just 102 of the participants were listed within the 18-24 age range, meaning that much of the pool has a longer history with the term “Hispanic” and is more likely to engage in media that reaffirms the label.
Additionally, the poll, which isn’t very expansive, also has a 5% margin of error, meaning that the 2% who identified as Latinx, for example, could be closer to -5% or 7%.
Still, according to Latino Rebels, the poll is being used by right-wing media and conservatives to challenge the use of the word Latinx by progressive politicians, reporters and academics. However, as the news outlet points out, the label follows a tradition among Latinos in the U.S. on self-identification. Since the community’s earliest migration to the country, individuals have been pushing back on state-instituted and market-generated racial and ethnic categories forced on all Latinos, like “white,” “Mexican” and “Hispanic,” and developing new terms that better and more inclusively represent the diverse group.
For many who use labels like “Latinx” or “Latine,” the goal is to provide more language for individuals in the U.S. who are of the Latin American and Spanish Caribbean diaspora that can better help them self-identify, not to force labels on them — as state and market-initiated terms like “Hispanic” has done.