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Interpreting the Evidence

"Hispanic" vs "Latino" Article, CNY Latino, 2004

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load "Hispanic" vs "Latino" Article, CNY Latino, 2004 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Onondaga Historical Association, OHA_B1_303

Document Description
Newspaper article "'Hispanic' vs 'Latino'" by Cristina Granados, in English and Spanish, printed in the March 05, 2004, issue of "CNY Latino."

Historical Context
The term “Hispanic” is often used interchangeably with the term “Latino.” The term “Hispanic” was used in the 1970 Census as a generic term to include all people who came from, or who had parents who came from Spanish-speaking countries. The term “Latino,” on the other hand, is a Spanish-language term that has increased in usage. Some Latinos/Hispanics feel strongly about which term they prefer.  Some insist they should be known by their national origin; others vary their usage depending on the context.

Those who prefer “Latino” say that it is more culturally neutral and racially inclusive of all groups in Latin America. Those of indigenous, African, European, and mixed origins are called Latinos, as are Brazilians, whose language is Portuguese.

However, those who prefer the term “Hispanic” argue that it is a more universal term used by most U.S. government agencies, while “Latino” is a regional term more common where there are large numbers of native Spanish speakers.

Adapted from: “What It Means To Be Latino” by Dr. Clara E. Rodríguez,

Compelling Question
Why do governments label immigrant populations?

Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this article and explain why there was a debate over the correct term to use for this immigrant population.

Historical Challenges
Organize a “Hispanic” vs. “Latino” debate in your class. Divide into two groups: pro-Hispanic and pro-Latino.
a) Each group should select a spokesperson and present three to five arguments to support the exclusive use of one of the terms.
b) At the end of the debate, a secret poll should be conducted and the results posted to show which term was preferred by the class.

Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Research the early science on classifying people by race. How is race different from ethnic group? How does this relate to the Hispanic/Latino debate?