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Hispanic Vs. Latinos

            When you are asked to check a box that describes your racial or ethnic identity which one do you choose? Naturally being European American I typically choose the Caucasian box without thinking twice about it. However other people from different ethnic backgrounds do. I asked some of my Latino/Hispanic friends how they would identify themselves the majority of them identified themselves according to their country of origin. So why are Americans so fixed on this concept of "group think?- Who are we to classify these people as Hispanic or Latinos? These terms are used interchangeably yet mean two different things.
             As of the year 2001 there were 24 million Hispanic/Latinos in the United States, composing 10 percent of the population. To get an idea of where Hispanic/ Latinos are coming from they are further divided in to 3 major and 3minor groups. The three major groups consist of: Mexicans 64%, Puerto Ricans 10% and Cubans 6%. While the three minor groups are composed of: Central Americans 10%, South American 8% and Dominicans 2%. The term Hispanic/ Latino is composed of 25 different cultural groups.1 So how did it come about that all these people are grouped into one category defined by two terms that mean different things?.
             Although these terms, Hispanic/Latino are used interchangeably in reality they have two different meanings. According to the Encarta World English Dictionary.
             1. somebody from Latin America: somebody who was born in or is a citizen of any of the countries of Latin America.
             2. Latin American living in U.S.: somebody of Latin-American descent who was born in or is a citizen of the United States.
             1. of Spain and Spanish people: relating to or typical of Spain, or its people or culture.
             2. of Spanish-speaking people: relating to or typical of Spanish-speaking people or their culture.
             3. of people of Spanish descent: relating to or typical of people descended from Spanish or Latin American people or their culture.

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