Why Are Conservatives Scared of Cameron Diaz?
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Christina María Aguilera was born to an Ecuadoran father of Spanish descent and a mother of mixed European heritage.
Born Jo Raquel Tejada, Raquel Welch is the daughter of an English mother and a father who was a Bolivian of Spanish descent.
Born Andrés Arturo García Menéndez in Cuba, Andy Garcia's parents migrated to the U.S. when he was a small child some 50 years ago.
These are celebrities, but aside from their fame -- and extraordinary good looks -- they are quite representative of the white Hispanic population. Many are the products of mixed marriages, and a study of the population as a whole found that about a third of native-born white Hispanic men marry non-Hispanic white women.
“Hispanic” is not a race. There are black, brown, white and Asian Hispanics. Among the Hispanic population in the United States, about half identify themselves as white people and half see themselves as black or belonging to “some other race.”
That brings us to the crucial point here. According to research conducted by the Pew Hispanic Trust ( PDF), white Hispanics don't identify themselves as such based on skin tone alone, but on the degree to which they're assimilated into the American majority. In other words, by definition they are not minorities.
For Latinos the concept of race appears to extend beyond biology, ancestral origins or a history of grievance in this country. The differences in characteristics and attitudes between those Hispanics who call themselves white and those who identify as some other race, suggests they experience racial identity as a measure of belonging: Feeling white seems to be a reflection of success and a sense of inclusion... The Latino experience demonstrates that whiteness remains an important measure of belonging, stature and acceptance.
The Pew research found that white Hispanics have, on average, higher levels of education and more affluence than those who identify themselves as members of “some other race.” They tend to have less connection to the immigrant experience -- Pew found that those born abroad are the least likely to identify themselves as white Hispanics, and as a family passes from the 2nd to the 3rd generation and beyond, they become more likely to identify themselves as such. They are light-skinned Europeans who see themselves culturally as part of the mainstream majority white population.
Like Martin Sheen or Cameron Diaz, they are white people, and will be among the 74 percent of the population that remains so in 2050. It would be nice if the media could get this simple truth and give the sensational, racial fear-mongering a rest.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter .