What's In A Name?
Latino? Hispanic? What's in a name? Many different words are used to identify people whose ancestors came from the southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Spain.
The western hemisphere south of the U.S. is sometimes referred to as Latin America, and the terms Latino and Latina are used inclusively to capture the blending of Spanish and other European, Indigenous and in some places African traditions that characterize this diverse region. Many people prefer to identify themselves more precisely, for example as Cuban or Peruvian or Mexican American.
The term Hispanic came into widespread usage as a U.S. Census category in the late 20th century, as a variant of the more traditional term Hispano. Chicano or Chicana refers specifically to Americans of Mexican origin or descent, reflecting the fact that the territory from California to Texas belonged to Spain and Mexico before it belonged to the U.S.
In this guide, Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably to reflect the preference of the person or organization being described, and Latino is generally used inclusively to refer to both men and women.