Op-Doc A Conversation With Latinos on Race Favorite 


Feb 29 2016


The United States

In this short documentary, Latinos grapple with defining their ethnic and racial identities


Last year we set out to make a series of short documentaries that we hoped would foster a discussion about race relations in the United States. To date the series has focused on the personal nuances of systemic racism as reflected in the relationship between blacks and whites. And while that dynamic is a significant part of the American story of race, it does not fully reflect the country’s varied history and rapidly changing demographics. So for our next installment of our “Conversation on Race” series, we decided to go broader, and hear from Latinos on their experiences here.

Fifty-five million Latinos live in this country, representing 17 percent of the population. After Mexico, the United States is home to the world’s largest population of Spanish speakers. Latinos are projected to make up a record 11.9 percent of eligible voters in 2016, just shy of blacks, who are 12.4 percent. We were curious about how race shapes opportunity in a community that draws from such a hugely diverse group of racial backgrounds and ethnicities. How does one identity get forged from such an assortment of experience?

Before we could even discuss racism and the challenges Latinos face in this country, though, we had to define the term “Latino.” When we asked our interviewees, their responses were wide-ranging. For some, Latino identity is a political stance involving both race and nationality, while others found the label deeply constraining. Most pointed to the frustrations of being stereotyped, marginalized and demeaned. The people we spoke with were vulnerable, and their stories illuminating, but most of what we took from them is that we need far more examination of this crucial segment of the American population. We hope you will join us in having these conversations.

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