How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Should the census change how Latinos are counted?

Screen shot 2012-08-08 at 4.37.52 PM

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

The U.S. Census Bureau has long struggled with how to count Latinos, or more accurately, those described on census forms as "Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin.” It's always been tricky.

Latinos, the term I'll use for now, range from white to black to indigenous, with all variations of mestijaze in between. Thanks to generations of migration, some of us have Asian roots. We're a mixed bunch, so much we don't even agree on a pan-ethnic label.

For quite some time, census forms have provided "Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin” as an ethnic category, not a racial one. Respondents identify their race, then also identify themselves in terms of Latino/Hispanic ethnicity. In recent years, a growing number of Latinos have opted to identify as "some other race," another choice given.

Today, census officials announced the results of some experiments they've been conducting on questionnaire design, using experimental questionnaires to determine whether Latinos might respond better to being counted and identified differently. From the bureau's statement today: