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Is Hispanic Identity Among Millennials Declining?

Updated: Oct 3, 2018

Today, more so than ever, the conversations surrounding racial and ethnic identity in America are at an all-time high.

In America, we are “taught” that all men are created equal, and we have a constitution that states that we do not discriminate against people of color in terms of education, career, health, religion, politics, etc...However, there have been plenty of times when society in America has deviated from the very principles stated in its own constitution.


Discovering your true identity is very important, and the type of world we live in today views ethnic/racial identity as a large determining factor of who we are; depending on who you talk to, this could be seen as a good or a bad thing.

The Hispanic or Latino community is the second-largest ethnic group here in America, and according to the Pew Research Center from statistical data taken from 2015, 37.8 million of these individuals do identify as Hispanic or Latino, while 5 million of them do not. Why is this, however? Read more below.


Featured Blog Post: Is Hispanic Identity Among Millennials Declining?

Submitted by: Jordan Bowles

Edited by: My Identity Mag Team

#Racialidentity, especially in this day and age, is a key and crucial component in defining who we are as individuals. The process of learning how to embrace every part of you is already a sensitive process, especially for individuals who have reached the age of puberty; an age-frame that is primarily distinct for establishing your own identity.


Today, more so than ever, the conversations surrounding racial and ethnic identity in America are at an all-time high. Discussions on racism, colorism and identity have been spurned by the more-recently politically charged atmosphere that seems to be brewing more and more each day. You may ask, how can someone learn to accept who they are when they live in places that discriminate against them based solely on the color of their skin, or their racial/and or ethnic background?


In America, we are “taught” that all men are created equal, and we have a constitution that states that we do not discriminate against people of color in terms of education, career, health, religion, politics, etc...However, there have been plenty of times when society in America has deviated from the very principles stated in its own constitution. For example, the recent event in which a Caucasian man threatened to call ICE on customers and employees for speaking Spanish at a local restaurant in New York. In another instance, a man harassed a woman for being un-American, because she was wearing Puerto Rican flag t-shirt at a park in Illinois. The fact is that Puerto Rico has been a United States territory since 1898. One might wonder, could this be a contributing factor as to why Hispanic identity among Millennials seems to be declining? To answer this question, let’s look at some statistics and reasons why this might be.


The Hispanic or Latino community is the second-largest ethnic group here in America, and according to the Pew Research Center from statistical data taken from 2015, 37.8 million of these individuals do identify as Hispanic or Latino, while 5 million of them do not. Why is this, however? Well, there are several determining factors as to why those who have Hispanic ancestry choose not to identify themselves as Hispanic, or identify themselves as white.


One reason this has occurred is the fact of a significant generational gap between Hispanic or Latino individuals and their native-born ancestors. Research has shown that a substantial percent of individuals who immigrated from Latin American countries identify themselves as Hispanic, and their second-generation children born in America did as well because of the close generational-proximity to their native born parent. As more and more generations began to come forth in America, with Hispanic ancestry, the “identity” drifted farther away from the original. It is apparent that Hispanic or Latin-American born individuals do not share the same racial/ethnic perspective as their native-born ancestors; their cultural experience is significantly different from growing up in America, as opposed to growing up in the country where their Hispanic ancestry originates from, which leads to the next reason why these individuals do not identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.


Interracial marriages are another defining key component as to why Hispanic identity is declining. Pew Research Center did a comparative study that showed Latino intermarriage trends. Nearly three-in-ten (27%) Hispanic newlyweds are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. Furthermore, the study discovered that intermarriage is connected to whether the newlyweds were born in the United States (39% intermarry a non-Hispanic) or overseas (15% a non-Hispanic). The study revealed that in 2015, intermarriage between both genders were equal; 26% of married Hispanic men were married to a non-Hispanic as well as 28% of Hispanic Women as shown in the chart below.


The study revealed that in 2015, intermarriage between both genders were equal; 26% of married Hispanic men were married to a non-Hispanic as well as 28% of Hispanic Women.

The research also showed that coupled with the fact that third and fourth generation individuals with Hispanic ancestry feel too far removed from where their ancestry comes from, some of these individuals cite the fact that their mixed ancestry plays a part in why they choose not to identify as Hispanic or Latino.


As mentioned before, discovering your true identity is very important, and the type of world we live in today views ethnic/racial identity as a large determining factor of who we are; depending on who you talk to, this could be seen as a good or a bad thing. In this article, it is mentioned that Hispanic or Latino Millennials feel too far removed generationally to truly identify themselves according to their racial ancestry. In this case, it is vitally important to preserve and appreciate the historical components of our racial/ethnic backgrounds. In regards to the immigration process that Hispanic and Latino people had to go through, it was certainly not an easy one, and this process is still difficult to this day. It can be easy for those experiencing the generational gap to not fully understand what their ancestors had to go through in terms of leaving their country to try and make a better life for themselves, and the future of their children.


America has gone through several phases in terms of how it chooses to embrace the vast cultural and racial/ethnic backgrounds that inhabit it. One of the most substantial differences is America’s change from the “melting pot” status to that of a salad bowl. The melting pot era signified a time where assimilation was crucial in being accepted in America; basically blending us all together, so that it seems that we are all one and the same, however losing our own unique identities in the process.


Today, there are more discussions regarding the salad bowl concept, where we all come together in one place, still embrace our unique identities, and everyone is accepted for who they are without having to change the very thing that makes them different. Today’s conversations about racial/ethnic identity prove that we are learning to educate ourselves more and more about this concept, however we still have some ways to go.


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