The embattled Census Bureau is tasked with the impossible year after year, which is to “count everybody.”
Now they are again trying the even more impossible — make sense of Latinos.
The Census Bureau, in an effort to figure out a better way for Latinos to identify themselves, asked in alternative survey to choose Hispanic as a race, and many did just that.
The Census Bureau and I are in agreement here. Let Latinos be specific about what they want to call themselves. I don’t care what other Latinos call themselves, be it Hispanic, Latino, mestizo or Wombat-American. I hope that there is a glimmer of consciousness in every U.S.Latino that makes them realize we are not exactly “Anglo-Saxons” in the Mitt Romney, London backside-kissing mode. Be Guate, Salvi, Chicana! If I ran the Census Bureau Forms Dept. they’d all be an option.
Sorting out whether “Hispanic” or “Latino” identifiers qualify as a “race” is another topic. Of course some of us look more Caucasian and some more indigenous, and some more African. And that’s in one family.
All names are artificial: even nationalities can be ill-fitting. One can be of indigenous descent and be from Mexico, or have an Irish dad and a Peruvian mom. It’s a complicated world and labels help us make sense of the nonsensical.
I personally retch when someone tries to call me “Hispanic.” As I have long said, “Hispanic” is an ugly word for a beautiful people. Don’t ever call me that, but let me call myself what I want to call myself.
And give the poor Census Bureau a break and fill in the boxes the best you can. Let’s help them try to figure us out, we need the help.
Lalo Alcaraz, an NBC Latino contributor, is an award-winning, nationally syndicated Chicano cartoonist and illustrator.