This is the first of four stories on Hispanic attitudes as captured by a survey of 400 U.S. Latinos. Throughout the next month, NBC Latino will share results of the survey and offer more insight into how Latinos perceive their role in the changing fabric of America.
The question of identity is often front and center for American Hispanics. In a survey for NBC Latino by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International, U.S. Hispanics overwhelmingly identify themselves as one thing: American. Almost three-quarters of Latinos (74 percent) say they identify more with being American, and 19 percent say they identify with both ‘American’ and ‘Latino.’ Only 4 percent say they identify more with their country of origin, and 2 percent say they don’t belong. Another 2 percent say they are not sure.
“What is interesting is that surveys and polls consistently show Latinos mostly identify with the U.S. and with being American, and yet this is continually a surprise to the general public,” says Cristina Beltrán, PhD, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis and the Director of Latino Studies at New York University. A recent Latino Decisions/National Hispanic Media Coalition poll found less than half (47 percent) of non-Latinos describe Hispanics as patriotic, even after watching positive TV news images of Latinos.
“The fact we have an attachment to our culture does not preclude our political and civic attachments,” says Beltrán, the author of The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity.
The NBCLatino/IBOPE Zogby survey also asked Hispanics if they agreed with the following statement: “This is the best time in the history of the U.S. to be Latino.” Of those polled, 18 percent strongly agree and 34 percent somewhat agree; whereas 20 percent somewhat disagree and 14 percent strongly disagree. Fourteen percent are not sure.
In all, over half of Latinos (52 percent) agree this is the best time to be a U.S. Latino, and 33 percent disagree.
What about discrimination? Of Latinos polled, more than one in three (35 percent) say they have never been victims of discrimination. Of the 51 percent who say they have, 29 percent say ‘yes, more than once,’ and 22 percent say ‘yes, at least once.’ Fourteen percent of Latinos are not sure how to answer this.
“This is one of those interesting questions,” says Beltrán. “It tells you how subjective the experience of discrimination is,” she adds. Beltrán says it also shows most Latinos don’t want to see themselves as victims of discrimination, but rather as individuals who are moving ahead.
And since what you eat often tells a lot about who you are, the survey asked Latinos about their food preferences. We asked Latinos to decide between ketchup versus salsa, and burgers versus tacos.
Over half preferred salsa (51 percent) and 35 percent went for the ketchup, which actually mirrors the non-Latino population. Nine percent said neither and 4 percent were not sure.
As for burgers versus tacos, over half (56 percent) went for the good old American burger, while 28 percent chose tacos. Twelve percent went for neither – really?
Participants were surveyed between August 31 and September 4 and the results have a -/+4.8 percentage point of error.