Wilmer Valderrama Is Proud of His Roots — And He Wants Young Latinos to Be as Well
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Wilmer Valderrama head shot in front of a red and yellow background from that's 70s show

BY , Good Housekeeping

Originally born in Miami, Wilmer Valderrama moved to his father’s native country of Venezuela when he was just three years old. During this time, he also visited his mother’s home country of Colombia. At the age of 14, he returned to the U.S. to fulfill his father’s wish of getting a “proper” education. Though he knew his parents wanted him to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer or teacher, fate had another path in mind. Best known for starring on Fox’s comedy That ‘70s Show, Wilmer has gone from a supporting character to a leading man over his years in Hollywood. Most notably, Wilmer has played Special Agent Nick Torres on the hit crime drama NCIS since 2016. As the 41-year-old star wrapped up season 18 of the CBS show, he took some time to reflect with Good Housekeeping about his early days as an actor, what it’s like being a Latino in Hollywood and what he hopes to pass onto his newborn daughter, Nakano.

How did you approach your parents about pursuing acting?
After moving from Venezuela to the U.S., I started doing theater in school and somebody said, “Hey, you’re pretty good. You’re kind of funny. You should give it a shot. Let’s see if you can get some commercials.” Imagine bringing that conversation to my parents, just two years in America and learning how to speak English. I said to my dad, “So I heard that if I audition and get some commercials, I might be able to get a little money.” At the time we were struggling, we were just breaking even. My dad ultimately said to me, “You can do this little fun, side, part-time hobby of acting …. if you get good grades. If you don’t have [good] grades, you don’t get to audition for anything.” I was like, “Okay, fine!” So that was the bargain — I would get my education and aim to be something more “reasonable” than an actor.

But acting was kind of like this weird, tiny hobby that I guess I loved doing so much and it was improving my speaking skills. I decided that if I was going to do [acting] that I was going to be as focused and as thorough and as daring as I was when I said to myself, “I’m going to learn a different language.” The commitment of saying that you were going to learn to speak a different language and actually speaking English kind of told me that I could do anything.

Click here to read the full article on Good Housekeeping.

Latino Democrats push for Hispanic recognition in military base Renamings
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U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego answering questions at a hearing

Latino members of Congress are pushing for a U.S. Army base to be named after a Latino military hero and for a greater recognition of the role of Hispanics in the nation’s defense.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and several members of the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter April 12 to the commission tasked with removing Confederate names from military bases and other Department of Defense properties.

In the letter, provided to NBC News, they urged the commission to “develop new criteria” that increases chances of honoring enlisted service members as well as officers, and recognizes the diversity and demographics of a base’s community.

Many military installations are named for high-ranking officers, including those who served in the Confederate army.

Historic discrimination and exclusion have kept Latinos from rising in the military ranks and kept the numbers of Latino officers low, meaning there’s little chance of a base being named for a Hispanic, according to the letter signed by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, along with others.

“Latinos have fought and died in every single American war since our nation’s independence, yet too often our community’s service and sacrifice has been overlooked,” Castro said.

Castro’s office said that the current criteria essentially emphasizes honoring senior officers, as has been the practice. That tends to mean more white service members would be honored. But Castro, who is from San Antonio which has several military bases, and Gallego, a military veteran, say enlisted service members tend to be more diverse and deserve to be honored too if they have performed heroic or honorable acts. They called for the military’s diversity to be reflected, and said for names of facilities also to reflect the communities where they are located.

“U.S. Army bases should not be named after traitors who rose in rebellion against the United States and attempted to destroy that same U.S. Army in the field,” Gallego said. “We should instead honor the people who upheld their oaths to the Constitution through brave and honorable service to the United States.”

The members also supported the renaming of Fort Hood after Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1981 by then-President Ronald Reagan for heroic actions to save several wounded comrades in Vietnam.

“MSG Benavidez was a Texas Native and Mexican-American Vietnam War veteran who grew up experiencing the discrimination of Jim Crow,” the letter said, “MSG Benavidez is an extraordinary example of the determination, skill, and courage that Latino Americans in uniform have exemplified for generations.”

The lawmakers pointed out that renaming Fort Hood after a Latino service member “would be a symbolic step forward” after the slaying of Spc. Vanessa Guillén at the base.

Photo Credit: Leah Millis-Pool/Getty Images

Continue on to NBC News to Read the Full Article 

These 3 Latinas Scientists Are at the Forefront of Fighting Against the Spread of COVID-19
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three latina scientists in lab coats standing in the lab together looking confident with arms folded

BY TONI GONZALES

They call themselves “Las Tres Mosqueteras (The Three Musketeers),” and they certainly live up to their nickname being on the frontline of fighting against the spread of the Coronavirus.

The three Latinas in lab coats are Connie Maza (33), Monica Mann (34) and Elizabeth Zelaya (36). The scientists and medical technologists are part of a small team in Washington, D.C.’s Department of Forensic Sciences’ Public Health Laboratory Division. The trio has been working in the lab for a number of years, when in early 2020 they were thrust together into the spotlight after testing and reporting the first, initial COVID-19 cases in the area.

Photo: Courtesy Instagram

Since the early days the heaviness has been constant. “It’s just unbelievable, the pressure we had. We were under a microscope at that point,” Maza said. “It was scary at first. I was very nervous.” Over 12 months later, the ladies have seen cases skyrocket across the world and all while they remained at the forefront of the pandemic. The women have gone from reporting cases, to identifying and analyzing different Coronavirus mutations, and now onto seeing how the variants spread.

It’s a job that still comes as a surprise to people Zelaya told NBC News.”I do get that sometimes when people ask me what I do. I tell them I’m a scientist and they’re like, ‘Really? What?’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, sure am. I can tell you about some DNA if you want to learn,” she said. The reality is that while it is still revelatory for society, the numbers actually support the accepted stereotype of STEM consisting predominantly of men.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers is not a field that is made up of women-in particular Latina women. Even though women make up almost 50% of the population, only a third of the workforce working in science and engineering fields are women. Even worse, Latinas make up only about 2% of STEM degrees earned according to a 2016 National Science Board study.

The lack of Latinas in their field is an ever present thought in their minds. “You know what used to be the medical field, the science field, laboratory field being run by white males? Now, it has turned into this beautiful rainbow of colors,” Mann said. For her colleague Zelaya, it’s even bigger than that. “Every day I reflect and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is probably going to be in a history book.’”

Their work is far from being over. The pandemic still has a significant hold over the nation and the world. But, the end is in sight for the first time in a long time for the women who are very much looking forward to vacation.”Vacation together? Yeah!” said Zelaya.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers is not a field that is made up of women-in particular Latina women. Even though women make up almost 50% of the population, only a third of the workforce working in science and engineering fields are women. Even worse, Latinas make up only about 2% of STEM degrees earned according to a 2016 National Science Board study.

Read the full article at Remezcla.

Hispanics In Wine Organization Aims To Empower Latinx Wine Communities
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two women smile at the camera and hold a glass of wine as the sun sets in the background

Social organization Hispanics in Wine was founded with the aim of promoting equality and diversity and helping Latinx professionals advance in the wine industry. Founded in September 2020, it consists of a social media space and website which serve as a digital platform for insight into opportunities and resources for members of the community.

It was established by Lydia Richards and Maria Calvert alongside wine professional Ivonne Nill. The organization’s mission is to give back to Spanish-speaking communities by promoting equality and helping the new generation of Latinx professionals advance in the wine and hospitality industries. Hispanics in Wine also intends to help wine companies better communicate with their Spanish-speaking consumers.

Photo: Forbes

Cofounders Maria Calvert and Lydia Richards met while working in wine public relations at Colangelo & Partners, a well-known agency with offices in New York and California. Calvert, a native of Quito, Ecuador, is currently working as an independent Public Relations Consultant with a focus on startup and established brands in wine and food, while Richards, who hails from Panama, recently started a job as PR Manager at Taub Family Companies: Palm Bay International and Taub Family Selections.

At this time Hispanics in Wine has more than 30 members and is prepared to grow as word spreads within the wine and hospitality industries. Hispanics in Wine aims to encourage and connect people from diverse backgrounds to pursue their career path in the industry through the organization. It also intends to help wine brands and companies cater to the Latinx population in the U.S., whose buying power is forecasted to top $1.9 trillion by 2023.

As Women’s Month draws to a close, we are concluding our focus on women in the wine industry with this interview of co-founder Maria Calvert.

World Wine Guys: What was the impetus behind starting Hispanics in Wine?

Maria Calvert: In 2018, I transitioned to the wine industry and met Lydia Richards at a public relations agency. As part of our PR jobs, we work closely with all types of professionals in the alcohol beverage and hospitality industries, including sommeliers, retail stores, restaurants, trade, press, wine brands, winemakers, marketing professionals, and many others. Coming new into the wine industry, you see people of color cutting the grapes and working behind the scenes, but we noticed the lack of representation and diversity when attending trade events, press trips, and executive meetings. In addition to the lack of BIPOC, Hispanic, and Latinx professionals in decision-making roles, we noticed the lack of Spanish language resources for our community, brands neglecting Hispanic and Latinx consumers, and the need to amplify the work done by vineyard stewards.

As a result of our professional experience as two Latina immigrants in the wine industry and Covid disproportionately impacting the hospitality industry and minority communities, we decided to launch Hispanics in Wine in September 2020. We chose this month in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Culturally, Hispanics and Latinx work together as a community; it’s part of our pride, family, our roots. Community is so important to us, and this is something that we are trying to replicate with Hispanics in Wine. We created this centralized digital space for individuals to feel welcomed by the industry, to find important English and Spanish resources, to provide a sense of community with other Hispanics & Latinx alcohol and hospitality professionals, and more importantly, to educate the public about our communities and amplify the diverse talent and knowledge we offer and promote more representation in the industry.

WWG: Which areas of the wine community have you drawn members from thus far? 

MC: The Hispanics in Wine team are four women with different professional careers, hailing from different countries, and different journeys in the wine industry: Lydia Richards, Ivonne Nill, Emilia Alvarez, and myself. It is important to highlight our team diversity because it allows us to understand the industry’s needs, bridging the gap for opportunities and language, and build a broad Hispanic and Latinx beverage and hospitality community.

As a result of our team’s efforts and continued outreach, we have connected with wine professionals across the United States and worldwide. We have a community that covers the spectrum of wine and hospitality. For example, we have Nial Harris García, Wine Director at the Conrad Hotel in Washington D.C., Hugo Arias, Head Sommelier at The Grill in Washington D.C., Gabriela Fernández, Marketing and Event Coordinator for a California wine producer, Jesica Vargas, Founder and Wine Blogger of AndesUncorked, DeAnna Ornelas, President of non-profit organization AHIVOY, Sam Parra, Owner of PARRA Wines Co., and many others. Our Hispanics in Wine community is growing every day, and we have received tremendous support from many wine professionals in the industry who want to help in any way possible.

WWG: How are you reaching Latinx members of the wine community in order to let them know about Hispanics in Wine?

MC: We are working with our Hispanics in Wine community to help spread the word, share the “Hispanics in Wine Spotlight Series” within their network, and notify other Hispanics and Latinx professionals about this initiative. We started Hispanics in Wine on social media, and we now have a website. We have received inquiries from individuals trying to pursue a career in wine who reached out to us via Instagram, and individuals who found our website via Google search. We have also received inquiries from other Hispanic and Latinx professionals asking how they can help with the initiative and perhaps serve as mentors.

WWG: Can you tell us about some of the initiatives that Hispanics in Wine has implemented?

MC: We launched the “Hispanics in Wine Spotlight Series,” where the team conducts virtual English and Spanish interviews with talented Hispanic and Latinx professionals in the United States and worldwide, such as sommeliers, wine producers, marketing experts, retailer owners, portfolio specialists, social influencers, and bloggers, to learn about their journey in the wine industry, speak about educational opportunities, and provide essential advice to the next generation as well as changes they want to see in the industry.

Our mission with these interviews is to inspire individuals to enter the industry, thereby increasing the talent we offer as a community. Ultimately, we want to increase pressure on companies to hire Hispanic and Latinx professionals for leadership roles, drawing from our deep well of unique backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints. According to Nielsen data, by 2023, we expect the buying power of the U.S. Latinx population to top $1.9 trillion, which is higher than the gross domestic product of countries like Australia, Spain, and Mexico. Targeting this quickly growing consumer base by aligning with Hispanic and Latinx values has never been more critical.

Through the “Hispanics in Wine Spotlight Series,” we also aim to highlight the diverse backgrounds of the Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States and worldwide. We hail from vastly different geographies, whether Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, Spain, or the United States; we have different traditions, we look different, and in some instances, we claim unique local languages, such as Guaraní in Paraguay, Catalan in Spain, or Quechua in Ecuador.

Additionally, with our public relations expertise, we are also working with the local and national press to include Hispanics and Latinx alcohol beverage and hospitality professionals at the forefront for feature stories and share their knowledge with key external stakeholders. In the near future, we hope to execute a program aimed at providing educational training, scholarships, and professional opportunities for advancing in the industry – both via in-house opportunities and partnerships with external organizations. Lastly, we are also looking to partner with wine companies looking to tap into the Hispanic and Latinx consumer market.

Read the full article at Forbes.

Why the Term ‘Latinx’ Hasn’t Taken Off Among Latins – And Likely Never Will
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pink "X" for Latinx with flowers with grey background

At first blush, the word Latinx –the gender-neutral, non binary term used to describe the nation’s diverse Hispanic population– seems ubiquitous.

Latinx pops up regularly in press releases, in news headlines, in social media posts, in campaign mailings. But scratch below the surface, and you find little substance under the semantics.

According to a by now widely cited study undertaken by the Pew Research Center and published in August, only one in four Latinos are even aware of the term Latinx, and just 3% say they use it to describe themselves. The results run

(Image Credit – Billboard)

across demographics: Even though use of the term Latinx is greater among younger Latinos, only 7% of those ages 18 to 29 say they use it; among those 30 and older, that percentage drops to an abysmal 2%.

“The population it’s meant to describe isn’t even aware of it,” says Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Global Migration and Demography research at the Pew Research Center, and one of the authors of the August 11 study. “It’s a striking finding.”

And it mirrors what we see in the Latin music universe. Although the term “Latinx” can be often found in English-language press releases, especially when pertaining to U.S. born or raised artists, it’s a rarity in Spanish language releases. Most telling, very few (if any in recent memory) Latin artists self-describe as Latinx, even when directly asked what term they prefer to use.

And a recent, informal survey of more than 30 Latin music executives found that only one preferred the term Latinx over Latin.

“The artists, especially those coming from Latin America, don’t identify as Latinx,” says Matthew Limones, SoundExchanges’ Miami-based manager of artists & label relations, who deals with on a daily basis with Latin acts of all stripes and levels of fame. “Those who are born here, who are raised here and understand the mentality of inclusion, they understand what it means. But I don’t find they use the word.”

Latino Inaugural 2021 celebrates the resilience and power of U.S. Latinos ahead of Biden’s inauguration
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Latino Inaugural 2021 poster Biden and Harris

By Brittany Valentine for Al Dia News

To commemorate the upcoming Inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration, the Hispanic Federation has brought together more than 50 Latino organizations to support the historic event.

“Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience & Promise” is part of the official five-day slate of programming from the Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Latino Inaugural 2021 is an hour-long special that will

(Image Credit – latinoinaugural.org)

feature musical performances and inspirational docu-shorts to uplift the Latino community and portray all the contributions they have made in this country.

Actress and activist, Eva Longoria Bastón is set to host the event, and many more big stars will make appearances, including Becky G, Ivy Queen, Rita Moreno, and Edward James Olmos.

There is also an impressive list of musical performances.

Lin-Manuel and Luis Miranda will perform a touching tribute to Puerto Rico, All-Star Tejanos United will perform “America The Beautiful,” and Gaby Moreno and David Garza will perform “Fronteras.”

Much like the “Momento Latino” televised event that aired on CBS in October, this special is focused on telling the stories of Latino excellence, resilience and strength. It will honor members of Latino communities who kept the country running smoothly during the pandemic as members of the frontline essential workforce.

In addition to the celebrity guests and musical performances, several political figures will be in attendance. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, Robert Menendez and Ben Ray Luján, Senator designate Alex Padilla and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Raul Ruiz will join the special to add to the messages of hope, unity and gratitude.

Henry R. Muñoz III, founder of Momento Latino and executive producer of the program, expressed his excitement at welcoming the new administration..

“Latino communities face existential threats every day – from the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 through our communities, to the requirement that we work essential jobs without essential benefits, to the fear of our democracy falling apart and the constant threat of deportation and family separation. We are gathering to celebrate Latinos’ contributions & our power in the country and to honor the next era of American leadership in President Biden and Vice President Harris,” he said.

The program is co-hosted by 52 of the country’s largest and most influential Latino organizations, including Voto Latino, She Se Puede, Justice for Migrant Women and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Some of the sponsors include DoorDash, Telemundo, Comcast NBCUniversal, Microsoft and Primo TV.

Read the full article at Al Dia News.

These Latinos made a mark in our communities and nation. We lost them in 2020.
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Portraits of Rudolfo Anaya, Naya Rivera, Silvio Horta and Miriam Jimenez Roman.

By Raul A. Reyes for NBC News

2020 has been a year marked by grief and loss, but it is in the spirit of remembrance, not sadness, that we highlight the lives of several Latinos we said goodbye to this year. From Hollywood to Washington, from academia to the armed forces, these are just a few of our “familia” who enriched our communities, our lives and our nation before leaving us.

RUDOLFO ANAYA, 82, a “godfather” of Chicano literature. Anaya is best known for his novel “Bless Me, Ultima”

(Image Credit – NBC News)

(1972), a coming-of-age story set in 1940s New Mexico. “Ultima” follows the relationship between a young boy and a curandera (healer) who comes to live with his family. A bestseller at a time when U.S. Latinos were rarely depicted in mainstream fiction, it has become one of the most acclaimed works in the Chicano literary canon. “Ultima” inspired generations of Latino writers, and it was adapted into a play, an opera and a film.

Books like ‘Ultima’ are part of our personal reading history. Because they are taught in schools, we don’t forget seeing ourselves on the page for the first time,” writer and critic Rigoberto González said. “Seeing names like ours, and figures that are familiar to us, is powerful.” González said he believes “Ultima” will continue to have longevity in libraries and schools and on bookshelves.

Anaya, a prolific author who wrote mysteries, children’s books and travel chronicles, received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2016 for his “pioneering stories of the American Southwest.”

NAYA RIVERA, 33, actress and singer. Condolences poured in from around the world when news broke of the drowning death of Rivera in July. “As a Latina, it’s rare to have rich, complex characters reflect us in media,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted. “Naya worked hard to give that gift to so many.”

Rivera performed throughout her childhood, but it was her role on TV’s “Glee” (2009-15) that catapulted her to fame. Rivera, an advocate for the LGBTQ community, for immigrants and for women’s rights, earned three American Latino Media Arts Awards for her acting and singing. In 2016 she released her memoir, “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.”

“She was the rare Afro-Latina on network TV, and when her character came out as gay, it was a historic moment for LGBTQ representation in prime time,” entertainment journalist Jack Rico said. Pointing out that 22 percent of Latino millennials identify as LGBTQ, Rico called Rivera’s portrayal of cheerleader Santana Lopez “groundbreaking,” saying it paved the way for queer characters on shows like “One Day at a Time” and “Vida.”

Rico said he believes Rivera died on the cusp of another career resurgence. “I could see true stardom in her. When people die young it really hurts, because we lose them and also their potential,” he said. “She was a guiding light for all of us struggling for more diversity and representation.”

Read the full article at NBC News.

Why people are split on using ‘Latinx’
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Depending on which corners of the internet you inhabit, you might have come across the term “Latinx.”

“Latinx” has emerged as an inclusive term to refer to people of Latin American descent, encompassing those who don’t identify as male or female or who don’t want to be identified by their gender. It’s been used by journalists, politicians, corporations, colleges and universities. In 2018, it even made it to the dictionary. But among the people “Latinx” is intended to describe, few have heard of the term — let alone use it. In a new survey, researchers found that only about one in four adults in the US who identify as Hispanic or Latino have heard the term “Latinx,” while just. (Image Credit – Mary Mckean for The Red & Black)                 3% say they use it to describe themselves.

The findings, published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, the signal just how complex identity is for people categorized as Hispanic or Latino.
“This reflects the diversity of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the Hispanic population of the US thinks of itself in many different ways,” Mark Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at Pew Research Center, told CNN. “‘Latinx’ is just one of those many dimensions.”
‘Latinx’ is more common among younger Hispanics

In the US, the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used to refer to people of Spanish-speaking or Latin American origin. Though they’re often used interchangeably, “Hispanic” refers only to people from Spanish-speaking countries, which includes Latin America and Spain. “Latino” refers to people with roots in Latin America, which includes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, but excludes Spain.

Those two terms describe a very broad group of people and don’t always align with the ways that those populations identify themselves.
Read the full article at CNN.

The findings, published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, signal just how complex identity is for people categorized as Hispanic or Latino. “This reflects the diversity of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the Hispanic population of the US thinks of itself in many different ways,” Mark Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at Pew Research Center, told CNN. “‘Latinx’ is just one of those many dimensions.”

In the US, the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used to refer to people of Spanish-speaking or Latin American origin. Though they’re often used interchangeably, “Hispanic” refers only to people from Spanish-speaking countries, which includes Latin America and Spain. “Latino” refers to people with roots in Latin America, which includes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, but excludes Spain. Those two terms describe a very broad group of people and don’t always align with the ways that those populations identify themselves.

Continue to the full article at CNN News.

The ‘Mexican Beverly Hills’
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How a former white enclave became an aspirational suburb for Latinos in Los Angeles.

I was having dinner at some fancy beach-side eatery in early March when someone said they had just moved to Downey, a Southeast Los Angeles suburb 12 miles south of downtown. The other Latinos at the table oohed. “You finally made it,” someone said. “To the Mexican Beverly Hills.”

In many ways, that is what Downey represents. It’s hoity-toity, gilded and more conservative than surrounding neighborhoods — a status-marking place where the average household income, at $88,000, is significantly higher than in other areas in Los Angeles with a similar

(Photo credit – June Canedo for The New York Times) 

ethnic makeup. In East Los Angeles, which is also predominantly Latino, the average income is $56,000, according to census data. (If you’re wondering, the average income in Beverly Hills is $191,000.)

It’s the kind of place where many people feel entitled enough to not wear face masks despite coronavirus infection spikes, where many homes featured “Thank you, Downey PD” banners at the peak of the George Floyd protests — but where an overwhelming majority of its citizens voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. over President Donald J. Trump. (With a vote of roughly 2 to 1 for Mr. Biden, Downey voted more conservatively than Los Angeles County as a whole, which voted for him 3 to 1.)

Continue reading at The New York Times.

Who is Hispanic?
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Hispanic family seated on couch together smiling

Debates over who is Hispanic and who is not have fueled conversations about identity among Americans who trace their heritage to Latin America or Spain.

The question surfaced during U.S. presidential debates and the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. More recently, it bubbled up after a singer from Spain won the “Best Latin” award at the 2019 Video Music Awards.

So, who is considered Hispanic in the United States? And how are they counted in public opinion surveys, voter exit polls and government surveys, such as the 2020 census?

The most common approach to answering these questions is straightforward: Who is Hispanic? Anyone who says they are. And nobody who says they aren’t.

The U.S. Census Bureau uses this approach, as does Pew Research Center and most other research organizations that conduct public opinion surveys. By this way of counting, the Census Bureau estimates there were roughly 60.6 million Hispanics in the United States as of July 1, 2019, making up 18 percent of the total national population.

Behind the impressive precision of this official Census Bureau number lies a long history of changing labels, shifting categories and revised question wording on census forms – all of which reflect evolving cultural norms about what it means to be Hispanic or Latino in the United States today.

Has the Census Bureau Changed the Way it Counts Hispanics?

The first year the Census Bureau asked everybody in the country about Hispanic ethnicity was in 1980. Some efforts took place before then to count people who today would be considered Hispanic. In the 1930 census, for example, an attempt to count Hispanics appeared as part of the race question, which had a category for “Mexican.”

The first major attempt to estimate the size of the nation’s Hispanic population came in 1970 and produced widespread concerns among Hispanic organizations about an undercount. A portion of the U.S. population (5 percent) was asked if their origin or descent was from the following categories: “Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish,” and “No, none of these.” This approach had problems, among them an undercount of about 1 million Hispanics. One reason for this is that many second-generation Hispanics did not select one of the Hispanic groups because the question did not include terms like “Mexican American.” The question wording also resulted in hundreds of thousands of people living in the Southern or Central regions of the US being mistakenly included in the “Central or South American” category.

By 1980, the current approach – in which someone is asked if they are Hispanic – had taken hold, with some tweaks made to the question and response categories since then. In 2000, for example, the term “Latino” was added to make the question read, “Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?” In recent years, the Census Bureau has studied an alternative approach to counting Hispanics that combines the questions that ask about Hispanic origin and race. However, this change did not appear in the 2020 census.

Source: Pew Research Center

The story of Joseph De Castro: The first Hispanic to ever win a U.S. Medal of Honor
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A reenactment photo of the Civil War

By Nigel Thompson of Al Dia News

It is estimated that up to approximately 10,000 Hispanics served throughout the course of the American Civil War.

From Mexican-Americans in the South and West, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and immigrants from Spain and Portugal, they found themselves on either side of the battle.

In the case of Joseph De Castro, the son of a Spanish father and American mother from Maine and the first Hispanic to ever win a Medal of Honor, he enlisted in the Union Army’s volunteer forces at 16 years old.

He was born on Nov. 14, 1844 outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Not much is known of his early life, but his father passed away of tuberculosis in 1858, when De Castro was 14.

This had a profound effect on the adolescent, as the next time he appears in records, it is as an inmate of the State Reform School in Westboro, near Worcester, MA in 1860, at 16.

“He apparently became a handful,” wrote Historian Darlene Richardson in a Facebook post about his life on the VA Boston Healthcare System page.

His time at the Westboro Reform School was also likely filled with more trauma, as an 1860 investigation of the facility in the summer of that year revealed the cruel treatment of boys in the institution’s care.

“Older boys, like Joseph, were often confined to dark, dirty cells for weeks at a time with only bread and water for sustenance,” wrote Richardson.

De Castro was released after the investigation and only three months after the start of the Civil War, he joined the Union Army on July 12, 1861.

He was initially a private in the 19th Massachusetts Infantry, but rose to a corporal over time and became a color-bearer for his regiment. In other words, De Castro was the flag-bearer every time the regiment went into battle, and it is where his heroism would be best remembered.

The 19th Massachusetts fought in a number of historic battles throughout the Civil War, including the Second Manassas, Antietam and Fredericksburg.

But it was at the Battle of Gettysburg that De Castro would earn his Medal of Honor.

The story goes that during the battle, De Castro separated from his unit amid Pickett’s Charge — ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the forces of Union Major General George G. Meade.

Continue on to Al Dia News to read the full article. 

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