Why Hispanic Is Not a Race

why hispanic is not a race

No doubt. It is confusing and perplexing. Some might even find it upsetting. Many don’t understand why Hispanic is not a race on USCIS applications.

When preparing USCIS immigration forms, such as Form I-821D for DACA and N-400 for naturalization, applicants are asked about ethnicity and race. But many applicants are stumped when asked to select a race. The list (sample image below) of races includes:

  • White
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

why hispanic is not a raceApplicants from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South or Central America, or any other Spanish culture or origin tend to get a little confused. Why is Hispanic not a race? Why is Latino not a race?

Not everyone agrees. But here’s why Hispanic is not a race…

Why Hispanic is Not a Race According to the U.S. Census

The confusion is not limited to USCIS applications. Each census, Hispanic/Latino households may become confused with a similar question about race. The census does not offer Hispanic or Latino as options for race.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.
Difference Between Race and Ethnicity

Race describes your biological lineage. It defines your identity based on your genetic makeup more than other characteristics like culture and country of origin.

Unlike race, ethnicity is not biological. Ethnicity refers to the cultural traits shared by a group of people. These shared and learned traits include customs, language, and ancestry.

why hispanic is not a race

Example: Yasiel Puig, a growing star in Major League Baseball, immigrated to the United States from Cuba. Ethnically he is clearly Hispanic. He speaks Spanish and grew up with Cuban culture and traditions. He is also black. Like many people in the Caribbean region, his ancestors came from Africa. So Yasiel is a black Cuban American of Hispanic ethnicity.

As the world becomes increasingly integrated and blended, the concepts of race and ethnicity become more complicated. In fact the U.S. Census Bureau is wrestling with the problem and is engaged in a major research project.

How to Answer to Race Question

If you are preparing a USCIS application, you may answer the race question with the category you most closely identify. Many Hispanic applicants select “white” but others choose “black” or “American Indian.” (You may choose more than one.) There is no one single answer that works for all Hispanic people. The answer is individual to you.