White Hispanic and Latino Americans

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White Hispanic and Latino Americans
Total population
12,579,626 (white alone)
20.3% of all Latino Americans and 3.8% of the U.S. population
31,521,221 (white alone or in combination)
50.8% of all Latino Americans and 9.6% of the U.S. population
Regions with significant populations
Nationwide, concentrated in Southwest
26.4% of Latinos
10.4% of total population
16.6% of Latinos
6.5% of total population
23.2% of Latinos
6.1% of total population
 New Mexico305,985
30.3% of Latinos
14.5% of total population
American English • American Spanish • Mexican Spanish • Portuguese • Spanglish • Nuyorican English • Miami English • Portuglish
Catholic Church, sizeable Protestantism
Minority Atheism • Judaism
Related ethnic groups
White Latin Americans, White Mexicans, White Americans, Latino Americans, Spanish Americans, Portuguese Americans, Italian Americans, French Americans

In the United States, a white Hispanic or Latino is an individual who self-identifies as white and is of full or partial Hispanic or Latino descent, the largest group being white Mexican Americans.[citation needed] Although not differentiated in the U.S. Census definition, White Latino Americans may also be defined to include only those who identify as white and either originate from or have descent from countries in Latin America that speak Romance languages such as Brazil, Haiti, and French Guiana.

Based on the definitions created by the Office of Management and Budget and the US Census Bureau, the concepts of race and ethnicity are mutually independent. For the Census Bureau, ethnicity distinguishes between those who report ancestral origins in Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, and those who do not. From 1850 to 1920, Mexicans in the United States were generally classified as white by the U.S. Census. In 1930, "Mexican" was officially added as a racial category on the United States Census but was soon after removed due to political pressure from the Mexican consul general in New York, the Mexican ambassador in Washington, the Mexican government itself, Mexican Americans, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) who protested the exclusion from whiteness. In 1970, a 5 percent sample of the Census was asked if their “origin or descent” was Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or Other Spanish. In 1980, the full population was asked about "Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent" identifying three nationalities (“Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano”). Thereafter "Latino" was classified solely as an ethnicity separate from race. In 2000, the US Census Bureau allowed persons to check multiple race identifiers.

As of 2020, 62 million or 18.7% of residents of the United States of America identified as Latino of which 12.5 million or 20.3% self-identified as white alone.


Some white Latinos in the United States of America today are descended from original Spanish colonists who settled the so-called "internal provinces" and Louisiana of New Spain. As the United States expanded westward, it annexed lands with a long-established population of Spanish-speaking settlers, who were overwhelmingly or exclusively of white Spanish ancestry (cf. White Mexican). This group became known as Hispanos. Prior to incorporation into the United States of America (and briefly, into Independent Texas), Hispanos had enjoyed a privileged status in the society of New Spain and later in post-colonial Mexico.

Racial identity

Concepts of multiracial identity have existed in Latin America since the colonial era, originating in a Spanish caste system that apportioned different rights to people based on their degree of European, African, and Indigenous American ancestry. During the 20th century, the concept of mestizaje, or 'blending', was adopted as a national identity by a number of Latin American countries in order to reduce racial conflict.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of US Latinos identify as "mestizo", "mulatto", or another multiracial identity. Such identities often conflict with standard racial classifications in the United States: among Latino American adults surveyed by Pew Research who identified as multiracial, about 40% reported their race as "white" on standard race question as used on the US Census; 13% reported belonging to more than one race or "mixed race"; while about 20% chose "Latino" as their race.


White Latinos by state - 2019 ACS
State Population % of state % of Latinos
Texas 9,047,039 32.0 81.4
California 8,847,910 22.5 57.7
Florida 4,435,909 21.2 83.0
New York 1,575,875 8.1 42.4
Arizona 1,587,446 22.5 71.9
Illinois 1,305,053 10.2 59.7
New Jersey 1,101,694 12.4 61.4
Colorado 894,253 15.9 74
New Mexico 783,097 37.4 76.7
Nevada 486,470 16.4 57

As of 2020, 18.7% of Americans identified themselves ethnically as Latino. Of those, 20.3% (3.8% of the total US population), also self-identified as white.

In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that high intermarriage rates and declining Latin American immigration has led to 11% of US adults with Latino ancestry (5.0 million people) to no longer identify as Latino. First generation immigrants from Latin America identify as Latino at very high rates (97%) which reduces in each succeeding generation, second generation (92%), third generation (77%), and fourth generation (50%).

Population by national origin

Population by national origin 2010
Latino national origin Self-identified white population % of total Latino population Percent of self-identified white population
Mexican 16,794,111 63.0% 53%
Puerto Rican 2,455,534 9.2% 53%
Cuban 1,525,521 3.5% 85%
Salvadoran 663,224 3.3% 40%
Dominican 419,016 2.8% 30%
Guatemalan 401,763 2.1% 36.8%
Latino South Americans 1,470,464 5.5% 66%
All other Latinos 2,018,397 6.8% 50%
Total 26,735,713 100% 53%

Some Latino American groups that have white majorities or pluralities originate in countries that do not. For example, Mexico's white only population is 9% to 17%, while Mexico is majoritarily mestizo, meaning that they have mixed European and Native American ancestry, while 52.8% of Mexican Americans are white, or identify themselves as white in the Census (See the table). The differences in racial perceptions that exist in both countries are considered: The concept of race in Mexico is subtle not only including physical clues such as skin color but also cultural dispositions, morality, economic, and intellectual status. It is not static or well defined but rather is defined and redefined by the situation. This makes racial distinctions different from those in other countries such as the United States.

Other important differences lay in the criteria and formats used for the censuses in each country: In Mexico, the only ethnic census including categories other than Amerindian (dated back to 1921) performed by the government offered the following options in the questionnaire:

  • Full European heritage
  • Mixed Indigenous and European heritage (the term "mestizo" itself was never used by the government)
  • Full Indigenous
  • Foreigners without racial distinction
  • Other race

The census had the particularity that, unlike racial/ethnic census in other countries, it was focused in the perception of cultural heritage rather than in a racial perception, leading to a good number of white people to identify with "Mixed heritage" due cultural influence. On the other hand, while only 2.9% of the population of the United States identifies as mixed race there is evidence that an accounting by genetic ancestry would produce a higher number, but historical and cultural reasons, including slavery creating a racial caste and the European-American suppression of Native Americans, often led people to identify or be classified by only one ethnicity, generally that of the culture they were raised in. While many Americans may be biologically multiracial, they often do not know it or do not identify so culturally.

Representation in the media

Judith Ortiz Cofer noted that appellation varies according to geographical location, observing that in Puerto Rico she was considered white, but in the United States she was considered a "brown person."

Since the early days of the movie industry in the United States of America, when white Latino actors are given roles, they are frequently cast in non-Latino white roles. Latino Americans began to appear in the American movie industry in the 1910s, and the leading players among them "were generally light skinned and Caucasian".

Myrtle Gonzalez was one such American actress in the silent film era; she starred in at least 78 motion pictures from 1913 to 1917. Anita Page was an American actress of Spanish descent who reached stardom in 1928, during the last years of the silent film. Page was referred to as "a blond, blue-eyed Latin" and "the girl with the most beautiful face in Hollywood". Hilary Swank an American actress and film producer recipient of numerous awards, including two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Clough (née Dominguez), was born in El Centro, California, and was of Mexican descent.

Telenovelas (soap operas) have been criticized for not fully reflecting the racial diversity of Latino Americans, and for underrepresenting non-white Latino, Latino Americans, and non-white Latin Americans. For example, in the 2005 US Latino telenovela Olvidarte Jamas, white, blond, and blue-eyed Venezuelan American actress Sonya Smith portrayed Luisa Dominguez who is a poor mestiza woman; the actress had to wear a black wig. Sonya Smith, however, was the first actor of Latin American descent to portray a Latina without stereotypical perception (portrayed as blond and blue-eyed Latina, not a Latina mestiza nor mulatta nor Mediterranean-looking Latina) in a Hollywood film Hunted by Night, an English-language movie with an all-Latino cast.[citation needed]

Marriage trends

A total of 27% of Latinos marry outside their ethnicity. Non-Latino white/Latino intermarriage is the most common intermarriage in the United States representing 42% of interracial/ethnic marriages compared to white/black at 11%. Intermarriage rates between whites and Latinos do not differ significantly among the genders (with Latina females slightly more likely to marry whites).


Genetic research has found that the average non-European admixture is present in both white-Latinos and non-Latino whites with different degrees according to different areas of the United States. Average European admixture among self-identified white Latino Americans is 73% (the average for Latino Americans regardless of race is 65.1%), contrasting to that of non-Latino European Americans, whose European ancestry totals 98.6% on average. "Average admixture," however, can be a misleading measure, as it conflates vastly different population groups and ignores marked differences within individual Latino groups. Each Latin American country has a unique demographic history. Mexican Americans and Central Americans may be more racially mestizo, for instance, but the same is not true of American Latinos from countries with higher proportions of white Latin Americans, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. The genetic profile of American Latinos varies from group to group and is a result of unique immigration histories. For instance, the Cuban exiles "fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s and ’70s were almost entirely white, educated and middle or upper class."

See also