White Hispanic and Latino Americans
65.5% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans
11.8% of total U.S. population (2019)
|Regions with significant populations|
|All areas of the United States|
81.4% of Hispanics and Latinos
32.0% of total population
57.7% of Hispanics and Latinos
22.5% of total population
83.0% of Hispanics and Latinos
21.2% of total population
76.7% of Hispanics and Latinos
37.4% of total population
|American English • American Spanish • Mexican Spanish • Portuguese • Spanglish • Nuyorican English • Miami English|
|Catholic Church, sizeable Protestantism|
Minority Atheism • Judaism
|Related ethnic groups|
|White Latin Americans, White Mexicans, White Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Spanish Americans, Portuguese Americans, Italian Americans, French Americans|
In the United States, a White Hispanic is an individual who self-identifies as white and of Hispanic descent. White Latino Americans are a broader category, and may include people of Brazilian descent who self-identify, since they predominantly speak Portuguese and the vast majority claim a distinct identity and a singular voice, in addition to Spanish-speaking populations.
Based on the definitions created by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Census Bureau, the concepts of race and ethnicity are mutually independent. For the Census Bureau, ethnicity distinguishes between those who report ancestral origins in Spain or Latin America (Hispanic and Latino Americans), and those who do not (non-Hispanic Americans). From 1850 to 1920, Mexicans in the United States were classified as white while some Latinos were classified as "Mulattoes", "Indians" or, "Other" if they were not purely of European ancestry. "Mexican" was officially added as a racial category on the United States Census beginning in 1930 in connection with the growing Mexican population, but was removed due to political pressure. Classification was up to each census official's discretion before the establishment of a centralized Census Bureau in 1902. A designation for Hispanic and Latino citizens returned in 1970, again coinciding with an increase of immigration from Latin America. As had been the case historically, classification of Latinos presented difficulties in the United States, for the country did not have large mixed-race domestic populations. "Hispanic/Latino" will remain as an ethnicity. Many employers had already given "Hispanic or Latino" the same demographic weight as a racial group for some time. The U.S. Census Bureau asks each resident to report the "race or races with which they most closely identify."
White Americans are therefore referenced as white Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, the former consisting of white Americans who report Hispanophone ancestry (Spain, Hispanic America, Equatorial Guinea), and the latter consisting of white Americans who do not report Hispanophone ancestry.
As of 2019, 58.5 million or 18% of Americans identified as Hispanic or Latino. Of those, 38.3 million, or 65.5% (11.8% of the total U.S. population), also self-identified as white.
A minority of White Hispanics 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.
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 U.S. Hispanics identify as "mestizo", "mulatto", or another multiracial identity. Such identities often conflict with standard racial classifications in the U.S.: among Hispanic 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 U.S. Census; 13% reported belonging to more than one race or "mixed race"; while about 20% chose "Hispanic" as their race.
|White Hispanics by state, 2019 ACS|
|State||Population||% of state||% of Hispanics|
As of 2019, 58.5 million or 18% of Americans identified themselves ethnically as Hispanic or Latino. Of those, 38.3 million, or 65.5% (11.8% of the total U.S. population), also self-identified as white.
The respondents in the "some other race" category are reclassified as white by the Census Bureau in its official estimates of race. This means that more than 90% of all Hispanic or Latino Americans are counted as "white" in certain statistics of the US government.
Hispanics and Latinos who are native-born and those who are immigrant identify as White in nearly identical percentages: 53.9 and 53.7, respectively, per figures from 2007. The overall Hispanic or Latino ratio was 53.8%.
In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that high intermarriage rates and declining Latin American immigration has led to 11% of U.S. adults with Hispanic ancestry (5.0 million people) to no longer identify as Hispanic. First generation immigrants from Spain and Latin America identify as Hispanic at very high rates (97%) which reduces in each succeeding generation, second generation (92%), third generation (77%), and fourth generation (50%).
White Hispanics are widespread, with Florida and Texas being 2 states with some of the highest percentages of Hispanics self identifying as white. New Mexico has the highest percentage of the overall population identifying as White Hispanic with 37.4%.
Population by national origin
|Population by national origin 2010|
|Hispanic national origin||Self-identified White population||% of total Hispanic population||Percent of self-identified White population|
|Hispanic South Americans||1,470,464||5.5%||65.9%|
|All other Hispanics||2,018,397||6.8%||49.4%|
Some Hispanic or 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 than 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 Hispanic actors are given roles, they are frequently cast in non-Hispanic white roles. Hispanic and 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 Hispanic and Latino Americans, and for underrepresenting non-white Hispanic, Latino Americans, and non-white Latin Americans. For example, in the 2005 U.S. Hispanic 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 Hispanic actor to portray a Hispanic without stereotypical perception (portrayed as blond and blue-eyed Hispanic, not a Hispanic mestiza nor mulatta nor Mediterranean-looking Hispanic) in a Hollywood film Hunted by Night, an English-language movie with an all-Hispanic cast.
A total of 27% of Hispanics marry outside their ethnicity. Non-Hispanic White/Hispanic 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 Hispanics do not differ significantly among the genders (with Hispanic females slightly more likely to marry whites).
Genetic research has found that the average non-European admixture is present in both White-Hispanics and Non-Hispanic Whites with different degrees according to different areas of the US. Average European admixture among self-identified White Hispanic Americans is 73% (the average for Hispanic Americans regardless of race is 65.1%), contrasting to that of non-Hispanic 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 Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. 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."