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Author Topic: Question about ethnicity in the US  (Read 1367 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Question about ethnicity in the US
« on: September 10, 2013, 05:46:10 AM »
I was wondering: in the US, are people like Charlie Sheen and Jessica Alba considered White or Latino? I'm asking, because Sheen looks totally White to me - but,  on the other hand, he's Carlos Estevez...

Overall, why is "Latino" considered a separate ethnicity?

Offline ThePrince

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 06:51:26 AM »
Latino covers anyone born or who's patents are born in a Central American country, specifically Spanish speaking countries. I believe this also includes Spanish speaking South American countries.

Generally Latino is associated with skin color, as people from those countries typically have a brownish skin color. But this isn't always the case, Senator Mark Rubio considers himself Latino because of his parents are Cuban immigrants, but he has light skin. Ultimately its up to the individual and the community that decides who is and who isn't a Latino. Charlie Sheen is not a Latino because his grandparents come from Spain. I don't know about Jessica Alba, you may have to ask her.

I don't spend a lot of time on this subject so if I am wrong someone please correct me.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 09:02:47 AM »
Honestly the safest way to slap someone into that category is based on their ethnic background. Skin color isn't all that useful for doing so, considering the wide variety of people that comes with being in the US. Take my sister and I for instance, for all intents and purposes, we are part of the Caucasian ethnicity, and yet when we were children we often were asked if my little 10 year old self was adopted from Mexico. This is due, apparently to the fact, that although both my sister and I have dark hair and eyes, she is far more fair skinned than I am. Though I don't get as much sun now as I did when I was a child, it could probably still happen. See, now I'm not sure which particular part of my background this comes from though I know I got it from my mother most likely, I tan, very very well. As a matter of fact, when I was a child, I used to get so damn tan that I really did have that dark, rich copper tone that people often times associate with those of Latin descent.

Also, Latino has a cultural connotation to it if I remember correctly, though don't hold me to that statement.

Offline spanz

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 09:27:41 AM »
to be honest, as the years go by, we in the USA really do not notice such stuff very much.  We are all pretty much immigrants.  It is only if someone starts spouting off a long foreign language that we notice...trying to all speak English is the binding glue.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 09:35:52 AM »
Honestly the safest way to slap someone into that category is based on their ethnic background. Skin color isn't all that useful for doing so, considering the wide variety of people that comes with being in the US. Take my sister and I for instance, for all intents and purposes, we are part of the Caucasian ethnicity, and yet when we were children we often were asked if my little 10 year old self was adopted from Mexico. This is due, apparently to the fact, that although both my sister and I have dark hair and eyes, she is far more fair skinned than I am.

'''

Also, Latino has a cultural connotation to it if I remember correctly, though don't hold me to that statement.

It's an interesting question, not least because the natives of the Pyrenaean peninsula are, and have been at least since the middle ages, mostly Caucasian in a wide sense. Just as Caucasian as someone from England, Lithuania or European Russia. Spaniards (and Italians) often have slightly more brownish, liquor-like skin than northern Europeans but it's not something marking them out that heavily. It does sound to me as if Hispanic/Latino is more of a cultural marker than simply a hardline race marker, and it could have been assisted by two factors:

1. the cultural rift between America north of Mexico and what lay south (mostly protestant vs catholic, English vs Spanish/Portuguese, city work culture and industry vs "carnival culture" and big land estates, more presence of the native peoples in the south, fewer "Indian wars" and less of a plain "frontier" moving through these countries)

2. there's been more racial mixing between Europeans, native peoples and African slaves and their descendants in South/Central America - at any rate before 1950. Many of those countries didn't have laws against intermarriage (miscegenation) and the stigma of having an Indian or halfblood lover wasn't as strong in some places as in the U.S. So the European settlers and ruling class became more mixed up with those other ethinicities than north of the Rio Grande. Not sure if Brazilians and their children get packed into these terms in the north, but Brazil is a well-known meeting ground of peoples and cultures and has seen massive ethnic and cultural mixing over the last two hundred years, and this really comes through in its rich heritage of music and dance.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 10:04:42 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Braioch

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 09:39:00 AM »
Well, the US has been fairly well known for feeling the need to draw a hardline between varying ethnicities, so that doesn't really surprise me. Interesting points though, and I do believe you're onto something there.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 10:18:32 AM »
I remember in a discussion (may have been on here, actually, but I forget precisely) about the new Star Trek film someone was complaining about Khan being white.  I said the previous one was and I was angrily informed that he wasn't white he was Mexican.



*shrug*  Dude looks white to me.  Latino really does seem like a cultural thing.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 10:23:24 AM »
Yeah, I stayed out of that particular little discussion, mostly because there is that hazy line. Especially since, in that picture alone, you can't really tell. I honestly don't even try to guess anymore, there are too many variations and mixtures that I can't even begin to guess at and don't try. I just...let it be, otherwise you risk causing offense, or looking mildly foolish.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2013, 11:13:51 AM »
I remember in a discussion (may have been on here, actually, but I forget precisely) about the new Star Trek film someone was complaining about Khan being white.  I said the previous one was and I was angrily informed that he wasn't white he was Mexican.

... what, in truth, doesn't make any difference. Considering Khan's full name, he should be played by an actor of Indian (or close to India) descent.

Quote
*shrug*  Dude looks white to me.  Latino really does seem like a cultural thing.

I've got the same reaction to Edward James Olmos. I know he's Mexican, but he looks White. Similarly, Jessica Alba - I would have never guessed she can be considered a Latino. Heck, wouldn't Michelle Rodriguez qualify as White?

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2013, 12:12:55 PM »
Race is a topic that for better or for worse, is impossible to fully study - even in an academic setting - due to the fact that all of us come from different cultures, and ultimately, co-exist with one another.  In other words, because most of us today realize this need to get along with one another, we are almost fearful nowadays to study and explore any potential differences between races.

Rather than encouraging academic studies into any and all physical, intellectual, and behavioral differences between races, and examining the different strengths and weaknesses of the world's different cultures, researchers are being chastised when they do so.

It is not morally in-correct to say that there are many differences between us as human beings - and that ultimately, we are all part of the human race, and that we accept all these differences.  But to suggest that the vast expanse of micro-evolution in human beings due to geographic separation has created 'races' that are only different due to appearance alone, is not based on scientific fact.  For example, there are immune system differences, genetic differences causing different congenital diseases - and possibly many, many more that span many categories besides "appearance."
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 12:14:12 PM by ValthazarElite »

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2013, 12:40:48 PM »


*shrug*  Dude looks white to me.  Latino really does seem like a cultural thing.

... what, in truth, doesn't make any difference. Considering Khan's full name, he should be played by an actor of Indian (or close to India) descent.

However, if you listen to Ricardo Montalban speak, (in both of his runs as Khan, as Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island, or in that car commercial selling 'soft Corinthian leather') he has a very distinctive accent.  I would have liked to see someone from India play the character, though.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 12:52:57 PM »
It was "white" and "Mexican" being apparently mutually exclusive that puzzled me.  And I'm not sure about the Indian descent either.  I've never seen any Star Trek and likely never will so no idea about the character's history but, well, my surname is Danish, my boyfriend's is French, my half sisters both have Pakistani names, my best friend's surname is *googles* OK, English apparently.  Bad example.  But I'm not sure that tying name to ethnicity so tightly is necessary.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2013, 12:58:22 PM »
I don't know. "Khan Noonien Singh" just screams Indian (Sikh?) to me. I don't see how a Caucasian person could end up with such a name (aside from being adopted in his infancy).

BTW. Speaking of Montalban as Khan...



Is this Montalban's natural skin colour? Because in this clip here, he does look non-Caucasian... He definitely look way more Indian than Benedict Cucumbersnatch ;)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2013, 01:04:23 PM »
Didn't know that was his name.  Makes little sense though - Singh is Sikh, Khan usually Muslim. 

Offline Retribution

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2013, 01:26:05 PM »
Honestly in the US I think too many people try to identify too hard as one ethnicity or another. It is not like any of us have roots from here unless we are Native American or Inuit. So when the whole "what nationality are you" saw comes up I say American. Yes, my great grandparents were from Germany and Austria so I could be called German for ethnicity but I think so many get hung up on such things when their family may have been in this country for generations.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2013, 01:34:28 PM »
I know of two faculty professors called Alexander Kan, both of them expatriate Russians (and quite Caucasian): the first one is a historian holding a chair in Sweden, the other one teaches economics in London. Kan would be the Russian transcription of Khan, and both Alexander and Khan mean "ruler, king".  :-)


Well, there's also a Pakistani man by the name of Alexander Khan. He's a controversial figure in his home country it seems, having written books about his rough childhood and his opposition to islamic culture.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 04:37:46 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2013, 01:43:27 PM »
This is the Alexander Khan who was abducted?  I saw a lecture by him.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2013, 01:47:50 PM »
Yes, it is.

Offline Torch

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2013, 05:16:45 PM »
Yes, my great grandparents were from Germany and Austria so I could be called German for ethnicity but I think so many get hung up on such things when their family may have been in this country for generations.

It depends on the area of the country you live in. In the Northeast, where immigrant roots are much fresher, it is very common to ask someone, "What are you?", as in "What is your ethnic background?".

I got that question a lot when I moved to NYC ages ago. To which I would respond by looking at the person like they had suddenly sprouted an extra head. Mr. Torch (who is first generation Irish-American) would helpfully interpret for me by letting me know that the person was curious about my ethnic background. This was my cue to say, "I'm American."

And no joke, one person actually said to me, "You mean American Indian?"

In NYC, you aren't "American." You are Irish, or Italian, or Polish, or Russian, or Korean, or wherever the hell your grandparents came from.


Offline Ascia

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2013, 06:32:38 PM »
to be honest, as the years go by, we in the USA really do not notice such stuff very much.  We are all pretty much immigrants.  It is only if someone starts spouting off a long foreign language that we notice...trying to all speak English is the binding glue.

What US do you live in? ^_^ Sounds like a dream.

Offline Ascia

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2013, 06:42:04 PM »
I was wondering: in the US, are people like Charlie Sheen and Jessica Alba considered White or Latino? I'm asking, because Sheen looks totally White to me - but,  on the other hand, he's Carlos Estevez...

Overall, why is "Latino" considered a separate ethnicity?

Because my ancestors are from Latin America, I'm cosnsidered latina. (Latina for female, Latino for male.)  I have light skin and don't even speak Spanish...but because the US is a nation of immigrants that loves nothing more than giving hell to the newest immigrant group, it's always a factor. Definitely different culture, language, food, music, etc., so it's not labeling people based purely on ethnic background. Knowing I'm latina changes first impressions, as there's not a huge amount of mixing in the races in the US on a large scale, and what ethnicity you are helps people. I get asked out a fair amount, but whites tend to not know if they should approach me--after all I'm latina, and they know their odds aren't great.

Sad, but true. Every country has their hangups.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 06:43:21 PM by Ascia »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2013, 07:03:15 PM »
Because my ancestors are from Latin America, I'm cosnsidered latina. (Latina for female, Latino for male.)  I have light skin and don't even speak Spanish...but because the US is a nation of immigrants that loves nothing more than giving hell to the newest immigrant group, it's always a factor. Definitely different culture, language, food, music, etc., so it's not labeling people based purely on ethnic background. Knowing I'm latina changes first impressions, as there's not a huge amount of mixing in the races in the US on a large scale, and what ethnicity you are helps people. I get asked out a fair amount, but whites tend to not know if they should approach me--after all I'm latina, and they know their odds aren't great.

Sad, but true. Every country has their hangups.

At the same time, many ethnic communities voluntarily choose to isolate themselves in clusters - not really wanting to immerse themselves into becoming part of the community.  It is certainly one thing to celebrate one's culture and heritage, but it is entirely another when immigrants don't feel a responsibility to assimilate into the melting pot of American life. 

I am an immigrant myself, and live in a reasonably diverse area.  I can tell you for a fact that when I go community events, or town hall meetings, they are almost entirely Caucasian.  The demographics of our area have substantially increased the minority population - but it is almost as if they don't want to foster a community spirit.   

A lot of times, people are uneasy about approaching minority groups when they voluntarily segregate themselves.  Just go to any college campus, and you'll see clusters of African American students hanging out together, clusters of Asian students hanging out together, and then you'll see other clusters of Caucasian students with some minorities interspersed.

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Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2013, 07:16:22 PM »
By the middle of the century, almost one out of three permanent U.S. residents or citizens will belong to the Hispanic group, says this projection. And that's a conservative estimate, I suppose - it doesn't count in any increase in immigration from Latin America, and there could be an assumption too that the average number of children in Latino families will drop a bit.

Offline Ascia

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2013, 07:17:46 PM »
By the middle of the century, almost one out of three permanent U.S. residents or citizens will belong to the Hispanic group, says this projection. And that's a conservative estimate, I suppose - it doesn't count in any increase in immigration from Latin America, and there could be an assumption too that the average number of children in Latino families will drop a bit.

Odelay =)

Offline mia h

Re: Question about ethnicity in the US
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2013, 06:39:39 AM »
I was wondering: in the US, are people like Charlie Sheen and Jessica Alba considered White or Latino? I'm asking, because Sheen looks totally White to me - but,  on the other hand, he's Carlos Estevez...

Overall, why is "Latino" considered a separate ethnicity?

Jessica Alba is a hard one to label, part Mexican, part French, part Danish and if I read it correctly possibly part Thai