What makes me lay these definitions out is some frustration with my last roommate. I would mention the fact that he's Hispanic (note that we were and are still on good terms) in an offhand way - for example, Is that where your accent comes from then? - or refer to his skin color - Well, you are mulatto... - and he would take like I just ordered him to don a sombrero and clean the bathroom.
He was so incredibly touchy about his race and, this is what annoyed me, and yet so proud of it. I asked him why he sleeps with his shirt off, even in the winter. "'Cause I'm Hispanic; we all do." Why do you like that brand of tequila so much? "'Cause I'm Hispanic man." He was, in a way, acting racist himself. The message he was giving off was, "I'm Hispanic, which gives me unique defining traits like all races, BUT only I can talk about them and act like they're good qualities; otherwise it's an attack against me and my people."
Can I ask you one simple question: From where exactly was he from?
I am asking you this because, well being"Hispanic" myself (We like to use Latino American from where I am from; it depends of course with the person) it influences a lot. I admit that we are proud people and even though I can't talk for anyone, I can do give you a fair example of the culture I grew up with.
For example the term you used, this one been "Mulato" it is actually a very derogatory term created by our old Spanish ancestors. Even though during the past of centuries this term has acquire different definitions, to many of us, it is still a racist remark, term, etc.
The "Mulato" term was actually given to the bastards who were born from the mix of Spanish and African descendants or Spanish and Amerindians descendants. They created this term because when they started to categorize the races in the new world (Which to them were: White, Black and Indian)they found that they didn't have any term to actually describe the "hybrids" that had come out from such relationships thus they name them "Mulato" or "Mestizo". It was a way to remind these persons on the place they held on society during that time, they didn't fit with all the others so they became outsiders.
Of course as time passed by the "Mulato" and "Mestizo" started to gain power and they actually became the second power class in different countries, of course like any derogatory term it was pass down to the future generations.
Our racism is very different from the "normal" one. It is more psychological and it exists even in the own family unit. It is sometimes done not knowing and well that's why it affects more. Our family have been pass down with these close ideas, that we (Latino American) used these terms sometimes on our own selves even though by geneological standards we are all "Mulatos" or "Mestizos", even if we don't look light brown skin.
I can tell you from numerous times I have seen this and have experience this, not only family wise but by outsiders, who like me share the same heritage.
I have family members who are of a darker skin color and whenever I go out with them I have had people or friends remark about how it is not possible that these family members are related to me due to my white skin, that I must be joking or playing a trick on them. It has also been done by friends of them or acquaintances.
I've heard since I was a little kid with my own grandmother (who is of dark skin color) tell me not to marry a black man because I would actually "destroy the race," which when I was a little, I didn't pay much attention to it until I got older and actually grasp what she meant. I could keep going on and on with different examples and situations.
We are proud for a reason because for some of us is a defense mechanism. I do admit we are touchy with our race because we have dealt with a lot of racism, but in general we dislike to hear others who don't know how it feels talk bad about it. We have a very, very difficult cultures to describe in my opinion as well as our language because spanish (Castellano) may be one language but if varies by country thanks to the dialects.
I hope you understood me well and if not please ask me to make my point again or message me with any doubts you may have ^.^