El País: Prof. Tanya Hernández Discusses Afro-Latino Erasure in U.S. Census


Fordham Law Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández is quoted in an El País article describing how Afro-Latinos fear being erased from next United States census.

Afro-Latino researchers like Tanya Katerí Hernández explain that the change will end up confusing people more. “When you put Latino/Hispanic in the same list with racial categories, that leads the Latino to think, ‘Oh, those are the categories for English-speaking Americans. They don’t mean me because my box is the Latino box,’” says the Fordham University School of Law professor and author of the book Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality.

According to Hernández, when a Latino sees the category of white on the census, they think it refers to “white Americans, the descendants of the first English-speaking settlers who came to America. Similarly, when they see Black, they think it refers only to African Americans.” Therefore, the new question will lead to the erasure of Afro-Latinos in the statistics and an undervaluation of racial diversity within the Latino community.

“It’s a way to have people disinclined to check multiple boxes even though it’s available to them. The framing of the question doesn’t encourage it, so you’re going to get less data about the way race affects Latinos,” Hernández points out. “The prior census framing that kept Hispanic ethnicity separate from race at least enabled us to get at the ways in which racism makes a difference within Latinidad. That even though all of us can be exposed to ethnic discrimination, not all of us are exposed to the same kind of skin color, racial discrimination,” she adds.

Read “Afro-Latinos fear being erased from next United States census” in El País.


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