DCentric » Hispanics http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU In Your Words: George Zimmerman And To Be White And Hispanic http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/in-your-words-george-zimmerman-and-to-be-white-and-hispanic/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/in-your-words-george-zimmerman-and-to-be-white-and-hispanic/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2012 17:44:16 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14890 Continue reading ]]>

Courtesy of Orange County Jail

A 2005 photo of George Zimmerman.

Race looms large in the story of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager shot and killed by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the Feb. 26 incident and hasn’t be charged with a crime. The lack of charges have led to nationwide protests by those who believe Zimmerman would have been charged had Martin not been black.

But how much does the race of the shooter matter in the story? Zimmerman’s father is identified as white and his mother as Hispanic. Many believe Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, but Zimmerman’s family has used his ethnic heritage as a defense against such claims.

A number of you weighed in on the role of race in the story and the complexity of racial identity for Hispanics, who are considered a minority group in the United States. C_vs writes that Hispanic is an ethnicity, referring to “people of various backgrounds who are united by the Spanish language and Latin-American culture.” But Hispanics can be of any race.

Laribos writes that the Martin case highlights the need for more nuanced ways to identify Hispanics:

… As Latinos continue to increase in numbers and political power in the USA, I believe that we will need to get used to making this distinction between Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic whites.  As it currently is, we US Americans are so used to assuming that “white” refers exclusively to Anglo-Saxon or Nordic white people.  Now, we need to get rid of that assumption, and comprehend the complexity of white/European identity.  Not all white people in the USA are descended from northern/western Europeans; there are also millions of white people whose ancestors come from Latin America (but whose ancestors’ ancestors originally came from Spain/Portugal/other parts of Europe).

So yeah, it’s not so popular yet for US Americans to talk about “White Latinos” or “White Hispanics” or “Mestizos” in the national discourse, but again, now that Latinos (not only white Latinos, but also black and brown Latinos) are increasing in numbers and political strength, the rest of us US Americans are gonna need to get used to it.

Commenter Kathleen Rand Reed writes that Hispanics should explore their identity choices before going down the same route that other light-skinned immigrants have gone, such as the Irish and Italians. Lighter-skinned Latinos who identify racially as “white” and ethnically “of color” are traveling down “an identity two-way street,” Reed writes:

When benefits are distributed (especially those to assuage injustice and discrimination toward African Americans) or they are in legal trouble many Latinos want to be considered “minorities”.  But for the privileges, these same Latinos check “White” on the forms for racial identity, much like the Italians, Sicilians and Irish learned to do in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Other commenters wrote that the media shouldn’t treat Zimmerman as white. Janet Page wrote:

The media is constantly pitting ‘Whites’ against ‘Hispanics’ in immigration issues. Now when it is convenient to make a story racist the description changes and Hispanics are now white. You can’t have it both ways. There might indeed be a racist element to the story but you should stop calling it white on black.

Others felt focusing on Zimmerman’s race isn’t as relevant as Martin’s race. JayT writes:

… It’s not the fact that it was between what’s mistakenly pronounced as black and white males, by some, but the complete handling or mishandling, if you will, of the case, due to the fact that the victim was a black male. I believe those variables are what prompts one to then bring in the division of races along with the mere fact that Hispanics are not apart of the Black group although both sides are often synonymous with the term “minority”.

Federal authorities have gotten involved in the investigation and as the case continues to unfold, Zimmerman’s race has become less and less of a focus in media coverage. Do you think it’s irrelevant to the story?

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/in-your-words-george-zimmerman-and-to-be-white-and-hispanic/feed/ 30
Why D.C.’s Latino Population is Up When It’s Black Population is Down http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/why-d-c-s-latino-population-is-up-when-its-black-population-is-down/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/why-d-c-s-latino-population-is-up-when-its-black-population-is-down/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2011 18:03:49 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10128 Continue reading ]]>

Cameron Nordholm / Flickr

A woman waves the Salvadoran flag during Fiesta DC in Mount Pleasant, one of D.C.'s longtime Latino centers.

Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant, traditionally the center of the D.C.’s Latino community, are much different places now than they were 20 years ago. Big box stores sit upon formerly vacant lots. Pupuserias now have vegan cafes as neighbors. House values have exploded. Ward 1, where these neighborhoods are located, has lost more than 2,000 Latinos over the past decade.

Travel a few blocks south and you see a similar transformation. The U Street area, formerly “Black Broadway,” was 77 percent black; it’s now only 15 percent black. Many longtime residents who had bought homes at modest prices have sold them for large sums. Others were priced out by rising rents. Luxury high-rise condo buildings have sprouted up.

But while the number of African Americans throughout D.C. is declining — by 11 percent over the past decade –the number of Latinos actually increased, by about 21 percent. This growth happened despite the fact that rapidly increasing housing prices have particularly affected longtime Latino neighborhoods, according to the District’s 2009 State of Latinos report.

So why is D.C.’s Latino community growing while it’s black community shrinks?

Migration and babies, according to Joy Phillips of the D.C. Office of Planning.

Between 1997 and 2007, Latino births increased by 130 percent, while black births declined by 13.5 percent [PDF]. But the biggest jump in the city’s Latino population wasn’t among little children (0 to 4 year olds); it was among adults between 55 and 64 years of age, indicating migration into the District has a lot to do with the growing Latino population, according to Phillips.

“Gentrification may be having an impact on Latinos in some areas of the city,” Phillips writes in an email. “However, Hispanics have increased in every other ward of the city.”

Ward 4, which includes Petworth, Takoma and Brightwood, experienced the city’s biggest increase in Latino residents — 4,923 people — “where it may be argued housing is cheaper,” Phillips writes. Even small Latino communities in Southeast and Northeast, where few have ever lived, are growing; Ward 7′s Hispanic population grew by 150 percent to about 1,500 residents.

Meanwhile, more black residents are leaving D.C. than are moving into the District. Over the past decade, the number of black residents has dropped in every ward of the city except in Ward 8, where the black population only grew slightly.

So even as black residents are leaving D.C. — whether because of gentrification or looking to the suburbs for greener pastures – the city is still attracting new Latino residents. It’s just that now, they are choosing to settle in Petworth or Brightwood over pricier Columbia Heights.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/why-d-c-s-latino-population-is-up-when-its-black-population-is-down/feed/ 1
D.C.’s Central American Population Increases http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/d-c-s-central-american-population-increases/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/d-c-s-central-american-population-increases/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2011 19:33:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9883 Continue reading ]]>

Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images

A protestor with a t-shirt bearing the name of the country "El Salvador" drapes a US flag over his shoulders during an immigration rally on the National Mall.

An increase in the number of Central Americans accounts for much of the rise of Hispanics in D.C., according to newly released Census data.

There were 7,557 more Central Americans in D.C. in 2010 than in 2000. Hispanics of all races constituted 9.1 percent of the District’s population in 2010, a jump from 7.9 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, the District’s non-Hispanic black population has been slowly declining over the past decade, with most estimates putting it at below 50 percent, the first time D.C. has been without a black majority in more than 51 years.

Salvadorans make up the largest-single Hispanic group in the District, and the D.C. region is home to the second-largest Salvadoran population in the United States. Salvadorans are the fifth-largest immigrant group in the U.S, many of whom fled El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s and 1990s and the country’s current economic woes.

Fives Largest Hispanic Groups in D.C.

2000 2010 Change
11,741 16,611 +4,870
Mexican 5,098 8,507 +3,409
Puerto Rican 2,328 3,129 +801
Guatemalan 1,350 2,635 +1,285
1,496 2,508 +1,012
*2010 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau embarked upon a thorough outreach campaign within the Hispanic community in the lead-up to the 2010 count. They partnered with nonprofits, ran Spanish-language commercials and even got Census storylines written into Spanish telenovelas, according to Census public affairs specialist Melanie Deal. About 13 million bilingual forms were sent out in 2010; none were mailed out in 2000.

But it’s too early to tell whether increased outreach accounts for the reported jump in the Hispanic population, says Deal, since information is still being analyzed and released. The official 2010 numbers, however, don’t differ much from yearly estimates put out by the Census Bureau. In 2009, the Census estimated 53,025 Hispanics lived in D.C., which is about 1,700 people shy of the official 2010 count.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/d-c-s-central-american-population-increases/feed/ 0
Latinos Present Opportunities for Crime in Columbia Heights http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 17:31:32 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9335 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr via blahmni

Fiesta D.C. 2010, Mount Pleasant

D.C. Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes says that the Metropolitan Police Department is facing “challenges” in and around Columbia Heights, where Latino immigrants are often the targets of a growing number of robberies and assaults:

The reason? “I think people realize they might be carrying cash, also they might not report it to police, so I think they become victims of crime more than others…they present a unique opportunity,.” Groomes said.

The area, which law enforcement call Police Service Area 302, is bordered by 16th Street NW, Harvard Street NW and Park Place NW, and it’s 31 percent Hispanic. Groomes characterized the incidents as crimes of opportunity, not hate crimes.

Didier Sinisterra, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs confirmed that the office is working with police to provide information to Latino residents on protecting themselves. .

“We have identified three key locations where we will be doing local outreach to inform people and hand out additional information: Spring Road, Mount Pleasant St and Columbia Heights.”

According to Sinisterra, the outreach efforts received a positive response. “We engage our community, go into local businesses. We let people know about the situation and we encourage them not to carry a lot of cash. We chose Friday because that is when a lot of Latinos get paid.”

OLA is also encouraging people to open bank accounts, so that they aren’t carrying large amounts of cash. This week, they will be in Mount Pleasant on Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Josie Rizo, who works on the 1400 block of Irving St NW isn’t concerned. “So far nothing has happened and I’ve been working here for a year now,” she said, adding that she would go to the police if she is targeted by a crime. “I feel pretty safe…In this area especially, there are a lot of people walking around, so that helps.”

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/feed/ 2
When Part-Latino Men are Considered ‘White Dudes’ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/when-part-latino-men-are-considered-white-dudes/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/when-part-latino-men-are-considered-white-dudes/#comments Fri, 08 Apr 2011 13:00:18 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=5446 Continue reading ]]> In responding to a Wall Street Journal story about how white children are now the minority in many states as the number of Hispanic children grows, D.C.’s Matthew Yglesias writes:

I think this is a widely misreported trend. When the New York Times recently did a piece on me, Ezra Klein, Brian Beutler, and Dave Weigel exactly zero people complained about the massive over-representation of people of Latin American ancestry that reflected. People saw it as a profile of four white dudes. Which is what it was. But my dad’s family is from Cuba, Ezra’s dad’s family is from Brazil, and Brian’s mom’s family is from Chile. That’s kind of a funny coincidence, but the combination of continued immigration and intermarriage means that over time a larger and larger share of American people will be partially descended from Latin American countries.

The New York Times profiles four (white) pundits.

That Times piece on Yglesias and his fellow, young pundits did receive plenty of criticism (and even its own parody!). But Yglesias is right: no one criticized the over-representation of Latin American-ancestry among the four subjects. The reporter behind the piece even commented on the “white maleness” of the story.

When it comes to Latinos and Hispanics, racial identity has proven to be a much more fluid thing than for other groups. For instance, let’s take a look at Latino immigrants: a 2010 American Sociological Association report found that there are many Latino immigrants who are accepted as white by larger society, but those with darker complexions still face plenty of discrimination. It even suggested a new racial category to describe Latinos could form.

A 2004 Pew Hispanic Center report [PDF] zeroes in on how Latinos and Hispanics self-identify, showing that many “have seized on whiteness as a measure of success, a measure of belonging.”

The report also showed that how Latinos racially-identify isn’t just about the color of their skin; rather, it has plenty to do with their socioeconomic status. A summary of the report reads:

‘It is not that some are more Hispanic or Latino than the others because they all really have taken on the mantle,’ said Sonya Tafoya, a research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center and author of the report. ‘Nor are Hispanics saying that race does not matter to them. Rather, the message seems to be that Latinos in the United States experience race differently. For them, it is not something that pertains exclusively to skin color, let alone history and heritage.’

Yglesias, although pointing out the Latin American roots of the Times profile subjects, does write it was indeed about “four white dudes.” But perhaps that’s just as much a reflection of how the world views young men like these as how they view themselves. Maybe even more.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/when-part-latino-men-are-considered-white-dudes/feed/ 8