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"Is Somebody from Spain Hispanic?"

A commenter says "no," "according to the government diversity manual." It turns out the answer is more complex — it all depends on which program you look to. A few examples:

36 C.F.R. § 906.2(k) (Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation): "Hispanic — is an individual who is descended from and was raised in or participates in the culture of Spain, Portugal, or Latin America, or who has at least one parent who speaks Spanish or Portuguese as part of their native culture."

24 C.F.R. § 81.2 (The Secretary of Hud's Regulation of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)): "Hispanic or Latino — a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race."

40 C.F.R. § 35.6015 (Cooperative Agreements and Superfund State Contracts for Superfund Response Actions): "Hispanic American (with origins from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, South or Central America)."

Cal. Admin. Code § 97700.29 (Minority Health Professions Education Foundation): "For purposes of this chapter, 'Hispanic/Latino' means a person whose ancestry can be readily traced to Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean basin, or any other country of Central or South America where Spanish is the recognized official language. A person shall not be considered Hispanic/Latino solely on the basis of possession of a Spanish surname."

Cal. Admin. Code tit. 2, § 547.80 (Equal Employment Opportunity Program / State Work Force Data Collection and Evaluation): "'Hispanic' means any person whose origin is Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America. It does not include persons of Portuguese or Brazilian origin, or persons who acquired a Spanish surname."

Cal. Admin. Code tit. 22, § 7130 (California Department of Aging): "'Minority' means an ethnic person of color who is any of the following: ... Hispanic -- a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portugese culture or origin regardless of race." (Note then that to be a "minority" the Hispanic person must be "an ethnic person of color" of certain "culture or origin" -- but "regardless of race.")

Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 60A-9.001 (Office of Supplier Diversity): "Hispanic American: a person of Spanish or Portuguese culture with origins in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, South America, Central America or the Caribbean Islands, regardless of race."

Lev:
Son of an Afrikaaner whose family has been in South Africa for 300 years, immigrates to the US and becomes a citizen. Is he an African American?

So, Spaniards from Spain are seldom Hispanic, and Italians from Latium in Italy are not Latin.
7.19.2007 1:25am
neurodoc:
Cal. Admin. Code § 97700.29. Hispanic/Latino (Minority Health Professions Education Foundation): "...A person shall not be considered Hispanic/Latino solely on the basis of possession of a Spanish surname."


I wonder when that was drafted. About thirty years ago in Montgomery County, Maryland, a county employee had his last name changed to a Spanish one (Leon?) in order to claim the advantage the conferred. The county gave it to him, but the rewrote the regs so as to deny it to others would similarly transform themselves into "Hispanics."

40 C.F.R. § 35.6015 (Cooperative Agreements and Superfund State Contracts for Superfund Response Actions): "Hispanic American (with origins from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, South or Central America)."


Since Puerto Rico and Cuba are specifically enumerated, but no other Caribbean territory or country is, would those whose origins were in the Dominican Republic be out of luck for these purposes? If those of Dominican background were not to be given the same advantage as those with Puerto Rican (a US territory) or Cuban (a foreign country), would they be able to win it in court? Or is there no enforceable right to be somehow legally advantaged along with other groups, since if all were to be somehow legally advantaged, then none could be advantaged?
7.19.2007 2:00am
ZTS:
What about Fillipinos? They are geographically Asian but have a history of Spanish influence (and rule). (And, more interestingly, why if Fillipino spelled with an F while Philippines is spelled with a ph?)
7.19.2007 2:16am
SIG357:
A person shall not be considered Hispanic/Latino solely on the basis of possession of a Spanish surname."


I don't see why not. It makes just as much sense as basing it on whether or not a persons ancestors spoke Spanish.

My ancestors spoke Gaelic. Why isn't there some government program for people like me? Or to be less snarky, what on earth is the justification for having these programs for people whose forebears spoke Spanish, as opposed to any other language? And why is a white English speaker considered "Hispanic" for government purposes, even though he may not speak a word of the language, just because his parents or grandparents spoke Spanish? The whole thing is insane.
7.19.2007 2:24am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I remember the Montgomery County case, mostly because the man changed his name from Robert E. Lee (sic!) to Roberto Eduardo Leon, and explained that he was very interested in Hispanic culture and planned to retire in Costa Rica.

I once worked with a Spaniard who got married in Alabama. As I recall (it's been 20 years) the paperwork classified brides and grooms racially (why?) and their only categories, which must have been very old, were White, Black, and Indian. He was offended that they listed him as Indian (that is, American Indian) despite his pure Castilian ancestry. Apparently they routinely lumped Asians and Hispanics in with Indians, and (to return to the subject of this post) considered anyone with a Spanish name to be Hispanic. The categories make a certain amount of historical sense, since anyone who was neither white nor black presumably fell outside the Confederacy's racial two-caste system.
7.19.2007 2:36am
George Weiss (mail):
eugene are you finished with trashing this survey yet? we get it
7.19.2007 2:54am
Fub:
Dr. Weevil wrote at 7.19.2007 1:36am:
Apparently they routinely lumped Asians and Hispanics in with Indians, and (to return to the subject of this post) considered anyone with a Spanish name to be Hispanic.
Got to wonder if a Peruvian born immigrant of Japanese ancestry and surname would send their system into a tailspin.
7.19.2007 2:56am
Jim at FSU (mail):
As I remember from my now-distant experience applying to undergrad, any non-white group that was perceived as unable to succeed on their own merits was a minority. Stereotypically smart or industrious minorities (asians, jews, indians) need not apply. Ironically, the people that benefited the most from these programs tended to be stereotype defying members of the supposedly inferior groups- ie middle class blacks and hispanics.

We're dealing with a body of public policy made from racial and ethnic stereotypes, ostensibly for the purpose of eliminating such stereotypes from our culture. By treating all people as group-members rather than as individuals that possess or lack qualifications for a job or an admissions slot, we perpetrate a new set of racial stereotypes in place of the old ones. The only way to eradicate prejudice of this sort is to have public policies that treat people like individuals instead of trying to classify them.

Who cares if someone is hispanic or european. If they are qualified and they outbid everyone else, they win.

ps- sorry for double posting, I somehow responded to the wrong entry
7.19.2007 4:49am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Eugene, what does UCLA's Office for Faculty Diversity (http://faculty.diversity.ucla.edu/) have to say about the issue?

Alas, the Faculty Diversity Library section of their website, which supposedly responds to questions regarding "data, policies, regulations, laws, offices, organizations and task forces related to issues of diversity, equity and affirmative action" ... is blank.

There's a presumably well-compensated Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity at UCLA, too. Her surname leads me to suspect that she's Diverse. It might be interesting to survey American universities to determine whether the holders of such positions are Diverse and Non-Diverse in statistically appropriate fractions.
7.19.2007 5:09am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
There's a presumably well-compensated Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity at UCLA, too. Her surname leads me to suspect that she's Diverse. It might be interesting to survey American universities to determine whether the holders of such positions are Diverse and Non-Diverse in statistically appropriate fractions.
My mere guess is that if such a survey were done, this people are more likely to be overrepresented in the preferred classes than are comparably placed people at the University.

But it would be interesting in either case, whether they are over or under represented by preferred demographics.
7.19.2007 5:17am
Tim Worstall (mail) (www):
Portuguese are Hispanic? Forgive me if I don't tell the people around here that (I live in Portugal).
Iberian, yes, but Hispanic? Telling the locals that would start a movement to recreate the invasion fleets and have them descend upon the PADC etc to show them what the business end of a pitchfork looks like.
7.19.2007 6:21am
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Her surname leads me to suspect that she's Diverse..”

Old Dilbert cartoon: “The longer you’re here, da verse it gets.”
7.19.2007 7:18am
J_A:
I am a Spaniard citizen living in Houston since 98. Whenever I have to answer that question (including the 2000 census), my answer is invariably that I am Caucasian.

I do it mainly because, whatever reasons and objectives, good or bad, those diversity programs have, they were never conceived for the benefit of people like me. I'd rather that they are applied to their intended beneficiaries.
7.19.2007 8:18am
Jeek:
Son of an Afrikaaner whose family has been in South Africa for 300 years, immigrates to the US and becomes a citizen. Is he an African American?

Why not? Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira has a valid claim to be called "African-American".
7.19.2007 9:01am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
You know, the descendants of the aboriginal peoples of Central and South America probably really hate being officially designated by names associated with their Spanish conquerors. I propose a new term: "South/Central American Americans"...
7.19.2007 9:02am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I once worked with a Spaniard who got married in Alabama. As I recall (it's been 20 years) the paperwork classified brides and grooms racially (why?) and their only categories, which must have been very old, were White, Black, and Indian.

How progressive of Alabama. When I got married in Tennessee in 1986, the only choices were White and Black (I assume they had made the politically correct move at some point and replaced "Colored" with "Black"). I drew a line through the entire section. As late as the late '90s some counties in Mississippi were still keeping separate registers for black and white marriages (the problem of an interracial marriage never having come up).

What your friend experienced was the vestiges of the anti-miscegnation laws, which were still on the books, albeit unenforceable, twenty years ago. They were concerned only with preserving the purity of the "white" race and really didn't concern themselves with the couplings of non-whites as long as they stayed away from white people. Most of the laws defined "colored" as anyone with a "single drop" of non-white blood (that was the actual language used in Georgia's law). Apparently Alabama did have a separate classification for Indians. "White" was defined very narrowly as of European origin. Being Spanish, and presumably Catholic, he was on pretty shaky ground but could have passed for white. But the Klan would have had his eye on him if he had been living in Alabama in the fifties.
7.19.2007 9:15am
Extraneus (mail):
I know many of you folks here are legal gurus and know a lot more about the ins and outs of the history than I do, but it always strains my mind to face the fact that classifying people according to these ridiculous categories is legal in the United States.
7.19.2007 9:34am
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
I just want to know where the word "Latino" comes from in the first place. It strikes me as sounding rather close to the word "Latin", the language of Rome. This language was, of course, the progenitor of Spanish, but also of several others; why aren't speakers of Italian, French, Portuguese, etc. covered by this term as well?
7.19.2007 10:02am
Nick P.:
I guess it should depend on why the government or other institution wants to know. If it is to prevent current discrimination based on the perception that someone is Hispanic, then presumably anyone with a Spanish surname would be at risk of that discrimination and should be protected. If it is to ameliorate disadvantage based on past discrimination, then only people from the disadvantaged population should be considered "Hispanic."

OTOH, my impression was that many people from Central and South America have significant native American ancestry, and their culture(s) are quite different from people from Spain. In that case, it would make sense to distinguish South Americans from Iberians.

How about a guy named Klaus or Werner whose parents moved from Germany to Venezuela. Is he Hispanic?
7.19.2007 10:04am
Whadonna More:
What if I'm the daughter of a pure (indigenous) Mexican and an American of vague European ancestry, raised after adoption and name-change by Americans of Irish origin?

Should it matter that I like Latin music and can speak passable Spanglish, that Hispanics look at me and assume I'm fluent in Spanish, or that I was raised in suburbia (oddly enough, next door to 3rd generation Central American kids who distain all Latin culture aside from Taco Bell)?

I'm thinking about telling my kids to check the box that gets them what they want, and I'll litigate the whole mess if anyone has the nerve to doubt them.
7.19.2007 10:18am
TerrencePhilip:
Some people count Cardoza as the "first Hispanic Justice."
7.19.2007 10:18am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I just want to know where the word "Latino" comes from in the first place. It strikes me as sounding rather close to the word "Latin", the language of Rome. This language was, of course, the progenitor of Spanish, but also of several others; why aren't speakers of Italian, French, Portuguese, etc. covered by this term as well?
Presumably it derives from Latin America. Which presumably derives from the fact that Romance languages are spoken there -- as opposed to Anglo America, I guess.

And then, because nobody has really thought it through, it came to be seen as synonymous with Hispanic, so Haitians were out, as were others like Brazilians and Quebecois.
7.19.2007 10:26am
Gary McGath (www):
When MIT introduced its first affirmative action plan in the early seventies, "People with Spanish surnames" was one of the categories that got people special treatment. Eventually people running the plans realized that getting one was too easy.

It's the notion that people should be treated differently based on whether or not they're "Hispanic" that's the problem. Once you accept that, it's just a matter of who has enough political clout to be defined as "Hispanic." People from Spain aren't present in the US in large enough numbers to qualify as a minority. (Irony fully intentional.)
7.19.2007 10:28am
Elliot123 (mail):
What is the general deficiency among Hispanics that warrants affirmative action? If there is such a deficiency, we should know it so we can staff our organizations accordingly.
7.19.2007 10:37am
Chuck Jackson (mail):
I have a moderately clear recollection (having been at MIT in the early seventies) that MIT's first announcement regarding their program suggested something that might be characterized as quotas---that departments or programs in which the proportion of minorities was not a reasonable match to their proportion in the general population would be subject to special scrutiny. A week later a "clarification" came out noting that, in essence, this scrutiny would not be applied to physics department in spite of the fact that its proportion of asians was about five times that of the general population.

Chuck
7.19.2007 10:43am
AaronC:
So Cal. Admin. Code tit. 2, § 547.80 excludes Portugese speaking Brazilians who may well be of South American Indian origin....weird.

And Cal. Admin. Code tit. 22, § 7130: "a person of color regardless of race" .... What does that even mean?
7.19.2007 10:51am
Marcelo Pecanha (mail):
I have to second Tim Worstall on this. I am from Brazil, and the very notion of Hispanic here is foreign.

We speak portuguese and have almost no cultural or historical similarities with other South American contries: Che Guevara DID NOT liberate us, we had no indigenous mayan or aztec pre-colombian cultures (only stone-age local cultures).

Once a multi-national American company wanted to promote a brazilian from a Brazilian Manager position to Latin-American Manager. His answer was simple but priceless: "There is not such thing as Latin America." That is true. Spanish South America is one thing, but Central and Portuguese America has completely different histories and ethnicities.

However, I understand the overgeneralization. We probably do the same thing to Africa...
7.19.2007 10:53am
Gaius Marius:
Spain was once a province (actually two) of Rome known as Hispania. Any person in the western hemisphere whose ancestry is Spanish without indigenous indian ancestry is Hispanic. Any person in the western hemisphere whose ancestry includes both Spanish and indigenous indian ancestry is a mestizo, or Latino. For some Latinos, it is an insult to be called a Hispanic because 500 years ago the Spanish came from Spain, or Hispania, and raped and pillaged the indigenous indian empires in Mexico and Peru.
7.19.2007 11:08am
rarango (mail):
I agree with those posters who describe the whole group classification/diversity thing as insane.
7.19.2007 11:41am
A.C.:
I've observed Jewish people of eastern European descent who were treated as Hispanic for university admission/fellowship purposes just because their families stopped off in South America for a couple of decades between when they left Europe and when they entered the US. I'd say the category needs work, but then I oppose extending affirmative action to voluntary immigrants anyway.
7.19.2007 11:50am
Bpbatista (mail):
Is anyone born in the Western Hemisphere a Native American?
7.19.2007 12:00pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Oh, cool. In Pennsylvania I'm Hispanic, but in California I'm not. Unless I spell my family name Martín instead of Martin, in which case I'm Spanish-surnamed (and since I grew up in an otherwise-gringo family that spoke Spanish at home and in a part of southern Colorado that has a distinctly New Spain rooted culture, I think that makes me hispanic there too.)

Oh, and Gaius, "mestizo" is more properly "mixed European and Indian ancestry" ... you'll find, for example, a monument in Checotah OK to the achievements of the mestizos of Oklahoma.
7.19.2007 12:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I know some people of Palestinian descent--their term--for whom the Old Country is Chile in one case, and Costa Rica in another. Their first language was Spanish. One ran a Middle Eastern restaurant.
All are Catholic.
7.19.2007 12:25pm
calmom:
It's really odd that the in these codes the word 'minority' has nothing to do with numbers, particularly in California. In many California counties the 'minorities' are the numerical majorities.
7.19.2007 12:32pm
Little Loca (mail):
I think the question is complicated, but the answer centers on: "why are we asking?" Normally, we are asking in order to assess the existance of "minority" communities in order to apprehend the need for services in certain areas or, more often than not, in order to determine who is "underrepresented" in higher education. If the latter is our concern, then Spaniards should not be considered Hispanic/Latino/whatever; they hardly qualify as a large enough minority group in the United States to be "underrepresented"

What's frustrating is that people are acting as though they are getting at some "true" definition of what it means to be Hispanic. However, all inquiries, especially categorization inquiries, ultimately turn on the purpose of the inquiry
7.19.2007 12:41pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Thanks, Eugene. There's a delightful irony here.

In the past, I have filed court briefs opposing some racial preference schemes (as in the Prop. 209 case, Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson, 122 F.3d 692 (9th Cir. 1997), where I represented Prop. 209's sponsors), but now I don't feel quite so bad about them, because it seems that my daughter is Hispanic, so that she can receive admissions preference when she applies to college (at least in those states where such preferences are legal).

Thanks to her mother, my daughter is more than one-quarter Spanish, which is a higher fraction than some of the school custodians who received affirmative action appointments and retroactive seniority under the consent decree in Brennan v. New York City Board of Education and U.S. v. New York City Board of Education.

And since my daughter "is descended from . . . the culture of Spain," and is "of Spanish origin," that's enough under the federal regulations you cite (36 C.F.R. 906.2(k) &24 C.F.R. 81.2).

True, my wife is most fluent in French (and was born in France), but she also speaks Spanish, and has more Spanish than French ancestors (even more so if you count Basques who lived in Spain as Spaniards). And my wife cooks Spanish family recipes, so there is some Spanish cultural influence. (Her nephew Olivier is overwhelmingly Spanish in blood).

Some might say that since my daughter has no ancestors from Latin America, she can't qualify as Hispanic.

But Judge Carlos Bea of the Ninth Circuit was born in Spain, is considered a Hispanic, and the Hispanic groups were happy to see him appointed, to ensure Hispanic representation on the Ninth Circuit.

By the same reasoning, my daughter is Hispanic.

Of course, it may seem odd to many that my daughter should receive admissions preference, when she looks white and probably won't feel the sting of racial discrimination.

(Her uncle Remy does face discrimination, but that's because he resembles Osama Bin Laden, which causes the French police to stop him for DWA ("Driving While Arab")).

By contrast, my nephew Eric, who is half-Korean, and speaks some Korean, may well be teased about the shape of his eyes later in life, yet he will not receive preference based on his race.

In fact, as an Asian, he may well face more discrimination that whites at many schools (in the San Francisco schools, it was harder for Chinese-Americans to get into magnet schools than whites), and just as much discrimination at others (the University of Michigan Law School race-based admissions policy upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) treated Asians and whites with the same disfavor, lumping them together as an undifferentiated mass).

That's quite arbitrary.

In a sensible world, both my daughter and my nephew would be considered to contribute to "diversity," not based on their race, but on their background (their foreign language skills, etc.).

Race is a poor proxy for "diversity."
7.19.2007 12:41pm
young economist (www):
This only shows how absurd all of this diversity business is. Why can't we all be equal and, hence, be treated equally?
7.19.2007 12:46pm
Smokey:
It is very disturbing that some posters here are even discussing the ins-and-outs of how this country should administer what amounts to Affirmative Racism.

Legally considering race violates the Constitution. By giving racial preferences to some groups at the expense of others, we can see how it has seriously screwed up our country, both economically and through the hatred and envy engendered.

Eliminate any reference to race, and individual success by merit will be the result.
7.19.2007 1:04pm
calmom:
It is absurd but politicians don't build any constituencies saying "We are all equal and will be treated equally regardless of race". Votes come from saying "I am going to support Minority Group X for special preferences in hiring and school admissions".
7.19.2007 1:09pm
dearieme:
Shouldn't it read "regardless of race, which is of course an entirely meaningless category, the very discussion of which is certainly unscientific and very probably Nazi, not that all Germans were Nazi, of course"?
7.19.2007 1:18pm
Half Sigma (www):
Spanish people are "Hispanic" under the standard definition of anyone with a Spanish surname.

But it's ridiculous that someone from Spain, who is a white European, would get special treatment in the U.S. because of this "suspect classification."

They should change the definition of "Hispanic" to "people of mixed-race origins from the Americas, excluding people from the U.S. and Canada." That's what we're really trying to get at, aren't we?
7.19.2007 1:56pm
Cornellian (mail):
36 C.F.R. § 906.2(k) (Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation): "Hispanic — is an individual who is descended from and was raised in or participates in the culture of Spain, Portugal, or Latin America . . .

So if you're Eduardo, the son of Jose and Maria Lopez of Mexico but you're orphaned at birth and raised by John and Mary Ford of Chicago then you're not hispanic, unless you "participate in" the culture of Spain, Portugal or Latin America (whatever that means), in which case you are hispanic.
7.19.2007 2:13pm
ronbo:
I'll play.

My ex is descended from Spanish and Turkish (Sephardic) Jews on one side and from South American Ashkenazic Jews on the other (how 'bout that, AC?). Spanish surname? Check. Hispanic culture? Double check. Spoke Spanish at home? More Ladino than Spanish, but close enough. Eligible for preferences? No, and she could have used a scholarship; tuition was tough on her family.
7.19.2007 2:26pm
scepticalrepub:
What we really need is a Heinrich Himmler to define who is a Jew, a Hispanic, etc.
7.19.2007 2:30pm
KeithK (mail):
I think the question is complicated, but the answer centers on: "why are we asking?"

You've got the right question but not the right thought behind it. Why are we asking this question at all?

But it's ridiculous that someone ... would get special treatment in the U.S

Yes.
7.19.2007 2:33pm
Half Sigma (www):
Why are we asking this question at all?

Because it's well known that mixed-race people form the Americas don't do as well in U.S. society as whites or Asians.

But then let's ask, why do we need to do anything about this? It's understandable that whites may owe something to descendants of people who were voluntarily brought here to be slaves. But if mixed race people from the Americas came here voluntarily, and can't hack it as well as Asians or whites, whose problem is that?
7.19.2007 2:56pm
Half Sigma (www):
I meant "involuntarily" in the above comment.
7.19.2007 2:57pm
Truth Seeker:
The thought that comes to mind is:

"the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race"

which someone smewhere said recently. Maybe he was onto something...?
7.19.2007 3:17pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I hear opportunity knocking. Since all four of my grandparents came from southwest Ireland, and the whole family has black hair and dark eyes, then we should be able to claim descent from the Armada survivors who clawed their way up the beaches of that island. Now, what government goodies do I get?
7.19.2007 4:56pm
A.C.:
ronbo:

Okay, I'll grant that your case is more authentically Hispanic than the ones I've encountered. But I still don't think any of them should get preferences. I don't think a Catholic, mestizo person from Mexico should either, at least not on account of ethnicity. I'm perfectly open to the idea of financial aid based on need, if the people involved are poor, but the program would have to be open to poor people of pure European or Asian origin as well.
7.19.2007 5:31pm
Little Loca (mail):
Truth Seeker: Roberts was onto nothing with that sophistry passed off as logic.

Young Economist: Why can't we all be equal and treated equally? That's a good question, why can't we? We aren't treated equally. It's the flaw of the libertarian underlying presumption that we are born equal. Yes, that is the ideal, but the systemic discrimination and institutional racism stops us from actually being treated equally. Fix that, and then we'll talk.

Hans Bader" Your analysis is embarassing and carries the same flaws that many of the other posters are continually making. Yes, you can point to the absurdity of the system and the anamolies it creates, but what you miss by doing that is real drive behind this. There are systemic failures that have caused certain people of "hispanic" origin to be "behind" as compared to white students. Truthfully, Cubans and Spanish people should be excluded; these groups are not underrepresented in higher education. More englightened processes exclude Chinese, Japanese, and Korean applicants from preferential treatment, while focusing attention on Southeast Asians (such as Hmong, Cambodian, and Vietnamese). Thus, you see, it's not by virtue of race that we care, but rather situation: Vietnamese refugee children are in a different place than children of wealthy Japanese entrepreneurs.

Half Sigma: Mixed race people coming here voluntarily? I am not sure that that really apprehends the reality of the situation; i.e., many hispanics were in the US when parts of it were, well, Spain and/or Mexico. Also, for those immigrants, it isn't about "owing" anything to anyone, it's about remedying and counterbalancing discrimination that is ongoing and unacceptable.
7.19.2007 6:04pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Little Loca:

More englightened processes exclude Chinese, Japanese, and Korean applicants from preferential treatment...

The sophistry of your enlightenment is instructive.

We need to end this nonsense. Enough.
7.19.2007 6:41pm
Latinist:
Okay, so racial categories hard hard to define without leaving some big blurry undefined areas. Is that really the fault of affirmative action? People referred to racial categories before it existed, and will continue to do so if and when it is abolished. And it doesn't mean the categories are useless, just that they're limited.

Of course, when the government uses these categories, it inevitably has to make some weird rules, which lead to some absurd and unfair results. But similar things happen in other cases. Sixteen-year-olds aren't noticeably more responsible than fifteen-and-364-days-olds, but the law treats them differently. You could move a negligible distance, and suddenly be subject to the laws of an entirely different state (or even country); and as a result, you might even suddenly become an adult or a child. I'm sure the lawyers on this blog can think of many more similar examples. But this doesn't mean we have to abolish the legal concepts of adulthood, state boundaries, etc. Because in the vast majority of the cases, the distinction is pretty clear: My grandmother is obviously an adult, my one-year-old niece is obviously not. And for all the examples people have given, there are certainly plenty of people who can easily, without serious argument, be classified as "Hispanic" or "non-Hispanic."

None of this is to say that the occasional weird cases don't matter; and I'd agree that there's a problem if, say, a significant portion of these programs' benefits are going to Germans who used to live in Venezuela, or Spaniards, or other poorly categorized groups (Are they? Does anyone know?). But the mere existence of inconsistently-defined categories, or people who are hard to-categorize, doesn't prove that the whole project of categorization is absurd.
7.19.2007 7:28pm
Smokey:
Little Loca:
''...the systemic discrimination and institutional racism stops us from actually being treated equally. Fix that, and then we'll talk.''

So, how ya gonna 'fix' what you claim is 'institutional racism?'

The line is real fuzzy, and it keeps moving.

Money makes it move.

The only way to 'fix' racism is to stop taking it into account. Give students/prospective employees their own personal number, then let them take an anonymous test. That takes race completely out of the equation, and substitutes merit. Similar methods can be used in all areas where the race card is played.

But that is not happpening, because there's money -- big, big bucks involved -- for lawyers, plaintiffs, the media, Jesse Jackson-type racial shakedown artists, and anyone else who can figure a scam to suckle contentedly on the taxpayers' teat.

As one example out of many thousands, the San Jose Unified School District has had a consent decree in force for 31 years, and the district's racial imbalance is more concentrated with the *ahem* ''Hispanic race,'' than when the decree was imposed.

The consent decree was agreed to with a wink and a nod by the attorneys on both sides, along with the judge in the case. Why? Because their time is paid by the helpless taxpayers, who can only watch forlornly as the opposing law firms bill thousands upon thousands of hours for attorneys ''representing'' the same school district.

There is no indication that the consent decree will ever end. And I will state flatly that no honest person would see this situation as anything other than a permanent, unlegislated tax on the citizens.

''Racism'' has become a lucrative ploy used by unsavory/dishonest people to feather their own nests at the expense of society, and the legal establishment silently condones this theft from productive citizens just like the Muslim community condones its members' violence, where not one in ten million Islamists -- literally -- will speak out publicly against the sawing off of captives' heads.

''Racism'' has become the tar baby of the American taxpayer. How are we going to correct the problem when there is so much easy money involved?
7.19.2007 7:58pm
KeithK (mail):
While the distinction between a 16 year old and a 15 364/365 year old may be insignificant and therefore seem somewhat arbitrary it is a clear bright line rule. As such it can be applied in a fair unbiased manner. The uncertainty present in racial classifications indicates (IMO) a flawed system.
7.19.2007 8:10pm
Rosooki:
Little Loca, So there is 'systemic' racism against Hmong, Cambodian, and Vietnamese but not against Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, etc. etc.?
7.19.2007 9:18pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
While the distinction between a 16 year old and a 15 364/365 year old may be insignificant and therefore seem somewhat arbitrary it is a clear bright line rule. As such it can be applied in a fair unbiased manner. The uncertainty present in racial classifications indicates (IMO) a flawed system.
Moreover, it's not pernicious, because it's not a permanent category. Every 15 364/365 year old will become a 16 year old and get the benefits of those in the latter group. (Well, except the ones who happen to die, but it's sort of moot to them then, I suppose.)
7.19.2007 10:32pm
Californio (mail):
Finally! The first steps in rectifying a age-old wrong. I look forward to re-establishing things as they were. "Little Loca" - we shall let you stay, but no speaking until spoke to and watch the direct eye contact, we don't like uppitty peons. Remember, I have documentary evidence that my claim , through the King of Spain, is granted by his authority as vested in him by.....God. Para Dios y Espana, opps I meant "California"
7.19.2007 10:38pm
neurodoc:
40 C.F.R. § 35.6015 (Cooperative Agreements and Superfund State Contracts for Superfund Response Actions): "Hispanic American (with origins from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, South or Central America)."

What about those Dominicans, especially those who have no prospects in either the AL or NL? Since 1AM, I have been trying to figure out what is to be done about them for purposes of 40 C.F.R. § 35.6015. (This pertains to contractors looking for Superfund work? Cubans get a leg up, but not Dominicans?)
7.19.2007 11:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
''Racism'' has become a lucrative ploy used by unsavory/dishonest people to feather their own nests at the expense of society, and the legal establishment silently condones this theft from productive citizens just like the Muslim community condones its members' violence, where not one in ten million Islamists -- literally -- will speak out publicly against the sawing off of captives' heads.

You kind of undermine your point when you make blatantly bigoted statements while denying the existence of racism.
7.19.2007 11:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"More englightened processes exclude Chinese, Japanese, and Korean applicants from preferential treatment, while focusing attention on Southeast Asians (such as Hmong, Cambodian, and Vietnamese). Thus, you see, it's not by virtue of race that we care, but rather situation: Vietnamese refugee children are in a different place than children of wealthy Japanese entrepreneurs."

So, what do we do when we have a child of a wealthy Vietnamese entrepreneur, and the child of a poor Chinese? The affirmative action folks give preference the the wealthy and privileged Vietnamese kid, while pushing the Chinese kid aside because they are overrepresented in higher education.

This has nothing to do with situation, and everything to do wth race and ethnicity. If it were based on situation, race and ethicity would not be variables.
7.20.2007 12:42am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
I'd still like to know how the Diversity Office at UCLA would answer Eugene's question!

BTW, I am grateful to the Diversity Office for one thing: From now on, whenever someone representing the UCLA Alumni Association calls and tries to hit me up for yet another donation, I shall point out that if the university is so awash in money that they can pay the salary of an Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, then they obviously don't need the infinitesimal increment that my contribution would represent.
7.20.2007 1:24am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
neurodoc:
Maybe they left out Dominicans from the Dominican Republic because they didn't want to inadvertently open the door to Dominicans from the island of Dominica, who are generally black and English-speaking and so not Hispanic at all. Of course the words are accented differently (2nd and 3rd syllables, respectively) but that's hard to get across in print.
7.20.2007 2:15am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Half Sigma (12:56pm):
Actually, not all 'Hispanics' are mixed-race. Some are pure European (mostly Spanish) ancestry, especially in Costa Rica and Argentina and among the upper classes of other countries. And many are pure Indian ancestry, especially in Guatemala and Bolivia, where many rural people don't even speak Spanish. So 'Hispanic' is a very unscientific way to lump together anyone who is of Iberian or Indian ancestry or a mixture of the two, along with Spanish-speakers from south of the border whose ancestry is Asian (e.g. Fujimori in Peru), or Italian (many Argentines), or German, or African (mostly in Brazil, of course, but also in the Caribean islands and the east coast of Central America). It's all ethnically arbitrary, and not even all that sensible geographically -- DoMINicans and Brazilians count, but not DomiNICans or Haitians or Dutch-speaking Surinamese.
7.20.2007 2:26am
neurodoc:
Dr. Weevil: I left out those other "Dominicans" (not the Catholic order) because I was uncertain how to designate them, and because I figured they would get a preference based on "race," that is skin color.

But what about the legal question I asked on behalf of those from the Dominican Republic (DR)? Could Manny Sosa and others from the DR go to court to demand the preference because other Hispanics are supposed to get it for purposes of 40 C.F.R. § 35.6015 ("Cooperative Agreements and Superfund State Contracts for Superfund") and Cal. Admin. Code tit. 2, § 547.80 (Equal Employment Opportunity Program / State Work Force Data Collection and Evaluation). Can the government, federal or state, be "arbitrary" in deciding who will and who won't get these preferences, saying yes to Cubans, no to those from the DR? Because other Hispanics were specifically enumerated and those from the DR were not, the later are simply out of luck here? California could count those from the DR as Hispanics eligible for a preference under both Cal. Admin. Code § 97700.29 (Minority Health Professions Education Foundation) and Cal. Admin. Code tit. 22, § 7130 (California Department of Aging), while chosing not to do so under Cal. Admin. Code tit. 2, § 547.80 (Equal Employment Opportunity Program / State Work Force Data Collection and Evaluation)?

If all of Lake Woebegone's children can be above average, why can't everyone be given a preference?
7.20.2007 12:40pm
Randolph Resor (mail):
An interesting discussion! When I was a manager in New York a few years back, every year I had to compile data on the "racial/ethnic" distribution of my group. I had an employee who was from Spain. Couldn't count him as "Hispanic" though -- New York State didn't count Hispanics from Spain. I had a woman of Syrian Jewish descent. Where to put her? I had a Puerto Rican. Okay, he got to be Hispanic. I had two Chinese co=op students. They didn't count anywhere. I also had an Indian. He got to be "Asian American". I had an Iraqi Christian. There was no category for (I guess) "Arab".

The sheer arbitrariness was truly educational. I had the most "diverse" group of workers in the entire New York City Transit Authority, but it didn't show up in the statistics. So are we really after diversity here, or are we just creating favored groups?

By the way, my college degree is in Latin American history, I speak Spanish, and I consider the term "Hispanic" to be absolutely worthless as a descriptor of anything.
7.20.2007 1:29pm
Latinist:
David Nieporent:
"Every 15 364/365 year old will become a 16 year old and get the benefits of those in the latter group."

Well, yes, but I wasn't really thinking of those benefits. What if a 16-year-old and an almost-16-year-old, as members of the same gang, commit a crime together? Seems a little unfair for the older one, right? And I don't think it would be very comforting to tell him, "hey, tomorrow, your partner will be an adult too -- though of course he'll still be finishing up his community service while you rot in jail."

KeithK:
The "bright line" point is a stronger one, and maybe age wasn't the best example; but are all legal distinctions (even all valid ones) really bright lines? What about the distinction between probable cause and not, or between premeditated and un-, or protected and unprotected speech, or religious beliefs and other ones?

Furthermore, I don't think the lack of a bright line is really what people here are mostly complaining about: if the government just made a unilateral decision about whether Spaniards are Hispanic, that wouldn't solve the problem. The real problem is that either of those decisions would be kind of ridiculous (How can we say people from Hispania aren't Hispanic/ Why would we give affirmative action benefits to Europeans?). But I don't think the existence of these impossible cases is a fatal flaw, any more than impossible-to-define cases in other places where the law makes distinctions.
7.20.2007 2:17pm
ys:
When I fill out my census form, I proudly check off the categories I feel are applicable (I have a right to specify my self-identification)

- African (my ancestors spent hundreds of years in Egypt; I find this more relevant than just refferring to the common homeland of contemporary humans)
- Asian (they spent several thousand years in Asia; I don't remember if there is a Middle-Eastern category but if yes, that obviously applies too)
- Hispanic (I am almost sure some of my ancestors spent hundreds of year in Spain; BTW, I speak Spanish and to make my claim even stronger - some South American varieties)
- Caucasian (I did not grow up in the Caucasus but I have spent some time there, and in any case, I hear it's a stand-in for Europe where I did grow up)

The only questionable category was Native American (I believe if was that rather than Amerindian). Given that they moved across from Asia several thousand years ago, I chose not to check off this item.

Here is my favorite ethnic designation puzzle. In the FSU (and I believe it's still the same in the Russian Federation) various documents had a field for "nationality" designation. It could be any of the following: Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Jewish, Nanai, etc. It could also be, in more rare cases, Chinese, Bulgarian, Italian. What if an American citizen moved there and naturalized. Would he be "American" in those documents? What if he was "black"? Italian-American with an Italian last name? Etc., etc.
7.20.2007 4:00pm
Little Loca (mail):
I guess I assumed a level of knowledge that many of you don't have. The term Hispanic arose out of a context wherein it was clear about whom the term was refering, i.e., Mexicans, mostly mestizo, not the white Germanic or Spanish variety. The term has become confusing because "of Spanish-speaking origins", what the word originally meant, is no longer a good proxy in this country for what we are looking for, i.e., minority populations from Latin America.

As for Dominicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans; there are many of them that are Black and still Hispanic. So being Black, doesn't make someone non-Hispanic. The key unifying feature is origin (Latin America) and language (Spanish or indigenous languages), not race, obviously, because Hispanic isn't a race.
7.20.2007 4:57pm
neurodoc:
Kevin P, you told Little Loca, who says he finds many of us less knowledgeable about these matters than he had assumed, "The sophistry of your enlightenment is instructive." My dictionary defines "sophistry" as "subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation." Perhaps there is a "deceptive" intent, but the case he makes is too obviously flawed and unpersuasive to count as real "sophistry," IMNSHO.
7.21.2007 2:49am