Self-identifying as Hispanic (or not)

Pew Research published an article yesterday with the title “Key facts about young Latinos, one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations.” One interesting data point they noted was

About 14% of Americans ages 18 to 35 with Hispanic ancestry do not identify as Hispanic. The share who do not self-identify as Hispanic rises to about 25% among third-generation young adults with Hispanic ancestry. Among the fourth generation or higher – the U.S. born with both parents and all four grandparents born in the U.S. – more than half (56%) of young adults with Hispanic ancestry do not self-identify as Hispanic.

If you think about it, this is pretty logical. My great-grandmother was born in Germany, but I don’t identify as German. Carolina’s grandmother was born in Spain, but Carolina doesn’t call herself Spanish. There are some ethnic groups that seek to hold onto their ethnicity generation after generation, but most don’t.

This has major implications for our Hispanic outreach, namely that some people that we consider to be Hispanic may not consider themselves to be Hispanic. I remember my classmate Conrad Lopez. He was incensed in 7th grade when they put him into the heritage Spanish class “with all those Mexicans.” He in no way identified with the Hispanic ethnic group.

Just because someone “looks Hispanic” or has a surname that sounds Hispanic doesn’t mean that you should direct them to a Spanish-speaking Bible class. We need to be sensitive and let people choose the ministries that best fit their needs.

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