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Should the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" be permanently removed as a racial/ethnic demographic?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/26/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,418 times Debate No: 38146
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
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In the United States, the terms Hispanic and Latino are commonly used to identify a particular race or ethnic group when in reality, people of Hispanic and Latin American origin come in a variety of ethnic groups. Hispanic/Latino is NOT a race/ethnicity and therefore should no longer be treated as such. I feel that many Americans ignorantly use these terms incorrectly to identify people. If you disagree, feel free to accept my challenge. I look forward to debating with you. Thank you.

Please keep in mind: The term Hispanic is NOT the same as Latino despite being commonly used interchangeably.


I accept the debate and look forward to debating you.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my challenge...

Firstly, let's analyze the difference between the two terms in American definition via

Hispanic - relating to, characteristic of, or derived from Spain or Spanish-speaking countries.
Also, Hispano. Also called Hispanic American, Hispano-American. an American citizen or resident of Spanish or Latin-American descent.

Latino - a person of Latin-American or Spanish-speaking descent OR an inhabitant of the US who is of Latin American origin.

These definitions are entirely correct so allow me to go into detail...

The term "Hispanic" is derived from the term Hispania which means "pertaining to Spain" and it refers to the South West area of the Mediterranean in Europe also known as the "Iberian Peninsula" which consist of modern day Spain (part of Southern France) and Portugal. In essence, the term Hispanic only refers to the Spanish people, not the Portuguese or French. When Spain colonized most of Latin America, those territories adopted the term Hispanic to identify with Spanish culture and language.

The term "Latino" is Spanish and Portuguese for the word Latin. The word Latin originally referred to places in Europe taken over by the Roman Empire who speak a "Romance Language" derived from Latin. This includes Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Romania and many other small countries. The United States adopted this word in attempt to identify people from Latin America who live in the U.S. So now the term "Latino" refers to people from Latin American countries that speak a Romance Language which would include Spanish ( Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay), Portuguese (Brazil) and French (Haiti, French Guiana and the French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and a few others) however the French territories are not always considered so the definition is still a bit confusing.

Hispanic = Spanish Speaking only
Latino = Spanish, Portuguese (and possibly) French

The problem with these terms is that in the U.S. people see the word "Hispanic" as some form of racial or ethnic classification when it is in fact not because these terms refer specifically to language barriers not race. However when filling out certain applications you will see "Hispanic/Latino" as an option. By lumping one entire group of people into one race based on the language they speak, that can cause a lot of issues concerning race here in the United States. Hispanics and Latinos are NOT all one particular race because the people of Latin America consist of every race on the planet.

There are only three subcategories or races of the human race (four if you count Australian Aborigines). They include, Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and from there we have ethnicity.

Examples of ethnicity:

Caucasian - White Europeans (Mediterranean peoples, Nordic tribes, Anglo-Saxons) , Middle Easterners (Mesopotamians, Bebers, Saudi Arabians), Southern Asians (Indian/Hindu peoples, Palestinians)

Negro - Sub-Saharan Africans and Eastern Africans (Somalis, Ethiopians)

Mongol - East Asians (Han Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Siberians), South East Asians (Filipinos, Thai etc..) and Native Americans (including Aztecs, Mayans and Inca peoples)

The people of Latin America are a direct combination of ALL of these groups. More specifically White Europeans, Native Americans and Sub-Saharan Africans. In some places the demographics vary. In Mexico, most people are either Mestizo (mix of Spanish and Native) or white (Spanish mostly) while in the Dominican Republic, most people are either Mulatto (mix of African and European) or black. Yet, both these countries speak Spanish, they are not comprised of the same racial mixture and do not have the same culture despite the Spanish connection they both have.

Before White Europeans arrived to the Americas, there were already Native Americans living here, many died from starvation, disease, and from being overworked in some places while in other places they survived or heavily mixed with the Spanish and Portuguese (Esp in Mexico, Central America and Brazil). But in places where they did not survive, they were replaced with millions of African slaves brought over to Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese (Esp in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Brazil). These countries have very high populations of people of African descent. After slavery, constant mixing and migration, Latin America remains the most diverse region on the planet and almost every known ethnic group inhabits each country. Brazil is the second largest country of people with African ancestry in the world after Nigeria. However Latin America is mostly European, Native American and African while others are minorities (East Asians, Middle Easterners and South Asians). So this is why Hispanic and Latino should not be considered races because the people of Latin America are not one race, we come in all colors. I am a result of this as well.


Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, or social affiliation.

I agree with my opponents definitions he used for this debate.

There are no problems with classifying a certain group of people by the descent of the language they speak or their geographical location. Race, as noted earlier, is just a classification system used to categorize humans. By grouping together Latinos and Hispanics as a specific group for demographics is fine because it is based on their geographical and linguistic affiliation. In this case race is not based on skin color. My opponent seems to think that the word "race" is a synonym for "skin color". I base this logic on how my opponent said "So this is why Hispanic and Latino should not be considered races because the people of Latin America are not one race, we come in all colors". Yes, I am not debating whether or not its possible that Hispanics and Latinos have different skin colors within their race. Instead I am debating whether or not the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" be permanently removed as a racial/ethnic demographic. Whether or not they have different skin colors within their race is irrelavent to where they have geographic affiliations with.

I completely disagree with my opponents believe that "there are only three subcategories or races of the human race (four if you count Australian Aborigines)."

There are an infinite amount of races. Race is just a classification system used to classify people of anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, or social affiliation. So you could classify people in so many different ways based on their different affiliations.

My opponent does not have a clear understanding of the word "race" and instead gave history and examples of how genetically and linguistically diverse Latin America is. However this logic isn't applicable because the U.S. is just using their geographical location of Latin America to classify them as a specific population. Which in return is perfectly fine because not only of the definition of the word "race" but also how "Asians" is usually an option that you can pick. Asia has an approximate population of 4.299 billion people. So why should Latin Americans and Hispanics get a double standard when it comes to dividing people by their geographical location?
Debate Round No. 2


Actually I do in fact have a clear concise understanding of what the term "race" refers to...

The term "race" is a categorization of human beings based on physical genetic attributes (this includes skin color) that were passed down from parent to offspring. This has nothing to do with culture because anyone can adopt a culture that is not related to the culture of their parents. For example, Asian Americans are not the same as their native Asian Parents. My opponent seems to think that the word "race" is a synonym for "culture" when it is in fact not. Even the term Hispanic is not really based on culture because the various cultures of Latin America are not the same. Mexican culture is not Puerto Rican culture and so on.

You claim that "There are an infinite amount of races." when that is not true at all. The human race is categorized into three major groups which include Caucasian, Black and Mongol. From there, there are a variety of different people of different ethnicity. If the term "Hispanic" were considered an ethnicity, it would only refer to people of Spain, who are white Europeans, and their descendants. Not everyone of Latin America is a descendant of the Spanish, and not everyone identifies as white.

When judging the concept of race from a geographical aspect, you claim...

"Asia has an approximate population of 4.299 billion people. So why should Latin Americans and Hispanics get a double standard when it comes to dividing people by their geographical location?"

This is also untrue. The Asian continent is vastly diverse and made up of mostly two distinct racial groups. The native people of China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines are mostly of the Mongol race while the native people of India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and the Middle East are considered "Caucasian" (not white Europeans) and this is based on genetics not culture. Asia is just as diverse as Latin America but you do not see Chinese people and Indian people saying they are the same race because they are not.

In America, you have Black Dominicans and White Argentineans identifying as one racial group when they are not the same. The only thing in common is the fact that they speak Spanish. Are Black Americans the same as White Americans because they both speak English? No, but by your logic they would be because of that one common attribute they both share. THAT is a double standard as you put it. If we were grouping people based on language, French speaking Black Africans would be the same race as the native White French speakers in Europe and so on. Language does not determine race. And the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" refer to language not race.

Please feel free to take a look at the video to the link I provided...

Although I usually refrain from using Wikipedia as a source...

Here is a list of famous Black Hispanics and Latinos

Here is a list of famous White Hispanics and Latinos

Are Jennifer Lopez and Zoe Saldana the same race? No because Lopez is white (mostly Spanish) and Saldana is mostly black (African and European mixture). What about Ricky Martin and Carmelo Anthony? Same or similar linguistic background, different racial background. Calling "Hispanic" and "Latino" a race is very inaccurate.


Macar0ni forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by phiLockeraptor 2 years ago
Honestly the whole idea of "hispanics" was made in order to gain political traction.

The benefit has been a larger, more unified group of voices.

The downside, however, has been a decreasing ability to identify what makes latino's/hispanics unique.

As it stands now, the only real thing the group has in common (culturally speaking) is

A. Religiousness

B. Love of family

C. Spanish/Indigenous descent
Posted by brazilvenezueladr 3 years ago
The instigator Briantheliberal presented facts of social sciences but also the "facts of life". What I mean with facts of life?
People from the united states, be they from non hispanic language ancestry or orign, be they self identified Chicanos in the west or New York-Rican in the East tend to use these terms as if the real people from the many nations of Latin America mark these two terms instead of black,white, brown. They don't.
Nobody birth certificates, passport nor national i.d's ( e.k.g: cedulas ) list hispanic/latino in the color and / or race section. For those who have never done so, I refer them to the color charts or any rainbow flag.
These two terms may have been well meant, some subjective "feel good thing" for interest groups to achieve civil rights, political space, social - public benefits, and economic opportunities in the job market at a particular momentum, but there's no need to make them the solid science that they are not. They are "meme" that has no rational placed in being spread around an entire nation as truth.

A very brief note about the geneis of these terms ( to add on to what was brilliantly stated in by the Instigator) Hispanic was inserted to US society by a 1970 census and Latino from a LA Time columnist (Frank Del Olmo )as a reaction against Mexican-American being called "chicanos" and as a substitute for the proposed hispanic which he found to be "ugly and imprecise".
I thanks debate org and the instigator for putting aside fabrication and exposing a facts that for most of my 20 years traveling to USA, most people I encounter don't want to hear. Sadly many of them are the folks calling themselves with these terms but who don't live and may not necessarily think and feel as we do in Latin America, for better or for worse we only learn these terms when we come here. I would like to learn more from briantheliberal.
Posted by 2-D 3 years ago
with a forfeit most people feel comfortable giving you the conduct point or even arguments since the opponent has likely dropped an argument.
Posted by 2-D 3 years ago
missed this one. There is a forum you can post in to drum up voters:

Also you can extend the voting period to a month or two to give it more time. You can also privately message people who may have comment. You can invite several friends then message them to offer a non-biased opinion.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
Would you mind voting?
Posted by Andy99 3 years ago
Why do government forms have Race field? Why does anything have to be applied based on race? Why is race playing a role in Government? If we don't identify race, there will be no discrimination based on race.

I guess we need to stop talking about race.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
I know and definitely agree with you. But the reality of it is, racial classification is apart of living in a society, unfortunately it also divides a society. But I have faced prejudice by both African Americans and Hispanics because of misconceptions about my racial and cultural identity. People do not realize that latinos come in every shade of white, black, brown and yellow. They expect us all to look a certain way and behave a certain way. But the truth is, I like to embrace and acknowledge my Spanish and French Speaking heritage and my African ancestry. That's why this topic is important to me. It's not meant to be a racial thing, it's more of a cultural thing. I don't really think the concept of race even exists. It's all man made ideology to divide people and cause conflict.
Posted by Andy99 3 years ago
I would go further, why identify even based on race? Why should anyone bring race for any reason. The concept of 'race' should be eradicated.
Posted by briantheliberal 3 years ago
People who are Hispanic or Latino should be identified by their actual race (Black, White, Native, Asian) not placed under an umbrella because we all speak a certain language.
Posted by Andy99 3 years ago
Do you have a suggestions, what should 'Hispanic' and 'Latinos' be called going forward?
No votes have been placed for this debate.