A Conversation With Latinos on Race
Last year we set out to make a series of short documentaries that we hoped would foster a discussion about race relations in the U.S. To date the series has focused on the personal nuances of systemic racism as reflected in the relationship between black and white people in this country. And while that dynamic is a significant part of the American story of race, it does not fully reflect the diverse history and rapidly changing make-up of our nation. So for our next installment of our “Conversation on Race” series, we decided to go broader—and hear from Latinos on their experiences in this country.
Currently, 55 million Latinos live in the U.S., making up 17% of the population. After Mexico, the U.S is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Latino voters are projected to make up a record 11.9% of the voting electorate in 2016, just shy of blacks, who make up 12.4%. We are curious to explore how race in the United States shapes opportunity in a community that draws from such a hugely diverse group of racial backgrounds and ethnicities. How does one identity get forged from such a variety of lived experiences?
Before we could even discuss racism and the challenges Latinos face in this country we had to define the term “Latino” in the first place. When we asked our interviewees about that, responses were wide-ranging. For some Latino identity represents a political stance involving both race and nationality, while others found the label deeply constraining. Most pointed to the frustrations of being stereotyped, marginalized or demeaned in any number of ways. Everyone we spoke with was vulnerable, and their stories illuminating, but most of what we took from them is that we need far more examination of this diverse and important group of people. We hope you will join us in having these important conversations. As a start, we invite you to do so here.
Initially presented by The New York Times.