The racial identity of the offspring of Latino intermarriage: A case of racial identity and census categories

Michael Hajime Miyawaki, Fordham University


Since 1970, rates of Latino intermarriage and the number of "part-Latinos" have been on the rise in the United States. Among newlyweds, Latino/non-Latino couples account for over 40 percent of all mixed marriages. In places like California, part-Latinos already make up more than two thirds of mixed heritage births. Despite these demographic trends, part-Latinos remain an understudied population. In my dissertation, I examine the racial identity of the offspring of Latino/non-Latino white, black, and Asian intermarriages. To investigate part-Latino racial identity, I rely on multiple measures of race using quantitative and qualitative research methods. First, I look at how Latino/non-Latino couples racially classify their children using data from the 2008-2010 American Community Survey (ACS). Second, I use the same dataset to analyze how part-Latino adults racially report themselves. Third, for an in-depth analysis of racial identity, I interview 50 part-Latinos from the New York metropolitan area, focusing on the meanings that they attribute to their racial responses in the 2010 Census and their "lived racial identity" experience. Findings from the ACS indicate that the majority of Latino/non-Latino white and black children are classified by their parents as "white" and "black," respectively, whereas most Latino/non-Latino Asian children are given a "multiracial" classification. Similar patterns in racial reporting in the ACS are found among part-Latino adults. While these findings suggest that part-Latinos racially identify as white, black, and even multiracial, interviews with part-Latinos reveal that their racial responses in the Census do not always correspond with their racial identity. Many feel constrained by question format because Hispanic origins are not included in the race question. If given a "Latino" option, the majority of my respondents would report being Latino and white, black, or Asian. Overall, most part-Latino respondents racially identify as "mixed," particularly among Latino/non-Latino blacks and Asians. For some, their racial identity has changed over time and across situations. Lastly, their experience being classified by others are influenced by not only by their physical appearance and ethnic markers (e.g., name), but also vary by region (e.g., California vs. New York). These findings point to the complexity of part-Latino racial identity.

Subject Area

Ethnic studies|Hispanic American studies|Demography

Recommended Citation

Miyawaki, Michael Hajime, "The racial identity of the offspring of Latino intermarriage: A case of racial identity and census categories" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3600035.