Document Type



Medicine and Health | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology


This essay reviews the issues and current literature on how “race,” skin color, and/or phenotype operate as stratifying agents among Latinos in the United States. We review the trends and emerging issues in this area with regard to health, housing and segregation, and socioeconomic status (SES), including education and criminal justice.We do so in the context of the Census Bureau’s release of its 2010 Alternative Questionnaire Experiment (AQE) study. This 5-year study focuses on how to best ask the race question. One of the key findings of the study was that including “Hispanic/Latinos” as a race in the combined questionnaire format did not reduce the number of people identifying as Hispanic/Latino; however, it did reduce the number of Hispanics/Latinos reporting detailed information on specific national origin. The AQE also recommended further testing of the combined question format. The only time that a Hispanic origin group was included in the Census as a racial category was in 1930 when “Mexican” was included as a race. If the Census recommends the inclusion of Hispanic as a race, it would mark a significant departure from the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines and the Census’ current policy of thinking of Latinos as an ethnic group, composed of many races, to a racial group similar to Whites, Blacks, or Asians in the United States. We also examine works that assess the importance of collecting data on race and ethnicity as analytically distinct concepts.

Article Number


Publication Date

Winter 1-2015


Original Citation:

“Latinos and the Colorline,” Rodríguez, C. E. López, N., and Argeros, G. (2015) in the journal Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (eds.) Robert Scott and Stephen Kosslyn, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. January (1st Quarter/Winter) 2015