#WhatLatinosLookLike Shows that there's Plenty of Room for Racial Ambiguity

Big-name newspapers are not really doing so well lately when it comes to making sensible and tolerant claims about ethnicity, race, and gender-charged issues, and the hashtag #WhatLatinosLookLike is trending in response. After a transphobic piece in the Chicago Sun-Times and George Will's rape victim blaming column in the Washington Post, now the New York Times has stepped into the oh-no-you-didn't spotlight with its claim that Hispanics are identifying as white. With #WhatLatinosLookLike, Latinos from all over the world are taking to social media to show how they feel about the claim.

Let's step back and examine why this is an issue. The Times article states that "an estimated net 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as 'Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin,' as the census form puts it, changed their race from "some other race" to "white" between the 2000 and 2010 censuses." The article makes the claim that the change is part of a process of racial assimilation, similar to the process of Italians and Irish coming to be considered white (as they were not originally thought of as white). However, the very blog post at Pew that provided the numbers cautioned against drawing such a conclusion. What the numbers might actually represent is an inability in the wording of the census to accurately describe the racial identities of many Latinos.

And thus was born the #WhatLatinosLookLike hashtag: an effort to demonstrate the complicated, sometimes ambiguous nature of defining what it is to be Latino. The images that people have uploaded on Twitter and Instagram are as defiant and celebratory as they are diverse. Faces of all colors smile at the camera, or just stare it down. Every photo affirms the idea that being Latino has a lot less to do with what color you are than the NY Times article might think. Below are a few of my personal favorites:

If you want to see more, or even upload your own, check out hundreds more of pics like these by searching for the #WhatLatinosLookLike tag. And remember, kids: what you check off on a census box doesn't have to define who you are.

Images: pjpolicarpio/Instagram; Conz Preti/Twitter; Adios Barbie/Twitter; Latino Rebels/Twitter; Deanna/Twitter