There was a time when uttering the word Mexican was impolite.

Cops in Southern California would call anyone with brown skin a Mexican. And those of us who were born here preferred other terms such as Mexican American, Chicano and Latino. How could you tell if someone was born here by looking at them, anyway, people argued?

Times change, however, and Chicano is about is contemporary as a beeper. And now brown folks don't much care for Latino or Hispanic, either:

A Pew Hispanic Center survey today revealed that a majority of so-called Latinos reject the terms Latino and Hispanic and instead favor labels that identity them by their home-country heritage (Mexican, Cuban, Salvadoran, etc.).

But that majority (51 percent) is hanging on by a thread and comes at the end of an unprecedented run of Latino immigration to the United States. (Forty million immigrants have come to the United States since 1965, many if not most of them from Latin America).

So, many of those folks could indeed identify with their home country as opposed of those of us who were born here.

Most (51 percent) have no preference for the terms Latino or Hispanic, but for those who do, Hispanic is preferred 2 to 1 (33 to 14 percent), according to the survey.

Again, 51 percent say they're “some other race” (rather than black, white, or Asian, for example), while more than one-third (36 percent) say they're white, Pew says.

Are we “typical” Americans? Half (47 percent) say yes, another half (47 percent) says no.

And … exactly three-quarters of Latinos believe they can get ahead in America by working hard.


[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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