SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - As the face of America changes, the largest minority group in the U.S. are Latinos or Hispanics. It's been nearly four decades since the federal government mandated the use of these labels to categorize Americans who trace their roots to a Spanish speaking country, but should we be using these labels today?
America is the great melting pot and to people of a different background, culture can represent who they are. However, when it comes to ‘Latinos’ or ‘Hispanics,’ both labels may not fit everyone. “I'm from Mexico I call myself Mexican. Latinos to me are just south of Mexico,” said Hector Oregon of Salt Lake.
“I don't really do a lot of traditional things, but I was born Mexican,” said Michelle Vazquez.
Technically, the word Hispanic refers to any cultural connection with Spain. Latino usually refers to someone of a Spanish-speaking country that can trace their ancestry to Latin America. “I don't mind being called either or. They both fit,” said Maria Tovar.
Why do some people get offended if you refer to them as Latino or Hispanic? “It's pride for the most part,” said Frank Vedolla, a community activist.
After interviewing people across the country, the Pew Hispanic Center found out only 24 percent of Hispanics identify themselves as 'Hispanic' or ‘Latino', and 51 percent identify themselves by their country of origin. Another 21 percent said they’re American.
Oregon points out what matters is that people embrace who they are and where they are from. “You can't forget your culture. If you're around English all day you still have to go home and be around your family. You can't forget your roots and your culture,” he commented.
Even though "labels" might categorize people in a certain group, most Latinos or Hispanics express a stronger connection to the Spanish language.