Inventing a New Minority
The “Hispanic” category was a power grab.
In 1980, some whites objected to adding “Hispanic” as an “ethnic” category because it was both imprecise and insulting to white “ethnics” such as Poles and Italians.
Conservatives briefly considered whether ethnic whites deserve census categories. The 1980 Republican Convention included this as part of its platform:
Millions of Americans who trace their heritage to the nations of Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe have for too long seen their values neglected. The Republican Party will take positive steps to see to it that these Americans, along with others too long neglected, have the opportunity to share the power, as well as the burdens of our society.
Ethnic whites were merged into a larger “white” identity — and this didn’t lead to a boom in their influence and power. Instead, the “Hispanic” category is now the largest non-white group in the United States. The people who established the category knew what they were doing.
Priorities shifted when it became more profitable to be non-white.
In 1977, LULAC succeeded in having the federal government recognize ‘Mexicans,’ and all ‘Hispanics,’ as separate from European-Americans and essentially ‘non-white’ so as to be eligible for affirmative action programs.
Groups such as the National Council of La Raza encouraged Spanish-speakers to say they were Hispanic because it would mean more effective appeals to corporations and the government.
In some US states, the Portuguese were also granted minority status, and this, as well, proved to be of substantial benefit to some Portuguese-owned businesses.
Clearly, people want to be considered “disadvantaged” because then they get advantages. This isn’t just idiotic; it damages national unity. Racial/ethnic Categories are a powerful barrier to assimilation. Cubans are far more likely than other Hispanics to call themselves “white,” (87%) and, in a 2004 Pew poll, more than half said America was their “real” homeland. Only about a third of Mexicans, Central and South Americans, and Puerto Ricans did — even though the latter are all US citizens.