Six Million U.S. Adults Identify as Afro-Latino

The Pew Research Center posted information titled: “About 6 million U.S. adults identify as Afro-Latino”. The Pew Research Center states that this information was gathered in a different approach than that of the U.S. Census Bureau sources.

Afro-Latino identity is a distinct one, with deep roots in colonial Latin America. As a result, it can exist alongside a person’s Hispanic, racial, or national origin identities. The life experiences of Afro-Latinos are shaped by race, skin tone, and other factors, in ways that differ from other Hispanics. And though most Afro-Latinos identify as Hispanic or Latino, not all do so, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on a survey of U.S. adults conducted from November 2019 to June 2020.

In 2020, there were about 6 million Afro-Latino adults in the United States, and they made up about 2% of the U.S. adult population and 12% of the adult Latino population. About one-in-seven Afro-Latinos – or an estimated 800,000 adults – do not identify as Hispanic.

The multiple dimensions of Latino identity reflect the long colonial history of Latin America, during which mixing occurred among indigenous Americans, White Europeans, Asians, and enslaved people from Africa. In Latin America’s colonial period, about 15 times as many African slaves were taken to Spanish and Portuguese colonies than to the U.S. About 130 million people of African descent live in Latin America, and they make up roughly a quarter of the region’s total population, according to recent estimates from the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin American (PERLA) at Princeton University.

Also according to The Pew Research Center, estimating the size of the nation’s Afro-Latino population requires a different approach to capturing identity on surveys than is available from U.S. Census Bureau sources. To do this, Pew Research Center asked adults to self-identify as Afro-Latino independently from other questions on race or ethnicity.

Asking directly about Afro-Latino identity yields a higher share of respondents who identify as Afro-Latino than by counting as Afro-Latino anyone who identifies as Hispanic and Black in a two-step race question format like the one used by the Census Bureau in the decennial census and its other surveys. 

Results from the 2020 census, for example, show 1.2 million people of all ages identified as both Hispanic and Black, substantially below the 6 million Afro-Latino adults estimated using the Pew Research Center’s method. 

Changing America reported that the number The Pew Research Center came to is much higher than what the U.S. Census Bureau estimated for that year. Census data shows that just over 1,163,862 American adults identified as having both Hispanic origin and being Black or African American alone.

“We have learned something over the years, the question about race does not capture the complexities of racial identity among Latinos” said Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. “This is why we went and decided to survey not only Latinos, but everybody in our survey.”

Based on this, it sounds like the next census should take this information into account and make changes to how they ask people about race. The 2020 Census appears to have miscounted the number of people who are Afro-Latino.

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