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Here are some definitions published in the Tallahassee Democrat that attempt to explain. Do you agree or disagree? See for your self.


For U.S. government statistics, all Americans who trace their ancestry to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic or other Spanish cultures, regardless of race; excludes people from Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, Belize and Portugal because Spanish is not the first language in those countries.
The word Hispanic could be loosely defined as a cultural or ethnic term, but there is no such thing as a Hispanic nationality. And it is not a racial term because Hispanics can be of any race. According to U.S. Census projections, Hispanics will be the country's largest minority by 2005. The proportion of Hispanics in the United States --- more than 11 percent in 1999 --- is expected to grow to one in four by 2050.
Those who consider their heritage linked to Spain --- typically Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean people --- tend to feel more comfortable calling themselves Hispanic. It is the preferred term in Florida, where many Hispanics have embraced the word as a way to promote solidarity among various groups and bolster their business opportunities and political clout.
Many who identify themselves as Latino (men) or Latina (women) object to being called or classified Hispanic because they consider themselves native to the hemisphere and want no association with Spanish conquistadors who destroyed pre-Colombian civilizations. It's considered especially offensive among Californians of Latin descent.

Latino - Americans of Latin American descent and those who prefer the term to Hispanic.

This term has become virtually interchangeable with Hispanic as a description for Americans who share a common bond with Latin America. Many see Latino as more politically correct than Hispanic because it refers to ancestral roots in the Americas rather than to ties to Spanish conquerors.
But others point out the irony that even the word ''Latin'' in Latin America is of European origin.
Typically people of Mexican, Central American and South American descent prefer Latino. The term is very popular in California, Illinois, New York and Texas --- states with large Latino populations. Many women in the group prefer the gender-specific term ''Latina'' to the male ''Latino.'' In some political circles, Latina is used to create a sense of unity and sisterhood.
The term is not favored among immigrants or descendants of Spanish-speaking homelands who live in Florida because they feel their ancestry is more closely linked with Spain than with Latin America.

Chicano - Americans of Mexican heritage.

People of Mexican descent make up the clear majority of people from Spanish-speaking homelands in the United States. Chicano, the term some use to describe themselves, has dramatically changed meaning over the years.
It once described poor, unskilled laborers born in Mexico, especially recent U.S. immigrants. The term was adopted as a symbol of pride and solidarity in the 1960s when Chicanos became more politically active and sought social change. Many Chicanos are ''mestizo,'' or mixed race. They descend from Native Americans, mostly Aztec, Maya and Hopi, who intermarried with Caucasians.
Very popular in California and the U.S. Southwest in the '60s and '70s, Chicano has lost much of its political fire but has not died out completely. Still used in Texas and California, the term is preferred by Mexican-Americans who do not want to deny their indigenous roots by calling themselves Latino. As with Latino/Latina, women in this group prefer the feminine version, Chicana.
Some younger Mexican immigrants or descendants consider the term outdated, supplanting it with Mexican-American in recent years. Many elderly people and conservatives consider Chicano crude and offensive because of its original meaning.

Hispano - Direct descendants of Spanish conquistadors.

Hispano Americans are not immigrants from Latin America but direct descendants of Europeans who came in the 16th century to the area that is now the Southwestern United States.
Racially, Hispanos are considered either Caucasian, because of their Spanish ties, or mestizo, because of intermarriage ancestry. They speak a Spanish dialect that dates from the time of explorer Francisco Coronado (1510-54) and celebrate holidays that commemorate events in Spanish history.