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
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
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,
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
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.