How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American
Some argue that these cultures are fundamentally similar and that the Spanish language is a natural basis for a unified Hispanic identity. But Mora shows very clearly that the idea of ethnic grouping was historically constructed and institutionalized in the United States. During the 1960 census, reports classified Latin American immigrants as “white,” grouping them with European Americans. Not only was this decision controversial, but also Latino activists claimed that this classification hindered their ability to portray their constituents as underrepresented minorities. Therefore, they called for a separate classification: Hispanic. Once these populations could be quantified, businesses saw opportunities and the media responded. Spanish-language television began to expand its reach to serve the now large, and newly unified, Hispanic community with news and entertainment programming. Through archival research, oral histories, and interviews, Mora reveals the broad, national-level process that led to the emergence of Hispanicity in America.