BLACK, TRIGUEƑO, WHITE…? Shifting Racial Identification among Puerto Ricans

BLACK, TRIGUEƑO, WHITE…? Shifting Racial Identification among Puerto Ricans

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 2, Issue 2 (2005)
pages 267-285
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X05050186

Carlos Vargas-Ramos, Research Associate
Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Hunter College, City University of New York

The use of U.S.-oriented racial categories in the 2000 decennial census conducted by the Census Bureau in Puerto Rico provided results that may not accurately reflect social dynamics in Puerto Rico, more generally, and inequality based on race, in particular. This work explores how variations in racial typologies used for the collection of data in Puerto Rico and the methodology used to collect such data produce widely ranging results on racial identification that in turn affect the measurement of the impact of ā€œraceā€ on social outcomes. Specifically, the analysis focuses on how the omission of locally based and meaningful racial terminology from census questionnaires leads to results on racial identification that differ markedly from those found in survey data that include such terminology. In addition, differing strategies to record the racial identification of Puerto Ricans on the island (i.e., self-identification versus identification by others), lead to variations that highlight the changing effect of race on socioeconomic status. Who identifies a person’s race affects analyses of how race affects the life chances of individuals in Puerto Rico.

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