From Puerto Rican to Pan-Ethnic in New York City

Sal Oropesa, Pennsylvania State University
Nancy S. Landale, Pennsylvania State University
Meredith Greif, Pennsylvania State University

Increasing diversity has stimulated interest in racial identification. Racial identification is complex for groups that exhibit considerable phenotypic variation, such as Puerto Ricans. However, the empirical literature on racial identification among Puerto Ricans suffers from numerous limitations. We overcome several limitations with a study that is grounded in the experience of Puerto Rican women in New York City. Our analysis focuses on two questions: How do Puerto Rican women identify themselves racially? What are the sources of their racial identities? The results indicate that most Puerto Rican women in New York City conflate race and ethnicity by designating their race as either “Puerto Rican” or “Hispanic.” Moreover, the decision to “become” pan-ethnic has complex roots. In particular, the effect of physical appearance on the adoption of a pan-ethnic identity is conditioned by socioeconomic and neighborhood characteristics

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Presented in Session 93: Racial/Ethnic Formations and Immigration