With draconian anti-immigrant laws and deportation dragnets In high gear, it looks like America's racial barriers are hardening against the Latino community. But who draws those lines? Researchers from University of Illinois and Ohio State have examined the forms of racial identity that immigrants take on when moving into the "mainstream." While the Latino population incorporates a variety of colors, languages and cultures, institutional racism appears to be breaking up the community along color lines, in a new twist on the old story of "passing."
The researchers found that Latino immigrants' ability to "assimilate" into the broader American social and political culture depends in large part on the way they perceive and project their images in relation to whites. The study drew from immigrants' self-identification data in the 2003 New Immigrant Survey, which sampled adult immigrants who had recently obtained legal permanent status.
As the Latino population grows, said Ohio State sociologist Reanne Frank in a summary of the findings, "It is likely we will see change in our racial categories, but there will not be one uniform racial boundary around all Latinos."
The boundary may both divide and unite immigrants, sifting them into color-coded categories. "Some Latinos will be successful in the bid to be accepted as 'white'—usually those with lighter skin," Frank argued. "But for those with darker skin and those who are more integrated into U.S. society, we believe there will be a new Latino racial boundary
forming around them." READ FULL STORY