PALCUS seeks to define Portuguese
How do you see yourself?
That is the question the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) wants you to answer as if you were filling out your Census forms.
Why? Well, PALCUS says the U.S. Census Bureau is looking into whether to offer Portuguese as a choice on the 2020 Census.
Currently, Portuguese is not among the listing of ethnicities on the Census forms. Many Portuguese have to decide whether to choose “other” on their forms and write in Portuguese or choose Hispanic or some other combination.
“As of now, we have no classification,” said PALCUS President Fernando Rosa. “In terms of actually creating a definition, that is what we are trying to accomplish. We either are falling into the white category, the black category or the Hispanic category. At this point, the Census (Bureau) is trying to revise the definition and we are hoping we will fall into a category where people are comfortable.”
Census Officials told O Jornal on Friday that no determination on any changes to how categories on the Census forms to appear in 2020 have been made.
Meanwhile, PALCUS has been using social media and emails to disseminate the survey across America. By Monday’s end, more than 700 people had taken the survey, which uses some Census Bureau questions and asks people how they would like to be categorized. The survey takes about four minutes to complete, depending upon your server speed and engagement.
“We are going to keep it up for at least another week,” said Rosa. “We are trying to get as large a sampling as we possible can to add to our date base. We are going to compile it and review it. We have a consultant on board and once we have the final analysis, once we have it all, we will present it to them (Census Bureau) to try to influence the position.”
The issue of what is a Hispanic and what is a Latino remains fluid. The original term Hispanic was adopted by the Census Bureau on their forms in 1970 as it was first used in the 1970’s by Government agencies seeking to classify people of Spanish origin. But, not all who speak Spanish are content with the classification of Hispanic, especially those in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Brazilians, who do not speak Spanish, are also technically Latinos, but Portuguese who share the Iberian Peninsula with Spain are not technically “Latino” nor “Hispanic.”
Hence, the question and the confusion. The U.S. Department of Labor also allows people to self-designate themselves as a Hispanic, if they are Portuguese, and it cannot be contested.
It sets the table for more confusion. Take the world’s largest and at times questionable encyclopedia – Wikipedia. It lists the definition of Hispanics like this: “Hispanic (Spanish: hispano, hispánico; Portuguese: hispânico, hispano, Catalan: hispà, hispànic) is an ethnonym that denotes a relationship to Spain or, in some definitions, to ancient Hispania, which comprised the Iberian Peninsula including the modern states of Andorra, Portugal, and Spain and the British Crown Dependency of Gibraltar. Today, organizations in the United States use the term to refer to persons with a historical and cultural relationship either with Spain and Portugal or only with Spain.”
Even the United States government is not universal in its recognition of what is a Hispanic. The Department of Transportation recognizes Portuguese as Hispanic, as does the Small Business Administration, but the Census Bureau still does not.
And in 2020, it will recognize the Portuguese and Brazilians as something, but just what remains to be seen.