U.S. Racial Groups: General & Specific Terms

          "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
                     Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." 
                            Martin Luther King, Jr.

View U.S. Census maps and statistics of racial and social-economic characteristics of people by counties.
Also view maps that show a different spatial pattern of racial groups.









Members of specific groups and people not of these groups use words, labels, and names to identify themselves and other groups. Which names are acceptable? In the 1990s political correct language had become the fashion. Read an article in The Economist on how silly the discussion over political correctness has become!
Various Terms for Racial Minorities

American Indians



Asian Americans

Native Americans






La Raza

U.S. Indians








Spanish surnames



* The term "African Americans" is used by multiculturists and academics, while the term "Black Americans or Blacks" is used by assimilationists and "people of color" on the street..
# The term "Hispanic" comes from the Latin word for Iberia, Hispania. The term become widely used in the late 1970s when the U.S. Census Bureau adopted it to describe persons in the United States who are descendent from Spain or from a Spanish-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere. Hispanic is based on history and geography rather than on racial or ethnic categories because Hispanics may be of any race -- African, Asian, European, and/or Native American -- as long as they trace their ancestry to Spain or one of its (former) colonies.
## The term "Latino/a" (male/female) originated from within the social group it describes and is considered a more appropriate term, certainly by them.
Note: The Nixon (Republican) administration invented these "racial" categories for affirmative action purposes, not Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as many scholars and journalists have reported.

                                                What do we call ourselves?

Indian Labels


First Nation

Canadian term


European label (Columbus: India)

Native American

1960s -

Amerindian, Pan-Indianism

academic use

American Indian

AIM, 1960s -

Hopi, Sioux, Anishinabe (Ojbewa or Chippewa)


LacCourte Oreille

specific reservation

Southwest, Great Lakes

regional tribal band

Black Labels








Negro College Fund


1960s -

Black Panthers

Afro-American (1996: 13% prefer)


Afros: hairdos


late 1980s -

media, academic

Visible Minorities*


Canadian term

* Starting with the 2011 Canadian Census no data were collected by racial categories. For example, Blacks and Whites from Jamaica could classify themselves as Latin Americans or country of birth.
Statistics Canada also uses the term "visible minority, " which does not include Aborginals, rather than the U.S. term "racial minorities," which does include Indians.

Hispanic Labels



Spanish-speaking (USA Census)

Latino (men) / Latina (women)

Spanish-speaking in USA

Chicano (men) / Chicana (women)

Mexican-origin & U.S.-born


Cuban-born or identified

Puerto Rican-American

Puerto Rican-born or identified

Latin American Country?-American

specific Latin American country

Asian Labels



all Asian-origin or identified
ABC American-born Chinese
Japanese-American Japanese-born or identified


first generation Japanese-born immigrants


second generation foreign-born children of Japanese immigrants


third generation foreign- born children of Japanese descent


fourth generation foreign-born children of Japanese descent


fifth generation foreign-born children of Japanese descent
Filipino Americans: Hispanic or Asian or both?

Politically Correct Language!
You may have missed the latest scandal to befall the scandal-mired government of Washington, DC . It happened like this: as Marshall Brown, an aide to the mayor, was discussing budget matters with David Howard, the public advocate, he thought he heard him say "nigger". Mr Brown, who is black, stormed out of the room before Mr Howard, who is white, could explain that what he had said was: "I will have to be niggardly with this fund." But Mr Howard did the decent thing: he offered to resign, and the mayor accepted. Quite right. As one reader told us long ago, "niggardly" has no place in civilized discourse. The dictionary assures us that it has nothing to do with the Latin niger, black, meaning only "miserly" in Old Norse; but as a former head of the National Bar Association asked the New York Times, "Do we really know where the Norwegians got the word?" Good point. They'd already discovered America, hadn't they? Straight off the longship on to the Bronx Expressway, and who knows what they heard through those horns on their helmets. "But it turns up in Middle English, too," you protest, "as nig and nog, meaning miser." Right: so racism was alive and well in the era of Sir Gawain. Who do you imagine was actually sent to lif' dat Grail?

Some words, let's admit it, are just too offensive for their own good. Some condemn themselves; but others pose as perfectly harmless, capable of being slipped by bigots into every conversation. These need watching; for the n-word is only the tip of the iceberg. Videotapes from other city offices over the years show a Latina councilwoman, Laetitia Gonzales, bursting into tears when a colleague described her dress as Day-glo pink; the first openly lesbian sub-accountant, Ms Wilkins, resigning when the budget director pointed out a dichotomy in her spread-sheets; and the gay information tsar, Roger Pringle, refusing point-blank to sit beneath a sign reading Queries. Worst of all was the incident late last year when the sub-director of pothole-maintenance, having groaned "Not juice again!" as his secretary brought his breakfast, was sacked for anti-Semitism.

Slurs ancient and modern Despicable incidents of this sort should clearly be avoided. But there you go again; "despicable" itself contains a slur on Americans of Mexican extraction. The Economist has been told off for that, too; again, quite right. Despicable should never be used in public situations; conspicuous should be conspicuous by its absence; and all who are at all perspicacious will lament the presence of these words in our language. It's all the fault of those damned Romans, who could never have run their empire without the help of all those illegal dishwashers and cleaners they so casually insulted with almost every verb they coined. By exposing and shaming the users of such words, the Washington mayor's office has done the world a service. The Economist believes it should do no less to keep the language spick and span. Rather than denigrating racial, religious or life-style choices, rather than niggling and nipping at the differences between us, we should take the higher path, and our readers should write to us every time we fail. Those with the longest list of gratuitous slurs will receive a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary reduced, by judicious expurgation, to the size of a Filofax. That should put our writers in a paddy.
Source: The Economist, p.21, 6 February 1999.