Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2023

Publication Title

Serving Hispanic, Latine, and Latinx Students in Academic Libraries

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The use of the term Hispanic in the U.S. has long been used as a catchall for what is a remarkably diverse group of people. Often incorrectly interchanged with the term Latine, many do not understand why the term, along with others like Latine, and Latinx, is both important and problematic. The way people identify is incredibly personal and can be a result of a variety of experiences. Hispanics and Latines (the U.S. Census counts these groups as one) make up 18.7% of the U.S. population with non-Hispanic African Americans comprising 12.4% of the population (Jones et al., 2021). While the Census Bureau considers Hispanic and Latine as one group, it does at least recognize that these groups encompass various races and so it distinguishes race as separate, allowing people to acknowledge both their race and Hispanic and/or Latine origins. This is important to know because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. saw a decrease in the non-Hispanic white-only population from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020 (US Census Bureau, 2021) and it is forecasted that the Hispanic/Latine population will grow to over 111 million by 2060 (US Census Bureau, 2018). This means that as the population grows, we will see (and are already seeing) a growth in Hispanic and Latine higher ed students. As academic librarians, it is important that we recognize and understand the differences in these terms and how our students use them, assuming they use them at all. To truly support Hispanic communities, and in the case of HSI students, it is important to know how the use of the term Hispanic in the U.S came about, the misconceptions around it that have caused strife among varying groups, and why this term (and others) can be problematic. In this chapter, I go over a summarized history of the term Hispanic, its use in the United States, and the ways it has both amplified, such as the classification of Hispanic Serving Institutions, and caused erasure among the Central American, Southern American, and Caribbean American people in the United States. I will also go over how some of the terms used in describing these groups of people came to be, the issues that surround them, and some of the political and immigrant complexities that exist within the community. While this chapter does not in any way pretend that the topics touched on are a comprehensive explanation of Hispanics and Latines in the U.S., it hopefully does give you a primer into the complexities of the community.


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