Get access

America's Shifting Color Line? Reexamining Determinants of Latino Racial Self-Identification*


  • The author will provide data and coding information to those wishing to replicate the study. The author thanks the participants in panels at the 2007 APSA and 2009 MPSA meetings for providing valuable feedback, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.

Direct correspondence to Atiya Kai Stokes-Brown, Department of Political Science, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg, PA 17837 <>.



Latinos are the nation's largest minority group and will double in size by 2050. Their size coupled with the fact that Latinos do not constitute a separate race raises questions about Latinos’ incorporation into the U.S. racial hierarchy. This article explores patterns of Latino racial identity formation, examining the determinants of racial identity.


Using the 2006 Latino National Survey, I estimate multinomial logit and ordered probit models of identification choices.


Latino racial identity is strongly associated with several factors, including socioeconomic status, measures of perceived discrimination and commonality, and measures of acculturation/assimilation. Most Latinos have a broader, more complex understanding of race. Furthermore, some Latinos do believe that they occupy a unique position in the racial hierarchy.


The results suggest that the color line W. E. DuBois argued has long divided our nation may eventually shift.