Messages Sent To Your Doctor Through Ethnic Labels


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If you are of Latin American descent, do you call yourself Chicano? Latino? Hispanic?
As an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Carlos Hipolito-Delgado, PhD, knew instinctively that the ethnic labels his fellow students chose said something about their perception of themselves and their values.
“There was a very clear understanding that if you identified as a member of one group, you were not a member of the other groups,” Hipolito-Delgado said. “If you called yourself Hispanic or Latino, then being called Chicano was a four-letter word.”
Hipolito-Delgado, an associate professor in the School of Education & Human Development at CU Denver identifies himself as Chicano because he believes it’s a way to recognize his indigenous ancestry. But his older brother identifies himself as Hispanic. His older sister identifies herself as Latina.
“We all grew up in the same house with the same parents,” Hipolito-Delgado said. “But we all self-identify differently.”
His experiences with his family and as a student led Hipolito-Delgado to ask questions at the heart of a two-year research project. Why do people pick a certain label? Are self-identifying names much more than just labels?
The Research
Hipolito-Delgado’s research started with a survey that targeted a large group of students of Latin American descent. He found the students through undergraduate student groups active on social media. The survey included more than 100 questions touching on these topics:
What is your ethnic identity?
How much do you identify with your ethnic heritage, and how does that help you interpret the world?
How much do you associate with the culture and values of the United States?
Have you had experiences with racism?
How much do you buy into racial stereotypes about yourself?
How comfortable are you speaking English? Spanish?
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