How do “Latinos”, Brazilians, and mixed-race individuals fit into Hardimon’s (2017) differing race concepts (racialist, minimalist, populationist, and socialrace)? It’s easier explaining how “Latinos” fit into this, but mixed-race individuals are a bit trickier (for instance, the minimalist concept of race does not say anything about it and is therefore vague in that respect). This article will discuss these two populations and see where they fit into these categories.
Mixed-race individuals are tricky to place in these conceptions of race that Hardimon (2017) lays out and defends. For example, minimalist race itself is vague; it does not say which populations/individuals with populational characteristics would be placed, the argument just establishes the biological reality and significance of race. The concept of the “one drop rule” (was a legal) is a social standard in that anyone with “one drop” of “black blood” was deemed black (which, it seems, did well for so-called conceptions of “racial purity” since most white Americans have low amounts of black ancestry; Bryc et al, 2015).
The one drop rule was an attempt to limit racial miscegenation (racial mixing), and it seems to have, for the most part, worked since many white Americans have low to no African ancestry (since 95 percent of white Americans have no African ancestry; Bryc et al, 2015).
Though, as Hardimon (2017: 49) writes, the fact that individuals must have a race is a holdover from the racialist concept; minimalist race, as I’ve covered, is not defined by the features of an individual but is defined by the features of the group said individual belongs to. It is defined in terms of group—not individual—characteristics. So just because individual I doesn’t look like their R but instead looks like an R2, for example, doesn’t make individual I an R2; individual I is still an R even though they look like an R2 since the concept is based on shared group characteristics.
Hardimon doesn’t really discuss mixed-race individuals in his book; there’s only really one note on the subject (and it’s about social race, pg. 209, note 54):
People who are members of more than one socialrace in a socialrace regime that does not recognize mixed race as a racial position will be in the anomalous situation of not having an established socialrace position in society. Having such a position is one way of being a “normal” member of society organized around the institution of socialrace. Not to have such a position is to have no place in the social world along the dimension of socialrace. Hence, perhaps, the pathos of mixed-race individuals seeking social recognition for their distinctive mixed race identity.
Though, in certain (racialist/socialrace) societies, a mixed-race individual would become what the “lower” race is in that society. For instance, if an individual were half white and half black—like the former President of the United States Barack Obama—he would be designated as “black”, as we all know (since he’s the first black President of the United States). This is known as the concept of “hypodescent” and has its basis in Hardimon’s socialrace concept since racial status of the offspring is designated to the parent who has lower “standing” than the majority in said country. So, therefore, the concept of hypodescent is the concept of socialrace in action.
Mixed-race individuals are seen as members of their “lower-status parent group“, which shows how racial constructivism is alive today. One is designated the lower-status of their parent in a hierarchical manner—one way in which the socialrace concept borrows from the racialist race concept in that it is hierarchical.
The researchers found, for example, that one-quarter-Asian individuals are consistently considered more white than one-quarter-black individuals, despite the fact that African Americans and European Americans share a substantial degree of genetic heritage. One Drop Rule Persists—Harvard
How does this work in Brazil? Surely this makes problems for racial concepts, right?
Brazilians don’t use the term “race” (raca), but the term “color” (cor). “The reason the word Color (capitalized to call attention to this particular meaning) is preferred to race in Brazil is probably because it captures the continuous aspects of phenotypes” (Parra et al, 2003). Clearly, the conception of “race” (raca) in Brazil comes down to what “color” (cor) one is; and so we should state that Brazilian society is stratified into “colors” and not true “races”. The 1872 Brazilian census created four “color” groups “white, caboclo, black and brown (branco, caboclo (mixed indigenous-European), negro and pardo). These groups were always defined by the same formula: Colour group = members of a pure race + phenotypes of this race in the process of reversion (Guimaraes 1999)” (Guimaraes, 2012: 1157).
What makes colour in Brazil a racial term is precisely the fact that the physiognomic traits used by racialists to distinguish different human races became convoluted with the original European system of classification based on shades of skin colour.
Hardimon (2017: 49) writes:
On the other hand, it is not clear that the Brazilian concept of COR is altogether independent of the phenomenon we Americans designate using ‘race.’ The color that ‘COR’ picks out is racial skin color. The well-known, widespread preference for lighter (whiter) skin in Brazil is at least arguably a racial preference. It seems likely that white skin color is preferred because of its association with the white race. This provides a reason for thinking that the minimalist concept of race may be lurking in the background of Brazilian thinking about race.
Someone who is “white” (identifies as white) in Brazil will (most likely) not be white in America; this is due to their differing classification system based on color, which is loosely tied with the minimalist concept, but is distinct from it in that it’s just based largely on the color of one’s skin (one of many requisites for minimalist racehood).
The role of race and color in regard to Brazilian society is complex, biologically, sociologically, and psychologically; but it’s clear that some concept of what we could call a “classical” race concept—however crude—could be said to be in use in Brazil today.
The US Census Bureau states that “People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race.” This is true; just because one derives from a Latin American country does not mean that they are some kind of “Latino” or “Hispanic” race.
Take, as an example, the case of Alberto Fujimori. Alberto Fujimori is the son of Japanese immigrants to Peru, and he eventually ended up becoming the President of Peru. His parents emigrated to Peru and he was born in Lima. Now here’s where things get tricky: is he all of a sudden some new type of “race” called “Hispanic” or “Latino”, all because he was born across the ocean? Is Pope Francis all of a sudden not Italian by ancestry since he was born in Argentina? Are people who are born in Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay with direct ancestry to Germany and Italy all of a sudden no longer German or Italian but some new “Hispanic” or “Latino” race? No! Just because you’re born not in your ancestral home does not mean you “become” whatever society designates that part of the world (in this case “Latin America”). Their race does not change on the basis of where they are born; their individual ancestries can still be traced back to their countries of origin, therefore attempting to “racialize” the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” do not make any sense.
“Hispanics” do not—and cannot—count as a minimalist race on the basis of one condition: they do not share a single pattern of visible physical features. No one pattern of hair, skin color, lip shape, eye shape etc. They do not share a single geographic origin; they have a mixture of Ancestry from Africa, Europe, and Asia. “Hispanics” can be seen, obviously, as a mixture of minimalist races. “Hispanics” are denied minimalist racehood since they do not exhibit characteristics of minimalist races, which is even echoed, as shown above, by the US Census Bureau.
Hardimon (2017: 39) writes:
To deny that Latinos constitute a race is not to deny that individual Latinos or Latinos as a group can be the targets of racism (for example, owing to skin color). Nor is it to deny that Latinos are often regarded as “racially other” (as differing in some essential humanly important way corresponding to skin color) by members of other racialized groups (for example, Anglos). … Nor is it to deny that they constitute a socialrace in my sense of the term. Still less does it imply that Latinos ought not to aspire to a degree of solidarity connoted by the Spanish word raza.
So “Latinos” can be designated as a socialrace (though socialraces do not always have a mirrored minimalist race), but not as a minimalist race since they do not fit the criteria for minimalist racehood. Many “Latinos” can be said to be mestizos, which are half European (normally of Spanish descent) and half Indian. Still, further, they can be castizos, about three-quarters European and one-quarter Indian. Then you have the “Latino” Carribean countries (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico) with differing amounts of admixture from all over, from different minimalist races. Though, in America, most Dominicans would be counted as “black” under the concept of “hypodescent”—the one drop rule. Many Cubans can be seen to have majority Spanish ancestry, and its the same for Puerto Ricans.
“Latinos/Hispanics” do not constitute a major race (in the minimalist and populationist sense) because they are a mixture of different minimalist races. This does not mean, however, that one designated as “Latino” in America does not have full ancestry to a European country; this is how the concept of “Latino” in America uses the concept of socialrace—it’s only based on the perceived race of the individual (that they derive from a “Latino” country) and that therefore makes them “Latino”, all the while ignoring their actual racial ancestry.
There is even a phrase in Latin America “Mejorar la raza” or “improve the race” by having children with lighter-skinned people since light skin is seen as beautiful in Latin America. They want to better “their race” (even though they—as “Latinos”—don’t have a race), and so they will attempt to have children with lighter and lighter people (i.e., people who have more and more European ancestry) to “improve their race” (i.e., their socialrace) since European features are seen as more beautiful in Latin America.
Most of the ruling class in Latin America is of European descent, while the lower classes are of admixed/unadmixed Indians (coming from differing tribes). This, one can say, is one way that socialrace is used in Latin America.
Brazilians and “Latinos/Hispanics” clearly could have been grouped in the mixed-race category, but each of these subjects has distinct concepts it needed to discuss. The Brazilian concept of “cor” and “raca” are loosely intertwined; they can be said to use aspects of mimimalist races. On the other hand, “Latinos/Hispanics” are not designated minimalist racehood on the basis that they do not share a single pattern of physical features, nor do they share a geographic origin, since the groups that make up “Latinos” (which are minimalist races) are the geographic locations in question. “Latinos/Hispanics” are not minimalist races because they do not exhibit the features of minimalist races.
Mixed-race individuals, regarding the socialrace concept, can be seen to be the “lower” of the races they are admixed with on the social ladder—which is how it is in America (the concept of hypodescent). The existence of mixed-race individuals does not invalidate the concept of race; minimalist racehood is not defined on the basis of individual characters, but on the basis of the characters of the group. Therefore this does not go against the concept of minimalist race.
The concepts of race can definitely survive these anomalies when describing the biological realities of race; some of them can be said to be socialraces for one respect, whereas in reality, they are mixtures of minimalist races. Races exist and the existence of Brazilians (even with their own categorization of races/colors) and “Latinos/Hispanics” and other mixed-race groups/individuals do not rail against any concepts that purport to argue for the existence and biological reality of race.