The Social Context of Racial Boundary Negotiations: Segregation, Hate Crime, and Hispanic Racial Identity in Metropolitan America

Michael Light, Pennsylvania State University
John Iceland, Pennsylvania State University

Research has yet to fully investigate how residential context impacts how Hispanics negotiate their racial identities. We attempt to fill this gap by arguing that residential context sets the stage for racial boundary negotiations and that certain environments are less conducive to boundary blurring. We test this argument by examining whether Hispanics who live in highly segregated areas and areas with higher levels of anti-Hispanic prejudice are more likely to opt out of the U.S. racial classifications by choosing “some other race.” Using data from the American Community Survey and information on anti-Hispanic hate crimes from the FBI, we find support for these hypotheses. These results are robust to different model specifications and instrumental variable approaches. Our study widens the theoretical landscape on the role of segregation and prejudice in forming racial identities, and has implications for the extent to which Hispanics may redefine the U.S. racial order.

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Presented in Session 207: Ethnicity, Pan-Ethnicity, and Race