Is ‘Hispanic’ Now Considered a Race?

Is ‘Hispanic’ Now Considered a Race?

A U.S. appeals court ruled last week that the ethnic category "Hispanic" is also a race under U.S. federal antidiscrimination laws.

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If you’re scratching your head thinking “what” “how” and “no,” you’re not alone.

Here’s what happened: In 2010, Christopher Barrella, a white man, and Miguel Burmudez, a light-skinned Cuban man, were candidates for the police chief of Freeport, Long Island, a town in New York. Burmudez got the job, and Barrella, who had higher test scores, a master’s degree in criminal justice and a law degree, and more time in his position, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit.

The town of Freeport maintained that racial discrimination wasn't possible because "Hispanic" is not a race, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. They argued that the ethnic identity has long been considered a distinct race in civil rights cases and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had reasoned that racial discrimination includes bias based on ancestry or ethnic characteristics.

While the 2nd Circuit, which includes New York, Connecticut and Vermont, ruled in favor of Barrella on how antidiscrimination laws treat ethnic identities, it also took back the $1.35 million verdict a jury awarded him, ordering a new trial because of the use of non-expert witnesses speculating on Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick’s, who is black, motivations for choosing Burmudez over Barrella.

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Let us know what you think of the ruling.