On March 31, 2022, Dr. Mark Lopez, Director of Race and Ethnicity Research at the Pew Research Center, presented an Education Policy Workshop on the topic “Latinos and Colorism: Survey Evidence on How Skin Color Impacts Opportunity and Shapes Daily Life” at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. The Pew Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nonadvocacy “fact tank” that provides data to the U.S. public on relevant and topical issues of the day. The Center does not take policy positions or make recommendations.
Lopez started his talk with a review of some of the differences between the 2010 and 2020 U.S. census data. He noted that the Hispanic population is the main source of the nation’s population growth and described other population demographic changes. He also observed that the census changed both the way it asked about race and identity in 2020 and how it coded responses, which may also be behind some of the demographic shifts. He showed several examples of census and other survey data to illustrate the important point that the way you ask survey questions can make a big difference in the responses you receive.
Lopez went on to talk about a March 2021 Pew Research Center bilingual survey of U.S. Latino adults, particularly the data related to colorism and how people perceive that skin color impacts their life experiences and opportunities. He pointed out some of the interesting nuances and patterns in the data that point to the importance of both skin color and the role of colorism in the lives of Latinos. For example, across all the different response categories in the survey, Hispanics with darker skin were more likely to have experienced discrimination incidents than those with lighter skin. More positively, those with darker skin also were more likely to have encountered expressions of support from the public.
Many of the questions following his talk delved into the challenges of collecting good representative survey data and the Pew Research Center’s efforts to overcome those challenges. Other questions probed how Pew Research Center data could provide insights on other topics.
Mark Hugo Lopez is director of race and ethnicity research at the Pew Research Center, where he leads planning of the Center’s research agenda focused on chronicling the diverse, ever-changing racial and ethnic landscape of the United States. He is an expert on issues of racial and ethnic identity, Latino politics and culture, the U.S. Hispanic and Asian American populations, global and domestic immigration, and the U.S. demographic landscape.
The event was hosted by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. The Institute’s Education Policy Workshop series brings in noted academics who are invited to discuss their current research to increase the understanding of the research underlying current education policy.