White, black, or Puerto Rican? Racial self-identification among mainland and island Puerto Ricans

Nancy S. Landale, R. S. Oropesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Recent studies have examined the implications of exposure to U.S. race relations for the racial and ethnic identities of migrants to the U.S. Most investigations are based exclusively on U.S. data. There are few, if any, comparisons of the identities of migrants and their offspring to those of nonmigrants in their country of origin. Using data from a survey of Puerto Rican mothers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, this study provides such a comparison. Responses to an open-ended race question show that mainland and island Puerto Ricans most often designate their "race" as Puerto Rican, but responses of women who do not self-identify as Puerto Rican diverge between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Island women primarily identify themselves as white, black, or trigueña, while mainland women identify themselves as Hispanic/Latina, Hispanic American, or American. Mainland-island differences cannot be explained by parental ethnicity, skin tone, demographic factors, and socioeconomic status. The findings suggest that mainland Puerto Ricans more strongly reject the conventional U.S. notion of race than do their island counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-254
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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