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19 Chicano-Latino L. Rev. 363 (1998)
Learning about Latinos

handle is hein.journals/chiclat19 and id is 373 raw text is: LEARNING ABOUT LATINOS
GERALD P. L6PEZt
To really matter, Latinos must be recognized. And to some de-
gree, we must be understood too, yes, in all our complexity, and yet
so as to be seen as a force sufficiently coherent to exercise clout.'
That wouldn't seem to be asking too much, either of ourselves or of
others. After all, basic recognition, some understanding, and occa-
sional influence would seem elemental to membership in the national
community. And today, if only by virtue of our growing numbers,
enhanced interest in Latinos perhaps foreshadows a new era.
Knowledge about Latinos may in the near future be as profound as it
is sweeping.
Yet experience has taught us just how elusive these ambitions
can be. Latinos remain most often on the outskirts of public per-
ception. Along with Asian Americans and American Indians, we
still typically occupy the shadowy category blacks and other mi-
norities. Even when Latinos already number more than 26 million
(10% of the nation's population),2 even when Latinos outnumber
Blacks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine,
Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota,
Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont,
Washington, and Wyoming3 even when by 2005 Latinos will be-
come the largest minority group in the United States,' even when by
2050, Latinos will outnumber Asian Americans, American Indians,
t Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law. This essay traces its origins to grati-
fying work I did with Luis Fraga, Herman Gallegos, Mary Louise Pratt, Renato
Rosaldo, Jos6 Saldivar, Ramon Saldfvar, and Guadalupe Valdas. The ideas are more
ours than mine. But the others are not responsible for the way I've shaped what together
we often debated. Many thanks to them, to UCLA's outstanding librarians, to The
UCLA Dean's Fund, and the UCLA Senate.
1. I take my cue from Rachel Moran, What If Latinos Really Mattered in the Public
Policy Debate, 85 CAL L. REV. 1315 (1997), 10 LA RAZA L.J. 229 (1998).
2. See PURSUING POWER: LATINOS AND THE POLITICAL SYSTEM 8 (F. Chris Gar-
cia ed., 1997) (citing a March 1995 Census Bureau update).
3. See Moran, supra note 1, at 1316, 229, citing Paul R. Campbell, U.S. Dep't of
Com., P25-1 111, Population Projections of the United States, by Age, Sex, Race, and
Hispanic Origin: 1993 to 2050, in CURRENT POPULATION REP. 17 (1994) (indicating
that, as of 1994, Latinos already outnumbered Blacks in those states).
4. See Moran, supra note 1, at 1316, 229, citing Bureau of the Census, U.S. Dep't
of Com., P25-1130, Population Projections of the United States, by Age, Sex, Race, and
Hispanic Origin: 1993 to 2050, in CURRENT POPULATION REP. 13 (1996).

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