Key takeaways:

  • Afro-Latino populations have grown 121% in the U.S., nearly twice the growth rate of non-Black Latinos.
  • Homeownership by Afro-Latinos is signifcantly lower compared to other groups.
  • Inequalities become apparent when Latinos are disaggregated by race.

The Afro-Latino population in the U.S. has grown at nearly twice the rate of non-Black Latinos since the beginning of the century, and new UCLA research reveals complex social inequalities faced by Afro-Latinos — people who are both ethnically Latino and racially Black. Despite having higher educational attainment than non-Black Latinos, Afro-Latinos face worse outcomes in key areas including income and homeownership. 

The findings are based on a new report by the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute, or LPPI, that looked at how the distinct yet simultaneous systems of oppression and resistance of race, ethnicity and gender lead to disparities in education, income, poverty and homeownership for Black Latinos in the U.S. With Afro-Latino populations growing 121% from 2000 to 2019 — a growth rate nearly twice that of non-Black Latinos — the study reveals inequalities that remain hidden when Latinos are not disaggregated by race. 

“Despite their high growth rates and unique position in American society, few studies have used Census Bureau data to quantify and center the lived experiences of Afro-Latinxs,” said Misael Galdámez, one of the report’s authors. “The need to understand how Afro-Latinx experiences differ from non-Black Latino experiences will only grow as Afro-Latinxs enter voting age and shape policy outcomes.”

The report underscores the many challenges that Afro-Latinos face in comparison to other groups. While Afro-Latinos have lower homeownership rates compared to other groups, 40.6% for Afro-Latinos versus 54% for non-Black Latinos, those who do own have higher home values than non-Black Latinos and the U.S. population overall —$210,000 versus $200,000. Researchers found that Afro-Latinos have higher poverty rates: In 2019, Afro-Latinos experienced a poverty rate of 23%, three percentage points higher than the poverty rate of non-Black Latinos and the overall U.S. population.

The report shows that Afro-Latinos education rates exceed their non-Black Latino counterparts: 26% of Afro-Latinas completed a college degree, compared with 18% of non-Black Latinas; 20% of Afro-Latinos completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 15% of non-Black Latino men.

“Latinos are not a monolith. Yet too often, data ignores race and assumes all Latinos are racialized the same way,” said Nancy López, professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Study of “Race” & Social Justice at the University of New Mexico and one of the report’s authors. “Our work is part of a movement toward visibility for the Afro-Latinx experience through data that is premised on intersectional inquiry and praxis, not just disaggregated ethnicity data, and captures our unique experiences with oppression and resistance. This will help us understand the complexity and diversity of issues facing Latinos today and cultivate implicit solidarity within and across our communities to address existing inequities.”

This report comes out as UCLA LPPI prepares to launch the U.S. Latino Data Hub later this year. This first-of-its-kind online resource will provide the public, community-based organizations, media outlets and policymakers with the ability to generate robust intersectional inquiry and advocacy that acknowledges that disaggregated data by ethnicity alone is not enough for creating policy solutions for those at the margins of Latinidad in the U.S.

“We need reliable, actionable data to make sure no one is overlooked in policy conversations,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, UCLA LLPI director of research and director of the U.S. Latino Data Hub. “Our findings and the forthcoming Latino Data Hub aim to help contextualize the lives and lived experiences of Afro-Latinx and other populations so that we are better able to advocate for meaningful policy change that will improve the lives of all Latinos.”