They are being called the Latino 2.0s, by journalists if not sociologists yet.
They have nothing to do with the digital age, though they live in it and the White House has even hosted a Hispanic education initiative it labeled Latino 2.0.
But these aren’t digital or virtual Latinos.
They are living, breathing red, white and blue Latinos that some have even critically referred to as being vaguely Hispanic because often they don’t look like the morenito Mexican Americans typically seen in the Southwest.
Nor for that matter do they look like most of the Hispanic immigrants new to this country from Central and Latin America.
But they may be the Latinos of the future.
They are Hispanics like the new mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, who has unwittingly created interest in other Latinos – a generation of them, perhaps more – who may not look typically Hispanic but who are at the forefront of a revolution in ethnic identity.
The credit for branding it the Latino 2.0 generation possibly belongs to Los Angeles editor Oscar Garza who recalls that his now defunct magazine Ciudad once trumpeted “how Latinos in L.A. are increasingly the children or partners of people from other ethnicities and races.”
“And now,” he says of Garcetti’s election, “L.A. has a mayor who fits that bill.
“Eric Garcetti represents the 2.0 model of Latinos in L.A.”
But the Latino 2.0 exists beyond Los Angeles and everywhere in the country where Hispanics are found, especially those who are of one non-Latino parent and the products of inter-marriages between Latinos and whites.
And those marriages have been on the steady increase in the past half century.
Latino 2.0: A growing community in L.A.
Today, according to the latest census, one fourth of married U.S.-born Latinos have non-Latino spouses – and nowhere has that phenomenon been more dramatized than in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, nearly 5,000 inter-ethnic couples are married each year. More than two-thirds of the county’s intermarriages involve Latinos.
More significantly, each successive generation is more likely than the past one to intermarry. A twentysomething Anglo male, for instance, is four times more likely than his father to marry a non-Anglo woman, and today that is most often a Latina.
The children from all those marriages are America’s new Latino 2.0s, as Garcetti is proving.
As Maria-Elena Martinez, associate professor of history and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, maintains, being “Mexican” — or Latino — is not a race, but instead a melting pot of its own of a nationality.
And many of the Latino 2.0ers, like Garcetti are right in staking their claim to all of their ethnicities.
“If (the Garcetti) family migrated from Europe to become miners and became Mexicans or because of a generation being born there, by all means they are Mexican,” says Martinez.
“Of course he can claim that he has a Mexican past — that he has Mexican ancestors.”