INVENTING LATINOS: A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gómez fascinated me until I got to the part about the history of multiracial people in America. Gómez outlines how Latinos came to be a demographic force in America. I believed when Gómez told me about how Latinos went through a struggle to become important Americans with relevant histories that we all should know. But then, did she give me the correct information about multiracial history? No.
The author of this book is hung up on the racial term “mulatto,” and makes it seem as though the multiracial community was just nicely asking for “mulatto” to be returned to census forms, which had been an option in 1920. We fought long, hard, and smart, to pass state legislation for a multiracial classification on the census and on all federal forms. No, we did not “win” an exact category, but for the first time, we got the right to choose to pick two or more categories. To get the story of the multiracial community, perhaps Ms. Gómez should read my book, Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America.
On page 153 of Inventing Latinos, it states that “Advocates drafted ‘A Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People.’” It was very well-known that it was drafted by Maria P.P. Root, editor of The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier. It was not the basis for our advocacy.
When I’m reading historical non-fiction, I want to believe what Gómez tells me about the accuracy of the Latino background, but how can I when she misinterprets everything about the multiracial history? It is an interesting read if you skip over the multiracial parts.