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Racial Identity and Health Outcomes in an Emerging Latinx Immigrant Community


Self-reported and street race have been associated with health in the U.S. Race is a social construction based on phenotypical classifications rooted in colonialism. Yet, perceptions of race are different in the U.S. than in Latin America. We investigated relationships between self-reported race, street race (i.e., socially assigned race), and the health of U.S. Latinx immigrants in a community-engaged study of immigrant health in North Carolina. Latinx immigrants aged 18–44 years (N = 391) completed measures of self-reported race, street race, and health. Many participants reported that they did not know their race (n = 171; 44%), although to be eligible all identified as Hispanic or Latino/a/x. No significant relationships were observed between street race and health. For self-reported race, participants who declined to respond to the race question were more likely to have poorer mental health than participants who reported a biracial race and worse physical health than those of unknown, white, biracial, and other races. In exploratory analyses, participants who declined to answer the self-reported race question had higher immigration stress and language stress, were more likely to be undocumented, as well as were less bicultural and were less acculturated to the U.S. than participants in some of the other racial groups. The relationship between race and health among Latinx immigrants is complex and may not be explained by traditional racial and ethnic classifications in the U.S. Future research should explore how Latinx immigrants perceive and construct racial identity in the U.S., how they are racialized, and its impact on health.

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The datasets analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. We use the term Latinx throughout the manuscript as a gender inclusive term for individuals from Latino/a or Hispanic backgrounds. We recognize that members of this group usually do not use this term in identifying their ethnicity. For example, many of the individuals in our study preferred to identify with their home country (e.g., “Mexican,” “Guatemalan”) rather than as Latino/a or Latinx as a whole.


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The authors would like to thank Dr. Jenifer Hamil-Luker for her guidance and support under the undergraduate independent study program within Duke University Department of Sociology from which this paper developed. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01MD012249. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Conceptualization: AashaH and RG-G; Methodology: AashaH, AnnaH, AS, RG-G, and BM; Formal analysis and investigation: AnnaH and BM; Writing—original draft preparation: AashaH, AS, and AnnaH; Writing—review and editing: AashaH, AS, AnnaH, Brian McCabe, and RG-G; Funding acquisition: RG-G.

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Correspondence to Allison McCord Stafford.

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Henderson, A., McCabe, B.E., Holleman, A. et al. Racial Identity and Health Outcomes in an Emerging Latinx Immigrant Community. Race Soc Probl (2023).

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