Vannessa Sanchez-Gonzales

Major and Classification

Psychology, Sociology, and Minor in Photography

Faculty Mentor

Amon Emeka, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences

McNair Project

“Expressed, Externalized, and Internalized Racial Identities of Spanish Caribbeans and Afro-Latin Americans in Los Angeles”

Project Abstract

Individuals of Spanish Caribbean and Latin American descent in Los Angeles have a difficult time identifying with one essential racial identity. Being that there is not a large Caribbean or Afro- Latino presence in Los Angeles, people begin to associate themselves with the racial and ethnic groups that are most present and accepted there. However, many people who have a strong internal sense of identity, influenced from their immediate family, prefer to align their personal identity with their ancestry and ethnic origins. The majority of individuals who have ethnic origins in the Spanish Caribbean or Latin American do not identify with the racial groups defined by the federal government. They do not identify their race in terms of black and white, but rather in terms of an ethnolinguistic identity, as Hispanic or Latino. Using questions from the 2010 census long form and in depth interviews of multi-ethnic/racial persons in Los Angeles, this study explores a constructionist approach, exploring the ways in which an individual’s expressed identity is influenced by their internalized identity and externalized identity. Findings reveal that although externalized identity has an influence on ones expressed identity; the internalized identity takes greater precedence when a person expresses their identity to others.