For me Hispanic/Latino is an ethnicity/cultural/linguistic group.
Hispanic to me means someone who speaks Spanish (e.g., Spain) and that excludes Portuguese and French speakers. Many people from Latin America that I know do not use Hispanic when referring to themselves *especially* if they live on the West Coast of the US. On the East Coast, it is more likely to be used interchangeably with Latino.
I have friends from Romania and Italy and they too refer to themselves as Latin meaning that they speak a Latin language. I never think twice about their usage because it is true.
If someone says he is “Latino” then I immediately think he are from a Latin American country.
None of these terms refers to a race as people from these countries can be of any arbitrary race.
As Amneris said, calling Latino or Hispanic a race is like calling North Americans a racial group. The same race and ethnicities that immigrated to the US also immigrated to Latin America. For example, there are people of Japanese descent in Brasil. To me they are Brasilian and Latin and I would not exclude them. A friend of mine who is Japanese Brasilian studied abroad in Utah (have not explanation for why she choose Utah LOL) and the people at her school did not believe her when she said she was Brasilian and Latina. She was hurt by this because Brasilian, not Japanese, is all of the culture she knew. BTW the people who said this to her were American (usually White or Black) or Mexican.
Another friend of mine is Jewish and she was born in Brasil to Polish parents. She is offended when people look at her blond hair and blue eyes and Jewish culture and tell her that she is not Latina enough (whatever that means) because she is not Catholic and she does not have the stereotypical features of a Latin person
. And many of these people who say this *are* from Latin America!
I actually do not say I am Latina. I say that I have Brasilian heritage. I sometimes say that I am from a Latin culture but never say I am of Latin/Latino/Hispanic race because LATIN/LATINO/HISPANIC ARE NOT RACES. Just wanted to put that out there for the people who think it is......
Many people (especially North Americans but also other people) forget that Latinos have different customs, food, language/use of language, skin color, and hair color and texture. Even within the same country, we are different. Yet, this eclectic blend makes us special and unique.