The race of Hispanic or Latino Americans, as they are called, is made up of a large cultural Diaspora of people hailing from different countries of North and South America. They are called Latinos from the common misnomer since the Middle Ages when South America was called Latin America. This paper examines the linguistic, political, social, economic, religious, and familial conventions of four major Hispanic groups that live in the US. The four groups that would be covered are Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Central/ South Americans. Schaefer has reported that as per the 2003 census, there are 37.4 million Hispanics in the US. These communities have been discriminated against on the basis of their skin color, language barriers, lack of education and opportunities. The people continuously face language barrier problems, and till recently, the US government actually tacitly supported racism by not introducing bilingual schools or by making admission procedures strict to specifically weed out Hispanic children. The lack of education and job opportunities has forced the people into sequestered communities, and they increasingly take to crime to make a living.
Mexican Americans are people with ethnic origins from the country of Mexico. According to Schaefer, this group makes 66.9 % of the total Hispanic population in the US, and this works for about 25 million people. Among all the Hispanic community members, this group has the largest presence in the US. The study has shown that for languages, as of 2002, about 23 percent of Mexican Americans are English dominant, 26 percent are bilingual, and 51 percent are Mexican dominant. The majority of Mexican Americans follow Christianity. The study has reported that 60% of the people voted for Democrats. The study has reported that the economic conditions of Hispanics are very bad and that in 2002, 21.8 % of the community were below the poverty line. The community has very strong filial bindings, and children continue to live with their parents even after they start working, right up till marriage.
Schaefer (p 246) has reported that illegal immigration of Mexican Americans has been rising partly due to the porous border between Mexico and the US, and incidents of day laborers from Mexico coming in to work across the border is a regular occurrence. The laborers are paid a pitiful amount of $2 to $2.50 per hour, and since a laborer works for about 8-10 hours daily, he can make up to 20$ per day, and this is regarded as a high income by the Mexicans. The exploitation of these laborers is intense in the border areas. It is estimated that in 2002, Mexicans who work in the US sent back about 14.3 billion USD in 2003, and this money is used to pay for food, clothing and also to open small businesses in the US.
Puerto Ricans are people with ethnic origins from Puerto Rico. According to Schaefer (p. 236), Puerto Ricans are not immigrants but have been living in the US for a long time, before the Second World War, but they are erroneously grouped with other Latinos. The island of Puerto Rica was captured by the US in 1898, and many of these people emigrated to the US in search of better jobs. The Jones Act of 1917 granted them partial citizenship, but unfortunately, they have always been regarded as outsiders and immigrants. Since there were no obvious opportunities in the US, the younger people took up to crime to earn a living, and even to this day, Puerto Ricans are regarded with suspicion by White Americans as criminals. As per the 2002 census, the percentage of the Puerto Rican population is 8.6% of the total population, and this works out to 3.2 million people. The majority of these people practice Christianity. Schaefer has suggested that their long stay in the US has made them adapt to the American way of life. Puerto Ricans in the United States tends to be more English-language oriented, with 39 percent English-dominant, 40 percent bilingual, and 21 percent Spanish dominant (p 241). They have lesser social bindings, and the children tend to move out and live independently when they grow up. The economic conditions are as bad as the other Hispanic groups, and about 22 % were below the poverty line.
Cubans have their ethnic origins from Cuba, and the percentage of Cubans, when compared with the total Hispanic community, is 3.7%, and this is about 1.38 million Cubans living in the US, and the Cuban community has been around since 1850 (p. 236). Cubans started emigrating to the US relatively late after Fidel Castro assumed the dictatorship of Cuba in the early 1950s. 70% of Cubans are dominant Spanish, meaning that they speak their native language at home. The majority practice Christianity, and the people have a close affinity for their religion and family. Schaefer has suggested that the Cubans closely follow their own lifestyle and do not readily assimilate the US lifestyle and family values and that they try to replicate their native traditions even in the US. The median family annual income of Hispanics is about $39, 432 and many of these people have an education. It is estimated that 17% of Cubans are living below the poverty line. When compared to other Latino communities, the number of Cubans who have completed college education is twice when compared to other Latinos. Schaefer has suggested that the bitter enmity between the US and the Castro regime has cost poor Cubans very dear, and they are increasingly discriminated against as communist spies and restrictions have been placed on their travel to Cuba and on remitting money back to their families in Cuba.
Central/ South Americans
Central and South Americans are people from countries such as Bolivia, Columbia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and other countries of South America. These people speak languages such as Dutch, French, Portuguese and some of them speak acceptable English Schafer has pointed out these people actually have vastly different cultures and traditions and have been very wrongly clubbed in the same group. The author also has pointed out the increasing tendency of people to classify themselves into groups based on skin color (p. 251). There is no cohesion in this group simply because the differences in religion, values, and culture are very different. The combined percentage of this group is 14.3 % of the total Hispanic community, and this is about 5.36 million people. The majority practice Christianity and recent immigrants have superior skills of education and training, and many have opened small businesses. Schafer has pointed out that the immigration of these people from their countries began in the 1970s and that the group has never been assimilated into the mainstream US Culture. Many of the immigrants are actually illegal immigrants, but recently, trained and educated immigrants have been coming to the US in larger numbers, and these people are better trained than other Hispanic community members. These people tend to form knot communities of their own countrymen closely and have opened businesses such as grocery, real estate, and other small businesses.
The study has shown that, in general, Hispanics suffer from discrimination and language barriers that prevent them from getting access to jobs and education. Among the four groups, Cubans have higher income, while many people from the other groups fall below the poverty line. All the Hispanic groups tend to form their own community and speak their native tongue at home. Family bonding runs very deep among these community members, and grown-up children tend to stay with their parents and may move out only when they get married. Larger numbers of Mexican Americans tend to be illegal immigrants who cross the US border to take up manual labor in US farms and towns for very low wages. Cuban immigrants are better educated and have a mid-level of income but are regarded with suspicion by white Americans because of the bitter enmity of the US with the Castro regime. Puerto Ricans should actually be considered as US citizens since they have settled in the US a few generations back, but they still face discrimination and job opportunities, and education is denied to them. Groups from Central/ South America have a varied diversity in their language and cultural customs, and many of them are illegal immigrants who face problems in finding a job and education opportunities and have huge language barrier problems. Among this group, Columbians are relatively better off and have managed to open small businesses. The paper concludes that urgent measures should be taken at the community level to upgrade the facilities for these immigrants and to provide them with education to absorb them into the mainstream US culture.
Schaefer. Richard T. (2006), ‘Racial and Ethnic Groups, Tenth Edition’, New York: Prentice-Hall, Chapter 9, pp: 235-255