HisRepresenting nearly 63% Mexican Americans are the largest group of all the Hispanic Americans in the United States (US Census Bureau, 2011). Originally encouraged to settle into what is now Texas to boost Mexico’s economy. As the number of settlers increased, so did their want of autonomy – resulting in a battle over land and rights in the Mexican American War in 1846. According to “The U. S.-Mexican War, The Aftermath (2006)” by war’s end “approximately 80,000 Mexicans resided in the territory transferred to the United States as part of the Mexican-American War conclusion, the greatest numbers of whom were located in present-day New Mexico and California.
Since then, the political relations between Mexican Americans and the United States have slowly made its progress. In the beginning, political participation was limited due to discrimination. In response to this type of discrimination, Mexican Americans formed activist groups and protective organizations known as ‘mutualistas’ (mutual aid societies).
Through groups like these, Mexican Americans found their strength in politics. Their no nonsense approach to maltreatment aided in the support of the Fair Employment Practices Commission, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the other subsequent affirmative action legislation. Since the 1960’s to present, Mexican Americans have proven their place in modern politics. As wages for ranchers and farmers continue to dwindle, migrants leave behind their ancestors traditional trades for opportunities with a wider range of work. This drew many Mexican Americans to other regions of the United States, such as the Midwest.
“By 1990 only 2. 9 percent of the Mexican American working population were employed in agriculture and forestry, with less than one percent in the mining industry. Professional and health and education services employed 20. 3 percent of this specific labor force, while 16. 4 percent had service occupations and 15. 9 percent were in manufacturing. Over 16 percent held managerial and professional specialty positions” (Gale Research, 2001 ). Most immigrants from Mexico, as elsewhere, come from struggling backgrounds and from families generationally employed in lower skilled jobs.
Thus, many new Mexican immigrants are not skilled in white collar professions. Recently, some professionals from Mexico have been migrating, but to make the transition from one country to another involves adapting to Americana and in some cases re-license themselves. As with many Hispanic cultures, most Mexican Americans are devote Catholics. Ceremoniesand rituals in recognition of events related to the birth and death of Jesus Christ are an essential part of the religious calendar of many Mexican Americans” ().
Celebrations like the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, El Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day), El Miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday) are important religious holidays recognized by the Mexican American culture to this day. Religious tradition remains consistent in the modern Mexican American culture, but family life has had its fair share of changes. From traditionally male dominated families to what is now more shared responsibilities in supporting and leading la familia (family). The Mexican American language derives from Spanish. However, it has it is not uncommon to find that Mexican Spanish reflects an informal dialect.
They speak “English and Spanish and employ both languages actively in speaking or writing may move from one language to another within a given sentence, a linguistic phenomenon referred to as “code-switching” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Puerto Rican Americans or ‘Boriquenos’ make up the second largest Hispanic American group in the United States (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Initially native islanders migrated to America for contract labor work. Over time, the migration trend from their homeland of Puerto Rico to the United States boomed as more opportunity stateside developed.
Early migrants who came to America, especially those who settled in large urban areas found jobs in the service and industry areas. Most found work in restaurants, steel manufacturing, auto assembly, shipping, etc. Often been characterized as being largely poor, the Puerto Rican community has struggled to stay afloat economically. “As Puerto Ricans have assimilated into mainstream American culture, many of the younger generations have moved away from New York City and other eastern urban areas, taking high-paying white-collar and professional jobs.
Still, less than two percent of Puerto Rican families have a median income above $75,000” (Baker, 2002). Another more recent issue is unemployment amongst urban Puerto Ricans – whatever its cause – has emerged as one of the biggest economic challenges facing the Puerto Rican communities. Considering their association as a commonwealth of the United States, this comes as a surprise to some. Puerto Rico is the only Hispanic American group that holds this status. This gives all Puerto Ricans automatic citizenship of the United States, despite the fact that actual residents of the island cannot vote in U. S. Presidential elections.
Throughout time, politics in the Puerto Rican communities have always followed one of two paths – those who accepted their association with the United States and those who still fight for Puerto Rico’s full independence. Dating back to times of Spanish rule, Puerto Ricans are predominantly Catholic. “As recently as 1960, over 80 percent of Puerto Ricans identified themselves as Catholics. By the mid-1990s according to U. S. Census Bureau statistics, that number had decreased to 70 percent” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). This decline can be attributed to the Americanization of Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures.
The American influences can be seen throughout the Puerto Rican American communities. Despite programs for dual language, bilingualism, etc. most Puerto Rican Americans are fluent in English, but only speaking it outside of the home. Another noticeable trend within the Puerto Rican community is the mixing of English and Spanish in everyday talk. This language mash-up has been stigmatized as “Spanglish”, an identifying marker on the Puerto Rican American culture. Despite the integration of Americana, the average Puerto Rican home life is still much the same as it would be back at the mother land. In their culture, family comes first.
Many members, not just parents and siblings are considered to be part of the immediate family. Thus los abuelos (grandparents), and los tios y las tias (uncles and aunts) and even los primos y las primas (cousins) are considered extremely close relatives in the Puerto Rican family structure. Cuban Americans are very well assimilated in modern day society. By taking stance against what they oppose and always exercising their right to vote this group has proven that it is political power player. As recently as 1990 “67. 2 percent of Cuban Americans reported that they voted in the 1988 presidential election, compared to 70.
2 percent of Anglo-Americans, 49. 3 percent of Mexican Americans, and 49. 9 percent of Puerto Ricans” ( Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Cuban Americans also enjoy higher economic security than other Hispanic groups. “In 1986, the median family income of Cuban Americans was $26,770— $2,700 less than the median for all U. S. family incomes but $6,700 more than the median for all Hispanic American family incomes” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Cubans tend to have higher educations, most completing high school diplomas and continuing on to some sort of college level education.
Despite their successes, Cuban Americans still are sometimes received coldly by the general population. This is partly due the stigma of past political disagreement between Cuba and United States and the label it has created against Cubans. Linguistically speaking, Cuban Americans are more Americanized. According to “Countries and Their Cultures” (2011) in 1989 and 1990, among Cuban Americans born in the United States, 96 percent said that they could speak either Spanish and English equally well or English better than Spanish.
Cuban Americans born in the United States tend to be English speakers and have less facility with Spanish. Family life for Cuban Americans is also different than that of its motherland. Whereas in Cuba, most families are run by the patriarch, Cuban American families have shown a stronger matriarch influence. Cuban American children are also raised to be independent compared to native born families. In these ways they have evolved. Standing the test of time however, is the practice of Roman Catholicism amongst this culture. Columbian Americans are yet another Hispanic group that migrated to America in search of a better life.
Unlike some of the Hispanic groups we’ve mentioned, most Columbians left under more violent and dire circumstances- facing overcrowding, crime, and hard economic times. Adjusting to American life has been of equal struggle. Colombian Americans’ efforts to be accepted in American society have been stopped short by the prevalence of stereotypes of them based on news of the drug trade. Growing problems back in Colombia during the 1980s also fueled stateside fears that the violence and terrorism associated with the drug cartels would spread to the United States.
No matter the struggle, Columbian Americans continue to fight these stigmas. This attitude has helped set Columbian Americans apart from others, the distinct differences are something perceived to this day. Work is the focus of Colombian households. Despite a longstanding tradition of machismo , modern day Columbian American husbands have accepted their wives’ employment because their income is needed to live , support family members back in Columbia, and save money toward children’s education. It is also not uncommon for husbands and wives to operate small businesses together, and many people hold more than one job.
The Columbian American community is probably the least Americanized of all the Hispanic groups in the United States. Family still serves as the primary source of support in both Colombia and the United States. “Relatives, godparents, and friends already living in the United States are often the only source of support for immigrants; they provide not only money and housing but also advice about work and legal and cultural matters. Once financially independent, most immigrants remit a large portion of their salaries to family left behind” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011).
Similarly is the tradition of religious belief within the carried custom of Catholicism. In addition, modern Columbian Americans feel that the church is one of the few places that offer refuge from the hardships that they may encounter as immigrants in American Society. Language for Columbian Americans is another obstacle. Having little access to English teaching resources, many families still rely on bilingual children for outside transactions. For this community English is a compelling desire, because without advanced language skills they are often passed by for most kinds of work.
Many find that achieving fluency to remain a difficult to obtain goal. In summary, Hispanic American groups share the common ground of religion, close-knit family units, and overcoming adversity. In all cases, while some more than others, all were forced to deal with stigmas, discrimination, and working their way upward on the ladder of American society. It is no doubt that all of these Hispanic American cultures deserve America’s utmost respect. References: US Census Bureau. (2011).
Retrieved from http://www. census. gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn146.html Baker, S. (2002). Understanding Mainland Puerto Rican Poverty. Philadelphia, P: Temple University Press Countries and Their Cultures. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. everyculture. com/multi/Pa-Sp/Puerto-Rican-Americans. html The Cuban American National Foundation. (2011).
Retrieved from http://www. canf. org/ Gale Research. (2001). Statistical Record of Hispanic Americans. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press Countries and Their Cultures. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. everyculture. com/multi/Bu-Dr/Colombian-Americans. html.
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