It is very common for someone walking down the streets of any American city and hears Spanish spoken. The federal government of America coined this term ‘Hispanic’ way back in 1970’s to refer people tracing their origin in Spanish speaking countries which were former Spanish colonies or those who can trace their origin to Spain or its territory. This represents a varied range of countries and ethnic groups with different social, political and emotional experiences.
A large part of Hispanics still try to characterize themselves in terms of their individual ethnic identity as Mexican, Cuban, and others rather the whole term ‘Hispanic’. Hispanic Americans, n. d. ) The wide range of the Hispanic group includes Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, El Salvadorians, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Columbians, Central and South Americans among others. The Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans form the largest part of the Hispanics living in America. (Tienda and Mitchell, 2006) America’s cultural canvas is very vivid as each group brought their respective culture’s specialty with them which has totally mingled in the main force.
The Hispanic community has left their mark over traditions, customs and cultures throughout the country and the bilingual education structure of America displays the growing importance in the country as they are the largest minority community. It has been noticed that people from the Hispanic groups have done well in various fields and their progress is something to be watched. The 2002 census showed the Mexicans forming the largest part of the population with 66. 9%, followed by Central and Latin Americans at 14. 3%, third position held by Puerto Ricans, others 6. % and last Cubans at 3. 7%. (The Hispanic Population, 2002) Majority of the Hispanics are native born neutralizes citizens or have acquired legal residency status.
They are largely concentrated in the west part of the country especially the urban areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. There is a tendency among them to live in family units which are generally large in size unlike the non-Hispanic Whites. In comparison to Whites communities, the rate of unemployment and poverty is much more in the Hispanic groups.
Mexican Americans are the one to form the largest part of the Hispanic population living in America and they are also the largest group of White Hispanics. The Mexican immigration could be traced in the past decades as they started establishing themselves in the 1600s in southwestern parts of the country who later became New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. (Stacy, 2002) The work at railroads and steel industry of the Midwest America attracted them in the 1800s and this immigration is still continued to the present time.
Today majority of Mexican Americans are U. S. born citizens. The major causes behind the migration of Mexicans to America are self-liberty, quality education, modes to improve economic condition and achieve good living standard. Spanish is the main language for Mexican Americans, some of them are monolingual. But most can fluently speak both English and Spanish. The attitude of the Mexican Americans is something to be watched as more than 90% of them are literate. Their respect towards others is also acclaimed as their communications are respectful in manner.
They are one of the strict believers in the concept of familism (Nash, 2007) and value family considerations over individual as well very much rely on family in times of crisis. Patriarchy is the trend of Mexican American family. Earlier, they used to neglect family planning but at present time they have been active in that. Largely they are the followers of Roman Catholicism. They look at churches as powerful source of hope, faith and strength while spirituality and religion play significant role in times of illness, health and life.
Their housing conditions are really bad as they live in colonies not appropriate for living to low-income. Central and South Americans stand second in the American Hispanic population. They owe their origin to different countries such as Guatemala, Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and Argentina among others. These groups of people display a vast diversity due to their different origins. Most of them migrated from their respective countries in the period of 1970s and 1980s when the region was going through political turbulence.
Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala were suffering from civil wars that made their people to flee in search of stable life. In the present time too, the immigration is on due to different causes. Although many of them arrived in U. S. as refuges, gradually they acquired political asylum from the state. Cheap accommodation and easy immigrant services made most of the Central and South Americans settle in California. They speak other languages rather than Spanish, which is a main language, such as French and Portuguese. Though Catholicism is the main religion, Protestants and Jews as well as other beliefs are followed by this group.
They have high religious values. Males are treated as the head of the family. Due to intermarriage among this group and other Hispanics or Europeans, they have become much diversified. The education level of Central and South Americans is much appreciable than other Hispanics but still they lack behind in employment tin respects of other groups. Third largest group belonging to Hispanic community are the Puerto Ricans as they became U. S. citizens after Jones Act of 1917. (Stacy, 2002) But they are not allowed to vote in U. S. Presidential elections.
They are mainly settled in industrial areas such as the states of Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and New York due to the availability of employment opportunity. Wherever they settled, they tried to hold on their tradition and culture and formed various groups and organizations to support them. Puerto Rican Americans pay huge respect to education but still they maintain a low level than other Hispanics which makes parents encourage their children to pursue good education for better future. They are bilingual speaking both Spanish and English.
The expressive nature of Puerto Ricans and their hospitality is well known. They possess high respect for women, parents and elderly people and family units that they even allow more than one family living together. Puerto Ricans are followers of Catholicism and seek support from religion and spiritualism in tough situations. Their approach to health and illness is based on these beliefs. Cubans too comprise a significant part of the Hispanic community. Cuban immigration to America can be traced back to history but the major wave was created during the political turmoil of 1959 which still continues today.
They have their bases at Miami, Florida and New Jersey. They can be considered as the most affluent among all the Hispanic groups due to their well performance in education, which led to better employment opportunities and a good quality lifestyle. Till recent past they faced problem in speaking English, but nowadays they have overcome that. The Cuban Americans are very much into their culture that they most often do not show much interest in the Anglo culture. They hold a rather conservative outlook towards politics due to their experience in their native country.
They possess diverse beliefs of religion; still Catholicism is more prevalent among them. They stand against communism holds much important place in U. S. The Hispanic groups in spite of their various origins share some commonalities as well some major differences among them. Spanish is a bond that binds all of them, while most of them are bilingual. Approach towards education is another common factor between them as all the groups show very much respect to education as they know it is the only key to good living.
Religion too makes them stand on a common platform as most of the Hispanic Americans are followers of Catholicism. Political perspective is one thing that creates differences among these groups as each of them has their respective political idea. Cuban Americans support Republicans as they are inclined towards conservative idea of politics whereas Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central and South Americans have a liking for democrats. Still, Catholic faith, language and belief in their respective culture make them stand on a single platform.