Hispanic-American Diversity: An Overview Soy Latino Essay

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Hispanic-American Diversity: An Overview

"Soy Latino" seems like an uncontroversial statement for a Hispanic-American to make about his or her heritage. Yet even this simple identity claim is tainted by potential controversy. For many Hispanics, their identity is not defined by the words "soy Latino," but "soy Cubano." The label of 'Hispanic-American' is created by 'America' -- immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Columbia, as well as Spain and other areas of the Hispanic world come from regions that may be just as culturally distinct as Germany is from France. However, while people do not think of European-Americans as a homogenous group, there may be a temptation to elide the differences between different Hispanic-American identities. It is important to honor the differences of different Hispanic-American groups, as well as similarities (Schaefer, 2005: 238).

Mexican-Americans

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Mexican-Americans "constitute one of the most economically disadvantaged groups in the United States, with an average household income more than 40% below the comparable average for non-Hispanic whites" (Grogger & Trejo 2002, p.1). One of the more troubling aspects of Mexican's place in the American mosaic is the frequent lack of gains between second and third generation groups of Mexican immigrants. While second generation Mexican-Americans obtain an "average of about four years more schooling and more than 35% higher wages than do Mexican immigrants…intergenerational progress for Mexican-Americans appears to stall after the second generation, with the third generation showing only modest improvement in educational attainment and no wage growth (Grogger & Trejo 2002, p.1). Attainment of Mexican-Americans' educational qualifications lags behind that of other historically-discriminated against groups in America, as well as those of demographically similar whites.

Essay on Hispanic-American Diversity: An Overview Soy Latino Seems Assignment

The difficulty of attaining parity with whites educationally and economically may be partially due to linguistic differences, given that many Mexican-Americans arrive in the U.S. without full English fluency, but the source is also cultural in nature. There is often a fear of becoming different from one's family. There is a strong emphasis on conformity and honoring family traditions. This is accompanied by a strain of fatalistic Roman Catholicism: one must do "as God wills," rather than try to 'pull one's self up by one's own bootstraps' as is the mentality in much of America (Kraus 1997). But the role of prejudice against Mexicans in American culture cannot be minimized -- stereotypes that classify Mexican-Americans solely as agricultural workers and anti-immigrant prejudice are entrenched.

Cuban-Americans

Like Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans have a strong sense of family loyalty. However, because of the circumstances under which many Cuban-Americans immigrated to their new land, there are profound political and cultural divides between these two ethnic groups. In general, although they are socially conservative because of the strong Catholic tradition in the Mexican-American community, Mexican-Americans tend to be liberal on issues such as immigration reform; providing healthcare and other benefits to the poor; and protecting the rights of unionized and nonunionized workers. Cuban-Americans, especially those concentrated in the area of Miami known as 'Little Havana' are often the result of the wave of immigration of middle and upper-class migrants from Cuba after Castro's revolution.

Cuban-American experiences with radical leftism in Castro's Cuba caused middle and upper-class immigrants to be politically conservative. Also, in contrast to Mexican-Americans, many Cuban-Americans were warmly welcomed into the U.S. because of what they symbolized: the preference of freedom over communism. Americans were willing to extend support and aid to these refugees from Castro's Cuba. The unwilling exile of many Cubans also infused their relationship with the U.S. with a certain sense of poignancy that may be absent from other Hispanic-Americans who undertook a desperate, willed economic migration. One grief counselor reflected, after helping a Cuban woman ease the transition into widowhood: "For the first generation Cuban exile population, death signals the absolute inability to ever return to Cuba. Even for those whose American experience may be several decades long, death outside of the island still signifies one of the more brutal realities of the exile condition -- burial in foreign soil" (Bachay & Montes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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