Term Paper: Hispanic Community

Pages: 8 (2500 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] This is an unusually rich variety of folk styles.

Hispanic folk Art surrounds us. It is evident in the rural and urban, secular and religious areas of life. The Hispanics have used folk art for hundreds of years to court lovers, amuse children, and honor ancestors. It is an expression of a people's fears and dreams. In modern times, folk art continues to be an important device for relating to the physical, social, and spiritual worlds. Examples include ceramic vessels to hold wine or olive oil, chairs for resting, wooden trunks to store prized textiles, and thousands of other items in the Spanish home. Few folk artists, however, are content to limit their craft to satisfying just the practical need. Most embellish their objects in special ways, using symbols, decorative patterns, and imagery. The particular usage of decorative motifs is the artist's "signature," though variations occur at the community level, as seen in regional textiles and ceramics (Baker-White 1999: 36).

American society has also been influenced with the language of the Hispanic community. Although most Hispanics speak Spanish, each subgroup adapts the pronunciation and slang of its homeland to its unique circumstances in the United States. Likewise, while most Hispanic-Americans are members of the Roman Catholic Church, they have inherited different religious traditions from their homelands. In the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean, Catholic religious practices reflect strong African influences as a result of the slave trade that took place in the region. In Central and South America, the most significant influences on the Catholic Church are the religious traditions of pre-Colombian civilizations of Native Americans.

Despite these differences, other social forces contribute to the formation of an increasingly unified Hispanic identity in the United States. Rather than provide specialized services to each Hispanic group, the United States government has encouraged the creation of a single Hispanic identity. American Spanish-language radio and television stations work hard to create a unified Hispanic market for their advertisers. Hispanic-American politicians, attempting to find common ground in their diverse constituencies, have forged political alliances among Hispanic groups. These attempts to create a single Hispanic community have had positive results, but they have also led to an oversimplified understanding of the complex variety of Hispanic groups in the United States.

Americans have modified the educational system to meet the needs of the Hispanic people. For many years, the education of Hispanic-American students has not equaled that of non-Hispanic students. Since 1980, Hispanic-Americans made slight gains in education. Only forty-four percent of Hispanics were high school graduates.

One of the earliest educational programs implemented to improve public education for Hispanic students was bilingual education or English as Second Language (ESL) programs. The United States government has funded bilingual and ESL programs to assist students who do not speak English. These programs allow for students to be taught in Spanish while they study English. However, these programs have been highly controversial. Critics say that these programs do not help students learn English thoroughly, or that the program allows the students to rely to heavily on Spanish. Teachers lack training to be sensitive to the linguistic and cultural background of Hispanic students.

Many people have come to view Hispanic-Americans not simply as another set of immigrants destined to assimilate into mainstream American culture, but as a branch of Latin America in the United States. They argue that Hispanic-Americans will never fully work together. Instead, they argue Hispanics will take control of the lost territories and ultimately "Hispanicize" all of North America. Critics of immigration maintain that American jobs are lost to the unskilled and cheaper labor force.

This rhetoric has been matched by the rise of anti-immigrant movements and anti-Hispanic sentiments in many parts of the United States. In the 1980's and 1990's, crude propaganda designed to create resentment against poor Spanish-speaking workers has become common in political debates about United States immigration laws and bilingual education programs. Illegal Hispanic immigrants in the United States have been portrayed as a threat to national security. While increasing Hispanic influence in the United States is roundly criticized, anti-immigrant groups usually ignore the powerful political, economic, and military influence the United States exercises in Latin America. Many other immigrant groups have faced this type of antagonism in the United States in the past. However, as the Hispanic community in the United States has grown, Hispanic-Americans have increasingly found themselves at the center of debates about immigration reform.

In the long run, Hispanic influence is likely to profoundly change the predominantly English-speaking culture of the United States. Spanish is already the second most widely spoken language in the United States, and Hispanic influences are increasingly noticeable in American foods, music, and the visual arts. As the nations of the western hemisphere are increasingly linked within a global economy, the Hispanic world and the United States are rapidly discovering that their cultural differences are less important than their common interests and shared destiny (Microsoft Encarta, 1998).

In order to appreciate the wonderful aspects that the Hispanic community has contributed to the development of the United States, one must research and study more about the traditions, history and other aspects of the culture. Hispanics have not only contributed to the founding of the country, but also its development. The Wild west was also settled with the help of the Mexican cowboy and our country still depend on legal aliens to help in the building of roads and other types of constructions. These people also help by working in the schools with children who are just learning the English language and also have jobs in other public areas helping with the translation of language. As we learn more about the diverse contributions of the Hispanic culture, the more appreciation we will develop from our knowledge.

Works Cited

Baker-White, Tracy.

Folk Art: The Spanish Tradition." USA Today, March 1999:

Firmat, Gustavo. "Cuban Americans," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993

1997 Microsoft Corporation.

Mayor, Alfred. "Hispanic Society of America." The Magazine Antiques. Feb. 2001:

Peterson, Richard. "The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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