Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the United States today. They are compiled of many distinct groups. These groups do not think of themselves as a single categorized group. Hispanic Americans have some characteristics of colonized groups and some are immigrants. These groups can be categorized as racial minorities in some aspects, such as cultural characteristics like language, and ethnic minorities in other aspects, such as their physical appearance like skin color. Hispanic Americans face several hardships on a daily basis.
Poverty, various forms of inequality, unemployment issues, and low education levels all continue to cause complications. In trying to describe Hispanic Americans, one has to distinguish the individuality of each group. Only then can each group be understood. Mexican Americans make up the majority of the Hispanic American group. Mexican Americans share a culture and value system that is common throughout this sub-group. While most Mexican Americans reside primarily in Colorado, California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, there are clusters of this sub-group all over the United States.
Mexican Americans contribute a large number to America’s poor. “The economic status of Mexican Americans is frequently characterized by poverty…consequently, many families receive some sort of government support, such as food stamps and other types of public assistance. ” (Trevine, 1991) Mexican Americans almost exclusively occupy most blue collar jobs, such as janitors, restaurant workers, and gardeners. They tend to gravitate, however, towards positions as service workers and farm laborers. They tend to work and live in rural areas that are distant from the urban center of industrialization.
Mexican Americans have experienced less social mobility than European immigrant groups and still have managed to maintain their traditional culture and language. This is largely due to the fact that Mexican immigrants entered a social system in which the group had already established a colonized status. Within the Mexican American culture interactions with family and friens is strongly encouraged. Friends are cherished for their mutual support. Their interactions are extended to include maintenance or religious beliefs.
The group stresses the importance of practicing religious traditions including sacrifice and charity. More recent immigrants to the Mexican American group tend to combine Mexican traditions with American cultures. The result produces a community that practices traditional folklore that observes both Catholic holidays and Mexican holidays, speaking th Spanish language, but all the while they still involve themselves in national life. As Spanish dependents, the majorities of Mexican Americans are Catholic and follow the traditions of Catholicism, such as marrying in the church and baptizing their children.
The gender roles are distinct. Men are fairly inactive in church, preferring to express their spiritual needs in more spontaneous forms. Women, on the other hand, are not only keepers of the home, but also keepers of religion in the home and community. They have a vital role in passing cultural values, religious beliefs, and providing emotional support for families. Mexican Americans have made leaps and bounds in the political matters of the nation, but even with their increasing influence, they fall short in their numbers regarding political power.
They have failed to make a strong presence at any government level. However, Mexican Americans account for the margin of victory in many states with large numbers of electoral votes. Puerto Ricans are quite different from the other groups of Hispanic Americans. They are American citizens and can come and go between the United States and Puerto Rico as often as they choose. They continue their traditions and cultures as though they were not American citizens. “Many Puerto Rican customs and superstitions blend the Catholic traditions with the Pagan beliefs of West African slaves.
” (Green, 2006) Although most Puerto Ricans are Roman Catholics, native customs have added more traditions, including the belief that the world is inhabited by spirits who talk to the living with dreams. Puerto Ricans speak a form of Spanish that differs slightly. Puerto Ricans speak Castilian Spanish, which is derived from Latin. The only real difference is pronunciation. Due to prolonged exposure of American society, a new slang has formed called ‘Spanglish. ’ Puerto Rican family structures have a strong Spanish influence. Husbands and fathers are heads of households.
Older male children are responsible for the younger children. Women are responsible for running the home. Puerto Rican politics status is much the same as any other American’s. They have the same right and laws that anyone in the United States has. They enjoy the same freedoms and opinions in the affairs of the nation. Cuban Americans enjoy a greater economic security than other Hispanic groups. “The Cuban American community is well assimilated in the United States…it has significant political influence. ” (Buffington, 2006) The Cuban American’s family dynamics are different from the Cuban family dynamics.
“The Cuban family is characterized by patriarchy, strong parental control over children’s lives, and the importance of non-nuclear relationships for the nuclear family. ” (Buffington, 2006) Cuban Americans, however, have not adopted such elements. The rate of unemployment within Cuban American groups is significantly lower than that of Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans. Cubans are furthermore regarded as a significant immigrant group. Cuban Americans have the reputation of voting largely for the Republican parties in elections and are reserved politically.
Their driving force in their political activity has been extreme opposition to any Marxist regimes in Cuba. The Cuban American community’s political goals have been met with success. It has succeeded in electing Cuban Americans to Congress. Central Americans are another group of Hispanic Americans that are just as diverse as the other three mentioned. “Although the majority of Central Americans speak Spanish, the population also includes indigenous Indians who speak languages such as Quiche or Kanjobal. ” (Cordova & Del Pinal, 2006) Central Americans have high rates of employment.
Unfortunately, the population, as a whole, is poorly integrated into the U. S. work force and therefore, has low wage jobs. The result of this is that many Central Americans are poor. They are classified as the working poor since they are employed, but their wages do not amount to enough to pull them out of the poverty category. Cuban Americans are almost stagnant in political affairs of the nation. They think that their residency in the United States is only temporary. They tend to remain isolated and do not participate in political matters of the community or at the state and national levels.
The majority of Central Americans are Roman Catholic with a few other religious that are indigenous to Central America mixed in. There are a few that associate themselves as Protestant. There has been one Cuban religious tradition that has been the subject of many debates. Santeria is a combination of West African and Roman Catholic religions. “Santeros, those that practices Santeria, seek the guidance, protection, and intervention in their lives of divine personages who trace their lineage to Yoruba West African gods and Roman Catholic saints.
” (Buffington, 2006) While each of these Hispanic American groups has their different religious beliefs, political standpoints, and familial structures, there are a few things that they all have in common. They all value family. They all incorporate their religions into their family lives, and they all desire to provide a better quality of life for their families, friends, and communities.
Resources & Citations
Acosta, Teresa Palomo (June 6, 2001) Handbook of Texas Online: SOCIEDADES GUADALPANAS www. tsha. utexas. edu/handbook/online/articles/SS/ics10. html Buffington, Sean (accessed 2006) PUERTO RICAN AMERICANS www. everyculture. com/multi/Pa-Sp/Puerto-Rican-Americans. html Christensen, Bryce (Sept. 2006) Confronting the Family Implications of the Immigration Debate. The Family in America Online Edition, Vol. 20, No. 09 www. profam. org/pub/xfia_cur. htm Cordova, Carlos and Del Pinal, Jorge (accessed 2006) OUR MULTICULTURAL HERITAGE: A GUIDE TO AMERICA’S PRINCIPAL ETHNIC GROUPS http://bss. sfsu. edu/raquelrp/pub/heritage_pub. html De Leon, Arnoldo (June 6, 2001) Handbook of Texas Online: MEXICAN AMERICANS www. tsha. utexas.
edu/handbook/online/articles/MM/pqmue. html Green, Derek (accessed 2006) PUERTO RICAN AMERICANS www. everyculture. com/multi/Bu-Dr/Cuban-Americans. html Martinez, Vilma S. (accessed 2006) Mexican American Voices www. digitalhistory. uh. edu/mexican_voices/voices_display. cfm? id=122 Trevino, Beatriz (Oct. -Dec. 1991) Cultural Characteristics of Mexican Americans: Editorial www. findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m0825/is_n4_v57/ai_11676474/ Trevino, Robert R. (June 6, 2001) Handbook of Texas Online: MEXICAN AMERICANS AND RELIGION www. tsha. utexas. edu/handbook/online/articles/MM/pgmcf. html