“One of several terms employed to categorize all persons whose ancestry hails either from the people of Spain, any of the various peoples of Spanish-speaking Latin America, or the original settlers of the traditionally Spanish-held Southwestern United States.” – AllExperts (2007).
The following compilation is a collection of differences and commonalities found among the four, of several communities, of the selected Hispanic sub groups living in the United States: Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and immigrants from Central and South America. The topics of linguistic, political, socioeconomic, and religious statuses have been examined to distinguish variation and comparison within each community or sub group.
According to the data presented in Racial and Ethnic Groups, chapter nine, the Hispanic population in 2002 was divided into the following percentages: Mexicans 66.9%, Central/South Americans 14.3%, Puerto Ricans 8.6%, Other Hispanics 6.5%, and Cubans 3.7% (Schaefer, 236). The population figures one year later displayed numbers at 37.4 million, which outnumbered African Americans’ population of 34.7 million. In 2003, the 2000 US Census figures show Puerto Ricans living in the US estimated at about 3.8 million (National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc.). As of 2006, 25 million Hispanics are Mexican Americans, also known as Chicanos (Schaefer, 236).
Mexican Americans (Chicanos)
Approximately 51% of Chicanos speak Spanish, with only 26% bilingual and another 23% English speaking, according to Schaefer’s documentation of 2002 statistics (241). With the majority of Mexican/Mexican Americans having concentrated communities in California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, children attending California schools, for example, have felt the effects of Proposition 227, the push for bilingual education to end and “English only” to be practiced in the academic system (Schaefer, 243). Chicanos support the Democratic Party in the realm of politics, placing the political party in a stronger position due to population figures (AllExperts, 4 & 5). Mexican Americans are Roman Catholic, and honor Our Lady of Guadalupe as their patron saint (AllExperts, 7).
The percentages for linguistics for Puerto Ricans ranks 21% Spanish speaking, 40% bilingual, and 39% English speaking (Schaefer, 241). Puerto Rico is a commonwealth territory of the United States, and all Puerto Ricans, born on the island or in the states, are recognized as American citizens, granted through the Jones Act in 1917 (National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc.). Puerto Rican communities are found in large numbers in New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, with current growth showing in Connecticut, Illinois, California, Ohio, Texas, and some areas of the Midwest (National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc.). The Democratic Party, within the political structure, is supported by the Puerto Rican community (AllExperts, 4 & 5). Although progress has shown growth in the area of socioeconomics, Puerto Ricans are considered the poorest population in the US (National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc.). Roman Catholicism dominates the community, and Santeria (combining African beliefs with Catholic saints and rituals) can be found in some areas of the group (AllExperts, 7).
Cuban American communities are concentrated largely in the Dade County area of Miami, Florida; the population increased from the 1960 US Census figures of 79,000 to the 1.4 million, 40 years later; Castro’s rise to power after the 1959 Cuban Revolution pushed many families to seek refuge in America (Schaefer, 247). Roughly 200,000 came to America between 1959 and 1962. In 1965, with an agreement between the US and Cuba, a second group of immigrants arrived and numbers totaled 340,000 by 1973. In 1980, around 124,000 fled Cuba (Schaefer, 247). Cuban Americans prefer to support the Republican Party in politics, which tends to be more conservative and associated with the Cuban American National Foundation (AllExperts, 4 & 5). In regards to socioeconomic status, Cuban Americans rank higher in college education completion-23.0% more than other Hispanics-and ranked at $39,432 for family income standards in 2000 (Schaefer, 249). Santeria, in conjunction with Catholic practices, can be found among Cuban American communities for religious observation (AllExperts, 7).
Central and South Americans
A diverse population, according to Schaefer, the immigrants of Central and South America has not been as closely studied as the previously mentioned Hispanic sub groups documented. Considered “other” at times, languages may range from Portuguese to French, along with Dutch; although Spanish is considered the dominant language (Schaefer, 241 & 251). Colombians, a sub group of South Americans, are in support of the conservative Republican Party within the political structure (AllExperts, 4). Although better educated than most Hispanics, Central and South Americans are found to be high in numbers of unemployment; this is due to experiencing adjustment to relocation in the US (Schaefer, 252).
Some similarities and differences among the communities of the Hispanic American population have been discovered. In regards to corresponding statuses, 1) Spanish is the dominant language, 2) Roman Catholicism is the religious following, and 3) Socioeconomic status is below the level of the White Non-Hispanic population, even with a gradual increase observed within a 20 year period (Schaefer, 240). The debate of identity among sub groups is felt throughout the Hispanic population, and mistaken identity from Non-Hispanics happens frequently. “….Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, are often mistakenly viewed as an immigrant group and lumped with all Latinos or Hispanics,” (Schaefer, 237).
Contrast shows differences in physical characteristics, such as skin color variants, displaying cultural history. Mestizo-European and Amerindian-pertains to Mexican/Chicano; African, European, and Amerindian/Caribbean-Puerto Rican and Cuban sub groups, and mulatto, triracial, or zambo-Central and South Americans. “In general, Hispanics are assumed to have traits such as dark hair and eyes, and tan or brown skin,” AllExperts.com (AllExperts, 6). Political preference is divided as well, putting some Hispanic Americans with one political force versus the opposing party.
Hispanic American Diversity is subject to evolve with time, with continued research to follow statuses set by American societal standards, along with historical education for Non-Hispanic groups in regards to the sub groups of Hispanic culture, can be considered a cornerstone for the cultural context of diversity among all Hispanics.
-(2007, March). Hispanic: encyclopedia beta. AllExperts data base.
-(2007, March). The Puerto Rican community: from neighbors to citizens.
National Puerto Rican Coalition, Inc. http://www.bateylink.org/community.htm
-Schaefer, R. T. (2006). Hispanic Americans. Racial and Ethnic Groups, Tenth
Edition, 9, 234-255. New York: Prentice Hall.