The American community comprises of several minority groups that include the African Americans, Asian Americans and the Hispanics among others. They comprise of people from different places with different cultural orientations yet they have some unifying factors. One of the major challenges that these groups face is defining their Identity within the American context. This paper seeks to discuss the identity of the Hispanics and the concept of ethnicity as structured in Latin America.
Latin America has the most diverse composition of people. The indigenous group of people in Latin America was the Euro-Metstizo (Gracia, 2011, p. 564). However, the immigration of people in the region has led to a complex society. It comprises of people from almost all regions of the word. Currently, the largest groups of the inhabitants are people with European-ancestry (Schemelkes, 201, p. 90). African Americans and Native Americans also form a large proportion of its inhabitants. There are also several groups from different countries, which include Argentina, Brazil, Chile Venezuela and Paraguay. Owing to the diversity of the groups of this region, the region exhibits diversity in cultures societal composition and identity.
It was not until 1976 that the term ‘Hispanics’ came into existence. The Federal Bureaucrats who were working under President Richard M. Nixon coiled the term. The term was essential in the 1980 census since it helped the government to get an accurate count of all the citizens who either were Latin Americans or had a Spanish descent. According to Raul, we can refer to the term ‘Hispanic’ as an ethnic label as opposed to a racial label (1998, 21). The group comprises of Spanish speaking Americans. The Mexican War led to the immigration of the first Spanish-speaking group of people (Mexican Americans) in America. Others include immigrants from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and South America. There has been an increasing trend of the number of people within the Hispanic label. The Hispanic population has shown a tremendous growth from 39.9 Million people in 2003 to approximately 50 Million people in 2010 making it the largest minority group in America (Gracia, 2011, p. 567). The increase in population of the Hispanics has led to a heated debate about their identity within the American Population.
As discussed above, the Hispanics are comprised of several groups of people with diverse historical backgrounds. This makes it difficult to group Hispanics according to a common set of shared traits. The Mexican Americans form the largest group of the Hispanics. Their culture has undergone several changes through their interaction with different groups in their history. Between 1520 and 1809, there was a synthesis of Spanish and Indian cultures took place. Other than their interactions with the Indians during the three centuries, the Mexicans also experienced a cultural change from their interaction with different groups (Raul, 1998, p. 22). In 1910, they migrated from Mexico to the U.S. During the same year, many groups of people migrated into the U.S among which were Europeans and people from the Far East. The immigration trend to the U.S continued until the start of the great depression in the 1930s. Until then, the Mexicans have borrowed some cultural aspects from the other immigrants. Despite the effects of the interactions, the Mexicans managed to conserve Spanish as their main language. The Puerto Ricans and the other groups, just like the Mexicans, have inherited a mixture of cultures.
The common trait that the Hispanics share is their language. However, the use of the language has decreased over the centuries due to several factors. One of the main aspects that have led to the fading of the language is generational changes. The recent generations of the Hispanics portray a high affinity for English language. For instance, it weakens the ties that the people have as far as language is concerned. Additionally, intermarriages between the Hispanics and non-Hispanic groups have made the ties between the Hispanic groups weak. Grouping them based on the Spanish language would be similar to grouping Arab Americans, African Americans and Native Americans based on the English language.
Different groups of the Hispanics have different cultural backgrounds in terms of their ancestry. They belong to different races. Additionally, through their life experiences they have developed different attributes or rather traits from other groups. From their ways of living, one can say that they can be sometimes Asians, Indians, Italians, black, middle Easterners or even Native Americans (Raul, 1998, p. 25). This poses a challenge in the identification of a common trait since they seem to lack a common uniting factor other than their language, as aforementioned.
Defining Hispanic identity in terms of historic events and relations has several merits. The different groups within the ‘Hispanic’ label will not object such form of identification since they know the significance of the events in their History. Additionally, historic events and relations act as a unifying figure in the Hispanic American community. Therefore, besides acting as a form of identification, they would play a pivotal role in enhancing more unity within the groups in question. The identification of the Hispanics using historic events and relations enable the larger American community to appreciate them more because such events also have an impact on the entire nation.
The American community should not use any markers to identify any group of people. The markers usually have some generalizations of a given group of people, which might not be fulfilling. They also propagate disintegration of a nation, which may yield certain social evils such as discrimination against the group in question. This has been evident in the U.S whereby the Whites undermine the minority groups because of their color, race or even culture. The African Americans, Hispanics as well as the Asian Americans have been termed as illegal aliens in their motherland an aspect that is not only demeaning but also humiliating. As aforementioned, the term Hispanics came into being in the mid 1970s as the federal bureaucracies were searching for a term to label the Spanish-speaking immigrants in America. Research has shown that most people would not prefer such branding thus they should be given a chance to define themselves. For instance, most of the Hispanics prefer their country of origin’s name to the group name.
The markers usually refer to a large group of people, which may not have many unifying factors. For instance, in the case of the Hispanics the only unifying factor is their language, Spanish. Therefore, the mark might not capture the identity of the people adequately. This deprives the groups in question the freedom to express their cultural aspects since some of them might violate the principles of the other groups under the markers. The group markers also force the group members to live up to the standards or rather requirements of the given marker. This is because a certain group may not be familiar with the regularities within a given group and may end up straining to fit in the group.
In conclusion, Latin America stands out as the region in the world that has inhabitants from diverse ancestries. They include inhabitants of the European descent, blacks and Asians among others. Hispanics form the largest minority group in America. The term ‘Hispanic’ was first used during the 1980 census in America as a form of identity for all the Spanish-speaking groups from different regions of the world. Over the years, there has been a lot of controversies about Hispanic identity. The Hispanics lack common traits to be grouped together. The only unifying factor within the Hispanics is the Spanish language. However, the language has continued to lose its significance within the group. Defining Hispanic identity according to the Historical events and relations presents several merits not only to the group but also to American nation. It will boost the esteem of the Hispanics besides increasing the unity among the different groups since all of them are familiar with such. The use of markers in identifying a given group of people does not give a full representation of all the different socio-cultural aspects of the groups in question. However, if any markers were to be used, the people in question should be given the chance to define such markers rather than being branded. For instance, some Hispanics still identify themselves with their country of origin. They are members of different cultures so they cannot be merged based on their cultural traits.
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