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Hispanic American Diversity

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In America today, we are faced with several different minority groups arriving to the United States. The most common of all minority groups are the Hispanics. America is known for their language being English, but as the year’s approach, that language has faded and a new face in English language has taken over, it’s called Spanish. We as the people of America have become controversial over this major change, and due to that major bilingualism and political movements that have occurred from the government to the education departments. In this paper, I am going to talk about the four most common Hispanic groups in our country today and the political, social, linguistic, economic, religious, and familial conventions and/or statuses that they face in America today, as the four major Hispanic groups of the nation.

The history of the Mexican-Americans is a wide-ranging, spanning more than four hundred years and varying from region to region within in the United States. While Mexican-Americans were once concentrated in the states that formerly belonged to Mexico-principally, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas-they began creating communities in Chicago and other steel producing regions when they obtained employment there during World War I. (Wikipedia, 2007). Mexican immigrants have increasingly become a large part of the workforce in industries such as meat packing throughout the Midwest, in agriculture in the southeastern United States, and in the construction, landscaping, restaurant, hotel, and other service industries throughout the country. Mexican-American identity has also changed markedly throughout these years. Over the past hundred years Mexican-Americans have campaigned for voting rights, against educational and employment discrimination and for the economic advancement. (Wikipedia, 2007). Mexican-Americans have struggled with defining their community’s identity: some student groups flirted with nationalism in the 1960’s and 1970’s and differences over the proper name for members of the community- Chichano/Chichana, Latino/Latina, Mexican-Americans, Hispanics or simply La Raza became tied up with deeper disagreements over whether to integrate into or remain separate from Anglo society, as well as divisions between those Mexican-Americans whose families had lived in the United States for two or more generations and more recent immigrants.

Puerto Ricans are another major Hispanic group that has also arrived to the U.S and brought less work for Americans. Puerto Ricans’ current association with the United States, like that of the Mexican people, began as the result of the outcome of a war. The island of Borinquen, subsequently called Puerto Rico, was claimed by Spain in 1493. The native inhabitants, the Taino Indians, were significantly reduced in number by conquest, slavery, and genocide. (Schaefer, R. 2006, p.266). After Puerto Rico had been ruled by Spain for four centuries, the island was seized by the United States in 1808 during the Spanish-American War. The value of Puerto Rico for the United States, as it had been for Spain, was mainly its strategic location, which was advantageous for maritime trade. (Schaefer, R. 2006, p.226). The most significant difference between the meaning of race in Puerto Rico and on the mainland is that Puerto Rico, like so many other Caribbean societies, has a color gradient. The phrase color gradient describes distinctions based on skin color made on a continuum rather than by sharp categorical separations. (Schaefer, R. 2006, p.272). Puerto Ricans are more sensitive to degrees of difference and make less effort to pigeonhole a person into one of two categories. Puerto Rico has not suffered interracial conflict or violence; its people are conscious of different racial heritages. The United States role in Puerto Rico has produced an overall economy that, though strong by Caribbean standards, remains well below that of poorest areas of the United States. For many years, the federal government exempted U.S industries locating in Puerto Rico from taxes on profits for at least 10 years. In addition, the federal government’s program of enterprise zones, which grants tax incentitives to promote private investment in inner cities, has been extended in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s economy is in severe trouble compared with that of the mainland. Its unemployment rate has been about three times that of the mainland. In addition, the per capita income is less than half that of Mississippi the poorest state. (Schaefer, R. 2006, p.273).

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