The latino community is one of one of the oldest and the second largest minority ethnic group in the USA. The community comprises of all people of latin America origin regardless of their race or ethnic background. They are a diverse group and principally include; Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and those from Central and South America. Today, the U.S latino population is the second-fastest-growing ethnic group after Asian Americans. The population stands at 57 million (18%) of the American total population(migrationpolicy.org, 2017). This represents a steady rise of the populations percentage growth, from 5% in 1970 to the current 18%. Mexican Americans comprise the largest subgroup (63%) among the latino community in the US. More than half of the American Latinos are American-born while the rest are immigrants who move to America to seek employment or refuge from political crisis.
A uniting factor among this community is the common traits that they share across all the subgroups. Such traits include tradition and culture, language, and religion. For example, they speak a common language, Spanish, with different dialects and accents. Language, therefore, becomes a fundamental link which brings all the subgroups together. Another common trait is their Spanish cultural and traditional values passed on from their colonial masters. They still hold these values and remain traditional and conservative In their cultural practices such as a family forming the nucleus of a Hispanic life (Gonzalez and Morrison, 2016). It is, therefore, common to find family and group gatherings which are aimed at establishing a close-knit family. The latino community holds another trait of desire to belong to a group which forms part of their identity. The Cubans, for example, exercise political unity in support of the desired party in their homeland. Also, a majority of the subgroups who migrated to America in search of financial and economic stability share common ties to their homeland. They, therefore, hold a common view that America is a land of economic opportunities which unites them together. Religion also plays a major role and it is also a shared value among the latino community in the U.S. The majority of the community are Christians, either Catholic or protestants, a factor that unifies them.
As a community, the Latinos in America share common institutions regardless of their subgroups, based on their cultural and traditional heritage. The Hispanic Society of America is one of the significant institutions that serves as a landmark of Hispanic culture in America(Gonzalez and Morrison, 2016). It reflects the culture and history of the Latino community and it is important in the acknowledgment of the latino community in America. Another major institution is the Roman catholic church that was transformed by Latinos and allows cultural groups retain their own cultural heritage while still regularly engaging in intercultural interactions(InterExchange, 2017). Schools and institutions of higher learning, research institutes, and political institutions are also part of the shared institutions by the Latino community in America.
The Latino community in America has had a significant impact on various aspects of the American society besides their influence on the U.S. population demography. They have brought significant influence on culture, politics, and economy among the American society. Throughout the years, latino-owned businesses have gradually grown and they now form part of the worlds largest economy(Portes et al., 2014). In this way, they have created numerous job and market opportunities and enhanced integration of American economy and the Latin America countries. In cultural view, Latin American cuisine popularity has been on the rise and has brought changes in the eating habits of most Americans. Tortilla chips and salsa are so popular and are now among the highest selling snack foods in the U.S. (Portes et al., 2014). Art, music, dance, fashion, sports, and the film industry in the American society has also been largely influenced by this community. It is therefore not surprising that football has become common and popular in the U.S. Politically, the community commands a huge influence on the aspect of elections. Their large number of eligible voters and their homogeneity as voters has impacted on the past elections in America. For example, the presidency of George W. Bush was highly influenced by the political affiliation among the Latinos (Portes et al., 2014).
Integration of American latino community among the American society has gradually improved over the generations. However, group identity that reflects their ethnic and national identities is a challenge to full integration with the native Americans. The current younger generation of the latino community in America is English-dominant and they are more likely to identify themselves as Americans as compared to the older generation which is Spanish-dominant(migrationpolicy.org, 2017). It takes more than a single generation for full integration of a community in a new society. This has is the case with the latino community where full integration is yet to be achieved. The current generation has integrated with the American society, especially through improved language proficiency and intermarriages. In addition, residential segregation among the current generation has decreased resulting in increased interaction with the American society. The integration process is, however, uneven among the latino subgroups due to a large number of illegal immigrants. The unauthorized population continues to be a powerful barrier to social cohesion and full political, social and economic integration(migrationpolicy.org, 2017).
The social structure of latino community stretches from the family leadership to religious and political leadership. The aim of the social structure is to enhance community integration and create a common path based on the communities common values and interest. The nucleus family is headed by the eldest man, typically, a grandfather who plays a key role in the upbringing of the children. Religious leaders are a part of the social structure with the main function of bringing cohesion to their followers and the community as a whole. Politically, they have representatives and unions such as the national association of latino elected and appointed officials (NALEO) that act as a common ground for political lobbying(Portes et al., 2014).
Community Problem Analyses
A major problem that is currently facing the American latino community in the American society is racial discrimination. A study by pew research poll shows that the latino community is the second most discriminated ethnic community after African-American(Gonzalez and Morrison, 2016). Discrimination is based on color and the notion that the community members are an inferior race. There has been frequent reports on racial profiling in workplaces, educational institutions, marketplaces, health care facilities, financial institutions among other sectors. Their interactions with the American society especially the natives and in social institutions is usually met with hostility. In recent years, anti-immigrant policies aimed at cracking down illegal immigrants has fuelled discrimination with increased reports of verbal harassment and unequal opportunities among the latino community. As a result, latino families now face a challenge of heightened social segregation, reduced financial opportunities, and emotional stress. Racial discrimination is a barrier in the process of successful integration of the latino community into the American society especially the middle class (Ortiz and Telles, 2012).
Discrimination in learning institution has resulted in low levels of education among the latino families compared with the natives and the African-Americans. Their children experience segregation and unequal learning opportunities. Some of the challenges they face include tougher discipline measures, low expectations, low English proficiency misinterpreted as the inability to learn, and poor parent-teacher engagement. This results in increased dropout rate and only a few young latino students manage to attain a university degree. Since the fastest-growing and best-paying job in the U.S. demand formal education qualification such as a college degree, most of the latino youths are losing ground in the economic sector.
In the health care sector, the latino community experience health disparities in the U.S. They bear a disproportionate burden of disease, injury, disability, and death when compared with the non-Hispanic whites(migrationpolicy.org, 2017). This is attributed to limited access to health facilities due to limited access to the American public health care system which is discriminative to the latino community in terms of finance and level of education. Other factors causing the disparity in the health care system among this community are lifestyle behaviors and their social environment. In addition, some report facing discrimination when obtaining health care services. They report on harassment, being hassled and are also made to feel inferior due to their ethnicity.
Other forms of discrimination occur in the employment sector. Most Latino employees have reported cases of injustices by their employers and fellow workers who are non-Hispanic. Some of the Latino employees claim to have been verbally harassed on the basis of racial slurs while others claim to receive less payment compared with other non-Hispanic co-workers. Consequently, prospects to advance their career are greatly hindered. This is because of financial challenges due to low payments and unequal opportunities in bigger and better positions in their workplace such as management positions.
About 1.4 million LGTB Latino/adults are currently living in the U.S. and some of the have their own families(Campaign, 2017). They mostly live in areas with a high Latino population such as Texas where the community accepts them. They, however, face discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in states that lack protective laws against discrimination. Challenges faced by LGTB community are relatively high when compared to the other latino community. They are victims of violence and hatred and many cases of homicide have revolved around this community. Also, the jobless rate of the Latino LGTB community is much higher than that of the overall Latino population(Campaign, 2017).
The Latino community in the U.S. has been actively involved in the fight against injustice and racial discrimination over the year. They formed active unions and held demonstrations to demand justice and resist discrimination. The league of united American citizens, formed in the year 1921, was a union formed with a mission of fighting for justice in schools, workplaces, and other major social institutions. It also empowered the Latino to build a strong community and educate them on their rights. They also formed the Labour Council for Latin America Advancement (LCLAA), an organization that was successful in raising awareness of their rights as Latino workers and fight for economic equality. It also advocated for social dignity and improved quality of life for all Latino families in America.
A civil right organization advocating for improved and equal opportunities for all Latino families was also formed. The NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in America(Gonzalez and Morrison, 2016). Some of the organization were successful in the fight against discrimination and pushed the American government to pass legislative laws that allowed the immigrants to attain American citizenship and exercise their civil rights. Currently, Latino civil rights grou...
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