This is a very good read by Jorge Acosta of Nuevo Amancer Latino that deals with the ideas of the multicultural diversity that we have here in the United States and how we should embrace the diversity. I’m not one to discuss politics but I like the fact he begins with the general overview of cultural importance and then focuses on Latino culture which in itself is diverse. It is a pretty long article but I encourage you to take the time to read it, you may find it very enlightening.
by Jorge Acosta, Nuevo Amancer Latino
Culture is culture and our influence is likely to profoundly change the predominantly English-speaking culture of America. Spanish is already the second most widely spoken language in America, and our influence are increasingly noticeable in American foods, music, and the visual arts. As the nations of the western hemisphere are increasingly linked within a global economy, our Hispanic world and U.S. are rapidly discovering that our cultural differences are less important than our common interests and shared destiny. Let us share our culture of love, our best values and the best of ourselves to provide our children and families with best. They deserve it. Hasta la vista!
Wow! Thank you for inviting us to share something about our Latino culture. Unfortunately, for the limitations of the space, we will be unable to share and analyze in this article our culture in depth, our mutual learning and influence in the United States a country that has taken shape by the melting of countless cultures; among them, ours. Please, take this article as an invitation to improve our mutual cultural sensitivity while diving in our multicultural diversity in America.
Culture is the most important concept in anthropology which is the study of all aspects of human life, past and present. Culture is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another, the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. A people’s culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, and technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.
Anthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all people live and think in the same ways. Likewise, any group of people as Latino who share a common culture –and in particular, common rules of behavior and a basic form of social organization- constitutes a society. Thus, the terms culture and society are somewhat interchangeable. However, while many animals live in societies only humans have culture.
As we said before, we live in a country that has taken shape by the melding of countless cultures; among them, the Latino culture. Each immigrant has brought its own culture and beliefs. While in few occasions conflict between these different cultures has shown the worst of our society, most of the times the blending and melding of all these cultures has made us strong and able to learn from each other’s aspects of human life and experiences.
In America, we the Hispanic Americans are also known as Latinos, residents of the United States who trace our ancestry to countries in the western hemisphere where the Spanish language is spoken. People of Hispanic background have lived in what is now the United States since the 17th century. In 2000 the U.S. census counted 34.3 million Hispanic or Latino Americans. Most experts think that an additional 2 to 3 million of “illegal”, people without appropriate documentation, live in the United States. Our group is the fastest –growing minority group in the United States. Experts predict that Latino Americans will number more than 50 million by the year 2025.
We have a cultural diversity in our community and it is reflected not only in the mix of varied national groups but in the cosmopolitan roots of individual Latin American cultures. To varying degrees, our cultures have been influenced by Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Spanish, African, Asian and American. Most of us are mestizos, people of mixed Native American, African and European ancestry. The Latino American community is a mix of subgroups with roots in various countries of Latin America. Official U.S. government documents and the English-speaking media typically use the term Hispanic when referring to the larger community comprised of these national groups. Many Hispanic Americans are uncomfortable with all of these broad categories and prefer more specific designations, such as Mexican American, the largest subgroup; Puerto Rican, the second largest subgroup, or Cuban American, the third largest group.
Even within a single national group, these disparate cultural and racial groups sometimes come into conflict. Even apparent similarities sometimes mask profound differences. Attempts to unify us under a single banner have often created tensions among the subgroups. Although most of us speak Spanish, each subgroup adapts the pronunciation and slang of our homeland to our unique circumstances in the United States. Likewise, most of us are members of the Roman Catholic Church; we have inherited different religious traditions from our homelands. If we are Caribbean, our religious practices reflect strong African influences. If we are central or South Americans, the most significant influences on the Catholic Church are the religious traditions of pre-Colombian civilizations of Native Americans. We also have varied tastes in sports, cuisine, and political beliefs from the most liberal to the strongest conservative beliefs.
Despite our profound differences, we share the human nature of our primal instincts and values that enable us to love, care, and nurture, and above all, protect our progeny. We recognize profound differences among ourselves; however, other social forces are contributing to the formation of an increasingly unified Hispanic identity in the United States. Rather than provide specialized services to each Hispanic group, the U.S. government has encouraged the creation of a single Hispanic identity. Our radio and television work very hard to create a unified Hispanic market to our advertisers. Our politicians are attempting to find a common ground in our diverse constituencies and have forged political alliances among us. We are having positive results, but unfortunately they have also led to an oversimplified understanding of the complex variety of our groups in America.
The Chicano movement, a campaign to secure civil rights and foster cultural pride among Mexican Americans, which flourished in the late 1960s, led to increase political consciousness among Hispanic Americans of all backgrounds. This new awareness has encouraged us to emphasize our historical and cultural similarities in order to forge political alliances. The U.S. census is now recognizing the potential collective political power that we could wield as a group.
Many Americans have come to view us not simply as another set of immigrants destined to assimilate into mainstream American culture, but as a branch of Latin American in the United States. Other Americans also think that we are here to reconquest and control the formerly Hispanic regions of the United States to Hispanicize America. Others think that we will never fully assimilate. This rhetoric has been matched by the rise of anti-immigrant movements and anti-Hispanic sentiments in America. Now more than ever, those Hispanic immigrants without appropriate legal documentation, “illegal”, have been portrayed as a threat to national security. While increasing our influence in America is roundly criticized, anti-immigrant groups usually ignore the powerful political, economic, and military influence the U.S. exercises in Latin America. Our community continues to grow and we have found ourselves at the center of debates about immigration reform.
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