Cultural Diversity Among the Hispanics

Introduction

Hispanic Americans are a fast-growing population in the United States (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). The group comprises a population that draws their origin from Mexico, Puerto Rica, Asian Americans, and the Chinese Americans as well as the Asian Americans. Initially, the Hispanics were associated with the Spanish-speaking groups who are of Spanish descent (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). However, the group was later proved to be of very many diverse origins, and grouping them as Spanish origin as a result of language was not accurate (Chan & Lee, 2004). Furthermore, even the language itself is varied among the group. Presently, the Hispanics are approximated to be 45.5 million; accounting for about 15.5% of the national population (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). The cultural diversity that exists among this group has made it difficult to unify them, at least culturally. Cato (n.d.) says that the Mexican Americans, the Puerto Ricans, the Chinese and other Asians have very little in common apart from the fact that the majority are Catholics with an increased presence of Pentecostals among these them. Still, Chinese Americans and Asian Americans have completely different religious beliefs.

The present Mexican Americans have gone through several cultural changes in terms of linguistic assimilation, socio-economic and legal status (Alba, 2006). In economic terms, many Mexican Americans have not established “entrepreneurial territory” as compared to other ethnic groups like the Chinese Americans and the Asian Americans (Chan& Lee, 2004). Historically, Mexican Americans have not made serious significant progress to escape the immigrant status, finding themselves completely separate from the mainstream social status, partially because of the insufficient system of education as well as discrimination (Alba, 2006). The cultural combination has in a long time offered an unprecedented challenge to the Mexican Americans, some of whom have to contend with the changed cultural behaviors like courtship and marriage (Grieco& Rachel, 2008). Stereotypes would describe Mexican Americans as “rigid” when it comes to roles of gender and interpersonal relationships since everything emanates from the family structure (Cato, n.d.).

As the commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rica has its own constitution legislation, and the governor is answerable to the United States (Green, n.d.). This status makes all Puerto Ricans United States citizens and long-drawn political debate has been on whether Puerto Rica should remain a commonwealth state of the United States or advocate for their full independence (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). Most of the Puerto Ricans speak Castilian Spanish, associated with ancient Latin, an aspect that has established Spanish as the primary language among the Puerto Ricans (Green, n.d.). However, because English is taught in most elementary schools, the new generation is adopting English as their primary language (Green, n.d.). Even though the population is predominantly Roman Catholic, presently other protestant faiths are making inroads among the Puerto Ricans (Cato, n.d.). There has been a mixture of success and problems that have arisen from this form of association between the United States and Puerto Rica. Despite being an American citizen with perceived benefits coming with that status, the Puerto Ricans still go through a lot of problems ranging from insufficient educational opportunities, rampant drug use, and crime to the breakdown of familial structure (Green, n.d).

Asian Americans are believed to be the most diverse in terms of varied educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural characteristics, and uniqueness in terms of their countries of origin and by far considered the fastest growing population in the United States (Chan & Lee, 2004). In essence, slightly more than two-thirds (65%) are fast level immigrants, that is, they are foreign-born, mainly coming from countries like India, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, and China (Cato, n.d.). This group, especially the immigrants as well as refugees have experienced a lot of stereotypical discrimination, due to the fact that their culture seems to be rooted in some of the world’s oldest civilizations (Chan & Lee, 2004). Religious believes of the Asian Americans have been centered towards the doctrines as well as philosophies of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism summing up the three teachings combined with the worship of ancestors, shamanism, and Christianity (Cato, n.d.). It is these beliefs that have shaped the “traditional collectivist values” commonly found in the various Asian cultures (Chan & Lee, 2004). In most Asian communities, the predominant values revolve around the family units, harmony, education, and some defined virtues, and the family forms the basis of an individual’s life and the society’s basic unit, while harmony is the key to a group’s existence (Cato, n.d.). The Asian community regards academic achievement as the greatest and the best tribute one can bestow upon the family members i.e. the group welfare considerations that will require patience, self-sacrifice, perseverance, inner strength, modesty, self-restraint, and humility (Chan & Lee, 2004).

The linguistic diversity is seen in the various groups of Asian origin. For example, there are approximately ten Chinese dialects that have evolved into various spoken languages that are not mutually understandable, unlike the Korean language that is more mutually connected and understandable despite the fact that more than a half of the Korean vocabulary is derivative of Chinese dialects(Chan & Lee, 2004). In addition, unlike the Chinese dialect that is more tonal, the Korean one is more phonetic (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). Principally, the patterns of communication among the Asian American communities are based on the principle of promoting the traditional cultural values and beliefs due to the fact that it is considered one of the “highest context” cultures in the world, and that their communication pattern is to promote harmonious human interaction that involves an indirect style of communication, avoidance of overt criticism and ability to read the non-verbal cues in the process of communication (Chan & Lee, 2004). According to Alba (2006), an indirect style of communication such as head nodding and polite use of the word ‘yes’ may actually mean ‘no’ among the Chinese Americans and that touching of the head among the Asian Americans of Cambodian and Laois origin are normally considered to be offensive or threatening since it is considered the most sacred body part.

Conclusion

Generally, Mexican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Asian Americans and Chinese Americans have a very distinct cultural identity that is basically very rich in family ties (Grieco & Rachel, 2008). The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans for instance, share the Spanish language but with very distinct dialect as well as origin (Alba, 2006). The Roman Catholic is the dominant religion among Hispanic Americans while Asian Americans have completely varied religious beliefs amongst themselves. Presently, many of these ethnic groups seem to have a change in family dynamics despite the fact that they still hold in high regard familial connections. The Puerto Ricans and the Asian Americans have made significant progress on the economic front while the Mexican Americans have achieved much on the political front (Cato, n.d.).

List of References

Alba, R. (2006). Mexican Americans and the American dream. Political Science & Politics. American Political Science Association.

Cato, J. (n.d.) Becoming American in Miami: Reconsidering immigration, race and ethnic relations. Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Chan, S. & Lee, E., (2004). Families with Asian roots- Developing cross-cultural competence: A guide for working with children and their families. 3rd ed. Baltimore, Paul H. Brookes, MD: 219-298. [404].

Green, D. (n.d.) Puerto Rican Americans. Web.

Grieco, M. & Rachel C. (2008). “Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin”, United States Census Bureau. Web.

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