The Culture of Mexican Americans

Introduction

The United States of America has been known for the vast cultural and national diversity for a long time and is frequently called a “melting pot” due to the variety of ethnicities in the country. Naturally, a high degree of heterogeneity in society might lead to some conflicts based on cultural differences and practices. Nevertheless, cultural, national, and religious diversity is an opportunity for every individual to learn more about other people and their customs. The current paper attempts to critically analyze the population of Mexican Americans in the United States and demonstrate how the dominant culture might affect minority groups.

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Influence of the Dominant Culture on Mexican Americans

The confrontation of the dominant culture with minorities inevitably causes the process of acculturation. In general, this term refers to the multidimensional exchange of cultural values, practices, and identifications (Curry, Morales, Zavala & Hernandez, 2018). Furthermore, this concept is determined by the generational status of immigrants (Curry et al. 2018). It implies that Mexican Americans from the second and third generations are more susceptible to acculturation and accepting the dominant culture of the country. Therefore, they might eventually lose the cultural values of their own origin and the ability to speak the Spanish language. On the other hand, Mexican Americans might have difficulties accustoming to society, since they are still classified as “Hispanic” by the government (Harper-Dorton & Lantz, 2016). Some experts argue that the implementation of this term might lead to stereotyping and identity losses since it does not address the national origin (Harper-Dorton & Lantz, 2016). It implies that the dominant culture severely affects the integrity of minorities.

Additionally, even at the present time, the educational gap based on racial and national identities still persists. The research demonstrates that third-generation Mexican Americans are approximately three times less likely to have primary education than individuals of Caucasian ethnicities (Ortiz & Telles, 2017). Furthermore, compared to African-American people, Mexican Americans are about 50% less likely to have completed high school which implies the saddening state of education levels in the Mexican American community (Ortiz & Telles, 2017). The primary reason for such consequences lies in the deteriorating economic state of the minority group. Throughout the 20th century, Mexican immigrants have frequently taken the lowest-paid jobs due to the immigration policies of the United States and the educational capabilities (Ortiz & Telles, 2017). This position has developed into prejudice and allocated the Mexican American culture into a separate minority group severely divided from the mainstream culture in terms of education.

The Cultural Values

One of the core cultural values in the Mexican American community is respect toward family members and the elderly. The primary reason for this practice is Familism which is generally described as the sense of dedication toward the family among Latinos (Curry et al. 2018). This concept is highly widespread in the Mexican American community and has become the universal cultural practice in Hispanic households (Harper-Dorton & Lantz, 2016). The cohesion of a family is generally accepted as a virtue; therefore, the dominant ethnic groups of the United States might learn from this cultural value. Another prominent construct of the Mexican culture is Respeto, and it generally means respect (Tamis-LeMonda et al. 2018). Due to the immense attention to family values, this concept is also primarily discussed in the setting of the household implying the respect from children toward their parents (Tamis-LeMonda et al. 2018). Nevertheless, this notion is not restricted purely to family members and might be extended to other close-related people. Overall, the concept of respect and devotion to family are prevailing in the Mexican culture, and the dominant ethnic groups might learn from these customs.

Stereotypes and Prejudice

Unfortunately, there is a high number of stereotypes and labeling toward most ethnic minority groups, and the Mexican American community is not an exception. The first stereotype is the illegal immigration of this ethnic group in the USA. The Mexican immigrants have a well-known history of unauthorized crossing of the border between the countries, and it has heavily stigmatized the Mexican American community (Harper-Dorton & Lantz, 2016). The second stereotype is the excessive amount of drug trafficking from Mexico, and the prejudice from that practice frequently falls upon innocent people (Schubert, 2017). Furthermore, the image of Mexican Americans has significantly deteriorated since political propaganda frequently exaggerates the stereotypes concerning ethnic groups (Schubert, 2017). This was particularly obvious in the campaign of Donald Trump who framed the Mexican immigrants for most troubles in the country (Schubert, 2017). Lastly, the Mexican American people are frequently portrayed as violent bandits and drug dealers in the movies and TV series including highly prominent ones, such as Breaking Bad and Savages (Schubert, 2017). Overall, the stereotypes against the Mexican American community are prevailing in American society and continually deteriorate the image of the ethnic group.

Differences from the Dominant Culture

The Mexican American community, similar to other minority ethnic groups, is heavily impacted by the differences from the dominant culture. For instance, as mentioned briefly before, respect and family devotion are some of the core cultural values in the Latino communities. However, the research demonstrates that the amount of domestic violence continually increases with the acculturation to American standards (Curry et al. 2018). It implies that the more Mexican Americans get used to the dominant culture, the further they stray away from the cultural values of respect and family devotion; thus, family violence increases (Curry et al. 2018). Furthermore, the Mexican American community might be heavily influenced by stereotypes. As demonstrated before, the Mexican American community is stigmatized, and it might have a profound impact on how people identify and perceive themselves. Naturally, the prejudice is the product of the differences between the Mexican and dominant cultures since stereotypes are primarily born to assert some negative characteristics on the minority groups.

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Personal Experience

I can relate to the struggle of the minority groups since being an African-American female provides several challenges in contemporary society as well. Recognizing the oppression that minorities face, I continually attempt to eliminate any type of bias toward ethnic and racial groups. Therefore, in the future, I will continue being conscious about the subject and educate my friends and acquaintances if such a necessity arises. Unfortunately, growing up as a part of a minority group, I have encountered racial injustice and prejudice. Even though my peers are mostly open-minded concerning race and ethnicities, I have frequently heard harmful comments from older people concerning my origin. Naturally, such an attitude might severely impact the identity and self-confidence of the individual, and similar things have happened to me. Nevertheless, having learned more about racial injustice and the oppression of minority groups, I have realized that I am not to blame, and innocent people should not suffer based on prejudice and discrimination.

Conclusion

Summing up, the current paper has examined how the dominant culture of the US affects the Mexican American community including the discrimination and stereotypes toward the minority groups. Furthermore, the essay discusses the cultural values of the ethnic group, and how the dominant culture might learn from it. Lastly, I have stated my personal experience growing up as an African American female in the US and the discrimination and prejudice I have encountered. Nevertheless, I am hopeful and believe that the oppression that minority groups face will eventually disappear.

References

Curry, T. R., Morales, M. C., Zavala, E., & Luiz Hernandez, J. (2018). Why is family violence lower among Mexican immigrants? The protective features of Mexican culture. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 171-184. Web.

Harper-Dorton, K., & Lantz, J. (2016). Cross-cultural practice: Social work with diverse populations (2nd ed.). NY: Oxford.

Ortiz, V., & Telles, E. (2017). Third generation disadvantage among Mexican Americans. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1-17. Web.

Schubert, C. (2017). Constructing Mexican stereotypes: Telecinematic discourse and Donald Trumps’ campaign rhetoric. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines, 8(2), 37-57.

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Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., O’Brien Caughy, M., Rojas, R., Bakeman, R., Adamson, L. B., Pacheco, D., Owen, M. T., Suma, K., & Pace, A. (2019). Culture, parenting, and language: Respeto in Latine mother-child interactions. Social Development, 0(0), 1-24. Web.

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