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Hispanic American Diversity

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Hispanic American Diversity With the influx of immigrants of the past few decades, a multitude of varied cultures have set stakes in the United States. Though many of the Spanish-speaking immigrants come from different backgrounds and cultures, the fact that they share a language finds them labeled as Hispanic-Americans. Within this classification reside the cultures of Puerto Rican Americans, Mexican Americans, Dominican Americans, and Cuban Americans. Each of these cultures shares a few similarities with the others, but also has many differences that distinguish their way of life. These differences include politics, economics, language, religion, and family life. Mexican Americans Mexican Americans speak Spanish while able to communicate in English fairly well. With the annexation of Mexican lands, many Mexicans were given citizenship in the 19th century. With the ability to practice Mexican and Spanish culture and traditions, Mexican Americans were seemingly free to grow and assimilate into the American culture (Shaefer, 2006). Though Mexican Americans were to be treated equally, they were ultimately given subordinate status. Mexican Americans, and Puerto Rican Americans, are much less employed with a significantly lower income than White Americans (Schaefer, 2006). Mexican Americans have struggled to gain political power, even creating their own political party for a short time. As they gain in political strength, many are beginning to run for office positions. Similar to other Hispanic cultures, Mexican Americans are predominately in the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. Mexican Americans have a similar familial structure as

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the White American family. Despite this, Mexican Americans are referred to as a culture of poverty, and are commonly looked at as an illegal immigrant.

Puerto Rican Americans Unlike other Hispanic countries, Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States of America. The result of this is that every Puerto Rican is officially a United States citizen. Though they are a commonwealth of America, Puerto Rico retains its own legislature. They elect their own governors and are able to vote in the House of Representatives. Puerto Rico is still under the executive authority of the United States however (Green, 2008). There is constant political debate over the rights and status of Puerto Rico and its inhabitants. There are some who would like to see Puerto Rico independent from the United States, while others seek to include Puerto Rico as a state of the U.S. Puerto Rican Americans are predominately of the Roman Catholic denomination within the Christian religion. There are other Protestant denominations throughout Puerto Rico, and some of the culture has been blended with culture from the Caribbean. Puerto Rican American culture revolves around food and drink, with many customs associated with these (Green, 2008). The language of Puerto Rican Americans is Castillian Spanish which is derived from Latin. According to Green (2008), while most first-generation Puerto Rican Americans speak little English; second-generation Puerto Rican Americans are bilingual. The majority tend to speak Spanish in the home and English outside of the home. Even with the natural citizenship of Puerto Ricans Americans, there is still an economic divide between them and White Americans. Schaefer (2006) states, ³Puerto Ricans have higher

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unemployment rates, higher rates of poverty, and significantly lower incomes than White Americans´. This is even more of an issue for Puerto Rican Americans that continue to live on the island. The unemployment of islanders is three times that of mainland Puerto Rican Americans. Cuban Americans

Cubans have migrated to the United States since the early 19th century, but the major influx of immigrants resulted from Castro¶s rise to power in 1959. The state of Florida received most of the Cuban immigrants; most considering themselves political exiles (Buffington, 2008). Unlike many Hispanic cultures that have immigrated to the United States, Cuban Americans have easily assimilated into the American culture. Creating a strong cultural base in Florida, Cuban Americans have grown in economic and political power. According to Buffington (2008), the average family income for Cuban Americans is almost $7,000 more than the average for all Hispanic American incomes. Cuban Americans have a higher rate of voting than other Hispanic Americans, giving them a larger voice in politics. Cuban Americans, by majority are able to speak Spanish and English well, or English better than Spanish. This is due to the high assimilation rate of Cuban Americans. Their family structure is not as strongly patriarchal as Cuban families. In Cuban American families the parents do not hold such a strong influence over the children¶s lives, and Cuban American women are able to have more authority in the family than would be possible in a Cuban family (Buffington, 2008). Cuban Americans are a strongly religious culture. Roughly 80 percent of Cuban Americans born in Cuba, and 64 percent born in America are Roman Catholic. The second

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largest is Protestant. Cuban Americans are, on average, better educated and more employed than other Hispanic cultures. According to Buffington (2008), the illiteracy rate for Cuban Americans was a mere 1.9 percent. This claim cannot be said of other Hispanic cultures. Cuban Americans show a determination to continue education.

Dominican Americans

The Dominican American culture speaks Spanish predominately. More than half of Dominican Americans have difficulty speaking English. Dominican Americans, being some of the most recent immigrants, have not completely embraced American culture, but have not abandoned the culture of the Dominican Republic. Dominican Americans tend to keep contact with their land of origin, sometimes returning there to live. The Dominican American culture does take some cues from the United States, as many adolescents resemble American adolescents than Dominican. Dominican American families tend to be smaller in size than their island counterparts (Buffington, 2008). This comes from having less children in addition to living in a nuclear family structure (husband, wife, and children) instead of an extended family structure. Dominican Americans have endured some resistance to assimilation, and issues concerning poverty, unlike the Cuban American culture. Buffington (2008) states, ³50 percent of Dominican American households had a woman at their head, while the poverty rate was 45.7 percent´. Dominican Americans also suffer from unemployment and low-paying jobs. Though some of these migrants were decently employed in the Dominican Republic, they did not have the same success in the United States.

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As Hispanic cultures immigrate to the United States, many of these cultures adopt similar traits, while some hold onto their native lifestyle fervently. Though most can speak Spanish well, some of these cultures have lost fluency with the language, some have a distinct version they speak, some speak in a mixture of English and Spanish (Spanglish), and others can only speak Spanish. All of these races have struggled for equality, with varied success. With so many similarities between the cultures, it is easy for some to group them together as simply ³Hispanic American´, but this would be an injustice. It is necessary to understand the differences between cultures if one is to truly understand a group of people and let go of prejudicial ideas.

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References
Buffington, S.(2008). Dominican Americans. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Bu-Dr/Dominican-Americans.html Green, D. (2008). Puerto Rican Americans. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Pa-Sp/Puerto-Rican-Americans.html Buffington, S.(2008). Cuban Americans. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Bu-Dr/Cuban-Americans.html Schaefer, R.T. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups (10th ed.). , : Prentice Hall.

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