Thepresence of the Latin American culture in the United States
LatinAmericans have a broad culture that is composed of a popular culture,high culture, customary practices, and religious beliefs. Thediversity of Latin American culture is derived from the fact thatthis population is composed of different ethnic groups, but they haveseveral points of convergence (Elmes 12). These points of convergencemake Latin Americans a special group and create a sense ofbrotherhood when these people meet in a country with the whitemajority. Their culture is distinct in several ways, including thehigh value for family values and a strong association among thefamily embers (Diaz 316). This creates the need for preservation ofcultural values, language, practices, and beliefs that are sharedamong Latinos. The presence of the culture of Latin Americas in theU.S. is associated by the failure of Latinos to assimilate, likeother immigrants do (Paz 1). This paper will discuss the issue ofpresence of Latin American culture in the U.S. The paper will focuson the history of Latin American culture, demographic distribution,visibility of the culture, and evidence of the prevalence of theculture in the U.S.
Historyof Latino culture in the U.S
Latinoshave lived in the U.S. from its start, but their presence remainedquite invisible for many years. There are two types of events thatcontributed towards the increase in the size of citizens with rootsin the Latin countries. The first type of event is war, which includethe American-Mexico war and the American-Spanish war that resulted inparts of the Latin countries together with their respective Spanishspeaking population being converted into the U.S. citizens in 18401and 1898 respectively (Aguileral 1). During the two wars, part ofMexico and Puerto Rico were annexed into the U.S. The second type ofevent is mass immigration of Latinos into the U.S., which startedearly twentieth century. The whites displaced Latinos, which furtherreduce the design of these Latinos to integrate with the whites andlearn their culture (Anzaldua 7). This immigration was attributed todifferent factors, including an increase in demand for workers in theagricultural sector, Cuban revolution, and significant economiccrisis in the Latin world (Aguileral 2).
Althoughthe population of Latinos in the U.S. has been growing exponentiallyfor more than a century their existence on their national scene wasfirst recognized in 1970 when the national census recognized Latinoas a unique population (Aguileral 1). Latino was recognized as beingunique because its classification is not based on ethnicity or racialcharacteristics, but on the basis of shared cultural heritage as wellas language. The term Latino emerged in the 1980s following a robustimmigration of the Spanish speaking population in the U.S. and it isused to refer to people from countries that use the Spanish Languageto communicate and share cultural values.
Currentdemographics and distribution of Latin Americans
LatinAmericans are distributed in nearly all states and territories of theU.S. except the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.However, their population is higher in four major states, includingPuerto Rico (99.5 %), Texas (38.2 %), the New Mexico (47.0 %), Nevada(27.3 %, Florida (23.2 %), California 38.2 %, and Arizona (30.2 %)(U.S. Census Bureau 1). In total, Latinos consist of about 50,497,108people, but this number is expected to grow to over 119 million bythe year 2016 (Coldy 8). Latin Americans comprise the fastest growingpopulation, which is attributed by its high birth rate and massimmigration that the U.S. has failed to contain. The distribution ofthe Latino population in different states and territories is directlyproportional to the prevalence of Latino cultural values andlanguage.
Reasonsfor the visibility of Latin American culture in the U.S
AlthoughLatin Americans comprise about 14 % of the national population, theircultural beliefs, practices, and values in the U.S. are noticeable.The U.S. was considered as the melting pot in the nineteenth centurybecause all immigrants (including Latinos) had to assimilate andlearn the culture as well as the language used by the majority whitesin order to lead a successful life in the U.S. (Hispanic ResearchIncorporation 1). However, Latin Americans no longer need toassimilate since their population in the U.S. is large, which givesthem the opportunity to retain and share their values amongthemselves without the need to learn the cultural practices of othergroups. A critical observation has shown that Latinos use the samelanguage, clothes, and feel ashamed of where they originated, whichis a confirmation that they are more likely to retain their practicesthan adopt those of the white Americans (Paz 1). In addition,entrepreneurs are currently offering products and services that meetthe values of the Latin Americans, which reduce the need toassimilate (HRI, 1). Moreover, the concept of diversity has become akey pillar of the American culture and it works against assimilationby encouraging people to retain their original culture and to respectthe cultural practices of other Americans. A combination of thesefactors has contributed towards the presence of the Latino culture inthe U.S.
Evidenceof Latin American culture in the U.S
Theexistence of a large number of Latin cultural festivals in differentstates confirms the presence of the Latino culture in the U.S. Everyyear, Americans from different Latin countries gather in differentlocations to celebrate various aspects of their culture. Then theintegration of religious beliefs, especially Catholicism, intoLatin`s culture is among the unique elements that are observed inLatino cultural festivals. In addition, Latin Americans organizeannual festivals to celebrate different elements of their culture,which include beliefs, food, clothing, and music. For example, theCandlemas festivals that are celebrated on every February 2, is usedto celebrate the purification of the Mary, since it is believed thatwomen were purified after a period of 40 days after delivery (Paz 1).Latin Americans organized the ceremony in Los Angeles. A similarevent known as Fiesta Broadway is organized each last Sunday of themonth of April. During this event, Latinos celebrate theirtraditional foods, types of gapes, and music. Other cultural eventsthat are used to celebrate Latino’s culture include Cinco de Mayo,Mariachi U.S. Festivals, and Latino heritage month among others.
Festivalsthat are organized with the objective of celebrating Latin Americanculture have created a platform for a rapid growth of Latino music inthe U.S, in addition to bringing different groups that compose theLatino population. Latin America is very rich in music sincedifferent Latin countries have varying genres, which avails a largecollection of songs to be celebrated in different states in the U.S.Some of the common musical areas include Andean music, CentralAmerica, and the Caribbean (Paz 1). These musical regions havedifferent genres, such as tango of Uruguayan, cumbia for Colombians,ranchera for Mexicans, and saloma for Panamanians (Torres 40). Thesegenres carry the cultural values of Latinos, which in turn enhancesthe unity of Latin Americans when they are celebrated in the U.S.every year.
Latinofoods and restaurants as representation of Latin American culture
Thetype of food, cooking styles, and the mixture of ingredients are usedas symbols to identify, which distinguishes between differentcultural groups. The type of cultural identify that is reflected byfood and cooking style is mainly passed on from one generation of agiven community to the next through cultural gatherings or theestablishment of restaurants that specialize on the dishes of thecultural group (Almerico 2). The use of ceremonies and permanentestablishments (such as restaurants) to transfer beliefs, attitudes,and values that are attached to food stem from the fact that cultureis learned and it is never inherited. This implies that an immigrantgroup that fails to teach its coming generations about itstraditional foods is likely assimilates and forgets its unique dishescompletely.
Latino,foods, ingredients, and cooking style resulted from encountersbetween cultural groups from different parts of the world. Forexample, missionaries and Spanish settlers used to exchange foodstuffand recipes with Latino communities living in parts of Florida andthe New Mexico before the onset of the first pilgrim thanksgiving(Almerico 2). Since those ancient days, Latin Americans havepreserved their recipes and different types of food and practice themeven when they migrate. This is confirmed by the large number ofrestaurants operating in the U.S. and specializing in Latino dishesand recipes. Studies have shown that there are about 34,061restaurants that offer Latino foods with an annual revenue ofapproximately $ 38 billion (Thornton 1). These restaurants areexpected to grow at a rate of 2.9 % annually as the population ofLatinos continues to increase. These restaurants also give the Nativeas well as the White Americans a taste of Latino dishes, whichincreases the demand for more restaurants. The existence of a largenumber of restaurants that offer Latino dishes will reduce thetendency of Latin Americans to assimilate and preserve their identityin the foreign nation, the U.S.A.
Theuse of Spanish Language
Therelationship between culture and language is still controversial, butcurrent empirical studies suggest the existence of a strongassociation. One of the modern scholars identified that the cultureof a given community is easily reflected through the use of language(Elmes 12). This is because people value certain things to an extentthat they do them in a unique way and end up using language in amanner that reflect the things that they value. This implies that,although members of a given cultural group may learn a secondlanguage, they are only able to express their cultural values andbeliefs using their first language, which creates the need for itspreservation even after immigrating to a foreign land.
Inthe case of Latinos living in the U.S., the use of Spanish Languagethat they acquired during the colonial periods given them an identityand helps them to communicate with each other irrespective of thegeographical differences of their respective countries of origin. Itis estimated that about 34.8 million Latinos use Hispanic language athomes in spite of the fact that the majority of them understandEnglish (Barrera 1). The increase in the U.S. of Spanish language hascreated the need for its inclusion as one of instructional languageinstitutions of education in different states. The continuedrecognition of the Spanish Language is part of the U.S. program torecognize a rapid increase in the diversity of its population. Thiswill reduce the chances for assimilation of Latinos and create anenvironment for the proliferation of Latin American culture.
Visualart is a fertile field that people from different cultural groups useto express their feelings, values, and all that they value in theirculture. Culture events that involve the exhibition of visual arts tocreate a platform for people to reflect on their past and culturalvalues (Guetzkow 14). Latino visual art was inspired in the twentiethcentury by constructivist movements. The increase in the popularityof muralism, which is part of Latino visual arts, in the U.S. is akey indication of the presence of Latino cultural. Mural arts gotroots in the U.S. during the great depression that occurred in the1930s. During this period, the U.S. adopted not, just the economicideologies, but also the American arts since the majority of white aswell as the Native Americans believed that their own systems hadfailed (Alvarez 41). Moreover, the establishment of a credibleorganization, the National Association of Latino culture and arts, toprotect and facilitate the development of Latino arts in the U.S.confirms an increase in the prevalence of Latino culture that isexpressed in the U.S. through visual arts. The organization achievesits objectives by organizing exhibitions for American Latinos todemonstrate their talents and express their culture through art.
Althoughculture and theatre are different items, they bear a strongrelationship with that theatre provides a platform for people todemonstrate their culture through the performing arts. In addition,theatre makes materials that make up the foreign culture accessibleto the target audience (Meyer 140). Similarly, the existence ofLatino theatres in the U.S. suggests the existence of Latino culturein the country. Theatres has been part of Latinos life, which isconfirmed by the fact that Latinos have been using theatre to performtheir magic shows, poetry, songs, dances, and theatrical skits. Aplatform provided by the theatre helps the community to enhance thevisibility of its culture. For example, the Latino Theatre Companyhave helped American Latinos come up with high class performing arts(such as music programs and dance), which in turn helps themdemonstrate their culture of the multicultural society that form theU.S. population, especially in Los Angeles. Therefore, the presenceof Latino theatres in the U.S. is a clear indication of the presenceof Latino culture in the nation.
TheLatin American culture has existed in the U.S. since the pre -independence period, but it was recognized in the twentieth century.Initially, Latinos were quite few in the U.S., which forced them toassimilate and learn the culture of the majority whites in order tosucceed in the U.S. However, the their population continues to growfollowing mass immigration, Latin Americans find an opportunity tointeract among themselves and preserve their cultural values,beliefs, and practices. The presence as well as the growth of LatinAmerican culture in different states is proportional to thepopulation of size of the Latinos in those respective states. Theprevalence of Latin American culture is confirmed by Latino culturalfestivals, Latino foods, increase in the use of the Spanish language,visual arts, and theatre.
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