For Hispanics, Cultural Heft and New Tensions ; Now the Largest Minority, Latinos Are Still Searching for a Political Voice

By Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

For Hispanics, Cultural Heft and New Tensions ; Now the Largest Minority, Latinos Are Still Searching for a Political Voice


Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Long before Hispanics officially became the nation's largest minority - a milestone announced by the Census Bureau this week - salsa edged out ketchup as the top US condiment and ATMs in rural Vermont asked customers if they wanted to withdraw cash in Spanish or English.

Bilingual education, and opposition to it, was sweeping the nation's schoolrooms. Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan crossed over into mainstream music superstardom.

But this week is a fresh reminder of the transforming impact on American life of this fast-growing community - even as it remains so diverse that it defies easy racial or ethnic generalizations. In the economy alone, the influence of Hispanic Americans is staggering - and controversial. "The economy of the Sun Belt and California would collapse without Hispanics. They are doing the work of the entire culture," says California historian Kevin Starr.

While their rise has helped fueled America's economic growth for decades, it has also sparked tension, such as concern over whether illegal immigrants and others are depriving other Americans of economic opportunity.

While black and Hispanic groups share an interest in improving education, for example, some African-American activists predict that the higher presence for Hispanics could increase tensions among the two groups.

"Blacks have been denied opportunity in years past just because they were black. Now we are faced with the same type of dilemma just because we don't speak Spanish," says Nathaniel Wilcox, executive director of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), a grassroots group in Miami. "All of these things create tension in our community."

Still, from harvesting the nation's food supply to manning hotels, restaurants, and construction sites, Hispanics have been a key to the long economic surge of the 1980s and '90s.

"It's not about a population rate, about who's the largest minority group. It's about a population that continues to have influence in cultural, social, and economic aspects of American life." Dr. Louis Olivas, a business expert at Arizona State University and founder of the National Hispanic Corporate Council Institute.

Cultural impact

Take Jennifer Lopez, for instance. She influences music and dress in America, cutting across ethnic boundaries. Mexican restaurants are on every corner.

The Latino influence continues to permeate American culture in more subtle ways as well. Avon recently came out with a new line of cosmetics for Hispanic women. Hallmark produces birthday cards in Spanish. Cuban black beans and gourmet burritos are as familiar on store shelves as Le Sueur peas.

Still, in Hollywood, breaking the white, male dominance on the big and small screen is never easy. Miami, for instance, is about 70 percent Hispanic. Consider just the two television shows currently set in Miami, which is almost 70 percent Hispanic. "Good Morning Miami" recently lost its only Hispanic cast member and the only Latino on "CSI: Miami" doesn't have a Hispanic last name.

For all its cultural and economic impact, the large and diverse Hispanic community is just beginning to find a comparable political voice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

For Hispanics, Cultural Heft and New Tensions ; Now the Largest Minority, Latinos Are Still Searching for a Political Voice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.