Latinos: Remaking America

Latinos: Remaking America

Latinos: Remaking America

Latinos: Remaking America


Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and will comprise a quarter of the country's population by mid-century. The process of Latinization, the result of globalization and the biggest migration flow in the history of the Americas, is indeed reshaping the character of the U.S. This landmark book brings together some of the leading scholars now studying the social, cultural, racial, economic, and political changes wrought by the experiences, travails, and fortunes of the Latino population. It is the most definitive and comprehensive snapshot available of Latinos in the United States today.

How are Latinos and Latinas changing the face of the Americas? What is new and different about this current wave of migration? In this pathbreaking book social scientists, humanities scholars, and policy experts examine what every citizen and every student needs to know about Latinos in the U.S., covering issues from historical continuities and changes to immigration, race, labor, health, language, education, and politics. Recognizing the diversity and challenges facing Latinos in the U.S., this book addresses what it means to define the community as such and how to move forward on a variety of political and cultural fronts. All of the contributions to "Latinos "are original pieces written especially for this volume.


During the closing decades of the twentieth century, the process of gradual demographic transformation that had begun on the eve of World War II gained extraordinary momentum. At the end of the war, the population of the United States was largely of white European origin. By the year 2000, more than a quarter of the U. S. population was composed of members of ethnically marked minorities, including African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans, and the future augurs even more startling changes. In a widely cited report, scientists at the U. S. Bureau of the Census concluded that by the year 2050, some 50 percent of the U. S. population would be members of ethnic minorities—making the term minority somewhat anachronistic (Fig. I-1). This and other census projections are somewhat uncertain. After all, the terms Latino and Asian American did not even exist fifty years ago; who is to say the terms as they are now used will have currency fifty years from now? These data nevertheless suggest an unequivocal social fact: the United States is now in the midst of unprecedented change.

This increasingly obvious demographic reality makes it evident that the United States is becoming a country that is no longer largely white and of European origin (U. S. Census Bureau 1999). Indeed, the future of the United States will be in no small measure linked to the fortunes of a heterogeneous blend of relatively recent arrivals from Asia, from the Caribbean, from other parts of the world, and above all from Latin America.

At the dawn of the new century, the more than 35 million Latinos in the United States make up roughly 12.5 percent of the total population. It is estimated that in just two generations, the United States will have the second largest number of Latinos in the world—after Mexico. More Latinos than African Americans are currently attending U. S. schools. Indeed, Latinos may already have surpassed African Americans as the nation's largest minority . . .

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