Academic journal article Centro Journal

The Latinization of Orlando: Language, Whiteness, and the Politics of Place

Academic journal article Centro Journal

The Latinization of Orlando: Language, Whiteness, and the Politics of Place

Article excerpt


Since the mid-1980s the Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area has experienced an influx of Puerto Rican migrants, which resulted in the Latinization of the region. But, how do non-Hispanic residents respond to demographic changes that impact their daily lives? I explore the "contact zones" where non-Hispanic whites encounter Hispanics, and confront the region's changing soundscape. I argue that Hispanic migration and the hyper-presence of the Spanish language leads to the articulation of language ideologies, the reaffirmation and strategic deployment of a white racial identity by non-Hispanic whites, and the racialization of Hispanics as non-white. Thus, theories and attitudes about difference are not only refined in these social spaces, but also provide an opportunity to understand the creation of white racial consciousness and the ways that language ideologies mediate racialization and Latinization processes. [Key words: Puerto Ricans, Orlando, Florida, language ideologies, racialization, whiteness, Spanish language]

"What is bilingual? Knowing 2 languages. Trilingual? Three languages.

Knowing only one language? = American."

latinfrommanhattan thursday, 6 jan. 2011, 12:01pm

on november 4, 2009 nberry7 posted an entry on, a website that includes statistical data and conversational forums about different us cities, to inquire about the "pro's and con's" of relocating to kissimmee, fl, from kansas, to open a daycare. The user found some "very nice houses on the internet for cheap," but questioned, "is there a catch of why they are so cheap? Please tell me more?" Nberry7 received the following responses:

I wouldn't put my kids into Osceola schools. If you don't speak Spanish you'll have a hard time opening a day care in Kissimmee. Houses are cheap for a reason. The majority of Kissimmee and Poinciana are NOT a desirable place to live. annerk (Senior Member) 11-04-2009 Forget Kissimmee, I have been living here 25 years and if you don't speak Spanish, forget it . . . Kissimmee is a "no go" on my list, its going down hill. Don macauley 11-20-2009

I agree too, especially about the Spanish speaking part. I'd stay away from Kissimmee. It looks like a big carnival lining the streets. ComSense 11-21-2009

Have to agree with the "don' t move to Kissimmee" crowd . . . the area has run its course from good to bad. No area that is largely populated with migrants and illegals will see property values or the quality of schools increase. Areas that were once just average affordable "old Florida" neighborhoods in Kissimmee now have the appearance of "barrios." lifelongMOgal 11-28-2009

In the social spaces where language ideologies are articulated, racial meanings and ideas about difference and belonging in the United States are generated, shared, and refined.

These are some of the discourses that are circulating about new destinations of Hispanic migration in Central Florida. In June of 2010 I began fieldwork in Buenaventura Lakes (BVL), a suburb in Osceola County, and one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area. County officials describe Osceola County as "the gateway to Walt Disney World," due to the close proximity to Orlando's tourist destinations. As I began reviewing my fieldnotes after five months of research, an unanticipated theme emerged: the dominance of the Spanish language in public spaces, and the tensions this creates between ethnic and racial groups. As the online conversation reveals, the hyper-presence of the Spanish language has become a primary marker of difference and the basis for judgments about the worth and desirability of both people and places in Central Florida. This article explores how language use and language ideologies mediate the relationship between Latinization and racialization processes.

Relevant Theoretical Frameworks: Language Ideologies, Racialization, and Latinization

Language ideologies are the ideas, perceptions, and beliefs about the nature and usage of languages, and this article explores a few dimensions of language ideologizations as they relate to perceptions of the nature, identity, and character of Hispanic people; struggles for power; and the constructed separation between Spanish and English. …

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