Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

What Would America Be like without Hispanics?

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

What Would America Be like without Hispanics?

Article excerpt

Famed African-American author Ralph Ellison once posed an intriguing question: What would America he like without blacks? Not only did Ellison show the socioeconomic and cultural contribution of African-Americans, but he also questioned what America would have been if Africans and their descendants did not shape and define America. Ellison not only showed that America's historical, political, economic and cultural definition was contributed to by African-Americans, but also reminded us that America has continued to evolve as a country of immigrants.

Recent debates, however, now surround the "Browning of America," the continuous reshaping of America and its Hispanic influence. Many of us fail to grapple that America has always been Hispanic. In fact, according to the 2011 Census Bureau, one out of every7 six people in the United States is Hispanic. In 2010, The New York Times reported for the first time in our country's rich history that we had more brown and black children being born than white, yet despite this astonishing information, many Americans are confused as to who Hispanics really are.

For many of us, Hispanics are envisioned as migrant workers, cheap laborers with leaf blowers, non-Englishspeaking individuals or any number of media driven portrayals (and of course there arc Cesar Chavez, Jennifer López and Ricky Martin). The blending of various Hispanics' identities, cultures, traditions and lifestyles makes America culturally Hispanic without many of us even realizing it.

What mainstream Americans have failed to realize is that Hispanics have played and will continue to play a crucial role in our nation. Hispanics have contributed to every7 avenue of American life since the inception of this country. Hispanics' origins have played such a key role in our country's socio-economic, political and cultural development that many argue: What would America would be like without the presence of Hispanics and their influence?

Hispanic culture can be traced in the United States for over 500 years when California, Mexican states, Florida and the Southwest were discovered by Spanish explorers. Many of us are unaware that Hispanic culture had firm roots in St. Augustine, Fla., and in what is now New Mexico before the English arrived at Jamestown in 1607 or before the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Massachusetts Bay in 1621. Hispanic culture and political development flourished well before the Founding Fathers envisioned the idea of securing their independence from Britain in 1776. Not only did Hispanic culture help shape and define America's early political development, but it also has played an imporiant role in helping to secure the birth of the new republic: America.

During the American Revolutionary War, Bernardo de Galvez, governor of the Louisiana Territory7, sent gunpowder, rifles, bullets, blankets, medicine and other supplies to the armies of General George Washington in support of America's cause. Once the war began, Gálvez, along with support and reinforcements from Spain's Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico, fought valiantly to help defeat British troops. Hispanics continued to play a vital role in every military conflict - in every war, in every battle and on every battlefield. Hispanics have put their lives on the line to protect their freedom, liberty7 and democracy in the Civil War, World Wars 1 & II, Vietnam and the present-day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It must be noted that Hispanics have always met the challenge of serving America with great commitment and admiration.

What would our country's political history be without Hispanics? What would Manifest Destiny and America's expansion be without the role of Hispanics and the carving of America's great western frontier? The Hispanic presence in the election of President James Polk in 1844 and his future policy7 of annexation of Texas, the stolen land, the creation of the artificial border, remember the Alamo, the great Southwest, and the Compromise of 1850 all help define our American history. …

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