Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Who Are We? Who Cares?

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Who Are We? Who Cares?

Article excerpt

The late political scientist, Dr. Samuel P. Huntington in his last book in 2004, "Who Are We: The Challenges to American's National Identity," posited that the huge and growing Hispanic population, predominately Mexicans, was poised to become the dominant ethnic group and change the country's original character.

It created some controversy among social scientists and trepidation among many others, since then dispelled, that the Latinos were taking over and in due time would dominate the socioeconomic landscape once the domain of white Americans and an advancing black America.

In Huntington's words:

"The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves - from Los Angeles to Miami - and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril."

Certainly, Latinos are a growing population in the U.S with now 50 million, or 16 percent of the U.S population, but it will be a while before they overtake the whites although they have already surpassed blacks, the second largest minority whom they trail in racial acculturation and in the socioeconomic advantages it provides.

That Latinos are a presence is nondebatable and that they have a social identity all their own is also true but where this will take them is the interesting conversation because Latinos from wherever have always behaved more pluralistic than homogenous.

Cubans and Mexicans, for example, are linked by ethnicity but otherwise don't have that much in common other than the same language. Cubans created the mambo and Mexicans claim mariachi music. Peruvians live for ceviche and Venezuelans prefer arepas.

In the end, however, we are all Latinos.

Meanwhile, I am interested in another aspect of the Latino persona which is purely subjective and driven more by observation than hard facts because there doesn't seem to be much data on the matter except for empirical evidence

It's a topic long festering in me and maybe other Latinos which goes beyond conclusions reached by Huntington. It alludes to another societal situation that hardly ever comes up for much discussion among professional groups or is treated in dissertations. …

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