Latinos in America
Over 51 millions Latinos are living in America to find the American dream. They came with the hope to make their dream come true in the land of opportunities. Some of them have to pay a high price to live in this country. However, part of the price they have to pay is called acculturation process, where Latinos need to understand a new culture, rules, and law in order to act as American citizen without losing their own culture. Latinos, who might understand how education, religion, immigration, diversity, family, health, and heritage are different in U.S. culture, may feel at home using their culture as a starting strength.
In order to demonstrate Latinos Audience for TV, Univision can get more Hispanic viewers than the big three morning news in America such as: ABC, NBC, CBS combined. The Latino accents do not matter when you get results. The Latino accent sounds great when Americans think you are valuable!
Why they are called “Latinos”? Sometimes "Latino" is used interchangeably with "Latin", as Latino is also defined as a "Latin inhabitant of the United States" and sometimes it is used interchangeably with "Latin American". As a demonym, though, "Latin” can have other meanings:
· “A native or inhabitant of Latium; an ancient Roman.”
· “A member of any of the Latin peoples, or those speaking chiefly Romance languages, specify a native of émigré from Latin America."
Why are some people using the term Hispanics? The term Hispanic was first adopted by the United States government during the administration of Richard Nixon, and since then has been used in local and federal employment, mass media, academia, and business market research. It has been used in the U.S. Census since 1980. Due to the popular use of "Latino" in the western portion of the United States, the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and it was used in the 2000 census.
Previously, Hispanics were categorized as "Spanish-Americans," "Spanish-speaking Americans," and "Spanish-surnamed Americans". These terms, however, proved misleading or inaccurate. Although a large majority of Hispanics has Spanish ancestry, most Hispanics are not direct (non–Latin American) Spanish descent; many are not primarily of Spanish descent; and some are not of Spanish descent at all. For example, there are Hispanics of other European ancestries (e.g. Italian, German, Polish), as well as Middle Eastern (e.g. Lebanese), Black, Amerindian/Native American, Asian, and mixed race ancestries — of the latter, Mestizo (White and Amerindian/Native American) and Mulatto (White and Black) are the most common.
Most U.S. Hispanics can speak Spanish, but not all; most Spanish-speaking people are Hispanic, but not all (e.g., many U.S. Hispanics by the fourth generation no longer speak Spanish, while some who are Spanish-speaking may not identify themselves with Spanish-speaking Americans as a group).
Therefore, the term "Latino" was officially adopted in 1997 by the United States Government in the ethnonym "Hispanic or Latino", which replaced the single term "Hispanic": "Because regional usage of the terms differs -- Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion."
Where do the Latinos come from? People of Latino heritage have lived continuously in the actual territory of the United States since the 1565 when St. Augustine found Florida with the Spanish, the longest among European American ethnic groups and second-longest of all U.S. ethnic groups, after American Indians. Hispanics have also lived continuously in the Southwest since near the end of the 16th century, with settlements in New Mexico that began in 1598, and which was transferred to the area of El Paso, Texas in 1680. Spanish settlement of New Mexico resumed in 1692, and new ones were established in Arizona and California in the 18th century. We can even say the Hispanic presence is present a half century earlier than St. Augustine, if San Juan, Puerto Rico is considered to be the oldest Spanish settlement, and the oldest city, in the U.S. (N. Williams 1990, pg. 12)
Listed here are the 28 Hispanic or Latino categories displayed in Census 2000 tabulations: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican Republic; Central American: Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Salvadoran, Other Central American; South American: Argentineans, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, Other South American; Other Hispanic or Latino: Spaniard, Spanish, Spanish American, All other Hispanics.
After the independence of the United Stated of America from Great Britain in 1776, a new change into the community was under way: the American culture was born as a culture.
President Polk applied the “Manifest Destiny” “that consisted of the idea that America was destined by God and by History to expand its boundaries over a vast area” (Brinkley 2008, 328). With the President of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the U.S. and Mexico signed the “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” in 1848 by which Mexico agreed to cede California and Nuevo Mexico to the United States and acknowledge the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas”. “The last part of land that was added as American’s territory was the Gadsden purchase in 1853 to complete the present continental border of the United of States” (Brinkley 2008 ). Hispanic residents of that region where known as “Californios”. English speaking communities organized to exclude them, sometimes violently from their mines and lands (Brinkley 2008, 329). The very first time the Hispanics faced the acculturation process was in this period of time. Confusion started for all those Mexican who where dwelling on that land because after this treaty they become part of the United State of America. “All people inside the American boundaries became American Citizens” this idea was a cultural shock for them.
But what is culture shock? Culture shock refers to the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. This is often combined with a dislike for or even disgust (moral or aesthetical) with certain aspects of the new or different culture.
Cultural shock [of moving to a foreign country] started for all those foreign people who came to America. Cultural shock often consists of distinct phases, though not everyone passes through these phases and not everyone is in the new culture long enough to pass through all three:
Honeymoon Phase - During this period the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light, everything is wonderful and new. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the life, the people's habits, the buildings and so on. During the first few weeks most people are fascinated by the new culture. They associate with the nationals that speak their language and are polite to the foreigners. This period is full of observations and new discoveries. Latinos come in many ways to America. Either legal or illegal, all of them experiment this honeymoon phase as they already achieved their American dream. But, like many honeymoons this stage eventually ends.
Negotiation Phase - After some time (usually weeks), differences between the old and new culture started to be bigger and bigger and sometimes create anxiety. People may miss their native food, may find the life style too fast or slow, may find the people's habits annoying, disgusting, and irritating etc. This phase is often marked by mood swings caused by minor issues or without apparent reason. This is where excitement turns to disappointment and more and more new differences appear. Depression is not uncommon.
Adjustment Phase - Again, after some time (usually 6 – 12 months), people became familiar with the new culture and develop routines. They know what to expect in most situations and they are concerned with basic living, things become more "normal and the host country no longer feels strange. People start to develop problem-solving skills for dealing with the culture, and begin to accept the culture ways with a positive attitude. The new culture begins to make sense, and negative reactions and responses to the culture are reduced. Reaching this stage requires a constructive response to culture shock with effective means of adaption. (International journal 1991, pg. 105)
Reverse Culture Shock (a.k.a. Re-entry Shock) may take place — returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above, this as a result of the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock. There are three basic outcomes of the Adjustment Phase:
1) Some people find it impossible to accept and integrate in the foreign culture. They isolate themselves from the host country's environment, which they come to perceive as hostile, withdraw into a ghetto and see return to their own culture as the only way out. These Rejecters also have the greatest problems re-integrating back home after their return. Approximately 60% of expatriates behave in this way.
2) Some people integrate fully and take on all parts of the host culture while losing their original identity. They normally remain in the host country forever. Approximately 10% of expatriates belong to this group of Adopters.
3) Some people make big effort to adapt the positive aspects of the new culture, while keeping some of their own. They want to grow but without losing their identity in the process. They have no major problems returning home or relocating elsewhere. Approximately 30% of expatriates are called Cosmopolitans.
Culture shock is a state of dis-ease, just like a disease. It has many different effects, time spans, and degrees of severity. Many people are handicapped by its presence and don't recognize what is bothering them. Culture shock symptoms are really hard to seclude.
Culture shock is a subcategory of a more universal construct called transition shock. Transition shock is a state of loss and disorientation predicated by a change in one's familiar environment, which requires adjustment. There are many symptoms of transition shock, some include:
· excessive concern over cleanliness and health
· feelings of helplessness and withdrawal
· glazed stare
· desire for home and old friends
· physiological stress reactions
There are no fixed symptoms ascribed to culture shock as each person is affected and many interactions are difficult for Latinos. When they arrive in a new country, one of these aspects can be confusion in communications. For example, often people greet each other saying: "Hello, how are you?” In some countries, this only means "Hello" and a brief answer is expected, like, "Well, thanks, and you?" Consider the nonverbal signals that other people send that they do not mean. For instance, new Latinos friends who went to parties in their American friends’ houses did not respond to their cheerful greetings the next day when Latinos saw them at school or work. It was as if they had forgotten that the Latino’ names, this can cause confusion. Part of this transition shock includes reading correctly the nonverbal signals people give one another. These gestures and habits can become automatic and can vary from culture to culture. For example, in some countries it is acceptable to arrive late at a meeting. In other countries, it is considered inconsiderate not to arrive on time. (International journal 1991, pg. 101)
The majority of individuals and families who emigrate from other countries have the ability to positively confront the obstacles of a new environment. Some ways to combat the stress produced by transition shock are these top tips that help Latinos to stay on track with both their normal life and the way they achieve their American dreams:
- As a Latino, it is important to know that what you are experiencing is normal. That which starts as an exciting experience can often become uncomfortable. Know that there are many ways to work through the transition and that as you acculturate to the new community, opportunities and enjoyment increase. Be gentle and patient with yourself.
- Take great care of you. First, and always.
- Fully research your destination
what are Latino customs and language? Where are the schools, markets, and entertainment facilities? What's the annual weather like? How do people get around? Are special legal, healths or tax documents needed? Are there different expectations at work? Are there facilities for the rest of the family? Spend time on the Internet to find out or hire someone to support you. Consulates, embassies, travel agents and, of course, the local people can provide a huge amount of information.
- Communicate carefully with yourself and others. Not only are Latinos transitioning to new surroundings but others are also trying to meet Latinos. In our places of origin, much of how we act and communicate is through sharing the way we see life in our new location because our behavior can be very different. Learn to listen carefully to everyone around you and be clear on what is being said. Observe your spoken language as well as the self-talk inside your own head. Is it positive or is it negative? Is it truly what you feel or a reaction to fear and confusion?
- One of the most important tips is to create a strong community around Latinos. Take your time to observe deeply the healthy relationships. Latinos currently have and create positive ones in your new community. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't understand," or "I need your help." Many people welcome the opportunity to support others, particularly if they clearly know what you need. Having a strong community of loving and positive people can make all the difference in acculturation process.
- Avoid all negativity.
Stay positive with yourself and with all those around you. Avoid toxic people, who drain your energies. If your inner and outer worlds are positive, so your experience will be as well.
- Look forward instead of backward.
Often when we move, we remember 'the good old times' of our other location. And it’s great to look back at who we have been by scrapbooking memories or revisiting journals and diaries. To smoothen out your acculturation process, live the present and move toward your goals, do not spend your time with a comparison of 'there' and 'here'.
- Set for yourself some goals.
Before moving, create goals that are a true reflection of who you are, what is important to you and what you need. Make them clear, realistic and fun. Write them down so that you can look at them again and again. Voice your goals to someone who can support you and remind you of your intentions. Once you have relocated, create other goals, smaller daily, weekly and monthly goals that pull you along because they are truly yours.
- Hire a coach.
Hiring a coach who specializes in acculturation or transition shock is another way to reduce the stress of an acculturation process. Check out his/her background, training, experience and coaching process to ensure that you are hiring the best coach for you. Most importantly, make sure that you 'click' with the coach and have rapport. Anything that gets in the way of the coaching relationship hinders it so take the time to find the right one for you.
- Develop a hobby.
- Don't forget the good things you already have!
- Remember, there are always resources that you can use.
- Be patient, the act of immigrating is a process of adaptation to new situations. It is going to take time.
- Learn to be constructive. If you encounter an unfavorable environment, don't put yourself in that position again.
- Be easy on yourself.
- Don't try too hard.
- Learn to include a regular form of physical activity in your routine. This will help combat the sadness and loneliness in a constructive manner. Exercise, swim, take an aerobics class, etc.
- Relaxation and meditation are proven to be very positive for people who are passing through periods of stress.
- Maintain contact with your ethnic group. This will give you a feeling of belonging and you will reduce your feelings of loneliness and alienation.
- Maintain contact with the new culture. Learn the language. Volunteer in community activities that allow you to practice the language that you are learning. This will help you feel less stress about language and be useful at the same time.
- Allow yourself to feel sad about the things that you have left behind: your family, your friends, etc.
- Recognize the sorrow of leaving your old country. Accept the new country. Focus your power on getting through the transition.
- Pay attention to relationships with your family and at work. They will serve as support for you in difficult times.
- Establish simple goals and evaluate your progress.
- Find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%.
- Maintain confidence in yourself. Follow your ambitions and continue your plans for the future.
- If you feel stressed, look for help. There is always someone or some service available to help you.
- Remember "Opportunity"
Above all, find opportunity in every event and have great fun! (C. Ward 2001, pg. 40)
By Taking advantage of this information probably Latinos can probably find one of the answers why immigrants can develop better opportunities in life than Americans; Latinos cannot give themselves the chance of failure. There is not an option to follow; nevertheless some Latinos cannot face this transition shock. Some Latinos decided to continue being a second-class people using as an excuse they are living better in America rather than in their home country.
Some Latinos who are living in this country have said: “We are here because this is our land before Americans came”. That is true. Some Latinos ancestors were living here before Americans. However, it is a little bit irresponsible to think in that way. Laws exist to prevent unfair situations. For example, one guy is the owner of a nice property in Salt Lake City, and this property has been owned for his family for at least three generations. In the property are some tenants who are living there for several years. They feel happy with the house’s rules, verbal agreements, and comfortable because they speak Spanish as the owner does. One day house’s owner decides to sell the house. Tenants are notified for this event. However, the new owner of the house agreed to keep tenants if they can follow the new rules. One of the new rules is that tenants need to sign a contract agreement for housing. They have new house’s rules, and of course the new landlord only speaks English.
Time pass, tenants cannot resist the new change in house, in addition, the owner is disappointed for some tenants’ attitudes. As a consequence the owner asks tenants to leave the house. They said:”What? Leave the house? Why? If we were here before you came?” Latinos might need to understand emotions are not related with rules and laws in order to get this acculturation process done. Otherwise, they will feel discrimination coming from people who only are following laws in many ways. But, this is not discrimination, what had happened? Rules and laws have changed.
Acculturation process understands the new culture. To be acculturated does not mean you need to leave your own culture and adopt the new one. What acculturation process means, is to get better understanding of the new customs, rules, laws, and traditions from the home country. As soon as Latinos understand the new culture, they can achieve their American dreams, they can pursue their goals. If this acculturation process is not well understood by Latinos; they will continue feeling frustrated and as second-class residents as we read in the “Negotiation phase”
What follows is a brief description of some differences among cultures. Latinos might need to understand from the American culture in order to get the “Adjustment phase” complete, therefore, to be acculturated person in the new country.
Regarding Opinion, Anglos say “Get to the point” Latinos may digress on a point because they are capable of creating as many ideas as they can because of their vision and ingenuous. This is a characteristic of the Latinos Community. This can cause confusion and to be considered as untrue people for Anglos.
Punctuality for Americans is very important. “Time is money” Therefore, being on time is one of the characteristics important to them. On the contrary, for some Latinos being punctual is difficult for many particular reasons. Excuses are coming from unreliable peoples causing the stereotype of the culture, “Mexicans”.
For Americans, contacts mean a network that can be social, family, or business. One of the characteristics on this network is: contacts do not know each other because their contact lists are divided in different levels. On the contrary Latinos love to create networks in one level. Almost all of their network contacts are related in different ways. This is one of the reason gossip can be spread easily among Latinos. The consequence to do that is, Anglos do not take seriously professional Latinos, causing a generalization of the culture in some Anglo minds.
Talking about conflicts Management Anglos said: “Go to the point”. Face the problems. Latinos want to slip away from some circumstances because they feel they will offend someone. Rather than deal with the issue they prefer to talk around it or ignore it. As a consequence, one of the biggest problems they are facing is the lacking of capability on management, or leadership positions, even in family situations causing them the Anglo community to obtain second class jobs.
While in a waiting line, the American culture is founded in order and rules. Waiting in line until you can get your turn is normal and shows self control. For Latinos waiting for whatever means you can talk with each other in line. Because of some Latinos are hyperactive, and communicative people; they want to wait in front of the door like a soccer team formation. As a result Anglos might consider Latinos as a disorganized people.
Weather is important for Anglos because they want to get more free time to enjoy life. For some of them weather determinates their mood. Latinos do not care what is happening on the weather they always are happy. This is Latino strength. Latinos are enthusiastic individuals; however they may focus their enthusiasm for some challenges they are facing like education.
Anglo’s parties are short for Latinos because Anglos spend around only two hours with a couple friends “That’s boring!” Latinos say. Remember “time is money?” is a big rule in America. For some Anglos part of their culture is to be conservative in money issues. Therefore, all activities need to be special and significant in order to achieve effectiveness for them. On the contrary, Latino parties needs to be spectacular events regardless of the cost. Latinos wants to invite as many friends as they can invite. Time is not a problem, the longer the parties are, the better enjoyment and happiness they get. Latinos get out stress & frustration, at parties. Anglos do so in sports and recreational activities. Music is part of the Latino’s soul. The louder the music is, the better they feel. Latinos’ parties are noisy places. They do not need a party to dance. Happiness for Latinos needs to be shared with the entire world. Problems start when the loud Latino party occurs next door to an American house. Anglos are often annoyed by noisy neighbors and usually call the police. This is one of the reasons Anglos parties are in churches, & social places. In addition, Anglos wants to avoid house clean up. Some of the Latinos´ consequences after the party are: DUI tickets when they are driving drunk. Police come to attend Latinos´ parties, but not to be part of it. On the other hand they come to bring order to the house. Sometimes back yards or front yards are so messy, Latinos forget to clean it up.
Regarding Social interaction, Anglos attend restaurants more often than Latinos. Anglo culture for time reasons involves eating in fast food places almost every other day. But, at dinnertime they are attending restaurants as a family. Anglos’ behaviors in those places are quiet. They really enjoy the place, companions, and even if the restaurant is full they continue to be quiet. Latinos frequent them less than Anglos does, unless is a weekend. Latinos attend restaurants as a family often on Friday’s nights, Saturdays and Sundays. They prefer to save money in restaurant expenses, because some Latinos prefer to eat at home for economy, family and tasty reasons from Monday to Thursdays. They are spending more money like Anglos do. Latino parents show their affection for the family by taking them to a restaurant. Inside the restaurant Latinos do not budget their money rather they spend freely. Money is not object.
Many Americans eat health foods; frequently this food is cold and easy to cook like salads, cold pastas, potatoes, vegetables and sandwiches. In general they eat healthier than Latinos do. For Latinos almost 89% of the foods are eaten hot. This is one of the most frustrating topics in the acculturation process for Latinos. Latinos feels frustrated after 21 days in America. Latinos loves to eat flavorful food. Actually, when Latinos are hungry they can pay whatever price is requested in order to satisfy their hunger. In Utah of the 100% of Latino businesses, 87% of them are in restaurant arenas.
According to the Governor’s office of economic development of Utah State the total Utah population is 2,795,387. 13.64% of them are Latinos 381,327. 76% of them are Mexicans 289,808. That is why one of the generalizations when the Anglos are referring a Latino is to called them “Mexicans”
Latinos might need to understand food issues when they crossing the border. They cannot eat Arepas, tacos, rice and beans as often they used to eat in their home country. Instead of that, they might find on the streets pizzas. Instead their traditional “tortas” (a big sandwich made it with bread and mayo or cream, includes one type of meat or all types of meat such as chicken, beef, pork, or their traditional tasty food) In America they might find Hamburgers.
Travel, when Anglos travels they like to see everything around them with a booked schedule. On the contrary, Latinos wants to take pictures from everything. They have no travel schedule. They feel like they are the masters of their own time and are why Latinos relax more often than vacationing Anglos.
In Religion, Anglos are rationally minded. Sometimes for Anglos it is hard to believe in God. On the contrary, Latinos are faith oriented. Latinos fit their lives according to their faith. About 40% of the Catholics in America are Latinos. They are Catholic because of the traditions of their families. They are looking at religion as a shelter due to “Negotiation Phase.” When loneliness wakes up the Latinos’ faith, they are committed to church more than their home countries. Sometimes Latinos stop attending church because they feel mistreated, or they do not feel welcome there. The main reason is the barrier of the language, and the lack of recognition from the priest; it would be difficult to go to mass weekly & not understand the sermon. Many activities also are in English & it might be tire some to not be understood. American culture is too cold for them. Latinos want to be warmly embraced. That is almost impossible for Americans because of laws also because of culture. They can sue others if somebody touches them in what they might consider an inappropriate way. It is so unlikely to find a Latino speaking ill of religion. In ancient times Latino countries were conquered through religion. Religion was the key element for some Latino countries’ independences.
The cycle of transition shock takes place again, often surprising the Latinos, when returning to their country of origin to resume professional duties, work duties or family duties after having spent one season abroad. At the time when Latinos wished to return to their country, they were sorry to leave their new friends, the academic activities, and professional customs that filled their life for so many months here in America. Upon returning to their home country with their family, Latinos and their old friends did not understand everything that Latinos had learned and experienced. Their family and friends noticed that the Latino behaved differently. Latinos become worried about how efficiently they would use their new knowledge and training in the professional, work environment of their country. Latinos do not want to feel like a stranger in their own house, though. Although their behavioral responses were not like those of their past, Latino was the same person with new knowledge and new behavior.
Because the return to their home culture will be so difficult, or even more difficult than the arrival to a new culture, Latinos are glad to know in advance how to help other people move through the stages of re-adaptation more smoothly. Latinos find how they can adjust themselves accordingly, so Latinos can become an example to others.
When Latinos returned with their family, they were conscious that the transition shock process affected each member of my family as much as when we entered the new country initially so long ago.
Children in school age normally adapt better due to their activities in school and daily interactions with their companions and friends. In addition, for husbands and wives who do not work outside the home can face special difficulties. This is due to their little interaction with other people outside the family and can be complicated by the solitude of being far from their friends. To anticipate the type of acculturation that Latinos and their family will experience abroad during their stay in another country they will help others be prepared to face the difficulties that may arise. In order for the family to benefit from this experience, it is important for each member of a family communicate with each other, and keep doing their daily family routines.
In conclusion Latinos have lived these stages and know how difficult they can be. Latinos believe acculturation includes a responsibility to teach this process to others through their examples. As Latinos travel from country to country and demonstrate the rules of politeness, people can be influenced to show politeness and respect to each other. Latinos plan to use their experiences abroad to constitute an interesting challenge for their growth and development in the future.
The acculturation skills that over 51 million Latinos practice can then enrich their life in America and the lives other people in Latin America who sooner or later might want to come legally or illegally to this country to make their dreams come true. If as soon as the Latinos who want to come start to learn the acculturation process the price they have to pay should be so low.
On the contrary, “The Latino accent is unimportant when you got results, a Latino accent sounds great when Americans think you are valuable!” (CNN, Latinos in America documental, 2009) The point is that Latinos do not gain their social identity from their home countries but from their status as citizen of the United States of America. Nevertheless, while they are set a part and discriminated against in many sectors of society, they are also influenced in greater or lesser degree. (N. Williams 1990, pg.4) Latinos understanding education, religion, immigration, diversity, family, health, and heritage may feel at home in America using their culture as a key element in the acculturation process to be the next generation who lead America.
“Adaptation” Videodisc. The Writers Guild Foundation, 2003.
”Culture Shock.” Guanipa, Carmen. 17 Mar.1998
"Cross-cultural transitions and wellness: Dealing with culture shock", international journal for the advancement of counseling 1991, pg. 101-119.
“Latinos in America” Documental TV. Soledad O ‘Brian CNN, 2009
"The Mexican Family: Tradition and Change", Norman Williams 1990, pg. 4-15
"The Psychology of Cultural Shock", Colleen Ward 2001, pg. 40-41, 53
“The Unfinished Nation” Alan Brinkley. 2008 pg. 337-339