Skip to comments.The Problem With Pew Polls About Being Latino (or Hispanic) in America: Too Many Labels
Posted on 04/17/2012 9:18:19 PM PDT by Netizen
We are told that the US Latino (or Hispanic) (or Mexican-PuertoRican-Cuban-Colombian-Dominican-Salvadorean-CostaRican-Honduran-Guatemalan-Nicaraguan-Panamanian-Venezuelan-Bolivian-Peruvian-Ecuadorian-Paraguayan-Uruguayan-Argentinian-Chilean-Spanish-Belizian-with-a-shout-out-to-Brazilian) population, estimated to be around 50 million people, is at an "identify" crossroads.
We are told that in a hodgepodge of countries, cultures, new arrivals, old arrivals, first-generation families, families that have lived in the US for decades, those who have lived here for centuries, bilinguals, monolinguals, Spanish-only speakers, English-only speakers, Spanglish speakers and anyone else whom we have forgotten, the conventional wisdom is that this growing demographic needs to be defined and defined quickly.
We must figure ourselves out soon! We must boxed ourselves and be labeled, so that we fit nicely into whatever vision of America is being crafted in the 21st century.
We are told that these 50 million people are hard to figure out, that the rest of America doesn't understand them. Why do you 50 million whatever-you-want-to-call-yourselves people have to be different?
So then we are told that in order to finally reach some consensus about who the 50 million truly are, questions must be asked.
And this week, the Pew Hispanic Center (we are wondering if they are changing their name now, just like we might need to change ours), asked some of those questions in a sweeping poll that tries to define US Latinos/Hispanics and the other nationalities we listed in our first paragraph. And now the problems and distractions begin.
The results have become the talk of the media this week.
Latinos don't want to be called Hispanics!
Hispanics don't want to be called Latinos!
Mexicans identify themselves with being Mexican!
Puerto Ricans will always say Puerto Ricans! The generalizations go on and on and on.
And there lies the distraction.
Because the type of information Pew spewed out (yes, we have always wanted to use the verb "spewed" next to "Pew") did very little to what the BIG GOAL is now for the 50 million: true unity and true political power. (If indeed those are the goals that US Latinos/Hispanis truly want, which we think they do.)
Can you imagine what would happen if people just ignored the labels about who they are and just say, hey, the issues that pertain to me as a US Latino/Hispanic living in Miami, actually have a lot more in common with the US Latino/Hispanic living in San Diego?
Can you imagine if we can actually maintain a deep pride of who we are and where we come from, BUT are also deeply interested in someone else who comes from different country but shares the same linguistic (Spanish) history as you? Or that when you both talked, you would find out that both of you are fully bilingual and bicultural and actually have a more common background that you had originally thought?
That is what the Pew poll should be discussing. Not the differences, but the commonalities. So while others spend time reflecting on the big identity crisis of US Latino/Hispanics, we would like to focus on some similarities and explore how we can use them to create a better path for dialogue, true unity, and real political power among the 50 million. So, we won't rehash everything that Pew spewed. We chose to focus one a few takeaways:
Respondents do, however, express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. More than eight-in-ten (82%) Latino adults say they speak Spanish, and nearly all (95%) say it is important for future generations to continue to do so. The survey finds that, regardless of where they were born, large majorities of Latinos say that life in the U.S. is better than in their familys country of origin. Also, nearly nine-in-ten (87%) say it is important for immigrant Hispanics to learn English in order to succeed in the U.S.
A new report suggests that the majority of people of Latin American descent prefer to identify themselves by their countries of origin. The findings shed light on the complexities of identity in a growing community that includes dozens of nationalities.
My grand father came from Trier, and married a first generation German girl , who family had come from upper saxony thirty years before. Not until he got to Texas had he even met German-speakers from other places. They settled in San Antonio, had lots of children, but there were always conflicts because he was a townman, and she from the country. In part to get him away from the Brewery where he worked, they bought a farm south of the city. In the town there was an emphasis on Kultur, as the different soirts of Germans_immigrants from all over Germany, and second and third generation Germans tried to forge a common culture. But the effort never produced a single German culture but a respect for the idea of one. That, of course, was blown sky-high by WWI.