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Hispanic Americans

By one account, Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). Now soem say it relates to Spain; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic. Latino is said to refer to persons or communities of Latin American origin. While there is a significant overlap between the groups, Brazilians are a good example of Latinos who are not Hispanic.

Immigration from Latin America—and the attendant growth of the nation's Hispanic or Latino population—are two of the most important and controversial developments in the recent history of the United States. Expanding from a small, regionally concentrated population of fewer than 6 million in 1960 (just 3.24 percent of the U.S. population at the time), to a now widely dispersed population of well more than 50 million (or 16 percent of the nation's population), Latinos are destined to continue to exert enormous impact on social, cultural, political, and economic life of the US.

The term "Hispanic" was first adopted by the United States government during the Nixon administration. The term “Latino” was adopted as the politically correct alternative, and is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.” Those who identify as Chicano tend to already recognize their indio heritage, but the government, the traditional media, and political players continue to speak about “the Hispanic voting bloc,” “la comunidad Hispana,” “the Hispanics,” etc. without regard to this community’s deep ties to the Americas.

Hispanic Voters Hispanic participation in midterm elections has declined over the past decade and reached a record low in 2014, the last midterm election. Just 16 percent of Latino voters ages 18 to 35 cast a ballot, less than half the rate of Latinos aged 36 and older (36.2 percent) and nearly one-third that of white voters overall (45.8 percent). There are more younger Latinos; they make up almost half of eligible Latino voters. So their lack of enthusiasm for voting has an outsize effect. The relative youth of Hispanics is also seen as closing the voting gap gradually. How the new Hispanic population will vote is also not assured. Midterm elections have shown mixed results for Democratic congressional candidates among Latino and Hispanic voters.

The definition of Hispanic or Latino Origin used in the 2010 Census was “Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." The question on Hispanic origin was first introduced in the 1970 Census, and subsequently a version of the question has been included in every census since.4 Spanish surname, place of birth, and Spanish mother tongue responses were also used as identifiers of the Hispanic population in the 1970 Census and were the only Hispanic identifiers in prior censuses.

According to a survey released in April 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 24% of "Hispanic" adults said they most often identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. About half said they identified themselves most frequently by their family's national origin — e.g., Mexican, Cuban, Salvadoran, etc. An additional 21% said they called themselves American most often, a figure that climbed to 40% among those born in the US.

The Hispanic population of the United States was estimatd at 56.6 million as of July 1, 2015, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17.6 percent of the nation’s total population. The number of Hispanics added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015 was 1.2 million. This number is nearly half of the approximately 2.5 million people added to the nation’s total population during this period. The projected Hispanic population of the United States will be 119 million in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute 28.6 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

Data from the 2010 Census provide insights to an ethnically diverse nation. According to the 2010 Census, 308.7 million people resided in the United States on April 1, 2010, of which 50.5 million (or 16 percent) were of Hispanic or Latino origin. The Hispanic population increased from 35.3 million in 2000 when this group made up 13 percent of the total population. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, which was four times the growth in the total population at 10 percent.

In 2010, 41 percent of Hispanics lived in the West and 36 percent lived in the South. The Northeast and Midwest accounted for 14 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of the Hispanic population. Hispanics accounted for 29 percent of the population in the West, the only region in which Hispanics exceeded the national level of 16 percent.

Hispanics accounted for 16 percent of the population of the South, 13 percent of the Northeast, and 7 percent of the Midwest’s population. Over half of the Hispanic population in the United States resided in just three states: California, Texas, and Florida. The 2010 census shows that about one third of the San Jose population is Latino, and about 40 percent is Latino in Fresno.

The percentage of those of Hispanic or Latino origin in the United States who were of Mexican origin in 2015 was 63.4% percent. Another 9.5 percent were Puerto Rican, 3.8 percent Salvadoran, 3.7 percent Cuban, 3.3 percent Dominican and 2.4 percent Guatemalan. The remainder were of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.

About 40 million U.S. residents age 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2015. This is a 131.2 percent increase since 1990 when it was 17.3 million. Those who hablan español en casa constituted 13.3 percent of U.S. residents age 5 and older. More than half (59 percent of all Spanish speakers and 57.4 percent of Hispanic Spanish speakers) spoke English “very well.” Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

One-third of Latino children in the United States live in poverty, demonstrating that many families of color have benefited least from economic recuperation, a report revealed 21 July 2015. The study carried out by Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 22 percent of all U.S. kids live in conditions of poverty, and the most affected are young African-Americans, of whom 39 percent live in poor households, compared to 14 percent of youth who identified as white. In the foundation’s study “Kids Count Data Book 2015,” since 2008 when the recession began, the number of children living in poverty has increased by nearly three million, from 13.2 million to 16.1 million in 2013, according to the most recent figures.

The myth of Aztlán can best be explained by California's Santa Barbara School District's Chicano Studies textbook, "The Mexican American Heritage" by East Los Angeles high school teacher Carlos Jimenez. On page 84 there is a redrawn map of Mexico and the United States, showing Mexico with a full one-third more territory, all of it taken back from the United States. On page 107, it says "Latinos are now realizing that the power to control Aztlan may once again be in their hands." Shown are the "repatriated" eight or nine states including Colorado, California, Arizona, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and parts of Washington. According to the school text, Mexico is supposed to regain these territories as they rightly belong to the "mythical" homeland of Aztlán. On page 86, it says "...a free-trade agreement...promises...if Mexico is to allow the U.S. to invest in Mexico...then Mexico should...be allowed to freely export...Mexican labor. Obviously this would mean a re-evaluation of the border between the two countries as we know it today."

Texas lawmakers drew up three US congressional districts to undermine the influence of Latino voters, a divided panel of three federal judges ruled 11 March 2017, in the latest development in a years-long battle over gerrymandering. In the decision announced late on Friday, U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia in San Antonio found that the districts' shapes diluted minority voters' power, either by splitting communities into different districts or concentrating minorities in a single area to limit their sway. The term gerrymandering to describe the political manipulation of electoral districts may date to 1812, when Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry approved a map that included an oddly shaped district said to look like a salamander.

Latinos are faced with the problem of how to publicize and fight against police killings. Deaths at the hands of immigration and customs officials and border patrol — both law enforcement officials with notorious reputations for their handling of migrant cases — are not systematically kept, which by all accounts would be overwhelmingly Latin American victims.

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Page last modified: 08-11-2018 13:48:50 ZULU