Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Latino 'Community'

Exploring the website, a href="">, the Minority Group International identifies itself as a representive for all minorities to ensure that disadvantage minorities and indigenous peoples often 'the poorest of the poor can make their voices heard.' The organization provides training, education, legal cases, publications and the use of the media to support 'minority and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights to the land they live on, the languages they speak, to equal opportunities in education and employment, and to full participation in public life.' The organization recognises that discrimination 'based on age, class, gender and disability can have a multiple impact on disadvantaged minorities, and our campaigns target governments and communities to eradicate such attitudes.' Ergo this website is a competent advocate for the identity of all minorities, however on this occasion I will study the Latino minority (majority) due to the group being the most rapid growing in the USA increasing more than 60% since 1990 representing at least 15% of American population. It seems unimaginable that a quantity so diverse in American society faces discrimination and is often overlooked for more publicised causes such as African American.
On the site we can view the historical context of the Latino community exemplifying that discrimination has been present since 1800's for example the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to supposedly guarantee the safety of Mexican land grants, but 80 per cent of grant lands were lost to force, debt or legal manipulation. In the 1960's unsuccessful attempts to reclaim the lands guaranteed were established, furthermore The United Farm Workers union, led by Cesar Chávez, mounted innovative and effective campaigns against low wages, abuse and pesticide contamination of Mexican American workers in the fruit and vegetable farms of California. In 2000 the median earnings of Latino men ($25,400) and women ($21,634) were substantially lower than those of men and women in the general US population ($37,057 and $27,194, respectively). In 2004, 21.9 per cent of American Latinos lived below the poverty line, compared to 8.6 per cent of whites.
As immigrants to America, “Hispanics” or “Latinos” struggle not only to assimilate to a completely foreign culture but also to have others acknowledge them outside of the perceived notion of the “Latin Community” as a whole. Many Latino Americans celebrate their heritage by continuing to eat the traditional dishes of their homeland and listening to the music of their culture. These customs, which are entirely foreign to the average “American”, appear to be stereotypical. There too is the language barrier, Latino communities have debated the goals of bilingualism, but this debate has been eclipsed in recent years by an Anglo backlash. By 1995, 22 states had passed laws declaring English their official language - including California, which was 40 per cent Spanish-speaking thus suppressing individualism and difference in American society. Inwardly these traditions keep the Latino identity still relevant creating sense of unity through the ability to celebrate similar aspects of their respective cultures together.
Hurricane Katrina highlighted many problems facing Latino culture, a 2006 National Council of La Raza report documented how, following the hurricane, various agencies, assuming that Latino evacuees were illegal workers rather than survivors, hindered their access to necessary relief services, including housing assistance and other benefits. In at least two cases law enforcement officials have raided shelters erected by the Red Cross, rounded up Latinos and asked them to leave, assuming that they were illegal workers. For me this outlines the injustice that Latino's currently face, as what is America if not a land of immigrants.

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