Professor Kristy Aristy
Stereotypes of the Puerto Rican Culture
“As of 2003, there were more Puerto Ricans living in the United States than on the island of Puerto Rico- 3.8 million on the mainland and 3.6 million in Puerto Rico” (Rohan, 2006). There was an abundance of Puerto Ricans that migrated from their mainland to the United States. Most were poverty stricken and lacked formal education. This lead them to be unemployed or on public assistance, causing other cultures to stereotype Puerto Rican’s. “Stereotypes are belief systems or cognitions held by one social group about another social group. Stereotypes are often held by one race, ethnicity, or society about other groups of people who are from another race, ethnicity, society, or social group”, (Schaefer 2012). A stereotype is a term that is used to define all different people of certain beliefs, into the negative category that reflect on all racial demographics. Stereotypes go hand in hand with discrimination, prejudice, and bias. Which is why, people should be more educated in what they speak of. All people of different nationalities have been victims of being stereotyped. Society may not understand a certain type of race, so they put them into classifications. Individuals that are suppressed financially or due to lack of education tend to be stereotyped. This may cause an individual to become further suppressed or encourages them to prove otherwise.
As I interviewed four people from different nationalities, I found a common observation with regard to the level of education of a Puerto Rican. Each interviewee from Italian, Spanish, Irish, and Puerto Rican background seem to agree that the highest level of education was High School. I further inquired as to why they thought this to be a accurate or fair observation and they were not able to justify their response. As of the year 2008, Puerto Ricans in the United States encountered one of the most extraordinary improvements in their educational standards. In 1980, about 60% of all Puerto Ricans, 25 years of age or older, had not completed high school. This percentage dropped drastically in 2008 to 25%. Over that same period of time the percentage of Puerto Ricans who had completed a Bachelors’ of Arts or higher increased from 5.6% to 18.6%, that represents an increase of 13%. As for the United States, 38.8% of people, ages 25 through 34, possessed an Associate, Bachelors, or graduate degree. Taking into consideration that the rate of college graduates in the United States is 20.2% higher than in Puerto Rico. The stereotype is further supported by the higher US graduate percentage.
The rate of college graduates as previously mentioned, is considered another reason why Puerto Ricans do not have the highest paying jobs. The Hispanic population is increasing in the low-skilled, low-waged workforce. This is due to the large amount of immigrants with low levels of education. In the 80s, it was estimated about 14% of Hispanic male workers were high school dropouts. Throughout the following years it increased to 44%, (as seen in figure left). “The “typical” Hispanic in America looks different today than in the past. Today, the typical Hispanic is increasingly more likely to have dropped out of high school and is earning lower wages,” (Borjas, 2007). Through various interviews I ascertained answers to the many questions I was curious to know. One of the questions that I asked was, what were the most common jobs Puerto Ricans have? There responses were the following …“Gardeners, retail, housekeeping services, cooks and waiters”. Through numerous research and studies, it is now clearer to me why Puerto Ricans have been stereotyped is poorly. After conducting this research, I have profound sadness in identifying with people of my culture. I have noticed that many have difficulty associating with the Hispanic culture due to the poor stereotyping by others, but despite the negative stigmatism I...
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