Hispanic Identity

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Hispanic Identity
Tammy Simpson
University of Phoenix

Hispanic Identity
Names are very important and when discussing the differences between racial or cultural, it is very important to remain culturally sensitive. Explaining the differences between Hispanics, Latino, Chicano, and Mexican American may give you a better understand of why some people choice what they want to be called. Because people should be able to choose how he or she is called and names disempowered can have serious repercussions. Hispanic or Latino Americans are categorized as a group of people made up of distinct characteristics. Every group should be allowed to choose their own name as well. When individuals or groups are called names that we do not wish to be called they can become upset or even annoyed. Some want to be called Hispanic and others Latinos, so how do you vary or distinguish. Well Chicano is just too narrow, encompassing only members of the Mexican-American community or anyone else of Mexican heritage. The word “Chicano” was once considered derogatory when it first emerged, but later generations of Mexican-Americans have since considered it acceptable and embraced the term, at least unofficially. The Term Chicano was thought to have originated as slang that described immigrants from the Mexican revolution, but later evolved to define the uprising of Mexican American reformers. The Chicano Movement changed Mexican Americans’ lives in the United States’ economy. It was a movement that secured these people in the economy with civil rights and economic opportunity. They used tactics such as civil disobedience as an influential way to make it known that “change” was inevitable. Marches, hunger strikes, and litigation were methods that they used.

Mexican Americans consist of the largest Hispanic group within the United States. Their history has covered over 400 years within America, varying in different regions. In such states as California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, great portions of Mexican Americans subsist there. (“Mexican Americans,” 1997-2007)

The word “Hispanic” is more worldwide then “Chicano”. Historically, areas that were conquered by the Spaniards were considered part of an area called Hispania. Countries that traced their history to Spain are considered to be Hispanic and include Mexico, Central America, and most of South America where Spanish is the prime language. Latino is extremely close in meaning to Hispanic, but is also includes other countries such as Brazil. Latino was popularized during the social movements of the 1960’s. While “Latino” may be politically and socially correct, it is still better to be ethnically aware of a person’s heritage then referring him or her to the broader term Latino. Descendants of pre Columbian populations from Latin America and most of those from parts of the United States who were part of the Spanish Colonial Empire are considered Latinos/as. However Native Americans, United States citizens who are of pre –Columbian derivation, but whose ancestors lived in areas outside what constitutes United States territory today are not considered Latinos/as. The children born in Latin American from Spaniards are considered Latinos/as, but Spaniards themselves are not (Latinos or Hispanics? A Debate About Indentity, 2003) Hispanic population today has expanded immensely over the years. The growth rate of the Hispanic community has grown faster than any other racial and ethnic group in the nation. The Hispanic community and culture has populated around the United States, and introducing new traditions and customs. Hispanics or Latinos are defined as people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other Spanish speaking cultures and if you travel to different cities in the States we will see a wide spread of Hispanic communities. For instance in New York the Puerto Rican culture is dominated, and in Miami the Cuban culture is populating...
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