Relations between ethnic groups are rather important in such a multicultural society as the USA. Hispanic people constitute the largest ethnic group in this society but within it there also are certain differences which this paper will focus on. This work will analyze the main similarities and differences in social, political, and cultural conventions of such Hispanic ethnic groups as Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Chileans.
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In respect of their linguistics, Mexicans are quite similar to the other three groups as they all speak Spanish as their native language while English is taught to them as the second one. Politics is not in the sphere of their interests, with the exceptions of active people like Alberto Gonzales, the former US Attorney General, who struggle for the wealth of this ethnic group. In the economic sense, Mexican Americans are quite passive and averagely earn less money compared to other ethnic groups. Also, Mexican Americans are rather religious people. Their beliefs in Jesus and the Virgin of Guadalupe are rather strong, and so are their beliefs in the magic power of religious amulets called “milagros” that are mainly crosses and other religious symbols that are to bring luck and protection. Family is the most important notion for Mexicans; it is male-dominated although women are greatly respected in this culture. Nevertheless, Mexicans are different from other three groups and their national proverb explains this fact: “Space does not separate people so much as culture” (Steiner, 2004).
Puerto Ricans are different from Mexicans as they are rightful US citizens and are not viewed as labor immigrants to the country. Another difference is that this group speaks English and Spanish similarly well and does not differ from the mainstream US citizens in this aspect. Puerto Ricans are politically passive as they are not entitled to vote for president although considered to be the United States, rightful citizens. Moreover, they lack their representatives in US politics. While Mexican Americans are mainly Catholics, Puerto Ricans worship Catholicism, Islam, Baptism, and any other religions that can be worshipped in the world. Their religious customs are freer than the traditions of American Mexicans, and so are their views on family. Thus, according to Franklin (2008), “forty-percent, now probably more, of Puerto Rican families are headed by women”. Also, the main concentration of Puerto Ricans in the United States is in New York where they were officially allowed to move by the US Government.
Cubans living in America are a rather specific ethnic group within the larger Hispanic population. This fact is explained that they are rather active in politics, while their immigration to the US has always been connected with serious dangers, political conflicts, and misunderstandings. Thus, there are three Cuban deputies in the US House of Representatives and two members of the US Senate of Cuban origin. Cubans differ from other Hispanic ethnic groups by their higher degree of assimilation to the mainstream American culture which is reflected not only in their political activity and success but also in economical and social matters. For example, the beaches and infrastructure of Miami are mainly in possession of Cuban entrepreneurs. Also, the religious and family values of Cubans are not as strict as of Mexicans and even of Puerto Ricans. Cubans influenced by Spanish colonization accept Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and other religions. Family in the Cuban understanding of it is not the domination of a male, but a cooperative unity of two people with equal rights in which deep assimilation to the US culture can be observed.
The major distinctive feature of this ethnic group in the US society is that “Chilean Americans find themselves in the position of being a minority within a minority” (Burson, 2005). This makes Chilean Americans differ in some other aspects like attitude to work, education, and their place in the society they chose to live in. The political activity of the Chilean ethnic group is rather low as no notable representatives o this group are known as influencing US politics greatly. Participation of Chileans in elections is rather high, and this is connected with the serious attitude towards their rights and obligations. This is also observed in the social life of Chilean ethnic groups whose representatives are hard and skilled workers. In the linguistic aspect, Chileans do not differ much from Mexicans and have to study English as their second language after Spanish. Family is rather important for Chileans but it is not dominant in their culture, neither is the religion which is mainly Roman Catholicism.
To conclude, the four ethnic groups considered have their similar and different points. All the groups are similar in their belonging to the larger Hispanic ethnic group and in speaking Spanish. Differences between the groups lie in the fact that Mexicans are more religious, while Puerto Ricans have a better command of English, and a better position in the society being rightful US citizens. Cubans are distinguished by better assimilation to the US culture, while Chileans are hard workers.
- Burson, P. Chilean Americans.
- Franklin, R. (2008). Hispanics in America: Culture and Mexicans, Cubans, Venezuelans. Web.
- Schaefer, R. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups, Tenth Edition. Prentice Hall.
- Steiner, J. (2004). Religious Folklore: An Everyday Mexican-American Experience.