This I Believe
I believe that I come from a wonderful culture, Latin, that sometimes is misunderstood. Many people think the Latin culture is not a good influence. Out of the 300 million people in America 40 million are of Spanish descent, and out of those 40 million 12 million are called “illegal”. There is a mass of people in the United States that believes that this last group mentioned should be expelled as soon as possible. What most people do not know is that Latinos perform a lot of necessary functions and meaningful work that benefits the entire population. This is completely the opposite of what the word illegal connotes; that is, giving the implication mostly of criminal activity.
Like in previous migration cycles that took place in the United States during the last 200 years, similar prejudicial sentiment took place during the times that these immigrants were absorbed into the general culture. This happened primarily with the Irish and the Italians during the 19th and 20th century. It was extremely difficult for them to adapt as it is today for the typical Latin. This is shown with the Irish who were referred to as alcoholics and the Italians as Mafiosos. This shows that nothing has changed when it comes to the absorption of the underdog. Today, the Italians and the Irish are highly respectable members of the American culture. What made the change? Through time and several generations, education was the primary tool for this evolution to take place.
I believe that today most Latin parents, including the so called illegals are putting education as the most important objective to bring about social change and complete integration as part of the American multicolor cultural heritage. In the same way, I believe that the economic integration is advancing little by little. We participate at all levels of the economic pyramid; from the lowest menial jobs, which nobody else wants to perform, like the brazeros mejicanos in the farms of the border states, to the most demanding professional and business jobs. It is only a matter of time to catch up with the other migrations.
Why do I call Latin culture wonderful? I believe that expression of our feelings is done with much more freedom because of the way our parents taught us to relate to family and friends. This also has brought an overflowing sense of security between us. There is comfort in knowing that we understand our behavior as an integral part of our nuclear family. I haven’t seen closeness and warm projected in other cultural backgrounds to the extent that we do in the Latino’s groups. As an example, very often, members of the family, giving blessings to each other when saying bye as if it were the last time they see one another or the way adults treat children that are not even theirs, which in other places could be portrayed as sketchy. We give love in abundance and do not think twice about it. And more important, there is nothing illegal about this.
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