Essay: Latinos and Mainstream U.S. Society

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This is an essay on Latinos and mainstream US society. Luis Valdez and Oscar Acosta both write about the experiences of Latinos, of those people whose families once belonged somewhere south of the Mexican-U.S. border and now belong in the United States and the ways in which their search for justice on a number of different levels is often stymied.

Luis Valdez and Oscar Acosta both write about the experiences of Latinos, of those people whose families once belonged somewhere south of the Mexican-U.S. border and now belong in the United States and the ways in which their search for justice on a number of different levels is often stymied.

In doing so, they also highlight generational and to some extent ethnic and gender differences among those who are categorized as Chicanos or sometimes now Latinos, reminding us that this demographic title covers a range of difference. It would not doubt be much more convenient for scholars if all Chicanos had the same political values, followed the same cultural customs, related to language(s) in the same way, conceptualized race in the same way. It would, under these circumstances, be easy to define the relationship of Chicanos to the rest of American society.

But, of course, this is not the case. While there are certainly common elements linking various individuals within the Chicano community to each other, as a whole Chicanos are as diverse and as fragmented as any other similarly sized group of Americans. A man who has crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally to work as a busboy and who speaks no English, is only partly literate in the Spanish he speaks as a second language after his native Indian tongue, and who has a third-grade education – after all – might be suspected to have little in common with second-generation Cuban-American working as a heart surgeon who speaks Spanish to her family but English everywhere else.

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