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There are many Hispanic groups living in the United States of America. To clearly understand the social, economic, political, linguistic, religious and familial conventions and statuses of this Hispanic populace, I have picked on four of the groups. These are: the Cubans, Mexican Americans, El Salvadorians, and the Puerto Ricans. All these groups have their own unique cultural identities but are often placed in the same category just because of the common language they use and that is the Spanish language. This does not mean that the language is absolutely the same, because dialect varies among the groups with incidences where some words may have same pronunciation but with different meanings all together (Franklin, 2006).
Cuban Americans are those American citizens with roots from Cuba and just like the other Hispanics, the Cuban language is Spanish. Cuban Americans have risen over time in their struggle to dominate the centers of power especially in Miami, by reversing the cycles of acculturation and assimilation that existed in the US. This people still have strong ties to their homeland to the extent that they have managed to adapt some areas in the US to their own culture. Their history in the United States dates back to the late nineteenth century when they began settling down and forming communities. The Cuban adjustment act of 1996 allowed the transition of the Cubans from refugees to permanent residents regardless of how they entered the US. A few of Cuban Americans practice the traditional African religion but majority of them are Roman Catholics. The United States House of Representatives currently has four Cuban American members and also two senators in the United States Senate. Economically Cuban Americans living in the US seem to earn higher income than the other Hispanic groups. Most Cuban Americans have a college education; this is about two times the average of the other Hispanic groups (Buffington, 2010).
Puerto Ricans are naturally from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, and Spanish is their original language of communication. Most of the Puerto Rican children are bilingual something that makes them have difficulties in their studies. In the Puerto Rican culture respect for the family is very critical. The elders and mothers are adored and duty to the family which includes the extended family is very vital. Families like gathering for holidays, weddings and birth days. Machismo is highly valued by the Puerto Rican society. The decisions to purchase and even serve food are solely for the women and meals are only served when the whole family is around. The Puerto Rican foods are not as spicy as the Mexican foods although a mild distinctive taste. Breast feeding among this group is practiced frequently because they strongly believe that it nourishes and builds a strong bond between the mother and the child. Politically, this group appears to have been successful. They began running for public office as earlier as the 1920s and their first representative to government was elected in 1937, to the New York State Assembly. Many others followed and today we have three Puerto Ricans that have been elected to the United States House of Representatives and one resident Commissioner that was elected from Puerto Rico. On top of this, there have been several mayors of Puerto Rican origin elected for the major US cities like Miami, Camden and Hartford (Green, 2010).
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They also use Spanish as their primary language of communication. This group migrated to the United States majorly because of their poor economic status and also to escape the many wars that were then experienced in their country. Many of those who have jobs in the United States remit back the money owned to their families making them only have a minimum amount for upkeep. This group can't fight for a better pay, salaries or even the national health insurance because they are in the US illegally. This also affects their political decisions in that they can not or are not able to participate in US elections. Roman Catholic is their main religion although some pockets follow the Pentecostal religion because they share almost the same decisions. Just like the Puerto Ricans, the El Salvadorians are very family oriented. Women are the ones that usually do all the house chores like cooking and washing the kids. Everything that the El Salvadorians do revolves around their religion because they strongly believe in it. The desire of many El Salvadorians is to live with their families, right here in the United States, but because they are illegal immigrants, this has remains like a dream to many making their main focus remain to work and send the proceeds back home. Their food is just like the Mexican food; the only difference is that theirs is sweeter and milder (Mumford, 2010).
The language for this group is sometimes referred to by some people as Spanglish because it has a combination of the Spanish and English language. Politically this group was very active especially in Mexican American Civil Rights that was aimed at among other things, the restoration of land grants, rights of farm workers, voting and political rights and enhanced education. Socially this group, just like the other groups, comes to America a sole aim, to achieve the American dream. When you look at their education, most of the Mexican Americans seem not to go past high school level no matter the generation. Throughout the whole immigration process, little progress has been made to move the immigrant Mexicans to the mainstream social status, and as such, this group has not managed to assimilate itself into the mainstream culture of America. Economically, this group is concerned with the pushing for a fair pay, this is mostly seen in the Mexican American Civil Rights movements like the ones earlier mentioned. The Mexican American family focuses mostly on the elderly, grandparents especially grandmothers. This is mainly because this group of people apparently are the only ones the remedies to problems, the crafts, the stories that have been long forgotten, the foods, and also the language that many have forgotten (Gonzalez-Clements, 1998).
Similarities and differences
These four Hispanic groups have similarities mostly in the areas of language, religion, family, and in the reason that made them come to the US. Each of these cultures attaches very much importance to the family unit as it is the one that ensures their continued existence. All these groups are the United States for one major reason, to achieve the American dream and as such, opportunity and the search for a better life are common among these four Hispanic groups. Because they are strongly attached to the Spanish culture, the religion for these groups is pretty much the same with most of them practicing the Roman Catholic religion with just a handful still practicing the traditional African religions. And finally as it has been clearly seen in all the four groups, all these cultures share a common language, meaning that they all majorly speak the Spanish language with just slight variations in dialect. This is the major similarity that these groups share and that is why it has been used to group them in one major category, the Hispanics. The only difference comes in the area of politics where unlike the Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and the Mexican, who have freely participated in the major political decisions of the US, the El Salvadorians do not have this privilege because they are majorly illegal immigrants (Coleman, 2007).