Hispanics


These are some of the items from “100 Questions and Answers About Hispanics and Latinos.” You can get all 100 questions by ordering print or digital guides from Amazon.

Why does the title of this guide refer to Hispanics and Latinos? How are the terms different?
What is a green card?
What is a quinceañera?
What is Spanglish?
What does Chican@ mean?
What does Tejano mean?
Is Puerto Rico a country, colony or commonwealth?
Which states have the largest Hispanic populations?
What is the letter ñ that looks like an n with a squiggly line?
Are U.S. Hispanics mostly Catholic?
Is Pope Francis the first Latin American pope?
Are most Latinos in the United States today immigrants?
What is the median for annual personal earnings of Latinos in the United States?
Why do American employers hire people from Latin America to work in agriculture?
Are Hispanic families large?
What is the “Hispanic paradox”?
How do entertainment media portray Hispanics?
What is Cinco de Mayo?
What is Tex-Mex food?


Why does the title of this guide refer to Hispanics and Latinos? How are the terms different?
Hispanic means “of Spain or Spanish-speaking countries.” Latino means from or related to Latin America. Some Spanish speaking countries such as Spain, are not in Latin America. Some Latin American countries, such as Brazil, are not Spanish-speaking countries. It can be confusing. Latin also refers to languages that developed out of ancient Rome, including French and Italian. But Latino as used in the United States refers to the geography of Latin America, not necessarily to languages.
Back to top


What is a green card?
A green card is a U.S. Permanent Resident Card. It is actually a pink identification card that allows an immigrant to reside and live permanently in the United States. Green-card holders are also able to work in the U.S., to travel and to receive some government benefits. A green-card holder is not a U.S. citizen but can live in the United States permanently. It can be insulting to ask Latinos born in the United States and Puerto Ricans whether they have a green card, as they are U.S. citizens by birth.
Back to top


What is a quinceañera?
A quinceañera is a Hispanic celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, signifying her transition from youth to adulthood. This is both a social and religious event and, like many other Hispanic traditions, emphasizes the importance of family. A quinceañera typically begins with a mass that is attended by the girl’s parents, grandparents, godparents and family. The mass is followed by a reception with food, family, music, dancing and more. In past times, the quinceañera has signified that a girl is prepared for marriage, but, in modern times, it tends to mean that a girl is ready to begin formal dating. Some families will throw a quinceañero for a son.
Back to top


What is Spanglish?
Spanglish is an informal hybrid of Spanish and English. It is used among people who know both languages and who switch between languages when one language describes what they are trying to say better than the other. Linguists call that code switching. In 2009, 23 percent of Hispanics between 16 and 25 told Pew researchers they used Spanglish most of the time and another 47 percent said they used it sometimes.
Back to top


What do “Chicano” and “Chicana” mean?
Historically, this term has been chosen by people of Mexican descent who identify with the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement and the struggle of migrant agricultural workers. The term was originally considered derogatory. However, the Chicano movement during the 1960s adopted the name in response to discrimination against Mexican Americans working under unfair labor and social conditions. These terms announce pride in indigenous ancestry, which was a significant ideological element of the Chicano movement.
Back to top


What does Chican@ mean?
This post-internet construction simplifies “Chicano/Chicana” or “Chicano and/or Chicana.” Some academic studies departments have put this in their names. According to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, “The @ ending (‘a’ at the center of ‘o’) offers a simultaneous presentation of both the feminine and masculine word endings of Chicana, Chicano, Latina, and Latino and allows the reader/speaker to choose the form she or he prefers.”
Back to top


What does Tejano mean?
Tejano means a Texan of Mexican descent. Tejano derives from “Coahuiltejano,” a name given to the citizens of the Mexican State of Coahuila y Tejas, now Texas. Tejano culture includes folk music synthesized from European and Mexican styles and contributions to Tex-Mex cuisine. Hispanic and Anglo-Saxon settlers who lived in the area during the 18th century created a bilingualism that later shaped the Tejano language.
Back to top


Is Puerto Rico a country, colony or commonwealth?
This is complicated. Spain held Puerto Rico as a colony for more than 400 years and ceded it to the United States in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. It has been under U.S. rule as an unincorporated territory ever since, but is not a state. Puerto Ricans were made citizens in 1917, though they had not requested it. In 1952, with Congressional approval, Puerto Ricans voted to become a commonwealth. This did not fundamentally change the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
Back to top


Which states have the largest Hispanic populations?
Almost half of Hispanics live in California and Texas. California has the largest numbers of Hispanics in the nation, about 14.4 million, or 38 percent of the state’s population and is now the largest single ethnic group in California. Texas is second in total number with 10 million, or 19 percent. Florida, with 4.5 million, is 8 percent Hispanic. New Mexico, with almost a million, is the state with the highest concentration of Hispanics at 47 percent of the state’s population. By contrast, in some states, such as West Virginia, Maine and Vermont, Hispanics are only 1 percent of the population.
Back to top


What is the letter ñ that looks like an n with a squiggly line?
In the Spanish alphabet, this is an additional letter, not just an n with an accent mark, which is called a tilde. It is called an eñe and is pronounced “enye.” It is used in many words. Substituting a plain n, a whole different letter, can change the word. In speech, this letter sounds like the middle sound in canyon and, in fact, the Spanish word for canyon is cañon.
Back to top


Are U.S. Hispanics mostly Catholic?
Yes, they are, and the proportion who call themselves Protestant is rising. A Pew study in 2012 found that 58 percent said they were Catholic in 2012 That was down from 62 percent in 2011 and 67 percent in 2010. By comparison, 23 percent of all Americans say they are Catholic.
Back to top


Is Pope Francis the first Latin American pope?
Yes. Pope Francis is the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina. Latinos in the United States acknowledge that he is by birth Latin American, but do not necessarily consider him “Latino.”
Back to top


Are most Latinos in the United States today immigrants?
No. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report in 2011, 63.8 percent of the country’s Latino population is U.S.-born. Among Latino origin groups, Mexicans have the highest share born in the U.S. at 65 percent. The proportions are lower among other groups, 36 percent of Guatemalans, 42 percent of Cubans and 44 percent of Dominicans are U.S. born.
Back to top


What is the median for annual personal earnings of Latinos in the United States?
Based on data collected for the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, the annual personal earnings for U.S.-born Latinos 16 and older who had earnings was $22,400 per year. The figure for foreign-born Latinos was $20,000. The median for the age group regardless of ethnicity was $29,000. These are averages only. There is tremendous range within each classification.
Back to top


Why do American employers hire people from Latin America to work in agriculture?
It’s not just in agriculture. According to the Pew, about 742,000 Latinos hold manual labor jobs in the farming, fishing or forestry industries. Data collected from the Urban Institute in 2004 indicated that 15 percent of authorized immigrants and 32 percent of unauthorized immigrants had less than a ninth grade education, making them ineligible for jobs that require at least a high school diploma or General Equivalency Degree. Latinos who are either unauthorized to work in the United States or who have a lower level of education find themselves only being able to get low-paid, unregulated jobs doing manual labor.
Back to top


Are Hispanic families large?
In the 2010 Census, Hispanic families were more likely than other families to have five or more members. The families were also more likely to consist of more than two generations under one roof. Although Hispanic families are the fastest growing part of the population, the birth rate is declining. Also, according to the Census Bureau, Hispanic families were less likely than non-Hispanic white or Asian families to be headed by two parents.
Back to top


What is the “Hispanic paradox”?
The Hispanic paradox refers to studies showing that although Hispanic communities in the United States tend to have a higher risk factor for illnesses, they tend to have a longer life expectancy than non-Hispanics with the same health problems. Several studies have attributed this to family cohesion.
Back to top


How do entertainment media portray Hispanics?
According to a report commissioned by the National Hispanic Media Coalition about popular media, “non-Latinos report seeing Latinos in stereotypically negative or subordinate roles (gardeners, maids, dropouts, and criminals) most often in television and film. People exposed to negative entertainment or news narratives about Latinos and/or immigrants hold the most unfavorable and hostile views about both groups.”
Back to top

What is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 5, is a Mexican holiday recalling the victory over France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla, which occurred during the Franco-Mexican War. Cinco de Mayo festivities include parades, street festivals, mariachi music and special foods in both Mexico and the United States. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is considered a celebration of Mexican culture. It is not a celebration of Mexican independence from Spain, which occurs in September. Hispanics of other nationalities celebrate different holidays related to their own countries’ traditions.
Back to top

What is Tex-Mex food?
Tex-Mex food combines Texan and Mexican cuisines. It is considered by some to be a regional American cuisine rather than authentic Mexican cuisine. You might also try New Mexican or Cal-Mex food. Back to top

2 Responses to Hispanics

  1. Pingback: The Diversity Style Guide: newly updated and expanded | Knight Digital Media Center

  2. Pingback: Interview Timeline | Writing Diverse Cultures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *