After World War II, Mexican American veterans returned home to lead the struggle for civil rights.
Many of their stories have been recorded by the Voces Oral History Project founded and directed by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism.
In her new book “Texas Mexican Americans and Post War Civil Rights Rivas Rodriguez tells the stories of three lesser known battles in Mexican American civil rights in Texas.
Rivas Rodriguez recounts the successful effort led by parents to integrate the Alpine, Texas, public schools in 1969—fifteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate schools were inherently unconstitutional.
Also described is El Paso’s first Mexican American mayor, Raymond Telles, and how he challenged institutionalized racism to integrate the city’s police and fire departments, thus opening civil service employment to Mexican Americans.
The final account provides the first history of the early days of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and its founder Pete Tijerina Jr. from MALDEF’s incorporation in San Antonio in 1968 until its move to San Francisco in 1972.
Robert Montes remembers when he was the “only Mexican kid” in Cloverdale, back when Latinos were a much smaller share of Sonoma County’s population.
The 44-year-old, first-generation Mexican-American said the term “Mexican,” for many in Sonoma County, still elicits an image of someone who recently crossed the border and works in the fields. When Montes tells people he’s “Mexican,” some respond by saying he’s not like every other Mexican.
“It’s like, ‘why not?’ ” he said, noting that he speaks Spanish and eats Mexican food “like all my raza,” using the Spanish word for people. “What makes me any different?”
But Montes, who is director of payroll and human resources at Redwood Empire Sawmills, where his father was millwright before he retired, is different. He’s part of a swelling Latino population that has grown beyond stereotypes and narrow definitions. Increasingly, the term has begun to encompass people from diverse Latin American countries, as well as from various socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
North Coast Latinos like Montes are breaking stereotypes, expanding what it means to be Latino or Mexican-American in Sonoma County.
“There are so many labels nowadays, I’m even confused,” he said.
As the Latino population becomes more diverse both ethnically and economically, a litany of questions arises: What does mean to be Latino? Is it the same as Hispanic? Why is a Brazilian immigrant considered a Latino but not Hispanic? Why do some recent arrivals from Latin America at first reject the term but later embrace it?
The answers lie within a story of migration, of heritage and assimilation, one that is having a profound impact on the broader North Coast community, from education to business and economics.
“We’re not that simple as a group. We’re complicated and diverse,” said Rachel Valenzuela, director of student services for the Mark West Union School District. “The Latino experience can’t easily be summed up, and it’s evolving.”
Latinos of all races now comprise 25 percent of the population in Sonoma County, or almost 123,000 people in a county of nearly 488,000 residents. In Santa Rosa, with a population of 169,000, Latinos number nearly 50,000 residents, or 29 percent of the city’s population.
Local schools, where Latinos make up 44 percent of the population, offer a window on Sonoma County’s future. In Santa Rosa City School District, half of the students are Latino while whites make up only 35 percent of the student body.
People of Mexican descent are by far the largest segment of Sonoma County’s Latino population, accounting for 85 percent of the Latino cohort. But in the past few decades, the Latino diaspora has become increasingly non-Mexican.
While their numbers are small compared to the local Mexican and Mexican-American populations, the number of Latino immigrants from places such as Peru, the Dominican Republic and Honduras grew at a faster clip than the “Mexican” group.
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the number of Latinos of Mexican descent grew only 15.5 percent in Sonoma County over a five-year period ending in 2013. The figure, which includes immigrants from Mexico and people of Mexican heritage born in the United States, amounts to an increase of about 14,000 residents.
In contrast, residents of Dominican descent increased 301 percent, from only 48 people in 2009 to 193 in 2013. Latinos of Honduran descent grew by 122 percent, from 182 to 405 residents during that time period.
The number of county residents of Salvadoran heritage nearly doubled from 2,445 to 4,732. And the number of Peruvian Latinos grew from 471 to 768.
The growing diversity of Sonoma County’s Latino population defies traditional stereotypes. Even among the county’s very large Mexican and Mexican-American population, cultural diversity abounds, creating hybrid experiences that echo America’s immigrant past.
A first-generation Mexican-American, Montes said his parents are from “the old country.” His mother is from the state of Guanajuato, and his father is from the state of Zacatecas. Montes was born in Healdsburg and grew up in Cloverdale.
He said he has been called “Americanized” because he doesn’t fit conventional stereotypes, such as speaking English with a Mexican accent, lacking education or working as a farmworker or laborer. And though he worked in the fields as a youth, his trajectory into the middle class did not include abandoning his heritage, but rather creating his own blend of it.
In fact, Montes said he’s trying to preserve it even after marrying someone outside his culture. His wife, Susan, grew up in Bellshill, a town just east of Glasgow, Scotland. He met her at a dance club in Petaluma through mutual friends.
His sons are Liam Patricio and Rowen Anacleto, whose second names are taken from his grandfathers. Liam goes to Cali Calmecac Language Academy, a bilingual school in Windsor.
“I want my kids to grow up and learn the language and learn the culture as well,” he said. “I’m preparing them right now. There’s always going to be a need for bilingual people, so let’s start preparing them right now.”
The evolution of the local Latino community echoes historic changes that have transformed Latino communities in Southern California and the Central Valley. First generations beget second and third generations, and newcomers are increasingly more diverse, more urban and, in some cases, more educated than previous.
For some Latinos, the culture and language of their parents dissipates with each generation. Others, like Montes’ family, make concerted efforts to hold on to traditions, even when they marry outside their culture. Though there are commonalities, the way Latinos view themselves and their cultural identity can vary widely, depending on who you ask.
Francisco Vazquez, a Sonoma State University professor and director of the school’s Hutchins Institute for Public Policy Studies and Community Action, said that the Latino identity is forged both externally and internally.
He said that from the outside, some Anglo-Americans have historically associated the label with dark skin, broken English spoken with a Spanish accent, poverty and a lack of education. From the inside, he said, those of Latin American heritage have used the term Latino to reaffirm their identity in a larger community.
“It’s formed from the outside by the way people look at you,” Vazquez said. “I don’t go around thinking of myself Latino or Mexican. I think about it when people call it to my attention. ... You have the identity that’s been imposed from the outside that robs you of your dignity. The other, from the inside, asserts your dignity.”
Recent arrivals from Latin America often resist the labels “Latino” or “Hispanic,” identifying instead with their nationality. But many start to refer to themselves as Latino after living in the United States for a period of time. The term acts as a shield, Vazquez said, a unifying force among mostly Spanish-speaking people with diverse backgrounds who share a common experience with stereotypes, discrimination and racism.
Latino is often preferred by those of Latin American descent in the United States. Some Latinos have a strong aversion to the term Hispanic, which describes people from Spanish-speaking countries and has a stronger association with colonial-era Spain.
To make matters more complicated, some Latin American countries do not speak Spanish. People from Haiti, the first Latin American country to gain independence, speak French and Haitian Creole. In Brazil, the official language is Portuguese.
Aside from his academic duties, Vazquez is an active member of Los Cien, a group of Sonoma County Latino leaders that meets periodically to discuss issues affecting local Latino communities, such as education, electoral representation, small business opportunities and conflicts between law enforcement and the Latino community.
Like other Latinos eager to highlight the community’s history in Sonoma County, Vazquez points out that the region was Spanish and later Mexican territory before it became part of the United States.
Of course, the area’s first settlers were Native Americans, Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo, whose cultures date back thousands of years.
Under Spanish and Mexican rule, Sonoma County and the rest of Northern California didn’t experience as big an influx of Spanish and Mexican settlers as did Southern California. Most Latinos of Mexican descent came to Northern California during the 20th century, especially after World War II and the Bracero program, which brought millions of Mexican guest workers into the United States on short-term labor contracts.
When George Ortiz first came to Sonoma County in 1964, he “didn’t even know there were Mexicans here,” he said. Ortiz, a longtime Sonoma County Latino activist who founded the organization that would later become the California Human Development Corp., was living in Novato with his in-laws, working in construction.
Ortiz, a college-educated Mexican-American who served in the U.S. Army in Germany in 1957 and 1958, first starting working as a social worker doing outreach to farmworkers in Sonoma County. Ortiz soon became a bridge between county social services and the growing Latino Spanish-speaking community.
Working with farmworkers and other impoverished Latinos, Ortiz began conducting citizenship and English classes. With the help of Rafael Morales and Catholic priest Jerry Cox, Ortiz helped found Latinos Unidos of Sonoma County, a nonprofit group that granted college scholarships, advocated for poor working families and served other needs in the immigrant community.
This was the start of modern Latino civil society in Sonoma County, he said.
When Ortiz first came to Sonoma County, he viewed himself as “Mexican or Mexican-American.” But after Cox paid Ortiz’s travel and attendance fees to attend a Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) convention in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, Ortiz said he discovered himself. “I came back full of gas, man,” he said.
“Actually, what I really call myself is an American of Mexican descent,” Ortiz said.
Celssy Valencia, 17, of Rohnert Park said she felt somewhat “embarrassed” to be labeled Latina or Mexican when she was young because of negative stereotypes. The Roseland University Prep senior said she has worked hard to overcome these stereotypes and find pride in her experience.
Latinos in the United States, she said, are a diverse group that, aside from language, share one thing in common.
“I can only speak for one group. Not all of us have the same challenges or backgrounds, but we do carry the same stereotypes,” she said.
Over the summer, Valencia traveled to Paraguay as a youth ambassador with Amigos de las Américas, an international nonprofit that builds leadership skills through immersion in cross-cultural experiences. She quickly learned the provincial nature of the term Latino, which Paraguayans resisted.
“Over there, they immediately corrected me and said ‘no we don’t use the term Latino, we’re Paraguayan,’” she said, adding that the term she most identifies with is “Chicana” because she feels like she’s creating her own identity.
“It’s like you’re Mexican with a twist,” she said. “You didn’t emigrate yourself, this is your home too, you are American too.”
In some cases, Latinos find their Latino identity through a different Latin American culture.
Herman Hernandez, Guerneville community leader and chairman of Los Cien, the Latino leadership group, grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District and never gave much thought to his identity. His father, who was from El Salvador, and his mother, from Germany, met in 1938 at Golden Gate College, learning how to speak English.
The two got married the following year and moved to El Salvador in 1940 because of the war. By the time they came back to the States after the war, Hernandez’s German mother was fluent in Spanish.
“My mother was the one that spoke the Spanish in the house ... my father would speak English,” he said, adding that he grew up on Salvadoran mainstays like pupusas and yucca and German favorites like sauerkraut and sausage.
He didn’t identify as Latino until after he met his wife, who is from the Mexican state of Guanajuato, in Mexico and brought her to Guerneville. He went on to develop strong ties with his wife’s Mexican culture, reinforced with each trip the couple and their children took to Mexico.
“It was raising my children and living it as a family culture,” he said. “A lot of me really grew up in the trips and in the living and being in the culture in Mexico.”
Hernandez said reinforcing a positive identity for Sonoma County Latinos is part of what Los Cien is about.
“It’s creating awareness in our community of the Latino community,” he said. “Today, I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud of the culture and the tradition and what it means as a community.”
A part of something larger
Rachel Valenzuela, the Mark West Union School District educator, grew up in southwest Santa Rosa’s Moorland neighborhood. Valenzuela, whose maiden name is Lemus, grew up in a well-known Mexican-American clan that prizes education and community involvement. Their identity was forged through inclusion.
“For us, it meant we were of Mexican descent but born in the United States,” she said. “It also meant that we were aware of our cultures and embraced both cultures, and that we continued to work toward bettering our lives and the lives of those just like us, the Latino community at large.”
Valenzuela graduated from the UC Berkeley and worked as a bilingual teacher and then a school psychologist in Southern California. She returned to Sonoma County in 1996.
That’s when she noticed how the local Latino community had changed.
“It was at that point that I realized I couldn’t assume that all the Latinos in Sonoma County were Mexican,” she said.
Her own identity didn’t change, she just realized that she had become a part of something larger. She noticed that the term Latino was more widely used and started using it herself.
Still, she said, there is no one thing that truly encompasses all Latinos.
“There are commonalities among the Spanish-speaking Latinos, but there also are some differences, so it’s difficult to find an all-encompassing term,” she said.
The city and school districts of Jerome are taking unprecedented steps to engage a rapidly growing Hispanic community – the fastest growing in the Magic Valley. But Hispanics here say the government isn’t doing enough to bridge the divide.
Many Hispanics, especially in the Stoney Ridge subdivision where a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car and died last year, distrust the police. Authorities say crimes go unreported. Hispanic business owners sometimes aren’t aware of city building codes. And the school district struggles to keep Spanish-speaking parents informed.
With a third of the city’s population now Hispanic – and a majority of the school district’s children non-white Hispanics for the first time – it’s more important than ever for the groups to amalgamate. The wave of Hispanics flooding into Jerome shows no sign of cresting anytime soon.
This is a two-way street. Hispanics can’t passively rely on the government to accommodate them. And the government must do more to foster a smoother and faster integration of this rapidly growing group.
No more evident is this gap than in the language barrier.
For their part, Hispanics must strive harder to learn English. The city government, police and school district all say the No. 1 obstacle to better engaging Hispanics is their inability to speak English. Some 28 percent of Jerome residents speak a language other than English at home, and 15 percent is both foreign-born and speaks English less than “very well.” English-speaking children often serve as interpreters for their Spanish-speaking parents.
Hispanics are also woefully underrepresented in local government. There are no Hispanics on the city council or county board. It’s imperative Hispanics become more politically active in their new community if they expect to have a voice in how the city is managed.
While the city and schools have taken new steps to engage Hispanics – mostly through translating documents into Spanish and trying to boost the number of Spanish-speaking employees – they must be more proactive. That means recruiting more Spanish-speaking police officers, teachers and city employees like Esmeralda Chavez, a Jerome native hired as a city planner a year and a half ago. She’s become the face of the Spanish-speaking community at City Hall.
The school district has some bilingual employees, but it can’t say how many because it doesn’t track how many of its employees speak Spanish. The high school football team wants more Hispanic athletes, but it isn’t actively recruiting coaches who speak Spanish. The police department wants more Spanish-speaking officers, but it must be willing to compete with other Magic Valley departments willing to pay more for bilingual officers.
Younger Hispanics and forward-thinking city officials are making the most headway. Members of Jerome High’s Latinos in Action help by interpreting at parent-teacher conferences. Chavez, the city planner, appears regularly on Spanish-language radio to talk about city issues.
These are important steps. But it will take much more from Hispanics and the city’s largest institutions. As our special report, “El Nueveo Jerome,” is showing, it truly is a new Jerome.
A minor skirmish warrants recording. On March 15, 1864, a force of 25 men of the 2nd Texas Cavalry (U.S.) — as opposed to and not to be confused with the 2nd Texas Cavalry (Confederate States of America) — had ridden from Brownsville and were in the vicinity of Charles Stillman’s Santa Rosa Ranch, about three miles east of present-day Sebastian, Texas. They may have been on a mission to secure cattle (beeves) to bring back to Fort Brown to provision the Union troops stationed there.
In any event, the party under the command of Second Lieutenant Santos Cardena were met and attacked by a “largely dispersed force.” It is very likely that these men were part of a reconnaissance force sent out by the CSA’s Col. John “RIP” Ford to feel out the Federals in the area.
A two-hour gunfight ensued. The reported casualties for the Union soldiers were one killed, two missing and one wounded. The extent of enemy casualties was unknown.
The 30-year-old Cardena had been recruited and commissioned by Texas Unionist Brig. General Edmund J. Davis on December 10, 1863.
If the Second Texas Cavalry of an estimated 958 did not distinguish itself, one can find many reasons for its mediocre performance.
Provincial and hardly knowledgeable about the outside world, many of the recruits had at most been U.S. citizens for but a decade and a half and very isolated from mainstream America at that.
The complement was poorly trained, lacked proper uniforms, shoes, equipment and regular pay. To top this off, the unit was subjected to “rampant racism” by other Union military.
Haynes himself did not help matters when he appointed his friend, George Washington Paschal Jr., as regiment commander, even as all the officers in the cavalry opposed this move.
Finally, as correction to these negative elements were either slow in coming or not coming at all, the number of desertions mounted. Only a few by the end of 1863, by the end of the war about one-third or 297 Tejanos and Mexicanos had departed, most to Mexico. Those who fled could sell their weapons in Mexico and satisfy themselves for their lack of military compensation.
Recruits had been promised a $100 bonus, a jacket, raincoat, boots, shoes and $13 per month pay. Most, largely illiterate farmers with little communication skills, had enlisted to obtain the monetary benefits and, when Haynes did not fulfill his promises, these very poor men left the ranks. Some who were issued saddles, bridles sabers, guns and other military supplies sold them after absconding to Mexico.
Desertions by Anglos also occurred. A private Strother of the Texas Cavalryman was shot by two guards the night of January 25, 1864, while attempting to desert with stolen property.
Dr. Jerry Thompson was to write, “The lack of equipment available to the regiment made it difficult for the men to receive efficient and effective training.
The Cavalry had been promised 350 pairs of boots by the government, but had received only 40 pairs, resulting in many men doing their morning and afternoon drills in bare feet.
In the dry grass of southern Texas, especially during a time of drought such as this, the terrain was far from comfortable.
Many of the men also did not receive full uniforms, giving the soldiers an unruly appearance.
This put a major damper in new soldier recruits for Haynes.
However, the problems of equipment were minor in comparison to the rampant racism plaguing the Second Cavalry.”
One solution, with which Haynes concurred, was to transfer the unit to Louisiana. Upon hearing of this, turmoil in the camp crested. To emphasize the importance of military discipline the army would need an object lesson and found it in the case of Pablo Garcia, who was part of the Second Texas Cavalry Regiment. Private Garcia was charged with leaving his sentry post at Punta del Monte on May 10, 1864, before being regularly relieved. (This was the Yturria ranch north of what would become Raymondville.) To this he pleaded guilty but not guilty to charges of desertion and to conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. Captain Edward G. Miller presided at Garcia’s court-martial. Garcia was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to be executed by a firing squad on June 22, 1864.
On the late afternoon of the scheduled execution, fully equipped brigades accompanied by several bands marched to Washington Square. Accompanied by a priest Garcia was apparently then at peace with his Maker. He pushed away the bandage blindfold and bravely faced the 12-man musketry. He was not dead after their action. Two soldiers were called forth, one putting a bullet into his heart and another into his brain. To the solemn tune of the Dead March soldiers of the fort were then paraded by to view the grisly scene of Garcia’s body. They could not help but be stunned by the justice meted for a seemingly minor offense. The citizens of Brownsville also witnessed this sobering scene.
The 1st Texas Cavalry (US) also saw action near White’s Ranch, a site on the Rio Grande southeast of Brownsville, on Sept. 6, 1864, and in the final battle of the Civil War, that of Palmito Ranch on May 13, 1865.
Some were captured by the Confederate forces that were victors in the battle but were quickly released.
As an unusual footnote to this story, I note that two Hispanic Civil War veterans are buried in the small cemetery of Penitas, Texas. One is Sgt. Ignacio Zamora who served in the 2nd Texas Cavalry (U.S.) and had participated in the skirmish at the Santa Rosa Ranch. The second was Pvt. Jose Maria Loya who had also enlisted in the same regiment, but with strong loyalties to his commanding officer, Adrian J. Vidal, followed him into Mexico when the mercurial Vidal precipitously left the Union ranks. Both veterans are honored by headstones provided by the Federal government.
When Nataly Montes de Oca, 25, showed up at Wichita State in the fall of 2013, her life was divided into two activities: going to work and making a home for her 2-year-old son.
It had been five years since she graduated from high school, and she had to relearn how to be a student. She found the grind of college work and a full-time job difficult.
But toward the end of her first semester, she met a group of Latina students in the Hispanic American Leadership Organization on campus and formed a bond. It was the first time, she said, that she felt like she had real friends outside her family in six years in Wichita.
“They make me feel welcomed,” Montes de Oca said. “Part of something else besides being a mom and an employee.”
Now Montes de Oca and 11 of her friends are on the verge of starting the first Hispanic sorority at Wichita State in a decade. They’ve spent the past year leading community service events and, after they finish their paperwork this fall, expect LATINA, which stands for Latina Interest Association, to become a chapter of Kappa Delta Chi. They say the group is needed to help women like Montes de Oca fit in on campus and express their Hispanic heritage.
Montes de Oca did not feel as if she fit in when she showed up as a high school senior in Derby, which was around 90 percent white. Although she was born in America, she had lived in a Chicago neighborhood that was more than 90 percent Mexican, she said. Not only her parents but her teachers spoke Spanish when they weren’t in class.
So she spoke with an accent and had to catch up to the more rigorous academic work in Derby. And because her dad would not move to Wichita for another year, she took a job at Kohl’s to help support the family while her mom was working two jobs.
She was an angry girl that year, she said, and didn’t have any intention of going to college. So she spent the next five years working. But when she became pregnant at 23, she changed her mind.
“I wanted my child to see a future college-wise,” Montes de Oca said. “And say OK, his mom has a degree; I’m gonna do the same thing.”
During a “baby shower” community service event last year, she said, she was able to tell young, pregnant Latinas that it’s still possible to get an education. “You can still do it, take care of your children and go to school,” Montes de Oca said. “You have that support with LATINA.”
‘Help you grow’
For Kassie Baeza, 19, who graduated from a high school class of 20 in Syracuse, LATINA made Wichita State seem less huge.
“You can feel lost,” Baeza said. “You want to have something that is going to help you grow and be a part of something bigger rather than just being another student on WSU.”
But she didn’t really see herself joining a sorority. “I thought that sororities were kind of cult like,” Baeza said. “Like the movies, and I am not about that life.”
She heard from some sorority members that not all sororities are “aesthetics” and decided to go through rush anyway, just so she wouldn’t have any regrets. But she didn’t see herself spending so much time with the women she met at the predominantly white, black and Asian sororities on campus, and she wasn’t selected to join one of them.
“They were a little more girlier than I was,” said Baeza, now a sophomore.
She had already met some of the girls in LATINA who said their group would be about supporting each other and becoming the best they could be. So Baeza signed on. It’s also a chance for her to learn more about other Hispanic cultures, she said.
Arely Navarrete, 22, spent two years at Garden City Community College before she transferred to Wichita State last fall. There are more Hispanics in Garden City, she said, and it was easy to join activities such as cheerleading while still having friends who understood her joy when she qualified for DACA, a federal program that would give her residence status.
When she moved to Sharon Springs from Mexico as a fifth grader, Navarrete saw learning English as another academic challenge – and she loves school. But it was harder in high school when, as the only minority in her class, she said, she could understand that people were teasing her for her accent.
But she finished third in her high school class and went to college, even though her parents wanted her to stay close to home, where her father worked in a bean plant, and start a family.
Most of the 12 members of LATINA are either immigrants, such as Navarrete, or the children of immigrants who didn’t attend college, said Melissa Conley, the group’s adviser.
This means it’s especially helpful for the women in the group to have a support network that both knows where they’re coming from and can help them navigate the new challenges of college, she said.
Conley, who is half-Brazilian, said she volunteered to advise the new sorority because her sister loved her time as a Kappa Delta Chi at Wichita State from about 2000 to 2004, the last time there was a Latina sorority.
Navarrete calls herself conservative and says private organizations are needed to make this country live up to its promise. So she likes talking to children as part of the community service work she does with LATINA. She wants young Latino children to know that through hard work, they, too, can achieve.
“I am seeking to care for as many of those people and those generations as possible, because I know how hard it was to integrate into American society,” Navarrete said.
Hablar español en Los Estados Unidos no es un lujo, si no una necesidad.
If you didn't understand the previous sentence then you're at a disadvantage on many fronts. And before you get on a soap box and start preaching about how "this is America! Learn the language…speak English!", stop.
Many people stopped listening to that "English Only" gibberish of the previous decade a long time ago; most of them coming from corporate america.
I was shopping with my wife at the Wal-Mart in my Central Connecticut neighborhood when I noticed a curious thing. The employees were putting up new billboard signs identifying the different sections at the mega store...in Spanish. There it was, side by side, a sign which read "Auto Care", "Cuidado para el Automovil". You can argue there's a need for that "se habla español" service in large Latino hubs like Miami or Los Angeles, but Central Connecticut?
There's a simple answer to that question with a lot of zeros at the end: $1.5 trillion dollars. That's how much it's estimated U.S. Hispanics will pump into the economy this year, a large slice coming from Spanish dominant Latinos.
A recent study by the Instituto Cervantes finds that more people speak Spanish in the United States than anywhere in the world; second only to Mexico.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that up to 43 million people will be speaking Spanish in 2020. This shouldn't be a surprise given the history that language has had in this country. There are nine states that started off as Spanish colonies. Add on the acquisition of Puerto Rico and the consistent emigration from Latin American countries and well, like I said - it shouldn't be a surprise.
Companies see that the best way to grow their business is to better serve the booming Latino population in their language of choice. Sometimes that's English, sometimes Spanish and sometimes both.
Wells Fargo currently has a bilingual television commercial where a young Latino interacts with his loved one by mobile phone. He addresses the person first in Spanish and then in English in a very natural manner which does not alienate English only audiences.
In truth it is increasingly difficult not to come across Spanish being spoken in the U.S., no matter the market size.
The bilingual approach is not exclusive to sales and marketing. Media is also tapping into this dynamic. In 2013, I was part of the team who produced One Nacion, ESPN’s Hispanic Heritage Month television special. The dynamic live program was bilingual and aired simultaneously on the English language network ESPN and Spanish language network ESPN Deportes.
This year, One Nacion will be produced from South Florida in collaboration with the Fusion Network (October 14, 7-8P ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes; 8-830P ET on Fusion).
In January I assisted in launching ESPN’s One Nacion Digital, a destination where content in English and Spanish reside together, sometimes intertwining languages reflecting the reality of most U.S. Hispanic households.
This September 1st that initiative expands to radio programming with the new podcast One Nacion with Max (Bretos) y Marly (Rivera). Max works as an anchor on ESPN programs like SportsCenter. Marly is a reporter for ESPN Deportes following all of the major leagues in New York City and MLB nationally. It's an example of diversity driving innovation by applying intersectional thinking. The new bilingual podcast focuses on the achievements and challenges of Latino athletes on and off the field. It also seeks to engage audiences about the social and cultural issues which affect athletes and fans alike.
The skeptics say that eventually Latinos will fall in line like other communities and over time be mostly English dominant. That's doubtful given a 2012 Pew Research study which found that 95% of Hispanic adults, including those born in the U.S. - said it is important that future generations of Hispanics speak Spanish.
No importa si es tu lenguaje natal o solamente sabes algunas palabras; el español es parte de la identidad de los latinos.
Y como vemos más y más...para salir adelante en este país se tiene que entender el español igualmente como él inglés.
Welcome to the United States...aquí Se Habla Español!
Hispanic Immigrants: As Bad As Some Want Them to Be?
When he announced his candidacy for the American presidency, Donald Trump delivered remarks that have echoed across Mexico. “They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said.
While the rest of the candidates are finding their footing as they try to court the Latino vote, Trump managed to galvanize the disparate populations of Mexico, both social and political. While the dustup over his comments may have hurt some of Trump’s business relationships, that don’t appear to have bruised him politically. They may even have helped. Trump has seen a bounce in the surveys, but whatever his chances of getting the White House, Trump seems to have tapped into a vein of resentment in America. It is a traditional narrative that those who cross the border are doing so with nefarious intentions, the reality for most Latinos is more complicated.
Donald Trump has remained firm in his allegations that illegal immigrants from Mexico are bringing runaway crime to America. Trump’s claim that there are “hundreds of thousands” of illegal immigrants in US prisons isn’t supported by the facts. Recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics say there are approximately 90,000 noncitizens in prison as of 2013. Even that figure doesn’t say much. The noncitizen group bundles both legal and illegal immigrants. In any case, there are not “hundreds of thousands” of illegal immigrants locked up in America’s prisons.
A 2011 GAO report shows that there were only 90,000 persons of illegal, or unknown, immigration status. Local jails reported about 204,000 for the same period.
The fact that so many immigrants are detained for immigration violations as opposed to committing a violent crime makes incarceration stats hard to review. The GAO study shows that immigration violations were the most frequent offense leading to detention – trailed in the far distance by drug and traffic violations.
Another good report of the latest research is in the May 2014 issue of Criminology and Public Policy. The report shows that there is a consensus among scholars that undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than American citizens.
The Department of Justice recently released figures for the 2012-13 time frame, Heather MacDonald, with the Manhattan Institute published a table of statistics based on the figures. For the first time, Hispanics have been treated as a separate category instead of lumping them in with white.
The report shows that during the period covered by the study, blacks committed an average of 486,000 violent crimes against whites while whites committed only 99,403 violent crimes against blacks.
The violent interracial crime involving blacks and Hispanics happens the same proportions as black on white crime. Blacks are the attackers 82 percent of the time; however Hispanics are attackers less than 18% of the time.There’s been a great deal of press given to black on black violence, but the latest figures indicate that just over 40% of the victims of black violence are black. People of other races account for almost 60% of the victims of black violence.One in every 15 African-American males are in jail, and only one in 36 Hispanics males are incarcerated.
From the moment he stepped up to audition for John Ridley’s anthology series American Crime, for a role that on paper was familiar to him, Richard Cabral hoped to bring new light to a Latino archetype often misaligned in the media. As Hector Tontz, the gang member implicated in a vicious, drug-related murder, Cabral did just that, and in the process earned a Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Emmy nomination.
Hector is one of the few characters at the end of Season 1 to get a happy ending. He’s a free man, he has a new job, and the future looks bright for him and his young family. It was something no one would have seen coming, and not just because the cast wasn’t aware of their characters’ full arcs at the outset.
“Getting the (pilot) script I was like, “OK, this is a Latino figure. He has some dealings with the street and that was it,” Cabral says. “It was kind of vague, but I felt that reading into the character it already had a sense of a three-dimensional side. It was enough for me to play with.”
When John Ridley screened American Crime for the Shabazz Center and Homeboy Industries—which was instrumental in helping Cabral leave his real-life gang past behind—there were concerns that Hector was just going to be the typical drug-dealing gang banger. “John just kept on reassuring me, week in and week out, ‘Just trust in me Richard,’ ” Cabral says. “After towards the middle of the season I was pretty sold.”
Cabral says the tough topics tackled in American Crime—how a murder affects all the different people of a community—made him and his costars bond deeply on set. “We were in a bubble in Austin,” he says. “Every single one of us went through a dark place. But it was OK because when you looked to the left and you looked to the right we all knew that we were on an individual road but at the same time kind of going through it together. There was a real sense of camaraderie, a strong bond, but not just an acting bond. It was spiritual.”
It’s been a little jarring for Cabral after coming off an experience like that, getting an Emmy nom, and now having strangers know more about him and his gritty past. “This is yesterday—a buddy of mine has a Mexican restaurant,” Cabral says. “He was like, ‘Hey, Richard, I’m looking at you on the news and I’m proud. We’re going to name a burrito after you.’ It’s nothing like changing or helping a person find themselves, but who would’ve thought that I would make it to a point in my life where somebody would be naming a damn burrito after me.”
Cabral is hoping his newfound notoriety will help him do more. “It’s opened a whole different door because it’s not just about being an actor no more,” he says. “It’s about being a voice in the community. There’s so many ways to be a voice and that’s what I’m figuring out. Being an artist, being an actor, it’s about telling stories that could heal, that could open up discussion that could make the community better. There are many (Latino) stories that need to be told and haven’t been told right. If I could help be that voice then that’s what I’m going to do, because this is a reality for me.”
Cabral is one of several cast members returning for Season 2, as a completely different character in a new storyline. “First of all, I’m a hero,” he says. “Me looking like a criminal gang member is going to be thrown out the window. I’m not implicated in the crime. I’m helping trying to figure things out. I’m on the good side.”
Cabral returns to the American Crime set in October. Season 2 will air next year.