Hispanic and Latino Americans
||This article possibly contains original research. (February 2015)|
|Hispanic or Latino
17.08% of the U.S. population (2013)
|Regions with significant populations|
|All areas of the United States, particularly in Major Cities and in states on the Southern border.|
|Spanish • English • Indigenous languages|
|Predominantly Roman Catholic;
minority of Protestants.
Minorities in numerous other religions.
|Related ethnic groups|
|Latin Americans, Spaniards, White Latin Americans, Criollos, Afro-Latin Americans, Asian Latin Americans, Mestizos, Mulattoes, Pardos, Castizos, Tejanos, Chicanos, Nuyoricans, and Brazilian Americans.|
Hispanic Americans and Latino Americans (Spanish: hispanos [isˈpanos], latinos) are an ethnolinguistic group of Americans with genealogical origins in the countries of Latin America and Spain. More generally it includes all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino whether fully or partially. Hispanics form an ethnicity sharing a language (Spanish) and cultural heritage, rather than a race. American Hispanics are predominantly of Mexican, and to a lesser extent, Neomexicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Guatemalan, and Colombian ancestry.
Hispanic Americans are the second fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States after Asian Americans. As of 2012, Hispanics constitute 17% of the United States population, or 53 million people. This figure includes 38 million Hispanophone Americans, making the US home to the largest community of Spanish speakers outside of Mexico, having surpassed Argentina, Colombia, and Spain within the last decade. Latinos overall are the second largest ethnic group in the United States, after non-Hispanic Whites (a group which, like Hispanics and Latinos, is composed of dozens of sub-groups).
Hispanics have been in the territory of present-day United States continuously since the sixteenth-century founding of Saint Augustine, Florida, by the Spanish. After Native Americans, Hispanics are the oldest ethnic group to inhabit what is today the United States. Spain colonized large areas of the Southwest and West Coast, including present-day California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, all of which were also under the Republic of Mexico after its independence in the 19th century.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Notable contributions
- 4.1 Arts and entertainment
- 4.2 Business and finance
- 4.3 Fashion
- 4.4 Government and politics
- 4.5 Literature and journalism
- 4.6 Military
- 4.7 Science and technology
- 4.8 Sports
- 5 Socioeconomics
- 6 Cultural influence
- 7 Politics
- 8 Cultural issues
- 9 See also
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The terms Hispanic and Latino refer not to a continental race, but rather an ethnicity, sharing a common culture, history, language, and heritage. According to the Smithsonian Institution, Latino includes peoples of Portuguese-speaking roots, such as Brazil, as well as those of Spanish-language origin. A Hispanic or Latino can be of any race and many are mixed race. In the United States, most Hispanics and Latinos are either white or mestizo. Some Hispanic/Latinos from Caribbean and Latin American countries may also have African ancestry.
The difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino is confusing to some. Hispanics are defined as people from Spain or any of the Spanish speaking countries in Latin America. The term "Latino" has developed more varied definitions. One definition of Latino is "a Latin male in the United States". This is the oldest definition used in the United States, first Used in 1946. Using this definition encompass both Spanish speakers from Europe and the Americas. Under this definition an immigrant from Spain and immigrants from Latin America can both use Latino. This definition is more in line with the usage in the U.S. Census Bureau and OMB, as the two agencies use both terms Hispanic and Latino interchangeably. Another definition of Latino is that it is a condensed form of the term "Latino-Americano" the Spanish word for Latin-American, or someone who comes from Latin America. Under this definition a Mexican American or Cuban American, for example, is both a Hispanic and a Latino. A Brazilian American may be Latino, under this definition of Latino, which would include those of Portuguese-speaking origin. An immigrant from Spain would be classified as Hispanic but not Latino by this definition of Latino. Filipinos and Guamanians are not considered "Hispanic", although some may speak Spanish, because Spanish is not the official language of their respective countries. The Philippines and Guam were colonies of Spain for hundreds of years, but there were not as many colonists in these areas as in the Americas. English became the predominant official language in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.
According to definitions of the U.S. government census, Brazilians that are Portuguese speakers are not considered Hispanic, and are not included in the "Hispanic or Latino" population surveys. One criterion of the U.S. government census is that Hispanic/Latinos be of a Spanish speaking country. Blog discussions about identity note that a significant number of Brazilians have Spanish ancestry due to the colonial history and movement of peoples on the continent, as well as African ancestry from numerous peoples due to the slavery times. Brazil's culture has also been affected by other immigrant cultures, including Italy, Japan, China, Germany, Lebanon, and Russia.
Preference between the terms among Hispanics and Latinos in the United States often depends on their geography of residence. Those in the Eastern United States tend to prefer the term Hispanic, whereas those in the West tend to prefer Latino (or Chicano if they are Mexican American). Both terms refer to ethnicity, as a person of Latino or Hispanic origin can be of any race.
In Spanish, Latina is used for persons of feminine gender; Latino is used for those of masculine gender, or by default. For example, a group of mixed or unknown gender would still be referred to as Latinos. The neologism Latinx was coined as a gender-neutral alternative to this traditional usage. The X functions as a variable, encompassing those who identify as male, female, or non-binary.
|This section requires expansion with: more about the 19th and 20th centuries. (January 2010)|
16th and 17th centuries
A continuous Hispanic/Latino presence in the territory of the United States has existed since the 16th century, earlier than any other European group. Spanish explorers were pioneers in the territory of the present-day United States. The first confirmed European landing in the continental U.S. was by Juan Ponce de León, who landed in 1513 at a lush shore he christened La Florida.
Within three decades of Ponce de León's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans to reach the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the Great Plains. Spanish ships sailed along the East Coast, penetrating to present-day Bangor, Maine, and up the Pacific Coast as far as Oregon. From 1528 to 1536, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and three fellows from a Spanish expedition that foundered (including an African named Estevanico) journeyed from Florida to the Gulf of California, 267 years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In 1540 Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of the present U.S. That same year Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Mexican Indians across today's Arizona–Mexico border and traveled as far as central Kansas, close to the exact geographic center of what is now the continental United States. Other Spanish explorers of the US include, among others: Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, Pánfilo de Narváez, Sebastián Vizcaíno, Gaspar de Portolà, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Tristán de Luna y Arellano and Juan de Oñate, and non-Spanish explorers working for the Spanish Crown, such as Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In all, Spaniards probed half of today's lower 48 states before the first English colonization effort in 1585 at Roanoke Island off the East Coast.
In 1565 the Spanish created the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, at St. Augustine, Florida. Santa Fe, New Mexico was founded before Jamestown, Virginia (founded in 1607) and the New England Plymouth Colony (of Mayflower and Pilgrims fame; founded in 1620). Spanish missionaries and colonists founded settlements in San Antonio, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, to name just a few.
18th and 19th centuries
Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas in the colony of Virginia, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz(no sited references) told of his rescue by an Indian girl from execution by her tribe. Spanish colonists held a thanksgiving type feast near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans —56 years before the noted Pilgrim and Native American festival in Massachusetts.
As late as 1783, at the end of the American Revolutionary War (a conflict in which Spain aided and fought alongside the United States), Spain held claim to roughly half of the territory of today's continental United States. From 1819 to 1848, the United States (through treaties, purchase, diplomacy, and the Mexican-American War) increased its area by roughly a third at Spanish and Mexican expense, acquiring three of today's four most populous states — California, Texas and Florida.
The Hispanic and Latino role in the history and present of the United States is addressed in more detail below (See Notables and their contributions). During the 20th and 21st centuries, Hispanic and Latino immigration to the US increased markedly. To recognize their current and historic contributions, on September 17, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in mid-September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, with Congress's authorization. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the observance to a month, designated Hispanic Heritage Month.
|Hispanic Group||Population||% of Hispanics|
As of 2011, Hispanics accounted for 16.7% of the national population, or around 52 million people. The Hispanic growth rate over the April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 period was 28.7%—about four times the rate of the nation's total population (at 7.2%). The growth rate from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006 alone was 3.4%—about three and a half times the rate of the nation's total population (at 1.0%). Based on the 2010 census, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in 191 out of 366 metropolitan areas in the US. The projected Hispanic population of the United States for July 1, 2050 is 132.8 million people, or 30.2% of the nation's total projected population on that date.
|Rank||Metropolitan area||Hispanic population||Percent Hispanic|
|1||Los Angeles, California||5,804,000||45%|
|2||New York, New York||4,317,000||24%|
|3||San Juan, Puerto Rico||2,617,089||99%|
|10||San Francisco, California||1,114,000||23%|
|11||San Antonio, Texas||1,112,000||56%|
|12||San Diego, California||1,021,000||33%|
The majority of Mexican Americans are concentrated in the Southwest and the West Coast/West, primarily in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The majority of the Hispanic population in the Southeast and Great Plains (Plains States), concentrated in Florida, are of Cuban origin; However, the Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican populations have risen significantly in this region since the mid-1990s.
The Hispanic population in the Northeast, concentrated in New York, New Jersey, and Southeastern Pennsylvania, is composed mostly of Hispanics of Dominican and Puerto Rican origin. The remainder of Hispanics and Latinos may be found throughout the country, though South Americans tend to concentrate on the East Coast and Central Americans on the West Coast. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, several cities on the East Coast have seen often impressive increases in their Mexican population, namely Miami and Philadelphia.
As of 2007, some 64% of the nation's Hispanic population are of Mexican origin (see table). Another 9% are of Puerto Rican origin, with about 3% each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of other Central American or South American origin, or of origin directly from Spain. 60.2% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans were born in the United States.
There are few recent immigrants directly from Spain. In the 2000 Census, 299,948 Americans, of whom 83% were native-born, specifically reported their ancestry as Spaniard. Additionally, in the 2000 Census some 2,187,144 Americans reported "Spanish" as their ancestry.
In northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, there is a large portion of Hispanics who trace their ancestry to Spanish settlers of the late 16th century through the 17th century. People from this background often self-identify as "Hispanos", "Spanish", or "Hispanic". Many of these settlers also intermarried with local Amerindians, creating a Mestizo population. Likewise, southern Louisiana is home to communities of people of Canary Islands descent, known as Isleños, in addition to other people of Spanish ancestry.
Hispanic or Latino origin is independent of race and is termed "ethnicity" by the United States Census Bureau.
According to the 2007 American Community Survey, 92% of Hispanic and Latinos were White. The largest numbers of White Hispanics come from within the Argentine, Colombian, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish, and Venezuelan communities. The largest numbers of Black Hispanics are from the Spanish Caribbean islands, including the Cuban, Dominican, Panamanian, and Puerto Rican, communities.
A significant portion of the Hispanic and Latino population self-identifies as socially Mestizo, particularly the Mexican and Central American community. Mestizo is not listed as a racial category in the U.S. Census. According to the 2010 United States Census, 36.7% of Hispanic/Latino Americans identify as "some other race", such as Mestizo American.
Half of the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States self-identifies as "white", Most of the multi-racial population in the Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan communities are of European and Native American ancestry, while most of the multiracial population in the Cuban, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rican communities are of European and African ancestry.
Hispanic and Latinos are racially diverse, although different "races" dominate each Hispanic group. For example, of major US Hispanic groups with populations of over 1 million, Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador are mestizo countries, with Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic being dominated by tri-racials or mulattos, having a stronger African component within their populations. Cubans are mostly of White Latin American ancestry. The average Mexican is about evenly split with European and Native American ancestry, while the average Salvadoran is a mestizo with slightly more European ancestry, and the average Guatemalan is a mestizo with slightly more Native American ancestry. The average Puerto Rican person is genetically a tri-racial with more European dominated ancestry, usually being of 70% European ancestry, 20% African, and 10% Native American. The average Dominican is evenly split with European and African ancestry. The race and culture of each Hispanic/Latino country and their United States diaspora differs by history and geography. Mexicans represent the bulk of the US Hispanic/Latino population, and most Mexican Americans are mestizo, which causes many non-Hispanics to equate being Hispanic with being mestizo. Other sources, however report the racial makeup of these Hispanic subgroups differently, Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Chile, having the highest percentage of European ancestry in their respective countries, (in order listed) usually of Spanish/Italian descent. As a result of their racial diversity, Hispanics form an ethnicity sharing a language (Spanish) and cultural heritage, rather than a race.
Chicanos, Nuevomexicanos, Tejanos, and Nuyoricans
Chicanos, Nuevomexicanos and Tejanos are Americans of Mexican descent. Chicanos live in the Southwest, Nuevomexicanos in New Mexico, and Tejanos in Texas. Each has a distinct culture, but share a common Mexican family heritage and identity. The term "Chicano" became popular amongst Chicanos in the 1960s during the Chicano nationalism and Chicano Movement, and is today seen as an ethnic and cultural identity by some. Political activist César Chávez and novelist José Antonio Villarreal are famous Chicanos.
Tejanos can be descendants of Spanish colonists from Spanish Colonial Texas, or can be used to identify someone recently arrived from Mexico. Tejanos have a distinct culture that has influenced American culture such as Tex-Mex cuisine and Tejano music. Famous Tejanos include entertainers Eva Longoria and Selena Gomez.
Nuyoricans are Americans of Puerto Rican descent from the New York City area. There are close to two million Nuyoricans in the US. Famous Nuyoricans include US Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor and singer Jennifer Lopez.
Hispanic and Latino Americans have made distinguished contributions to the United States in all major fields, such as politics, the military, music, literature, philosophy, sports, business and economy, and science.
Arts and entertainment
In 1995, the American Latino Media Arts Award, or ALMA Award was created. It's a distinction given to Latino performers (actors, film and television directors, and musicians) by the National Council of La Raza.
There are many Hispanic American musicians that have achieved international fame, such as Jennifer López, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Carmen Miranda, Zack de la Rocha, Fergie, Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Kat DeLuna, Selena, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Carlos Santana, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Pitbull, Los Lonely Boys, Frankie J, Jerry García, Robert Trujillo, Aventura and Tom Araya.
Among the Hispanic American musicians who were pioneers in the early stages of rock and roll were Ritchie Valens, who scored several hits, most notably "La Bamba" and Herman Santiago wrote the lyrics to the iconic rock and roll song "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". Another song that became popular in the United States and is heard during the Holiday/Christmas season is "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano.
In 1986, Billboard magazine introduced the Hot Latin Songs chart which ranks the best-performing songs on Spanish-language radio stations in the United States. Seven years later, Billboard initiated the Top Latin Albums which ranks top-selling Latin albums in the United States. Similarly, the Recording Industry Association of America incorporated "Los Premios de Oro y Platino" (The Gold and Platinum Awards) to certify Latin recordings which contains at least 50% of its content recorded in Spanish.
In 1989, Univision established the Lo Nuestro Awards which became the first award ceremony to recognize the most talented performers of Spanish-language music and was considered to be the "Hispanic Grammys". In 2000, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS) established the Latin Grammy Awards to recognize musicians who perform in Spanish or Portuguese. Unlike The Recording Academy, LARAS extends its membership internationally to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities worldwide in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal.
Film, radio, television, and theatre
Hispanics and Latinos have also contributed some prominent actors and others in the film industry, a few of whom includes actors José Ferrer, the first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award for his role in Cyrano de Bergerac, Anthony Quinn, Cameron Diaz, Martin Sheen, Rodrigo Santoro, Fernanda Montenegro, Daniel de Oliveira, Wagner Moura, Cheech Marín, Salma Hayek, Dolores del Río, Anita Page, Rita Hayworth, Antonio Banderas, Raquel Welch, Benicio del Toro, Eva Mendes, Zoe Saldana, Edward James Olmos, Maria Montez, Ramón Novarro, Ricardo Montalbán, Cesar Romero, Rosie Perez, Katy Jurado, Rita Moreno, Lupe Vélez, Esai Morales, Andy García, Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo, and, behind the camera, directors Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Brett Ratner (also producers and cinematographers) and Luis Valdez.
Some of the Hispanic or Latino actors who achieved notable success in U.S. television include Desi Arnaz, Lynda Carter, Jimmy Smits, Selena Gomez, Carlos Pena, Jr., Eva Longoria, Sofía Vergara, Benjamin Bratt, Ricardo Montalbán, America Ferrera, Erik Estrada, Cote de Pablo, Freddie Prinze, Lauren Vélez, and Charlie Sheen. Kenny Ortega is an Emmy Award-winning producer, director, and choreographer who has choreographed many major television events such as Super Bowl XXX, the 72nd Academy Awards, and Michael Jacksons memorial service.
Hispanics and Latinos are underrepresented in U.S. television, radio, and film. This is combatted by organizations such as the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), founded in 1975; and National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), founded in 1986. Together with numerous Latino civil rights organizations, the NHMC led a "brownout" of the national television networks in 1999, after discovering that there were no Latinos in any of their new prime time shows that year. This resulted in the signing of historic diversity agreements with ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC that have since increased the hiring of Hispanic and Latino talent and other staff in all of the networks.
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) funds programs of educational and cultural significance to Hispanic Americans. These programs are distributed to various public television stations throughout the United States.
Robert Rodríguez is a Mexican American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician.
Business and finance
The total number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002 was 1.6 million, having grown at triple the national rate for the preceding five years.
Hispanic and Latino business leaders include Cuban immigrant Roberto Goizueta, who rose to head of The Coca-Cola Company. Advertising magnate Arte Moreno became the first Hispanic to own a major league team in the United States when he purchased the Los Angeles Angels baseball club. Also a major sports team owner is Linda G. Alvarado, president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.
The largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US is Goya Foods, because of World War II hero Joseph A. Unanue, the son of the company's founders. Angel Ramos was the founder of Telemundo, Puerto Rico's first television station and now the second largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, with an average viewership over one million in primetime. Samuel A. Ramirez, Sr. made Wall Street history by becoming the first Hispanic to launch a successful investment banking firm, Ramirez & Co. Nina Tassler is president of CBS Entertainment since September 2004. She is the highest-profile Latina in network television and one of the few executives who has the power to approve the airing or renewal of series.
In the world of fashion, notable Hispanic and Latino designers include Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, and Narciso Rodríguez among others. Christy Turlington, Gisele Bündchen and Lea T achieved international fame as models.
Government and politics
As of 2007 there were more than five thousand elected officeholders in the United States who were of Latino origin.
In the House of Representatives, Hispanic and Latino representatives have included Ladislas Lazaro, Antonio M. Fernández, Henry B. Gonzalez, Kika de la Garza, Herman Badillo, Romualdo Pacheco, and Manuel Lujan, Jr., out of almost two dozen former Representatives. Current Representatives include Luis Gutiérrez, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Nydia Velázquez, Joe Baca, Loretta Sanchez, Silvestre Reyes, Rubén Hinojosa, Linda Sánchez, and John Salazar—in all, they number twenty-three. Former senators are Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Mel Martinez, Dennis Chavez, Joseph Montoya, and Ken Salazar. As of January 2011, the U.S. Senate includes Hispanic members Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, all Cuban Americans.
Numerous Hispanics and Latinos hold elective and appointed office in state and local government throughout the United States. Current Hispanic Governors include Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Republican New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez; upon taking office in 2011, Martinez became the first Latina governor in the history of the United States. Former Hispanic governors include Democrats Jerry Apodaca, Raul Hector Castro, and Bill Richardson, as well as Republicans Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Romualdo Pacheco, and Bob Martinez.
Since 1988, when Ronald Reagan appointed Lauro Cavazos the Secretary of Education, the first Hispanic United States Cabinet member, Hispanic Americans have had an increasing presence in presidential administrations. Hispanics serving in subsequent cabinets include Ken Salazar, current Secretary of the Interior; Hilda Solis, current United States Secretary of Labor; Alberto Gonzales, former United States Attorney General; Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce; Federico Peña, former Secretary of Energy; Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Manuel Lujan, Jr., former Secretary of the Interior; and Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the United Nations. Six of the last ten US Treasurers, including the latest three, are Hispanic women.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, and the Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC), founded on March 19, 2003, are two organizations that promote policy of importance to Americans of Hispanic descent. They are divided into the two major American political parties: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is composed entirely of Democratic representatives, whereas the Congressional Hispanic Conference is composed entirely of Republican representatives.
Literature and journalism
Among the distinguished Hispanic and Latino authors and their works may be noted:
- Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts)
- Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories)
- Julia Álvarez ("How the García Girls Lost Their Accents")
- Jorge Majfud (Crisis)
- Rudolfo Anaya (Bless Me, Ultima and Heart of Aztlan)
- Giannina Braschi (Empire of Dreams, Yo-Yo Boing!, and United States of Banana)
- Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
- Frank X Gaspar (Leaving Pico)
- Rigoberto González (Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa)
- Jovita González de Mireles (Caballero, cowritten with Eve Raleigh, and Dew On The Thorn)
- Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love)
- Micol Ostow ("Mind Your Manners, Dick and Jane", "Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa")
- Benito Pastoriza Iyodo (A Matter of Men and September Elegies)
- Tomas Rivera (...And the Earth did Not Devour Him)
- Richard Rodríguez (Hunger of Memory)
- Rubén Salazar (journalist)
- George Santayana (novelist and philosopher: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it")
- Sergio Troncoso (From This Wicked Patch of Dust and The Last Tortilla and Other Stories)
- Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Haters)
- Victor Villaseñor (Rain of Gold)
- Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Revolt of the Cockroach People)
- Guadalupe Baca-Vaughn (The Souls in Purgatory)
Hispanics and Latinos have participated in the military of the United States and in every major military conflict from the American Revolution onward. Tens of thousands of Latinos are deployed in the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and U.S. military missions and bases elsewhere. Hispanics and Latinos have not only distinguished themselves in the battlefields but also reached the high echelons of the military, serving their country in sensitive leadership positions on domestic and foreign posts. Up to now, 43 Hispanics and Latinos have been awarded the nation's highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor (also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor). The following is a list of some notable Hispanics/Latinos in the military:
- American Revolution
- Lieutenant Jorge Farragut Mesquida (1755–1817)-Participated in the American Revolution as a lieutenant in the South Carolina Navy.
- American Civil War
- Admiral David Farragut- Farragut was promoted to vice admiral on December 21, 1864, and to full admiral on July 25, 1866, after the war, thereby becoming the first person to be named full admiral in the Navy's history.
- Colonel Ambrosio José Gonzales – Gonzales was active during the bombardment of Fort Sumter and because of his actions was appointed Colonel of artillery and assigned to duty as Chief of Artillery in the department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
- Brigadier General Diego Archuleta (1814–1884) – was a member of the Mexican Army who fought against the United States in the Mexican–American War. During the American Civil War he joined the Union Army (US Army) and became the first Hispanic to reach the military rank of Brigadier General. He commanded The First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry in the Battle of Valverde. He was later appointed an Indian (Native Americans) Agent by Abraham Lincoln.
- Colonel Carlos de la Mesa – Grandfather of Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. commanding general of the First Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily, and later the commander of the 104th Infantry Division during World War II. Colonel Carlos de la Mesa was a Spanish national who fought at Gettysburg for the Union Army in the Spanish Company of the "Garibaldi Guard" of the 39th New York State Volunteers.
- Colonel Federico Fernández Cavada – Commanded the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer infantry regiment when it took the field in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg.
- Colonel Miguel E. Pino – Commanded the 2nd Regiment of New Mexico Volunteers, which fought at the Battle of Valverde in February and the Battle of Glorieta Pass and helped defeat the attempted invasion of New Mexico by the Confederate Army.
- Colonel Santos Benavides – Commanded his own regiment, the "Benavides Regiment." He was the highest ranking Mexican-American in the Confederate Army.
- Major Salvador Vallejo – Officer in one of the California units that served with the Union Army in the West.
- Captain Adolfo Fernández Cavada – Cavada served in the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg with his brother, Colonel Federico Fernandez Cavada. He served with distinction in the Army of the Potomac from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg and was a "special aide-de-camp" to General Andrew A. Humphreys.
- Captain Roman Anthony Baca – Member of the Union forces in the New Mexico Volunteers. He also served as a spy for the Union Army in Texas.
- Lieutenant Augusto Rodriguez – A Puerto Rican native who served as an officer in the 15th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, of the Union Army. Rodríguez served in the defenses of Washington, D.C. and led his men in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Wyse Fork.
- Lola Sánchez – Sánchez was a Cuban born woman who became a Confederate spy who helped the Confederates obtain a victory against the Union Forces in the "Battle of Horse Landing".
- Loreta Janeta Velazquez as known as "Lieutenant Harry Buford" – She was a Cuban woman who donned Confederate garb and served as a Confederate officer and spy during the American Civil War.
- World War I
- Major General Luis R. Esteves, U.S. Army- In 1915, Esteves became the first Hispanic to graduate from the United States Military Academy ("West Point"). Esteves also organized the Puerto Rican National Guard.
- First Lieutenant Félix Rigau Carrera, known as "El Aguila de Sabana Grande" (The Eagle from Sabana Grande)-Was the first Hispanic fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps.
- Private Marcelino Serna- Was an undocumented Mexican immigrant who joined the United States Army and became the most decorated soldier from Texas in World War I. Serna was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
- World War II
- Lieutenant General Pedro del Valle – the first Hispanic to reach the rank of Lieutenant General. He played an instrumental role in the seizure of Guadalcanal and Okinawa as Commanding General of the U.S. 1st Marine Division during World War II.
- Lieutenant General Elwood R. Quesada (1904–1993) – Commanding general of the 9th Fighter Command, where he established advanced headquarters on the Normandy beachhead on D-Day plus one, and directed his planes in aerial cover and air support for the Allied invasion of the European continent during World War II. He was the foremost proponent of "the inherent flexibility of air power", a principle he helped prove during the war.
- Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. (1888–1969) – was the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily during World War II, and was made commander of the 104th Infantry Division.
- Colonel Virgil R. Miller – was the Regimental Commander of the 442d Regimental Combat Team, a unit that was composed of "Nisei" (second generation Americans of Japanese descent), during World War II. He led the 442nd in its rescue of the Lost Texas Battalion of the 36th Infantry Division, in the forests of the Vosges Mountains in northeastern France.
- Captain Marion Frederic Ramírez de Arellano (1913–1980) – served in World War II and was the first Hispanic submarine commander.
- First Lieutenant Oscar Francis Perdomo, of the 464th Fighter Squadron, 507th Fighter Group was the last "Ace in a Day" for the United States in World War II.
- CWO2 Joseph B. Aviles, Sr. – a member of the United States Coast Guard and the first Hispanic-American to be promoted to Chief Petty Officer, received a war-time promotion to Chief Warrant Officer (November 27, 1944), thus becoming the first Hispanic American to reach that level as well.
- Sergeant First Class Agustín Ramos Calero – was the most decorated Hispanic soldier in the European Theatre of World War II.
- PFC Guy Gabaldon, USMC – captured over a thousand prisoners during the World War II Battle of Saipan.
- Tech4 Carmen Contreras-Bozak – the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Women's Army Corps where she served as an interpreter and in numerous administrative positions.
- Korean War
- Major General Salvador E. Felices, U.S. Air Force – In 1953, Felices flew in 19 combat missions over North Korea, during the Korean War. In 1957, he participated in "Operation Power Flite", a historic project that was given to the Fifteenth Air Force by the Strategic Air Command headquarters. Operation Power Flite was the first around the world non-stop flight by an all-jet aircraft.
- First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez – is the only Hispanic graduate of the United States Naval Academy ("Annapolis") to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
- Sergeant First Class Modesto Cartagena- was a member of the 65th Infantry Regiment, an all-Puerto Rican regiment also known as "The Borinqueneers", during World War II and the Korean War. He was the most decorated Puerto Rican soldier in history.
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr.- second Hispanic four-star Admiral, was the commander of the American fleet sent by President John F. Kennedy to set up a quarantine (blockade) of the Soviet ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Vietnam War
- Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto a.k.a. "The Puerto Rican Rambo"- was the most decorated Hispanic American soldier in the Vietnam War
- Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez- top commander of the Coalition forces during the first year of the occupation of Iraq, 2003–2004, during the Iraq War
- Lieutenant General Edward D. Baca- In 1994, Baca became the first Hispanic Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
- Vice Admiral Antonia Novello, M.D., Public Health Service Commissioned Corps- In 1990, Novello became the first Hispanic (and first female) U.S. Surgeon General.
- Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, M.D., Public Health Service Commissioned Corps- Carmona served as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, under President George W. Bush.
- Brigadier General Joseph V. Medina, USMC -made history by becoming the first Marine Corps officer to take command of a Naval flotilla.
- Rear Admiral Ronald J. Rábago is the first person of Hispanic American descent to be promoted to Rear Admiral (lower half) in the United States Coast Guard.
- Captain Linda Garcia Cubero, United States Air Force- in 1980 became the first Hispanic woman graduate of the United States Air Force.
- Major General Erneido Oliva. He was appointed to the position of Deputy Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard.
- Brigadier General Carmelita Vigil-Schimmenti, United States Air Force- in 1985 became the first Hispanic female to attain the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force.
- On August 2, 2006, Brigadier General Angela Salinas, made history when she became the first Hispanic female to obtain a general rank in the Marines.
- Chief Master Sergeant Ramón Colón-López is pararescueman who in 2007, was the only Hispanic among the first six airmen to be awarded the newly created Air Force Combat Action Medal.
Medal of Honor
The following 43 Hispanics were awarded the Medal of Honor:
Philip Bazaar, Joseph H. De Castro, John Ortega, France Silva, David B. Barkley, Lucian Adams, Rudolph B. Davila, Marcario Garcia, Harold Gonsalves, David M. Gonzales, Silvestre S. Herrera, Jose M. Lopez, Joe P. Martinez, Manuel Perez Jr., Cleto L. Rodriguez, Alejandro R. Ruiz, Jose F. Valdez, Ysmael R. Villegas, Fernando Luis García, Edward Gomez, Ambrosio Guillen, Rodolfo P. Hernandez, Baldomero Lopez, Benito Martinez, Eugene Arnold Obregon, Joseph C. Rodriguez, John P. Baca, Roy P. Benavidez, Emilio A. De La Garza, Ralph E. Dias, Daniel Fernandez, Alfredo Cantu "Freddy" Gonzalez, Jose Francisco Jimenez, Miguel Keith, Carlos James Lozada, Alfred V. Rascon, Louis R. Rocco, Euripides Rubio, Hector Santiago-Colon, Elmelindo Rodrigues Smith, Jay R. Vargas, Humbert Roque Versace, and Maximo Yabes.
- In the spy arena, José Rodríguez, a native of Puerto Rico, was the Deputy Director of Operations and subsequently Director of the National Clandestine Service (D/NCS), two senior positions in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), between 2004 and 2007.
- Lieutenant Colonel Mercedes O. Cubria (1903–1980), a.k.a. La Tía (The Aunt), was the first Cuban-born female officer in the U.S. Army. She served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II, in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and was recalled into service during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1988, she was posthumously inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.
Science and technology
Among Hispanic Americans who have excelled in science are Luis Walter Álvarez, Nobel Prize–winning physicist, and his son Walter Alvarez, a geologist. They first proposed that an asteroid impact on the Yucatán Peninsula caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Mario J. Molina won the Nobel Prize in chemistry and currently works in the chemistry department at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Victor Manuel Blanco is an astronomer who in 1959 discovered "Blanco 1", a galactic cluster. F. J. Duarte is a laser physicist and author; he received the Engineering Excellence Award from the prestigious Optical Society of America for the invention of the N-slit laser interferometer. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa is the Director of the Pituitary Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Director of the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Physicist Albert Baez made important contributions to the early development of X-ray microscopes and later X-ray telescopes. His nephew John Carlos Baez is also a noted mathematical physicist. Francisco J. Ayala is a biologist and philosopher, former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been awarded the National Medal of Science and the Templeton Prize. Peruvian-American biophysicist Carlos Bustamante has been named a Searle Scholar and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow. Luis von Ahn is one of the pioneers of crowdsourcing and the founder of the companies reCAPTCHA and Duolingo. Colombian-American Ana Maria Rey received a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in atomic physics in 2013.
Dr. Fernando E. Rodríguez Vargas discovered the bacteria that cause dental cavity. Dr. Gualberto Ruaño is a biotechnology pioneer in the field of personalized medicine and the inventor of molecular diagnostic systems, Coupled Amplification and Sequencing (CAS) System, used worldwide for the management of viral diseases. Fermín Tangüis was an agriculturist and scientist who developed the Tangüis Cotton in Peru and saved that nation's cotton industry. Severo Ochoa, born in Spain, was a co-winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Sarah Stewart, a Mexican-American Microbiologist, is credited with the discovery of the Polyomavirus and successfully demonstrating that cancer causing viruses could be transmitted from animal to animal. Mexican-American psychiatrist Dr. Nora Volkow, whose brain imaging studies helped characterize the mechanisms of drug addiction, is the current director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, an early advocate for women's reproductive rights, helped drive and draft U.S. federal sterilization guidelines in 1979. She was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton, and was the first Latina president of the American Public Health Association.
Some Hispanics and Latinos have made their names in astronautics, including several NASA astronauts: Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Latin American NASA astronaut, is co-recordholder for the most flights in outer space, and is the leading researcher on the plasma engine for rockets; France A. Córdova, former NASA chief scientist; Juan R. Cruz, NASA aerospace engineer; Lieutenant Carlos I. Noriega, NASA mission specialist and computer scientist; Dr. Orlando Figueroa, mechanical engineer and Director of Mars Exploration in NASA; Amri Hernández-Pellerano, engineer who designs, builds and tests the electronics that will regulate the solar array power in order to charge the spacecraft battery and distribute power to the different loads or users inside various spacecraft at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Olga D. González-Sanabria won an R&D 100 Award for her role in the development of the "Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries" which help enable the International Space Station power system. Mercedes Reaves, research engineer and scientist who is responsible for the design of a viable full-scale solar sail and the development and testing of a scale model solar sail at NASA Langley Research Center. Dr. Pedro Rodríguez, inventor and mechanical engineer who is the director of a test laboratory at NASA and of a portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis. Dr. Felix Soto Toro, electrical engineer and astronaut applicant who developed the Advanced Payload Transfer Measurement System (ASPTMS) (Electronic 3D measuring system); Ellen Ochoa, a pioneer of spacecraft technology and astronaut; Joseph Acaba, Fernando Caldeiro, Sidney Gutierrez, Jose Hernández, Michael López-Alegría, John Olivas, and George Zamka, who are current or former astronauts.
The large number of Hispanic and Latino American stars in Major League Baseball (MLB) includes players like Ted Williams (considered by many to be the greatest hitter of all time), Miguel Cabrera, Lefty Gómez, Iván Rodríguez, Carlos González, Roberto Clemente, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Fernando Valenzuela, Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols, Omar Vizquel, managers Al López, Ozzie Guillén, and Felipe Alou, and General Manager Omar Minaya.
Basketball and football
There have been far fewer football and basketball players, let alone star players, but Tom Flores was the first Hispanic head coach and the first Hispanic quarterback in American professional football, and won Super Bowls as a player, as assistant coach and as head coach for the Oakland Raiders. Anthony Múñoz is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, ranked #17 on Sporting News's 1999 list of the 100 greatest football players, and was the highest-ranked offensive lineman. Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and Joe Kapp is inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. Steve Van Buren, Martin Gramatica, Victor Cruz, Tony Gonzalez, Marc Bulger, Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez can also be cited among successful Hispanics and Latinos in the National Football League (NFL).
Trevor Ariza, Mark Aguirre, Carmelo Anthony, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Arroyo, Gilbert Arenas, Rolando Blackman, Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon, José Juan Barea and Charlie Villanueva can be cited in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Dick Versace made history when he became the first person of Hispanic heritage to coach an NBA team. Rebecca Lobo was a major star and champion of collegiate (National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)) and Olympic basketball and played professionally in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Diana Taurasi became just the seventh player ever to win an NCAA title, a WNBA title, and as well an Olympic gold medal. Orlando Antigua became in 1995 the first Hispanic and the first non-black in 52 years to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Ricco Rodriguez, Tito Ortiz, Diego Sanchez, Nick Diaz, Nathan Diaz' Dominick Cruz, Frank Shamrock, Gilbert Melendez, Roger Huerta, Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum, and UFC Heavy Weight Champion Cain Velasquez have been competitors in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) of mixed martial arts.
In 1991 Bill Guerin whose mother is Nicaraguan became the first Hispanic player in the National Hockey League (NHL). He was also selected to four NHL All-Star Games. In 1999 Scott Gomez won the NHL Rookie of the Year Award.
Figure skater Rudy Galindo; golfers Chi Chi Rodríguez, Nancy López, and Lee Trevino; softball player Lisa Fernández; and Paul Rodríguez Jr., X Games professional skateboarder, are all Hispanic or Latino Americans who have distinguished themselves in their sports.
|Ethnicity or nationality||Percent of
|General Hispanic population||13%|
|General US population||28%|
In terms of educational attainment, Hispanic and Latino Americans of South American descent have the highest college graduation rates, and significantly higher than the national average. In 2013, Hispanic high school graduates passed Non-Hispanic Whites in rate of college enrollment. 69% of Hispanic high school graduates enroll in a college immediately after graduation.
Those with a bachelor's degree or higher ranges from 50% of Venezuelans compared to 18% for Ecuadorians 25 years and older. Amongst the largest Hispanic groups, those with a bachelors or higher was 25% for Cuban Americans, 16% of Puerto Ricans, 15% of Dominicans, and 11% for Mexican Americans. Over 21% of all second-generation Dominican Americans have college degrees, slightly below the national average (28%) but significantly higher than U.S.-born Mexican Americans (13%) and U.S.-born Puerto Rican Americans (12%).
Hispanic and Latinos make up the second or third largest ethnic group in Ivy League universities, considered to be the most prestigious in the United States. Hispanic and Latino enrollment at Ivy League universities has gradually increased over the years. Today, Hispanics make up between 8% of students at Yale University to 15% at Columbia University. For example, 18% of students in the Harvard University Class of 2018 are Hispanic.
Hispanics have significant enrollment in many other top universities such as Florida International University (63% of students), University of Miami (27%), and MIT, UCLA, & UC-Berkeley at 15% each. At Stanford University, Hispanics are the second largest ethnic group behind Non-Hispanic Whites, at 18% of the student population.
In the 2010 US Census, the high school graduation rate for Hispanics was 62% overall. It is highest among Cuban Americans (69%) and lowest among Mexican Americans (48%). The Puerto Rican rate is 63%, Central and South American Americans is 60%, and Dominican Americans is 52%.
Hispanic university enrollments
|Hispanic student enrollment in university and college systems (2012-2013)
Hispanic and Latino Americans are the longest-living Americans, according to official data. Their life expectancy is more than two years longer than for non-Hispanic whites and almost eight years longer than for African Americans.
Workforce and average income
In 2002, the average individual income among Hispanic and Latino Americans was highest for Cuban Americans ($38,733), and lowest for Dominican Americans ($26,467) and Puerto Ricans ($27,877). For Mexican Americans, it was $33,927, and $30,444 for Central and South Americans. In comparison, the income of the average Hispanic American is lower than the national average.
Among Hispanics, Cuban Americans (28.5 percent) had the highest percentage in professional–managerial occupations. The percentage for Mexican Americans was 20.7, Central and South Americans' was 8.8 percent, and Puerto Ricans was 7.2 percent. All these are lower than the average for non-Hispanics (36.2 percent).
According to the ACS, the poverty rate among Hispanic groups is highest among Dominican Americans (28.1 percent), Mexican Americans (23.9 percent), and Honduran Americans and Puerto Ricans (23.7 percent both). It is lowest among South Americans, such as Colombian Americans (10.6 percent) and Peruvian Americans (13.6 percent), and relatively low poverty rates are also found among Salvadoran Americans (15.0 percent) and Cuban Americans (15.2 percent).
In comparison, the average poverty rates for non-Hispanic White Americans (8.8 percent) and Asian Americans (7.1 percent) were lower than those of any Hispanic group. African Americans (21.3 percent) had a higher poverty rate than Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans, but had a lower poverty rate than Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans.
The geographic, political, social, economic, and racial diversity of Hispanic and Latino Americans makes all Hispanics very different depending on their family heritage and/or national origin. Yet several features tend to unite Hispanics from these diverse backgrounds.
As one of the most important uniting factors of Hispanic Americans, Spanish is an important part of Hispanic culture. Teaching Spanish to children is often one of the most valued skills taught amongst Hispanic families. Spanish is not only closely tied with the person's family, heritage, and overall culture, but valued for increased opportunities in business and one's future professional career. A 2013 Pew Research survey showed that 95% of Hispanic adults said "it's important that future generations of Hispanics speak Spanish." Given the US proximity to other Spanish-speaking countries, Spanish is being passed on to future American generations. Amongst second-generation Hispanics, 80% speak fluent Spanish, and amongst third-generation Hispanics, 40% speak fluent Spanish.
Hispanics have revived the Spanish language in the United States. First brought to North America by the Spanish during the Spanish colonial period in the 16th century, Spanish was the first European language spoken in the Americas. Spanish is the oldest European language in the United States, spoken uninterruptedly for four and a half centuries, since the founding of Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565. Today, 90% of all Hispanic and Latinos speak English, and at least 89% speak fluent Spanish. Additionally, 2.8 million non-Hispanic Americans also speak Spanish at home.
With 40% of Hispanic and Latino Americans being immigrants, and with many of the 60% who are U.S.-born being the children or grandchildren of immigrants, bilingualism is the norm in the community at large. At home, at least 69% of all Hispanics over the age of five are bilingual in English and Spanish, whereas up to 22% are monolingual English-speakers, and 9% are monolingual Spanish speakers. Another 0.4% speak a language other than English and Spanish at home.
American Spanish dialects
The Spanish dialects spoken in the US differ depending on the country of origin of the person or the person's family heritage. Generally, however, Spanish spoken in the Southwest is Mexican Spanish (or Chicano Spanish). An old, colonial variety of Spanish is spoken by descendants of the early Spanish colonists in New Mexico and Colorado, which is New Mexican Spanish. One of the major distinctions of New Mexican Spanish is its heavy use of colonial vocabulary and verb tenses that make New Mexican Spanish uniquely American amongst Spanish dialects. The Spanish spoken in Florida and in the Northeast is Caribbean Spanish and is heavily influenced by the Spanish of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Canarian Spanish is the historic Spanish dialect spoken by the descendants of the earliest Spanish colonists beginning in the 18th century in Louisiana. Spanish spoken elsewhere throughout the country varies, although is generally Mexican Spanish.
Spanglish and English dialects
See also: List of English words of Spanish origin
Hispanics have influenced the way Americans speak with the introduction of many Spanish words into the English language. Amongst younger generations of Hispanics, Spanglish, or a mix of Spanish and English, may be a common way of speaking. Although they are fluent in both languages, speakers will switch between Spanish and English throughout the conversation. Spanglish is particularly common in Hispanic-majority cities and communities such as Miami, Hialeah, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Hispanics have also influenced the way English is spoken in the United States. In Miami, for example, the Miami dialect has evolved as the most common form of English spoken and heard in Miami today. This is a native dialect of English, and was developed amongst second and third generations of Cuban Americans in Miami. Today, it is commonly heard everywhere throughout the city. Gloria Estefan and Enrique Iglesias are examples of people who speak with the Miami dialect. Another major English dialect, is spoken by Chicanos and Tejanos in the Southwestern United States, called Chicano English. George Lopez and Selena are examples of speakers of Chicano English.
The most methodologically rigorous study of Hispanic or Latino religious affiliation to date was the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life (HCAPL) National Survey, conducted between August and October 2000. This survey found that 70% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans are Catholic, 20% are Protestant, 3% are "alternative Christians" (such as Mormon or Jehovah's Witnesses), 1% identify with a non-Christian religion (including Muslims, Jewish, Buddhist...), and 6% have no religious preference (with only 0.37% claiming to be atheist or agnostic). This suggests that Hispanics/Latinos are not only a highly religious, but also a highly Christian constituency.
It also suggests that Hispanic/Latino Protestants are a more sizable minority than sometimes realized. Catholic affiliation is much higher among first-generation than second- or third-generation Hispanic or Latino immigrants, who exhibit a fairly high rate of defection to Protestantism. Also Hispanics and Latinos in the Bible Belt, which is mostly located in the South, are more likely to defect to Protestantism than those in other regions. Examples of Protestant denominations that experiencing an inflow of Hispanic/Latino converts are Pentecostalism and the Episcopal Church. According to Andrew Greeley, as many as 600,000 American Latinos leave Catholicism for Protestant churches every year. Hispanic or Latino Catholics are also increasingly working to enhance member retention through youth and social programs and through the spread of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
The United States is home to thousands of Spanish-language media outlets, which range in size from giant commercial and some non-commercial broadcasting networks and major magazines with circulations numbering in the millions, to low-power AM radio stations with listeners numbering in the hundreds. There are hundreds of Internet media outlets targeting U.S. Hispanic consumers. Some of the outlets are online versions of their printed counterparts and some online exclusively.
Among the most noteworthy Hispanic/Latino-oriented media outlets are:
Hispanics, particularly Cuban, Mexican, and Puerto Ricans, have influenced American cuisine and American eating habits. Mexican cuisine is now popular across the US, making tortillas and salsa more popular than hamburger buns and ketchup. Tortilla chips have also surpassed potato chips in annual sales, and plantain chips popular in Caribbean cuisines, have continued to grow in popularity. Tropical fruit such as mango, guava, and passion fruit (maracuyá) have increasingly become more popular and are now common flavors in desserts, candies, and food dishes in the US.
Due to the large Mexican American population in the Southwestern United States, and its proximity to Mexico, Mexican food there is believed to be some of the best in the US. Cubans brought Cuban cuisine to Miami, and today, cortaditos, pastelitos de guayaba, and empanadas are common mid-day snacks. Cuban culture has changed Miami's coffee drinking habits, and today a café con leche or a cortadito is commonly had, often with a pastelito (pastry) at one of the city's numerous coffee shops. The Cuban sandwich was invented in Miami, and is now also a staple and icon of the city's cuisine and culture.
Family life and values
Hispanic and Latino culture places a strong value on family, and is commonly taught to Hispanic children as one of the most important values in life. Statistically, Hispanic families tend to have larger and closer knit families than the American average, and Hispanic families tend to prefer to live near other family members. This may mean that three or sometimes four generations may be living in the same household or near each other, although four generations is very uncommon in the US. The role of grandparents is also believed to be very important in the upbringing of children.
Hispanics tend to be very group-oriented, and an emphasis is placed on the well-being of the family, and not just on the individual. The extended family plays an important part of many Hispanic families, and frequent social, family gatherings are common. Traditional rights of passages, particularly Roman Catholic sacraments: such as baptisms, birthdays, First Holy Communions, quinceañeras, Confirmations, graduations, and weddings are all popular moments of family gatherings and celebrations in Hispanic families.
Education is another important priority for Hispanic families. Education is seen as the key towards continued upward mobility in the US amongst Hispanic families. A 2010 study by the Associated Press showed that Hispanics place a higher emphasis on education than the average American. Hispanics expect their children to graduate university.
Latin American youth today stay at home with their parents longer than before. This is due to more years spent studying and the difficulty of finding a paid job that meets their aspirations.
Hispanic Americans, like immigrant groups before them, are out-marrying at high rates. Out-marriages comprise 17.4% of all existing Hispanic marriages in 2008., and the rate is higher for newlyweds (which excludes immigrants who are already married): Among all newlyweds in 2010, 25.7% of all Hispanics married a non-Hispanic (this compares to out-marriage rates of 9.4% of whites, 17.1% of blacks, and 27.7% of Asians). The rate was larger for native-born Hispanics, with 36.2% of native-born Hispanics (both men and women) out-marrying compared to 14.2% of foreign-born Hispanics. The difference is attributed to recent immigrants tending to marry within their immediate immigrant community due to commonality of language, proximity, familial connections, and familiarity.
In 2008, 81% of Hispanics who intermarried married non-Hispanic Whites, 9% married non-Hispanic Blacks, 5% non-Hispanic Asians, and the remainder married non-Hispanic, multi-racial partners.
Of the 275,500 new intermarried pairings in 2010, 43.3% were White-Hispanic (compared to White-Asian at 14.4%, White-Black at 11.9%, and Other Combinations at 30.4%; other combinations consists of pairings between different minority groups, multi-racial people, and American Indians). Unlike blacks and Asians, intermarriage rates between White and Hispanic newlyweds do not vary by gender. The combined median earnings of White/Hispanic couples are lower than those of White/White couples but higher than those of Hispanic/Hispanic couples. 23% of Hispanic men who married White women have a college degree compared to only 10% of Hispanic men who married a Hispanic woman. 33% of Hispanic women who married a White husband are college-educated compared to 13% of Hispanic women who married a Hispanic man.
Attitudes amongst non-Hispanics toward intermarriage with Hispanics are mostly favorable with 81% of Whites, 76% of Asians, and 73% of Blacks "being fine" with a member of their family marrying a Hispanic and an additional 13% of Whites, 19% of Asians, and 16% of Blacks "being bothered but accepting of the marriage." Only 2% of Whites, 4% of Asians, and 5% of Blacks would not accept a marriage of their family member to a Hispanic.
Hispanic attitudes toward intermarriage with non-Hispanics are likewise favorable with 71% "being fine" with marriages to Whites and 81% "being fine" with marriages to Blacks. A further 22% admitted to "being bothered but accepting" of a marriage of a family member to a White and 16% admitted to "being bothered but accepting" of a marriage of a family member to a Black. Only 3% of Hispanics objected outright marriage of a family member to a non-Hispanic Black and 3% to a non-Hispanic White.
Unlike intermarriage with other racial groups, intermarriage with non-Hispanic Blacks varies by nationality of origin, with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans having by far the highest rates of intermarriage with blacks, of all major Hispanic national groups. Cubans have the highest rate of intermarriage with non-Hispanic Whites, of all major Hispanic national groups, and are the most assimilated into White American culture. Mexican Americans, who are the majority of the US Hispanic population, are most likely to intermarry with Whites and Asians when marrying out.
Hispanics are present in all major American sports and leagues, but have particularly influenced the growth in popularity of soccer in the United States. Soccer is the most popular sport across Latin America and Spain, and Hispanics brought the heritage of soccer playing to the US. Major League Soccer teams such as Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, and the Houston Dynamo, for example, have a fanbase composed primarily of Mexican Americans.
Main article: Hispanic and Latino American politics
Hispanics and Latinos differ on their political views depending on their location and background, but the majority (57%) either identify themselves as or support the Democrats, and 23% identify themselves as Republicans. This 34 point gap as of December 2007 was an increase from the gap of 21 points 16 months earlier.
Cuban Americans and Colombian Americans tend to favor conservative political ideologies and support the Republicans, while Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans tend to favor liberal views and support the Democrats. However, because the latter groups are far more numerous—as, again, Mexican Americans alone are 64% of Hispanics and Latinos—the Democratic Party is considered to be in a far stronger position with the group overall.
The Presidency of George W. Bush had a significant impact on the political leanings of Hispanics and Latinos. As a former Governor of Texas, Bush regarded this growing community as a potential source of growth for the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and he made some gains for the Republicans among the group.
Elections of 1996-2006
In the 1996 presidential election, 72% of Hispanics and Latinos backed President Bill Clinton, but in 2000 the Democratic total fell to 62%, and went down again in 2004, with Democrat John Kerry winning Hispanics 58–40 against Bush. Hispanics in the West, especially in California, were much stronger for the Democratic Party than in Texas and Florida. California Latinos voted 63–32 for Kerry in 2004, and both Arizona and New Mexico Latinos by a smaller 56–43 margin; but Texas Latinos were split nearly evenly, favoring Kerry 50–49, and Florida Latinos (mostly being Cuban American) backed Bush, by a 54–45 margin.
In the 2006 midterm election, however, due to the unpopularity of the Iraq War, the heated debate concerning illegal immigration, and Republican-related Congressional scandals, Hispanics and Latinos went as strongly Democratic as they have since the Clinton years. Exit polls showed the group voting for Democrats by a lopsided 69–30 margin, with Florida Latinos for the first time split evenly. The runoff election in Texas' 23rd congressional district was seen as a bellwether of Latino politics, and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez's unexpected (and unexpectedly decisive) defeat of Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla was seen as proof of a leftward lurch among Latino voters, as heavily Latino counties overwhelmingly backed Rodriguez, and heavily Anglo counties overwhelmingly backed Bonilla.
In the 2008 Presidential election's Democratic primary Hispanics and Latinos participated in larger numbers than before, with Hillary Clinton receiving most of the group's support. Pundits discussed whether a large percentage of Hispanics and Latinos would vote for an African American candidate, in this case Barack Obama, Clinton's opponent. Hispanics/Latinos voted 2 to 1 for Mrs. Clinton, even among the younger demographic, which in the case of other groups was an Obama stronghold. Among Hispanics, 28% said race was involved in their decision, as opposed to 13% for (non-Hispanic) whites.
Obama defeated Clinton. In the matchup between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain for the presidency, Hispanics and Latinos supported Obama with 59% to McCain's 29% in the Gallup tracking poll as of June 30, 2008. This surprised some analysts, since a higher than expected percentage of Latinos and Hispanics favored Obama over McCain, who had been a leader of the comprehensive immigration reform effort. However, McCain had retracted during the Republican primary, stating that he would not support the bill if it came up again. Some analysts believed that this move hurt his chances among Hispanics and Latinos. Obama took advantage of the situation by running ads aimed at the ethnic group, in Spanish, in which he mentioned McCain's about-face.
In the general election, 67% of Hispanics and Latinos voted for Obama and 31% voted for McCain, with a relatively stronger turnout than in previous elections in states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia helping Obama carry those formerly Republican states. Obama won 70% of non-Cuban Hispanics and 35% of the traditionally Republican Cuban Americans that have a strong presence in Florida, while the changing state demographics towards a more non-Cuban Hispanic community also contributed to his carrying Florida's Latinos with 57% of the vote. Hispanics and Latinos also supplanted Republican gains in traditional red states, for example Obama carried 63% of Texas Latinos, despite that the overall state voted for McCain by 55%.
Although during 2008 the economy and employment were top concerns for Hispanics and Latinos, immigration was "never far from their minds": almost 90% of Latino voters rated immigration as "somewhat important" or "very important" in a poll taken after the election. There is "abundant evidence" that the heated Republican opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 has done significant damage to the party's appeal to Hispanics and Latinos in the years to come, especially in the swing states such as Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. In a Gallup poll of 4,604 registered Hispanic voters taken in the final days of June 2008, only 18% of participants identified themselves as Republicans.
Some political organizations associated with Hispanic and Latino Americans are LULAC, the NCLR, the United Farm Workers, the Cuban American National Foundation, and the National Institute for Latino Policy.
Hispanic and Latinos went even more heavily for Democrats in the 2012 election with the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama receiving 71% and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney receiving about 27% of the vote.
Hispanophobia has existed in various degrees throughout U.S. history, based largely on ethnicity, race, culture, Anti-Catholicism, economic and social conditions in Latin America, and use of the Spanish language. In 2006, Time Magazine reported that the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 33 percent since 2000, primarily due to anti-illegal immigrant and anti-Mexican sentiment. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, the number of anti-Latino hate crimes increased by 35 percent since 2003 (albeit from a low level). In California, the state with the largest Latino population, the number of hate crimes against Latinos almost doubled.
For the year 2009, the FBI reported that 483 of the 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States were anti-Hispanic comprising 7.3% of all hate crimes. This compares to 34.6% of hate crimes being anti-Black, 17.9% being anti-Homosexual, 14.1% being anti-Jewish, and 8.3% being anti-White.
Relations with other minority groups
As a result of the rapid growth of the Hispanic population, there has been some tension with other minority populations, especially the African American population, as Hispanics have increasingly moved into once exclusively Black areas. There has also been increasing cooperation between minority groups to work together to attain political influence.
Places of settlement in United States:
Other Hispanic and Latino Americans topics:
Surveys and historiography
Culture and politics, post 1965
Regional and local
Texas and Southwest