Being a Latino in America today is a complex issue. When it comes to defining Latino identity, this can mean so many different things. Latino’s are rooted around two dozen different places of origin. Even if Latinos may have in common their language, the Latino experience has no singular narrative or voice.
Identity for U.S. Latinos is multifaceted and multidimensional.
For instance, many Latinos tie their identity to their countries of origin or their ancestors’ countries of origin: Cuba, Peru, the Dominican Republic or Mexico. Around one-quarter of all Latinos living in the United States self-identify as Afro-Latino.
In general, the state of Latinos in America today is that of a growing force to be reckoned with. Statistics show that in the year 2014, the Hispanic population in the U.S. was already reaching 17.4 percent of the total population; roughly a high of 57 million. However, because fewer Mexicans are entering the U.S. than decades ago, the overall growth rate of the Latino population has slowed. Today, the driving force behind the current Latino population growth are native-born Latinos.
The American state with the largest Latino population in the country is California, with 15 million, followed by Texas and Florida. Latinos even surpassed whites in California, as the largest ethnic group. They are also the youngest ethnic and racial group in the U.S., with around 17.9 million or about a third of them under 18. It is estimated that around 60 percent of Latinos are millennials or younger.
One of the most vital issues faced by them is assimilation. Many Latinos are associating themselves with the white culture or black culture in America. One of the most obvious criteria for assimilation is being native language proficient. It seems that everyone will have trouble talking to their grandparents within a short period of time. Today, young Latinos are more proficient in English than the previous generations used to be.
According to statistics, around 76 percent of Latino millennials speak English very well or only speak English at home. When it comes to Latinos aged 5 to 17, 88 percent of them are proficient English speakers. While 95 percent of Latinos consider that it is important to preserve the cultural tradition of speaking Spanish for future generations, 71 percent of them do not think that it is necessary to speak the language in order to be considered Hispanic.
Being a Latino in the United States can also be seen sometimes as an evolving sense of identity. Some people belonging to this community identified themselves simply as Americans when growing up in the country. However, they were still living in a different world when being at home. But many of them are just loving being in the two worlds. Some speak Spanish at home, English at work, or speak both languages with their friends. Some even fuse the two languages together in a cool “Spanglish” mix.
Being a Latino can give you a rich culture to hold close to your heart. Being an American can give you assurance and hope that anything is possible with hard work. You can live the best of the two worlds.