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Looking around the United States, it is not hard to see the influence that Spanish-speaking nations, namely Mexico, have had on us. Every day we see signs in Spanish. We hear it as we walk through the streets of Madison and Milwaukee. We feel the impact it has on us in our public school system. We also see the controversy it causes on the news. What I will be attempting to explore in this paper is the origins of Mexican Americans and their continuing influence on the United States.
I believe it is important to first understand the history of the relationship between Americans and Mexicans to understand the preconceived notions many Americans have towards Mexico. Although both nations are technically “Americas”, for the duration of the paper I will refer to the United States as America. After winning its independence from Spain, Mexico first had large-scale contact with Americans during the early 1800s when Americans were migrating farther west to what is present day Texas.
Mexico allowed these citizens to reside despite the tension and friction that was building between Whites, Indians and Mexicans in these territories. Texas citizens declared themselves an independent nation, and due to the United States recognition of such, a war was prompted between the United States and Mexico. Mexico lost the war as well as its territories in North America. Mexican citizens who stayed behind in the lost territories became American citizens (Marger, 2012).
One of the things that always confounded me about racism in the south, and states like Arizona, is the complete indifference or ignorance of this fact. I have always wondered how the White Supremacist mindset works when Mexican Americans have a natural ancestry in these states and were the first citizens of these states. How can we still see bumper stickers that say “Learn English or Go Home”, or “Go back to your own country” when the first citizens of these states were Mexicans?
I believe that a cause for this is the lack of emphasis of early Mexican American history taught in schools. I I believe that if this were emphasized, these specific ethnocentric arguments would be dispelled sooner. Immigration of Mexicans and other Hispanics to America is not going to stop, so to ignore their political influence would be foolish. Demographics are showing that the Hispanic population is on the rise. There are an estimated 6. 6 million illegal immigrants from Mexico alone residing in the United States (Marger, 2012).
The European American population, although still the largest in size, declining. (Marger, 2012). Since there are an increasing amount of people in the United States who are a mixed race, such as myself who is part Mexican American, true numbers of those who identify as part Hispanic are not yet known. (Marger, 2012). I believe that due to this, it is more crucial than ever to understand what kind of influence Mexican Americans will have on the socioeconomic and political structure of the future America.
As much as certain groups of people would want to deny the influence of Mexican culture, as well as that of other Spanish-speaking ethnicities on the United States, the population statistics, (as well as the 2012 Election results, in my opinion) prove otherwise. Hispanics are the largest minority group (Naumann, Benet-Martinez, Espinoza 2013), and it is estimated that by 2050, 46% of the United States population will be Hispanic. (Marger, 2012). Insofar as political influence is concerned, 2008 held 19. 5 million registered Hispanic voters, and it is estimated that 23.
7 million registered voters were Hispanic in the 2012 election. To more specifically cite the influence of Mexican Americans in today’s voting world, there are 33 million Mexican Americans in the United States and 73% of them were born in America (Naumann, et al 2013). Despite attempts of the Republican Party to capture the vote of Hispanic Americans, 70% of them are still voting Democratic. (Naumann, et al 2013). Although Cubans tend to vote primarily more for Republicans, the larger population of Mexican Americans is still voting for Democrats.
(Naumann, et al 2013). By analyzing these data, I can only conclude that the dire need for the Hispanic vote from the GOP is the sole purpose of the existence of Marco Rubio in modern politics. A question arises, as much as Mexican Americans influence us, how much do we influence them? The answer would have to depend on how in favor they are of assimilation. Studies have shown that most Mexican American youth would prefer a “biculturism” form of acculturation, preferring to hold on to their ethnic customs but also to embrace new American ones (Naumann, et al 2013).
It was also shown in these studies that the more deep-routed Mexican Americans tend to be in their ethnicity, that the likelier they are to vote liberally (Naumann, et al 2013). Understanding Mexican Americans role in the workplace currently will also help explain motivations as to how they vote and continue to influence the rest of America. A study published in 2005 showed that Mexicans, while living in Mexico, have fewer expectations for advancement in the workplace, including to upper-management positions. This leads them to believe there are less forms of discrimination based on age, sex and ethnicity (Bennington, Wagman, Stallone, 2005).
Although these studies were done for Mexicans, not Mexican Americans, I believe that during the newest wave of immigration this attitude could carry over, which could explain at least one reason that despite the large population, there are not heaping amounts of Mexican Americans in upper-level positions. For work life itself, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mexican Americans have at large suffered the same impact of the recession other ethnicities have suffered, having Unemployment peaking strongly in the 2009-2011 years and just now in 2013 starting to make a recovery (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).
I believe this relates to the influence Mexican Americans have on us because since newer immigrants do not seek power as quickly as other ethnic groups, it can lead to certain prejudices of them being unmotivated, which in turn would influence behavior of White Americans to treat them as subordinates. In summation, I believe that educating the true history of Mexican Americans (such as their origin as joining the US as citizens after the Mexican War), can help stop certain forms of prejudice, as well as helping Americans to realize that they are an ever-increasing demographic that is not going away anytime soon.
Their influence is growing in US Politics, and this will have to be recognized if certain political groups wish to survive in the new century. I believe that if there is more respect given to them while they are a minority group, the more respect they will give to White America once Whites lose their status as the dominant ethnic group.