CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LATINO POPULATION Anita Smith, English and Humanities Department
What do the words, “Hispanic” and “Latino” mean? • Are there universal traits among the Latino population?
“Hispanic” applies to individuals from Latin American (Central and South America and the Caribbean) and even includes those from Spain. • “Latino” is the currently more acceptable term for those people from Latin America. • Neither term applies to a race.
Our North Carolina population is “Latino” since very few are Spaniards. • Most of these Latinos prefer being called by their nationality, such as “Mexican” or “Guatemalan.”
There is an extensive diversity of traits among Latinos. • They have individual cultural identities that are tied to the history of countries in Central and South America and their indigenous peoples. • Often Latino students will even have ties to two or more of these cultures. (UNC Ctr. For Teaching andLearning)
Family commitment and loyalty are paramount. • There is a hierarchical order among siblings. • Latino parents’ handling of children in public may appear permissive. • In the traditional family, there is a strong sense of belonging to family, community and ethnic group.
Latino adolescents are more inclined to adopt their parents’ commitment to religious and political beliefs, occupation preferences and lifestyle. • Latino male adolescents display more and earlier independence than the male adolescents of the U.S. population.
A family “myth” tends to play a role in social mobility among immigrants. (Gandara, 1994) • The myth has beneficial effects.
WHICH NAME? • Generally, each Latino has two official last names. • The first name is the father’s surname; it is used in everyday situations. • The second last name is the mother’s maiden name; it is used in more formal occasions.
When married, the Latina attaches her husband’s surname to hers. • When María Castillo Guzmán marries Tomás Gutiérrez Durán, she becomes María Castillo Guzmán de Gutiérrez. • She is commonly known as María Gutiérrez. • Their children have the surnames of Gutiérrez Castillo.
VALUE SYSTEM • There is a strong belief in the dignity of the individual. • Hard work is a way of life. • For Mexicans, if something is free, it is not valued. • Most Latinos come from a rigid society where rules of behavior have been prescribed for centuries.
VALUE SYSTEM • Stereotyped sex roles tend to exist among many Latinos. (Baron, 1991) • Chivalry is the prevailing concept, not over stereotyped, “machismo.” • Most Mexican American students feel their mother exerted the greatest influence over their lives, even in everyday decisions. (Gandara, 1994)
VALUE SYSTEM • The groups needs are valued over the individuals. • Cooperative efforts are used to attain goals.
COMMUNICATION • Latinos show respect to authority figures by not making eye contact. • Latinos tend to show affection through touching. • Respect is highly valued and is shown by using formal titles with one another. • Greetings usually include inquiries about the family.
COMMUNICATION • When conversing, Latinos stand about 18 inches apart. • Latinos tend toward small talk, avoiding interrupting one another. • Latinos do not say someone’s name frequently like Americans do.
EDUCATION • Latino children are less likely to go to Pre-School. • They are anxious to please the teacher.
EDUCATION • Educational systems vary per country, but generally there are three levels prior to the university level. • K-6th Grade is called “Primaria.” • 7th-9th Grade is called “Secundaria.” • 10th-12th Grade is called “Preparatoria” or “Colegio.”
FATALISM Life and Death exist as a duality and cannot be controlled. Life is destroyed to be reborn. It is how you die that determines your afterlife. The concept of sin and hell was alien to the indigenous population.
HEALTH CARE • The pharmacist in Latin America is trained to give injections and prescribe medication. • Latinos believe in metaphysics: • The “curadora” (healing woman) is used. • A mixture of “white magic” (healing herbs) and “hail Marys” is often used.
DEATH IS NOT FEARED • The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, In London because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes with it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; It is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love.” Octavio Paz, Mexican Nobel Prize for Literature recipient
DEATH IS NOT FEARED • The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) holiday on November 2 is broadly celebrated by Mexican Americans. • The indigenous population, by celebrating death, transcends the eternal cycle of life.
POLYCHRONIC CULTURE • Time is not to be rushed. • Social gatherings and appointment do not start promptly. • The U.S. is a monochronic culture. • Dios dirá-Time will tell. • El reloj anda-The clock walks. • In English: The clock runs.
THE PREDOMINANT RELIGION IS CATHOLICISM • The church has a strong influence in society and politics. • There is a mixture of the indigenous religion and Catholicism.
HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS • There are religious and secular holidays. • An individual celebrates both his birthday and saint’s day. • The quinceañera commemorates a 15-year-old girl’s move into adulthood.
MEALS • Breakfast rarely includes eggs or meat. • Lunch is the largest meal of the day, eaten from 2-4 pm. • Dinner, a lighter meal than lunch, is eaten from 8-10 pm.
EL FIN • Overgeneralizations are unfair. • Understanding another culture is a “beautiful and sometimes frightening journey. But if you choose to venture out, the rewards are rich: a fuller understanding of yourself, your country, and your world.” (Jordan Earl, Peace Corp Volunteer)