US LATINO/A LITERATURE
and their culture:
identity: What is a “Latino”? Some definitions
- A brief
history of Latinos in the United States
What’s in a
Hispanic: anyone from a
country that speaks Spanish. (DOES not include Brazil) Hispanic: is NOT a
racial category but denotes ETHNIC heritage. Hispanic is the term used by
the US government.
Anyone from a country whose language is a romance language. It includes
Haitians, Brazilians, etc. Latino is used for more informal communication.
Latino is more a term adopted by the Latin population itself.
people prefer to be called by their country of origin and nothing else:
Cuban, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Puerto Rican, etc.
is preferred because:
- It relates
directly to the experience of Latin-American people living in the USA.
Therefore it defines a process of hybridization, combination and selection
of cultural values. A transcultural term. It is not Latin-American nor
American, it is both and a new thing at the same time. Therefore, it
expresses paradox, complexity and defiance.
- It denotes
people who are the product of Latin-Indian and/or Latin-Black mestizaje
and it is generally used by working class people. It affirms the cultures
and people dominated by Mediterranean civilization in its career
throughout the New World.
- It suggests
ethnic pride and cultural affirmation and solidarity among all Latino
people fighting against racism, sexism and classism.
- Latino values must be viewed not only as a synthesis
of “the Hispanic,” (European, Jewish and Arab) but also of the indigenous
and also of the African.
- Cultural values such as the concepts of tribe, of
race, of honor, of kinship, of sex roles, of land, of property, of life
and death have been formed out of the evolution of Arab and Jewish
- Because of their cultural past, Latino values are
often considered ‘pre-capitalist,’ ‘pre-industrial,’ ‘communitarian,’
‘agrarian,’ ‘Catholic,’ ‘conservative,’ ‘passive,’ ‘dependent,’
‘emotional,’ irrational’ and all this leads to their definition as
Latino values clearly oppose those suggested by Anglo values:
individualism, ‘rational’ interest, ‘industrial’ efforts, entrepreneurs,
It can be viewed
positive and negatively:
- For some people to preserve traditional Latino values
perpetuates marginalization, the inferior status of Latinos and prevents
- For other people to lose Latino values provokes a
process of uprooting, a crisis of identity that makes survival difficult.
The survival of Latino traditions involves the survival of those
elements that can serve in forging a more fruitful future for a people
with a hybrid but valuable identity. Therefore, Latino identity stands as
an alternative to dominant cultural norms
Latinos are not an homogeneous group but:
- they belong to different social classes and races.
- Some are recent immigrants, other are
second-generation or third-generation Latinos, others can trace their
origins to native people from the south west, some are American citizens
and others (Puerto Ricans) are American-born; some are legal immigrants
and others are illegal immigrants, some have special status (Cubans,
Haitians, etc.), some are Spanish-speaking only, others are
English-speaking only while others are bilingual, etc.
A problematic future:
- Increasing migration
is provoked by free trade and work force transnational movements.
- Increasing number of unskilled Latino workers who
form the lower classes which support American economy where the white
aging population monopolizing wealth, resources and power.
- Increasing racial conflict, cultural hostility,
prejudice and discrimination and struggles with other minorities.
- A great number of Latinos still live in the world of
gangs, drugs, drop-outs, welfare dependency, parental absenteeism, growing
racial and gender conflicts.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
First Phase: Nostalgic Literature
Second Phase: Literature of migration
Third Phase: US Latino Literature