Latinos and African Americans: Friends or Foes?

Although the merging of the nations is the most widespread tendency all around the modern world, and especially in the USA, with its “melting pot” conception, some peoples are trying o keep their traditions safe for the future generation. Still involved into the process of the nations’ fusion, these people are cast into a completely new nationality, with its own tradition and lifestyle.

At present, there are two basic mixed nations in the USA. These are African Americans and Latin Americans. Whether they can live peacefully or are bound to fight for their place in the sun is the topic of the given research.

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1. The Way It All Began: Why Coming to the USA?

1.1 The People with Two Hearts: Between American and Spain

One of the most peculiar things about the Latin Americans, or Hispanics, is the fact that they manage to keep their culture highly worshipped and yet know the language and the culture of the country that they are living in. In fact, they can be called bilingual and bicultural, for the art of adaptation that they have shown as they have been living on the territory of the USA is stunning.

The journey that took the Latinos to the United States was long and tiring. Although it was not that tragic as the reasons that took the Africans to the United States once, the Hispanics did take their toll on the sufferings of moving to the new country and acclimatizing to its traditions and rules.

However, they settled in the new environment rather quickly, and in 1565 they already founded the city of St. Augustine in Florida. Nowadays one of the cities with the highest ratio of the Hispanic and Latin American population, St. Augustine was the Promised Land for the people who abandoned their traditions and their home in search for a better life.

1.2 Torn Away from Homeland: Far from the Hot Sun of Africa

It was a little bit different with the African Americans, though. Since they were brought to the United States involuntarily, they were practically forced to live in the new country and according to the new rules. Taking into consideration that they were brought to the U. S. as slaves who have no rights or freedoms, it can be easily understood that the African Americans found the new life unbearable.

As the slavery was laid to rest along with the racism, there was some more air given to the African Americans so that they could lead a more or less normal life (Bailey). Although there are still some conflicts arising from time to time, the African Americans are finally treated the way that people should be in their new homeland.

2. The Life That They Live: Making the Difference

2.1 Discovering the World of the African Culture in the USA.

The Afro-Americans are famous for the novelties that they have brought to the United States, among them numerous specific features of their culture one of the most peculiar things about them is the fact that these people have absorbed the American culture, inheriting the most outstanding parts of its culture.

In contrast to the Hispanics, who tended to stay aside form the influence of the American culture and wanted to restore their own traditions in the place of their new settlement, the African Americans were eager to take the new culture and to intertwine it with their own vision of the world. This approach was foreign to the Hispanics, and the barrier between the two nations that were living in the same foreign land were parted even farther, feeling the growing tension between their cultures and their lifestyle.

This was the point where the rivalry between the Hispanics and the African Americans for a place of their own in the heart of America began. It was clear that the Hispanics were not going to subdue to the growing influence of the culture that surrounded them, as well as that they were not going to yield in this clash of cultures. It seemed that this was the starting point for the rivalry between the Hispanics and the African Americans.

2.2 On the Way to New Spain: The Latinos and Their Culture

In contrast to the African Americans, the Latin Americans kept to the stem of their culture as fast as they could. It was well understood that preserving the culture of a united but small and lacking the influence nation was almost impossible. The dominating culture was supposed to swallow the remaining of the Hispanic traditions and customs, chewing them into the new lifestyle that the Latin Americans could stick to without the risk to be called foreigners.

However, the idea proved wrong, and the Hispanics have introduced the culture that was no less influential and original than the one of the African Americans. The influence of theirs finally became immense and impressive, for the modern tendencies show that more and more people from Europe and America are getting captured with the lifestyle suggested by the Hispanics.

Amazing, but true is the fact that these people have been maintaining the traditions of theirs through the poverty and the misery of their immigrant life. This was something that should be highly appreciated and valued no less than the cultural impact of the African Americans. Again, the clash of cultures drew these two peoples together in a battle.

3. In a Course of Work: What Kind of Workplace Are They Provided with?

3.1 The African Americans Employed: Jobs, Salaries and Stakes

Although it is extremely hard for an immigrant, even a legal one, to find a full-time and well-paid job in a foreign country with the people’s prejudice against the foreigners and the lack of the working places even for the native dwellers, not mentioning the newcomers, the African Americans have managed to find their place under the hot sun of the United States.

As a rule, they do not take the leading positions, preferring to do the job of an ordinary officer, like most immigrants do, which is the major concern of the modern business researches in the United States.

There are still some difficulties in the employment sphere for the black people. It goes without saying that the discrimination in the sphere of employment still takes place, not only in the USA, but also in a number of countries where immigrants are to live.

The mistreatment of the foreigners must be rooting somewhere deep in the native dwellers’ psycho, for there is no other explanation why the African Americans should take lower positions and receive less money than an average white American does. Shepard has managed to express this idea in the very best way:

About one-third of African American men are employed in the highest occupational categories: professional, managerial, technical and administrative, whereas about one half of white men have jobs in these categories. Similarly, about 60 percent of African American women are employed in these occupational categories, compared to three-fourth of white women. African Americans are almost twice as whites are likely to work in low-level service jobs. (256)

Such data I something for the sociologists to be concerned about, for this also causes huge rivalry between the African Americans and the Latin Americans concerning the working places. Trying to earn for a decent living, both peoples face huge difficulties and are made to compete in attempt to get the desired job.

3.2 The Latinos and Their Ambitions: Time for Siesta

Unlike most of the American people, the Hispanics are not preoccupied with Napoleonic ambitions and career plans. the lifestyle that they lead, which is close to living in a rural area, is quiet sufficient for them, and they are rather unlikely to fight for the post of the president or else.

Still the nation has to find some means to earn for a living, and thus a lot of Latin Americans agree to take the positions that the Native Americans consider as the low-level jobs. This makes the Latinos the main opponents of the African Americans, which are eager to take the above-mentioned positions as well.

As a rule, the Hispanics are left with nothing in this battle, and the African Americans occupy most of the profitable positions. The rivalry peaks here, and the struggle for the better position and for the better future of the people that have been forced to live in the foreign country.

The recent polls held in this sphere suggest that the situation with the working places for the immigrants can improve; however, still a great amount of time is needed to support the immigrants that cannot survive in the environment that requires the necessary competitive skills.

It is clear that, historically, the people of the Hispanic origin did not need to struggle for the job and earn the money with such difficulties, and it must be taken into account that they need to accommodate to the changing environment. In contrast to the African Americans, who are used to conflict in cases when they do not agree with what have been suggested, the Hispanics would rather grin and bear it, which does not add to the life endurance of these people and the psychological health of their environment.

However, when speaking of the promotion and marketing sphere, one can suggest that the Latin Americans have got quite used to the idea of living in a foreign country and making business in it, for they have achieved a certain progress in building the marketing relationships within the country:

A direct result of the Spanish-language-centered infrastructure of the U.S. Hispanic marketing industry is an ethnic division of labour whereby the Latin American corporate intellectuals from middle- and upper-class background rather than U.S.-born. (Davila 34)

This might seem amazing, but such is the present state of affairs in the Hispanic employment sphere. As it can be seen, the rumors about the Latin Americans not getting enough working places have been a bit exaggerated. However, this does not mean that the problem of employment of the Latin Americans has been solved once and for all. There are still some reasons to think that the battle will go on.

4. The Aspect of Education: Can the Same Things Be Taught in Different Ways?

4.1 What the Schools for Latinos Are Aimed at.

Like most schools, the educational establishments on the territory of the Latin America are aimed at giving children the basis for their future higher education and career development. At this point the schools where the Latin American children learn do nit doffer from the rest of the schools in the United States. The difference comes when the role of the bilingual education comes to the forth.

Darder emphasizes the role of the two languages in the education of the Hispanic children, making it one of the core points that make them different from the American children:

Within the last two decades, the issue of the bilingual education has taken on a heated importance among educators. Unfortunately, the debate that has emerged tends to recycle old assumptions and values regarding the meaning and usefulness of the students’ native language in education. (274)

Because of the tension that arises as the two cultures collide, the issue of the languages becomes one of the most heated subjects to discuss. Although the privilege of mastering two native languages seems quiet a profit for the Hispanics, they still cling to their native roots, trying to make the emphasis on preserving the national culture.

4.2 Do the U. S. Schools Suit the African American Children?

In contrast to the Hispanics, African Americans do well in mastering English. Since many of them hardly know about the African ancestors of theirs, and are not aware of the language that was spoken in the culture of their native land, the African Americans have no linguistic problems in the schools. However, there are still the issues that make them equal to the Latin Americans in terms of the quality and the results of education.

In fact, the African Americans are almost in the same situation as the Latin Americans in terms of the national identity and the educational systems. Their national peculiarities are ignored in the same way, disregarding everything that makes them different from then Native Americans.

Many teachers and principals state that they have not reformed the curriculum to reflect ethnic diversity in their schools because they do not have ethnic minorities in their school populations and, consequently, no racial or ethnic problems. These educators believe ethnic content is needed only by ethnic minority students or to help reduce ethnic conflict within schools having racial problems. (Willie 137)

Thus, it becomes clear that in the system of education the Latin Americans and the African Americans are not the opponents, but the companions in misfortune.

5. Through the Social Aspect and What Researchers Found There

5.1 The African Americans: Reaching for the Stars

However hard the immigrants could try to reach for the highest position in the society, there will always be the native dwellers that will surpass them in some of the aspects. Thus, striving to climb higher is what the Latin Americans and the African Americans have been trying to do since the time when they settled in the new country, but there have been very few positive results of their attempts.

Again, trying to get into the upper classes of the society, the two nations arrange another battle to obtain the best positions. However much scorn the Hispanics could display towards the blessed life of the rich I the USA, they cannot resist trying to nip on the piece of the upper class life.

But the African Americans surpass them in the respect of arranging their lives. Being more accustomed to the traditions and customs of the modern business world, they manage to become the leading part of the society much more often than the Hispanics, who prefer to stay rebels.

There is no need to say that the African Americans are doing their best to gain the access to the higher class society, which is sometimes crowned with success, but in most cases both African Americans and Latinos remain on the same middle class level. However, the data that has been presented so far are too scanty to restore the whole picture:

Researchers may assume a social lass level among the participants such as classifying African Americans or Latinos as urban and therefore in poverty without collecting the necessary data to substantiate this characterization. (Liu 48)

With such characteristics of the state of the African Americans and Latinos in the United States, it is necessary to add that the current situation needs a thorough revision. The results of the latter can seem encouraging for these nations to continue their attempts to belong to the higher class of society. Although they must make hard efforts to achieve this goal, the results must be worthwhile. And, after all, there has always been the need for the people who will push the country towards the progress.

5.2 The Latinos: Home, Sweet Home

As Vazquez admits,

Although impressive and important, studies that equate income with social status are nevertheless misleading. Latinos are indeed becoming more socially mobile, but the income numbers also show that 75 percent of Latino households earn below the national median, a proportion that is just as significant if one is interested in understanding the size of a low-wage, low-skilled Latino working class. (394)

With regard to the above-mentioned information, it could be logical to suggest that the approximately equal score on the social position might level the rivalry between the Latin Americans and the African Americans, but this idea proves wrong. The constant battle for the better position and the competition that people are involved into, that is, the contest where the smartest wins, make people’s character harder and more difficult to approach.

What makes the situation not so complicated is the fact that the Latin Americans cannot be called ambitious people, and they are not longing for the top positions. Working in the sphere where their skills can be used and appreciated is what Latin Americans are aimed at, and that makes the conflict between the two nations living as the foreigners on the territory of the United States not so escalated.

6. Conclusion

Regarding everything that has been mentioned above, it is possible to suggest that the tension between the two neighboring nations, African Americans and Latin Americans, is bound to last fro quite long period of time.

Because of the fact that they are actually experiencing the same difficulties, Latin Americans and African Americans will remain rivals, although they have a lot in common which could allow them to be friends, not foes. Instead of competing with each other to prove the superiority, they could struggle to achieve success together, yet they prefer to stay apart from each other.

The reasons for these nations to treat each other in this way can be different. Perhaps, one of the most important and weighty ones is that both nations are afraid of their cultures merging the way they have merged with the American one.

To keep their traditions untouched as long as possible, they prefer to maintain the relationships that allow them to coexist, but they are both reluctant to make friends and improve the situation within the sphere of education and employment. However, there is a link that might help these two peoples finally make friends. Called Caribbean Latinos, they are a mixture of the two. As Suarez puts it,

Certainly the shared Afro-Latino background that tends to distinguish them most within the pan-Latino composite, along with the attendant complementary relationship to blackness, promises to have unifying repercussions within the U.S. racial formation, where the significance of the color line seems to be in no way declining. (71)

In the light of the above-mentioned, there is still hope that the two great nations will find common language. Because of numerous factors the Latinos and the Afro-Americans have to get together to become stronger. In spite of all the obstacles that stand on the way to this union, there is hope that in the nearest future the Afro-Americans and the Latinos will build the relationships based on cooperation and mutual respect.

Works Cited

Bailey, Anne C. African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Beyond the Silence and the Shame. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2005. Print.

Darder, Antonia, Rodolfo D. Torres, Henry Gutierre. Latinos and Education: A Critical Reader. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Davila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. Print.

Liu, William M. Social Class and Classicism in the Helping Professions: Research, Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corvin Press, 2010. Print.

Shepard, Jon M. Sociology. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo, Mariela Parez. Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008. Print.

Vazquez, Francisco H., Rodolfo D. Torres. Latino Thought. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.

Willie, Charles W., Antonie M. Garibaldi, William Monroe. The Education of African Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991. Print.

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