Hispanic American Diversity

Essay by pfoster282005College, UndergraduateA, December 2008

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The term "Hispanic" is a word derived from Hispania, a name given by the Romans to the entire Iberian Peninsula during the period of the Roman Republic. The common usage of the word "Hispanic" as an indicator of ethnicity in the United States has come into prominence following a question asked in the 1980 U.S. Census which asked people to identify if they were of "Spanish/Hispanic" descent. As more Hispanics have come to the United States from different countries people are starting to classify them from where their place of origin is. Just as there are different classifications of those of Spanish descent, each classification are different and sometimes similar in their backgrounds.

Mexican Americans are citizens of the United States of Mexican descent. Mexican Americans account for 64% of the U.S. Hispanic and Latino population and are the largest ethnic group in the United States. Throughout U.S. history, Mexican Americans have been socially classified as "White" and "non-white" by United States people.

Census criteria and legal constructions generally classify them as white. All Mexicans were legally considered "white" because of early treaty obligations to Spaniards and Mexicans for citizenship status at a time when white-ness was considered a prerequisite for U.S. citizenship. Today, Mexican Americans are divided. Many Mexican-Americans consider themselves "Non-White", but Many Mexican-Americans also consider themselves White, as 48% of all Mexican-Americans checked the box for White in the U.S. Census.

In the U.S. where Mexican Americans make up a significant percentage of the population, illegal immigrants and Mexican Americans occupy most blu-collar jobs such as janitors, gardners, restaurant workers, and other manual labor occupatuions. Tensions have risen between Mexican immigrants and other ethnic groups because of increasing concerns over the availability of working-class jobs to non-Hispanic ethnic groups. However, tensions have also risen among American Hispanic...