Hispanic American Literature: Thomas, Weaver. (ed.). Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the US: Anthropology. Houston: University Press, 1994.
The immigration of the Hispanic community in the United States led to a rise of various social and economic concerns. Most importantly, it contributed to multiculturalism that then led to the rise of a host of concerns with regards to social issues. Essentially, this stemmed from the act that the population was treated in an unequal manner. Historical evidence ascertains that generally, the White population was accorded a more preferential treatment than other races. The inherent social discrimination on basis of race disadvantaged the non White races as they were deprived of different opportunities with which they could use in attaining the American dream. Nonetheless, the conditions have changed significantly and currently, racism has been made illegal and all races are given an equal chance to further their welfare. It is against this background that this paper provides an explicit analysis of Weaver’s Handbook of Hispanic Cultures from a multicultural point of view. In order to enhance a harmonic consideration, the paper will also underscore the various factors that triggered this Hispanic American author to evaluate the issue of racism and the contribution that this book has made in the multicultural studies.
Thomas Weaver is cited to have co edited various books and articles that address the issue of racism and multicultural studies in general. In this edition, he has collaborated with Nicholas Kanellos and Claudio Esteva in ensuring that the content of the book is credible, and that the information contained therein is factual. In this regard, it is worth noting that inclusion of the point of views of other equally competent actors in this field of specification enhances a sense of objectivity. His previous studies on racial segregation in the United States were partly influenced by the painful experiences that the non White population was going through and partly influenced by the need to provide a succinct account of the historical movement of the Latino population. Having a strong educational background in ethnic studies further enabled the author to integrate vital and credible ethnic information in this.
In his review, Gordon cites that the editing of the Handbook of Hispanic Culture in the United States was triggered by the need to integrate the vital information in a single edition and enabled the audience to have access to rich information that was previously fragmented (67). Furthermore, it is indicated that this was further influenced by previous implications with regard to loss of credible primary data. Notably, electronic storage devices had not been invented and therefore storing different primary data posed significant challenges. Further, it is indicated that constant editing and revision of primary information generally compromised the credibility of the same. Introduction of illustrations in this made it difficult for the then authors to maintain the original content of the respective information. This was further compounded by the fact that the editing was being done by authors that did not fully understand the cultural aspects of this community. Fundamentally, his compromised the process and increased its vulnerability to misinterpretations. It is for this reason that it became imperative to develop a single but comprehensive volume that would address the underlying issues with ease. The comprehensive nature of the text also made it possible for the audience to have easy access to voluminous information that was stored in a single text.
Generally, it cannot be disputed that the information contained in this text is indeed anchored on a clear understanding of the experiences of the Hispanic Americans in the United States. The fact that the author assumes a multifaceted approach in this increases the credibility of the text. The book begins by underscoring the different Hispanic cultures that are currently found in the United States. It gives a distinct analysis of the different cultural aspects that pertain to this population. In particular, the author highlights the aspects of language, marriage and religion and shows how these influenced the welfare of the Hispanic American in the United States. At this point, it is worth appreciating that regardless of having assumed the American ideals and values, the cultural aspects still influenced the way of life of the Hispanic Americans. Furthermore, the author highlights the concerns related to the health of these individuals. In this regard, Estarada notes that the health of the Hispanic Americans was influenced by a host of factors with cultural norms and beliefs being inclusive (58).
For instance, their eating habits were different from those exhibited by the Native Americans and therefore influenced their health in different ways. The fact that the American culture laid emphasis of refined foods had massive implications on the American Hispanics and affected their health in various ways. This is because it also affected the availability of certain foods in the market. In almost all sectors, the White population was given preference and therefore, foods that were not consumed by this population were rarely found on the markets. Furthermore, the inherent social prejudice that compounded the American health sector made it difficult for the Hispanic Americans to enjoy good health. The language barrier further undermined the ability of this population to access effective health care. Specifically, Boswell and James contend that they in most instances misinterpreted the doctor’s instruction and prescription because of the fact that these were not availed in their native language.
The book also provides useful insights pertaining to the role of religion in influencing the inherent social disparities. In this consideration, Weaver argues that since a significant percentage f the Hispanic population was assumed Catholicism, they in some instances experienced rebellion from the American population that was mainly for Protestantism. Although this was on a lower scale, the implications were far reaching. Further, the fact that the two populations had differing ideals with regard to arts, literature and entertainment made it difficult for the two populations to mingle. Social research indicates that arts and entertainment provide a viable platform from which the population can interact with each other. Notably, the Whites resented the Hispanic culture on the premise that it was not westernized. This blocked off the opportunity for the two populations to interact through this means.
Then, Weaver provides an implicit evaluation of the Latino legacies in light of their geographical borders. In this respect, it is worth acknowledging that up to date, certain geographical segments of the United States such as Florida tend to have a higher population of the Hispanic Americans as compared to other sections. This can be attributed to the fact that respective geographic areas were inhabited before the rest. Also worth mentioning is the fact that they acted as migratory routes for Hispanic entry in the United States. The impacts of racism to these sections were significant. Historical evidence shows that they were not accorded utmost attention with respect to national governance. According to Weaver, this movement perpetuated cultural boundaries that enhanced racism and social prejudice. Ethnicity has been implicated for contributing significantly to social segregation that was related to migration and movement of the Hispanic Americans in America.
The author also provides an evaluation of the technological welfare of the Hispanic American population. Different traditional technologies were held in high regard by the Hispanic population because of the implication of the American technology. The American population was dominant and more sophisticated as compared to the Hispanic technology. As such, it was given preference by the population as it was more effective. Other forms of technologies were disregarded and considered to be crude by the entire society. Traditional Hispanic population was undoubtedly of great value to the respective population. It not only reminded them of their roots, but it also accorded them a unique identity and preserved their culture. The technology also played a critical role in animating cultural festivals and practices that the population undertook on a regular basis. The conventional arts and crafts of the Hispanic population are still employed by the population for decoration purposes.
However, Jordon and Loster indicate that the White population was not appreciative of these practices and instead considered them to be primitive and an indication of lack of civilization (94). The fact that the American values and culture were ingrained in the education system made it difficult for the Hispanic population to have access to cultural knowledge pertaining to technology. American history considered this uncivilized and discouraged its use at all levels. As such, their continued use for various purposes was compromised. This has had adverse effects on the cultural wellbeing of this population. It has made it difficult for the Hispanics to pass on its culture. Emergent social research indicates that currently, this population perceives the American culture to be of superior value to their own. This has been perpetuated by the education sector that emphasizes on the American values and instills the same in the individuals. Perhaps the dominant nature of the White population has also made it difficult for other cultures to enhance their wellbeing.
Further, Weaver cites that ethnicity and the need to maintain class also had adverse effects on the Latino population. Essentially, it is indicated that the American population is socially segregated along economic lines. The wealthy assume top positions in the social arena while the poor are at the bottom of the ladder. According to Estrada, social classification is greatly influenced by race and ethnicity. In this regard, it is contended that dominant populations in a given society are often considered to be superior to the minorities. Thus the White population perceived itself to be superior to the Hispanics.
The interclass relations in the American society were compounded by various complexities. This was because of the fat that the lower class was dominated by the Hispanic Americans that are considered to be inferior to the rest of the population. The White population in most cases refrains from mingling with other racial groups on the pretext that the latter are intrusive and ‘foreign’ in this country. During historical times, it is indicated that this made it difficult for the Hispanic population to have access to resources that would enable them to improve their quality of life and realize the American dream too.
In his consultative study, Weaver also ascertained the inherent racial disparities that stemmed from the fundamental aspects of employment and levels of income. In this regard, it is ascertained that comparatively, the Hispanic Americans had lower income than their White counterparts. This is because they were not given equal employment opportunities in the economic sector. In most instances, they worked in manufacturing industries as manual laborers. This experience denied them a chance to access high profile jobs that would enable them to have a high income. As such, they also lived in poor neighborhoods that did not have adequate social services. Their level of income did not allow them to afford good housing that could enhance their quality of life. The characteristic insecurity and drug use and abuse in poor neighborhoods made it difficult for the descendants to have a quality life. Of great reference is the fact that the low income levels denied them access to fresh and healthy foods that would improve their health. In this respect, Bean and Marta assert that most Hispanic populations depended on canned foods as well as fast foods that were not nutritious (82). As such, they suffered frequently from nutrition ailments that further impoverished them.
The low levels of income can be attributed to the low levels of education that this population had. Usually, the schools found in their neighborhoods did not offer quality education as compared to those found in the White residential areas. This was because the financing of education was depended on the on the amount of taxes that the given neighborhood contributed. Since neighborhoods that Hispanics resided did not make significant tax contributions, they were accorded a smaller percentage of the national budget to finance their education. Further, it is also worth appreciating that lack of sufficient resources did not allow the respective parents to finance for their children’s higher education. In this regard, it can not be disputed that the education offered in higher learning institutions is fundamental as it enhances job prospects. In particular, it gives an individual sufficient skills and knowledge that is basic for attaining high profile jobs.
The inability of the American Hispanics to get credible employment was also contributed to by their illegal immigration status. The implications of illegal immigrations included deportation as well as imprisonment. Since most well paying jobs required that the individuals provide legal documents, the Hispanic population refrained from applying for such jobs. Thus they preferred seeking for low paying jobs that did not require an elaborate legal identification. Nonetheless, Dominguez maintains that in most instances, the Hispanic population was denied access to well paying jobs on racial grounds (36). The White population in such instances was given preference and accorded high profile jobs, regardless of their having equal skills as their Hispanic counterparts. Even when the Hispanic Americans were given the jobs, they were rarely considered for job promotions and salary increments. The resultant frustration compromised their performance. As a result, they were more liable of being dismissed on the premise of poor performance than White employees.
Likewise, Weaver provides a conclusive analysis of the social problems that the Hispanic population has grappled with through time. Essentially, these stem from the racial discrimination that they are accorded by the American society. They have significant negative effects on the holistic functioning of this population because of different reasons. For example, factors such as racial profiling by the criminal justice system according to Gordon place the Hispanic population at a disadvantage (81). In such instances, they are more probable of being caught on the wrong side of the law than the White population. Such methodologies are still employed regardless of the statistical evidence that ascertains that the White population tends to break the law more frequently than any other racial groups.
Weaver also explores the implications of social labeling that has made it difficult for the Hispanic populations to rise above their social problems. For example, they are considered by the white population to be alcoholics, drug abusers and to participate in criminal gangs. Notably, this has contributed to rebellion and the Hispanic Americans have resorted to assuming the labels. This according to weaver greatly compromises their ability to refrain from illegal activities. The economic and political status of this population has also been affected negatively by the racial discrimination. During historical times, this population was denied the ability to participate actively in politics through voting. Regardless of the fact that they have been accorded this right, they still do not participate actively in the same. In his research, Jordon indicates that participation of this population in politics could have exposed the population to innumerable opportunities that would have enabled the same to attain an elevated position in the society (99).
The lack of adequate representation in politics also makes it difficult for the respective needs of this population to be addressed in an effective manner. Usually, political leaders play a significant role in presenting the views of the population at the national level. This makes it possible for the populations to be considered in resource allocation. Poor representation at this level has undermined the holistic welfare of the Hispanic Americans as they have been not been accorded consideration during resource allocation. For instance, if their needs were presented in the healthcare, it would be unlikely that they would be refraining from seeking the same on cultural grounds. Furthermore, their services would be effective as they would be provided in a language that they would understand. Most importantly, they would be given equal chances to work in high profile positions and boost their level of income.
From the preceding analysis, it is certain that Weaver has successfully evaluated the various social concerns that the Hispanic American population struggle with on a daily basis. Notably, these stem from the racial prejudice that is practiced by the dominant White population. Regardless of the fact that this has over time been shunned by the society, research ascertains that it still affects the welfare of the society. As it has come out from the study, the production of this edition was contributed to various factors that range from the need to address fragmentation of information to the need to accredit the previous primary sources. Of great importance was the need to prevent misinterpretation and compromising of the quality of the information through continuous editing. At this juncture, it can be ascertained that the comprehensive edition is factual and objective because it has integrated different perspective from varied authors. Due to the fact that it is written by an intellectual and well informed Hispanic American, it can be posited that the information contained therein is factual.
Annotated Works Cited
Bean, Frank & Marta, Tienda. Population of the United States. USA: Sage, 1987.
In their study, Bean and Marta provide a precise account of the historic movement of the Hispanic population in the United States. Further, they also highlight the various challenges that the population in America faces. They assert that the current social disparities that his population is facing can be attributed to the geographical boundaries.
Boswell, Thomas & James, Curtis. The Cuban American Experience. USA: Rowman & Allanheld, 1994.
This review underscores the experience of the Cuban Hispanics in America. The authors agree that his population faces widespread discrimination on the basis of race. In addition, they indicate that this has compromised their ability to participate normally in societal activities. More importantly, they compare their experience with the experiences of other American Hispanics.
Dominguez, Virginia. From Neighbor to Stranger. Yale: Antilles Research program.
In his review, Dominguez outlines the experience of the Hispanic Americans in America. Using a wide range of social researches, he ascertains that racial prejudice can be implicated for their current social problems. In particular, he cites education, employment and housing to be the worst affected sectors.
Estrada, Leobardo. The Changing profile of Mexican Americans. USA: Tomas Rivera Center, 1985.
Estrada evaluates the impacts of immigration on the welfare of the Hispanic American. He highlights that the American society has eroded their value system as well as their entire cultural wellbeing. This has made the population loose their identity and assume the American ideals. He concludes by indicating that racial prejudice played a leading role in this scenario.
Gordon,Milton. Assimilation in American Life. Oxford: University Press, 1990.
Just like Estarada, Gordon asserts that the assimilation of American ideals by minority populations can be attributed to the oppressive value system that is provided by this population. In particular, the fact that the American society does not appreciate the cultural welfare of these populations makes it difficult for them to maintain their cultural identity.
Jordon, Terry & Lester Rountree. The Human Mosaic: A Thematic Introduction to Cultural Geography. USA: Harper & Row, 1986.
The authors explore the relationship between immigration and social problems that the Hispanic Americans face. In particular, they evaluate how cultural prejudice has been influenced by the geographic location of the population. They assert that minority populations are often exempted from active participation in governance because of poor representation. As such, their needs are not addressed accordingly.
Jordon , Terry. Ecology and Development of the Border. Mexico: ANUIES
The author provides useful insights that pertain to the geographic boundaries of the population. He indicates that the immigration of Hispanic Americans has contributed to the social problems that they are facing. This situation has been contributed to by formation of boundaries that determine the amount of resources that such populations are given by the government.
Weaver, Thomas. (ed.). Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the US: Anthropology. Houston: University Press, 1994.
Weaver provides a holistic and comprehensive review of the challenges that the Hispanic cultures are facing in the current society. He contends that these stem from the historic social prejudice. Further, he notes that the implications on the welfare of this population have been massiv.