Cultural heritage is one of the most important aspects of todays world. It is defined as a peoples expression of their ways of living. These ways of living are often centuries old and are passed down from generation to generation. Cultural heritage is of paramount importance especially when it comes to understanding a particular community for the purpose of offering professional counseling and even solving communal problems. It encompasses a communitys custom, religion, values, artistic expressions, ethnicity, age, sex/gender, sexual orientation, geographical location, socioeconomic status, educational status, interpersonal system and other personal characteristics. American is home to one of the largest Mexican American population in the world, coming only second to Mexico.In fact, Mexican Americans make up 12% of the US population according to a recent American census(Humes, Jones,& Ramirez, R. R. 2011.)
The Mexican American presence in the US dates back to about four centuries ago when the Spanish colonies existed in the South-Western part of the United States. Currently, the total Mexican American population stands at a record high of about 37 million. Of these number, about 10% are descendants of the colonial settlers with most families laying claim to ancient citizenship in the United States. Ever since their first settlements, Mexican American have undergone a systematic pattern of Americanization, gong as far as mastering the English language and adopting American lifestyles(Vigil,2011). The population of the Mexican Americans in the US has been steadily but robustly growing ever since their first settlements. At the beginning of the 20th century, their population was at about half a million. This figure has slowly risen to todays community of about 37 million Mexican Americans in the country.
The Mexican Americans when it comes to their geographical location occupy most of the Southwest states in the United States.Up to the mid half of the 20th century, they were are mainly concentrated in the states of Texas, California, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. However, with the rapid industrialization happening in America at the time, a significant proportion of the Mexican American population dispersed to industrial town and cities in search of jobs and means of living. Some of these urban centers and states where a significant proportion of the Mexican American community can still be found today include Cleveland, Chicago, St.Louis, and Detroit. A significant portion of the Mexican American population is also concentrated in Pittsburgh. These states were steel producing industrial hubs, and the main reason why the industrial jobs attracted the Mexican Americans is that they did not require a significant proficiency in English or any formal skills. This calls to question the current literacy levels of the Mexican Americans.
Education status and literacy levels are one of the most important aspects when it comes to considering the cultural heritage of a community.The Mexican Americans, unfortunately, have the lowest rates of educational attainment as compared to other immigrants in the country such as the Cuban Americans(Vigil,2011). The disparity in the educational status of the Mexican Americans as compared to other migrant communities living in the United States can be attributed to the fact that many Hispanic students descend from poor social and economic backgrounds. Most of the Hispanic schools are also ill-equipped. This is one of the accumulated educational disadvantages encountered by most Mexican American students. These difficulties stem out mostly from the fact that most Hispanic parents are illegal immigrants with poor socioeconomic status and have very little knowledge about how the US education system works(Carter,1970). These challenges have continued to undermine the educational success of the Mexican American students. Most students also, due to language and cultural barriers, have fragile relationships with their teachers. Todays high school and college achievement rates of Mexican Americans is therefore still meager. According to recent research, only about 11% of Mexican Americans aged over 25 are holders of a bachelors degree as compared to 17% of African Americans,30% of whites and over 49% of Asian Americans.
The socio-economic status of the Mexican American population has primarily been determined by their literacy levels and social status as immigrants. Hispanics, as already seen have the lowest college degree attainment as compared to any other cultural groups in the US. College degrees are still largely seen as the most determining factor for achievement of stable and meaningful employment in the United States. Research indicates that since the 1960s, the Mexican immigrants in the US have been contributing to a significant portion of the cheap labor demand in the United States.Reports indicated that a majority of the Mexican American working class do menial jobs to survive.Studies also indicate that Mexican Americans are subjected to the most unfriendly working conditions and are largely underpaid and harasses by their employers.This can be attributed to the fact that most of them are undocumented immigrants who work under the fear of deportation.They thus opt to work without questioning their terms of employment.The undocumented Mexican American working class is therefore ever vulnerable to exploitation by their employers(Parke et al.2004). This explains why most Mexican Americans have a very low economic status in the country.The only way to end the exploitation of Mexican Americans is by coming up with a proper immigration policy that will accommodate the thousands of undocumented Mexican immigrant in the country.In 2006, thousands of Mexican Americans left their jobs to agitate against discrimination in their workplaces.They cited reports of being subjected to poor working terms and being looked down against when it came to earning decent job positions or salaries.Several Mexican American trade unions have since ever been formed to deal with the issue of job inequality for Mexican immigrants in the US.
The social status of the Mexican Americans is largely intertwined with their economic status(Parke et al.2004).The average Mexican American household in the US has been steadily gaining some better social status in the 21st century as compared to their status in the 20th century.For example, when it comes to linguistics, there has been a greater number of Mexicans living in the United States and speaking fluent English.The 21st-century generation of the Mexican Americans has a better understanding of the American linguistic system and lifestyle.There have even been widespread reports of intermarriage between Mexican Americans and the whites in the United States.Reports also suggest that most Mexican Americans who fluently adopt the English language tend to rapidly lose grasp of the Spanish language. This way of assimilation has thus resulted in lesser educational and economic gaps between them and the rest of the American population. Most Mexican Americans practice the Roman Catholic faith. There has been a huge gender disparity when it comes to acquiring a formal education for the Mexican American children. The girl holds a lower social class than the boy child. This form of gender bias, though slowly fading, is what has always resulted in the average Mexican American adult woman being less educated than their male counterparts.
Segregation and racial discrimination of Mexican Americans are still pronounced in the United States. The experience of Mexican immigrants in the US has often been punctuated by instances of racial bias by their white and Asian counterparts (Berkel et al. 2010). The history of racial discrimination against Mexican Americans is long and complicated.Cases of racial bias stem out mostly from tough immigration policies set by lawmakers.For example, recently, the US president Donald Trump said he would deport thousands of illegal Mexican American immigrants who he blamed for the current narcotic crisis in the United States and is the chief crime perpetrators in American urban centers.He also started building the border wall between Mexico and the United States in a bid to curb the influx of illegal Mexican immigrants. This shows that Mexican Americans are still being subjected to racial bias in the United States. The only sure way to end racial discrimination against Mexicans in the US is to introduce friendlier immigration policies that would discourage assimilate illegal Mexican immigrants.
Vigil, J. D. (2011). From Indians to Chicanos: the dynamics of Mexican-American culture. Waveland Press.
Carter, T. P. (1970). Mexican Americans in School: A History of Educational Neglect.
Parke, R. D., Coltrane, S., Duffy, S., Buriel, R., Dennis, J., Powers, J., ... & Widaman, K. F. (2004). Economic stress, parenting, and child adjustment in Mexican American and European American families. Child development, 75(6), 1632-1656.
Berkel, C., Knight, G. P., Zeiders, K. H., Tein, J. Y., Roosa, M. W., Gonzales, N. A., & Saenz, D. (2010). Discrimination and adjustment for Mexican American adolescents: A prospective examination of the benefits of culturally related values. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20(4), 893-915.
Humes, K. R., Jones, N. A., & Ramirez, R. R. (2011). Overview of race and Hispanic origin: 2010 (p. 4). Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau.
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