Monday, October 16, 2006
America's Latinization: Shakira, salsa and Ugly Betty
I feel like I keep doing this same story every year, telling the tale of how the booming Latino population is changing the United States, how the U.S. media business needs to take note of this vast and demanding market. I'm Latina and in the media, so I cop to having a special interest here.

But, as the U.S. population approaches 300 million people, the story has finally changed. I've written for years about how Latino content -- in Spanish and English -- is growing so much that it's going to transform American media. Now it seems to have actually happened.

It's not just that People Magazine also publishes People en Espanol or that CNN has a Spanish-language channel called CNN en Espanol. All U.S. media is changing its content to reflect the fact that Latinos have become the nation's largest minority group and that the rest of the country is feeling their own culture become Latinized.

You can see it in supermarket snack aisles, where tortilla chips and salsa outsell most everything around them. You can hear it on the radio and on MTV, where Spanish music and music with a Spanish beat are everywhere. Hello, Shakira! I flipped through childrens channels the other morning with my 15-month old daughter and there was Handy Manny talking to his toolbelt in Spanish, Dora exploring the world with her amigos and Diego talking to some birds in Spanish. By the time my little girl is my age, it is likely that one in five school children will be Spanish dominant. Our country is changing, fast.

Just a few years ago my relatives in Peru told me not to call them when Betty La Fea was on because they wouldn't pick up the phone. I remember visiting them and TV reporters were on air around Latin America doing live shots to show how empty the streets were during the broadcast. The show was a major telenovela phenomena. Everyone watched, every time. When ABC announced it would produce a U.S. version in English, I figured this would be a true test of whether the U.S. audience, Latinos and non-Latinos, would embrace something so quintessentially Latin American. Well, question answered. Ugly Betty has become the most-watched new series this season.

The show is funny, with crisp writing and a compelling story line. It is also very much a Latino show. Yet the numbers speak for themselves. It's not the nation's Latinos watching; it's everybody.

After years of watching Spanish-language shows and news broadcasts in the U.S. attract Neilson ratings that were the envy of U.S. broadcasters, it's heartening to see something Latino holding its own in English. It means there has been a coming together, a melting in the melting pot. That's the thing that makes the United States a special place for immigrants. That it welcomes and assumes their culture. That it goes out of it's way to welcome the millions of Bettys out there into their home.
Posted By Rose Arce, CNN Senior Producer: 2:12 PM ET
  63 Comments
Cultural diversity is what we're all about. HOWEVER, $20 billion gets sent OUT of the US economy INTO the Mexican, Central and South American economies every year. Is it fair that some of this money hasn't been taxed for imcome, when my own taxes are going up thanks to Illinois' Democratic leadership? Bring on all the culture of other countries you want! But, we need to ensure that every person living here pays their fair share of income taxes INTO our government by electing strong conservative leadership in each district !
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 3:11 PM ET
I think that this is all great. It is refreshing to see the different cultural perspectives and influences that the Latino population brings to the media and entertainment. After years of seeing "white-washed" TV shows and cookie cutter story formulas, the diversity is beginning to make things look interesting!

Hopefully this will become more common, and we will be able to see more programming with Asian, Eastern European, and African influences. Then media will begin to reflect what the US population really looks like.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Chicago, IL : 3:18 PM ET
Born in Texas of German heritage I speak Spanish because that is the most popular language next to English here in Houston.
Viva Latinos !!
Posted By Anonymous Fred Hebinck, Houston, Texas : 3:38 PM ET
I don't have any issues with immigrants, as long as they go through the legal channels the best way they can and become productive, tax paying citizens. Welcome to America!

What I do take issue with is the forceful learning of the Spanish language in schools. I am not Latino and proud to be a Euro-American, remember those? I speak English and everyone around me speaks English. My children should have a choice as to whether they want to learn Spanish or choose another language in school. The fact that it is mandatory in most school systems is completely outragious. My heritage is Irish and German. I want my children to learn German. They want to learn German but it is not offered at the elementary level. Only Spanish! I think it shows a catering to and a bias of other cultures to force Spanish while ignoring the other languages and/or cultures. We cater to minority cultures but what about the rest of us? It is getting harder and harder to help my kids know their heritage.

What is happening is not a melting pot. It is turning all of us into Latinos. I will never accept this as part of who I am. I will never be Latino and I am proud of who I am.

Just my two cents!
Posted By Anonymous Mo, Raleigh NC : 3:44 PM ET
I am dominican and I am 17, a senior in high school. I have been in the United States for about four years now. It is totally agreeable that due to the vast population of first generation and second generation hispanics in the United States the american media has been forced to change their point of views from a 100% percent american audience to a more diverse one. I feel happy that more latinos everyday are achiving new and great things, I am proud of my people. But stil remains the question, why are so many people forgeting their culture, the basic believes and customs of Latin America? It is sad to see how many kids whose parents were not even born in the United States can't speak spanish, not even write it. It is even worse to see these kids not being able to speak with their grandparents, they don't speak english, the kids don't speak spanish.
Posted By Anonymous aquiles damiron, holbrook massachusetts : 3:54 PM ET
Sorry, what I see changing has nothing to do with Latino-a/Hispanic. It has to do with the acceptance that 'illegal' has totally lost it meaning. That folks are coming across the Borders illegally, with out the sense that this wrong, or counterfeit or stolen ID with a 'sort of an entitlement attitude', that driving without a license or insurance is okay, that illegal drugs-human trafficking is just part of the game, that I could do a money transfer at Walmart cheaper to Mexico City than to Des Moines, that a law to give citizenship to former slaves has been bent to allow someone who breaks several laws to get to an American hospital to deliver a child suddenly can demand that Americans pay from the moment of birth to the mother/father demanding rights that the law had no intention to bestow, that it is OKAY for an 'illegal' to abandon the 'family in Mexico' but that deportations for illegals break up families. That someone like you comes to remake the USA in your image, rather than becoming an American, while honoring your heritage and separating yourself by claiming the label Latina rather than American. That as high as my cable bill is with mostly poor programing, I have no choice but to pay for Spanish Channels. That immigrants both illegal or legal do not accept the responsibility of sending children who are 'ready' to attend American schools. No one has the right to 'invade' this country and demand the same rights as those who have followed the rules to become an American.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista : 3:55 PM ET
God help us, the German (in this case Latino)barbarians are on the gates.

The Fall of the Roman Empire, take two.
Posted By Anonymous Shawn, Boston MA : 3:56 PM ET
Interesting comments. I am a Latino living here in the USA ( Please note: I pay all my taxes) My wife a Latino as well and I came to Pittsburgh three years ago (she just finish a post doctoral fellowship at the University of Pitt), and decide to take salsa dancing lessons as a way to meet others in the city, we were very surprised to find that the majority of the students are of other ethnic origin, they are Caucasians, Asians, Europeans, Russians, most of them are good old Americans. Oh yess!! my wife and I are the only Latinos there.

Funny..

Someone is influencing these people..
Posted By Anonymous Bob from Pitt. : 3:57 PM ET
Americ is a melting pot and all countries are welcomed here! What Latinos want to change America. They want it to become Mexico north. Forcing everyone to learn their culture is not right. Their own natinal anthem! That is not a melting pot. They don't understand we're not giving up our culture!
Posted By Anonymous K. W. Chicago, Il. : 4:00 PM ET
When my family came here in the later part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century they learned English. They spoke German, Polish and Lithuianian in the home, but to function in the workplace or school they understood the importance of speaking English. Why should I have to press 1 for english at the start of a phone call to a major corporation here in The United States of America?

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Chicago, IL : 4:01 PM ET
To me, this is what assimilation is all about. Bring your ideas and your culture and make it part of ours. This is the same thing that happened in England and other parts of the world like China. The English language is has been a melting pot language from the start. To all those who fear the hispanic "invasion" and losing the "Americaness" of this country, I would say there is no more of an American concept than integration of other cultures. As far as the fear of other languages, most "White-Americans" don't even realize that they are already speaking spanish words in their lives. Have you ever been to a barbecue, eaten a burrito, eaten in a cafeteria, been to the Grand Canyon, ever drank a margarita, had nachos at the movies, or ever heard of the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria?
God I love this country.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Tucson, AZ : 4:01 PM ET
Born in the USA. Second generation American. Former student at 'la Universidad Veracruzana' and educated in the Mid-West. I live 15 miles north of the Rio Grande. Daily news reports of drug seizures by the hundreds of pounds and even into the tons. Stashed into vehicle tires, taped to the human body, and so much dope that a dump truck was used in a failed attempt to haul 1.2K pounds of pot. I say, build the (long overdue) border fence. Respectfully...
Posted By Anonymous Eduardo R. Estrada; Edinburg, TX : 4:01 PM ET
I just sent a rippin' response to your blog, but forgot to mention that if I want salsa, etc. I can go to my son's very legal in-laws home or their Authentic Mexican Restaurant or make it myself.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista : 4:02 PM ET
I feel alienated in the very country I was born in when I see TV ads and billboards that are only in spanish. Although I respect the concept of diversity and the supposedly good things that come from immigration, what about those of us who do not wish to change? If I wanted to immerse myslf in a latino culture, I would move to a latin country.

What we are seeing is 200+ years of Americana being replaced by an alien culture almost overnight.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Houston TX : 4:02 PM ET
Canada is a bilingual country with French and English. In the city of Calgary, we have a large Chinese community who immigrated to Canada many years ago and eventually our community accepted the Chinese's needs and now we have bank machines that are programmed in Chinese and the rest of us really don't have a problem with it. We are all Canadians no matter what.

You are all Americans no matter what the language is.
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 4:02 PM ET
Please--Ugly Betty shows no more diversity than shows of previous generations. The author just isn't old enough to remember "I remember mama" (about Scandinavian immigrants), "Make Room for Daddy" (Lebanese immigrants), "Chico and the Man" (Hispanic), and of course, "Cosby". She forgets, too, the Italianization of TV, and the Hiberianization of TV and the media, which are so pervasive that nobody notices anymore.
Posted By Anonymous Mara Alexander, Alexandria, VA : 4:05 PM ET
I like how it's perceived that the US now "caters" to minorities now that we have one crossover latino popstar and one hit tv show called Ugly Betty. Nevermind that the government is run by whites, the top CEO's in this country are white and pretty much anyone with any power to make any social or economic change is white...but yeah, the US caters to the minority population.
Posted By Anonymous Alicia, Dallas, Texas : 4:05 PM ET
Shakira, Ugly Betty, Nachos...Yikes! Not quite a meaningful contribution to society? A "Melting Pot" should favor all cultures, not the emerging dominant minority.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Chicago IL : 4:06 PM ET
One in five children being "Spanish- dominant" is not a coming together of cultures, but rather the dominance in the southwest of Mexican-American culture over Anglo and European culture. When Latino couples give birth to seven children and their white neighbors from the same economic echelon give birth to just one, I think you are beginning to see the end of European influence in Califoria and Arizona. Say goodbye to California's central valley as you know it.
Posted By Anonymous Martin, Fresno, CA : 4:08 PM ET
Immigration is one thing but, illegal immigration is another. I feel that Mexico is invading the United States and the Federal goverment is doing nothing to stop it. Why? The reason is that big business wants the cheap labor. Big business runs this country. The average middle class citizen has no voice in goverment. I would like to see strict enforcement of immigration law and the national language as ENGLISH.
Posted By Anonymous Ted, Charlotte, NC : 4:09 PM ET
One comment... Welcome to America... Now speak English!!!
Posted By Anonymous JC, Springfield, MA : 4:22 PM ET
Hmm, kind of a touchy subject, but here it goes.

I am a non-Latino American who enjoys Ugly Betty very much. But I also have to say it makes me a little mad when I go to a supermarket and see Spanish translations on food labels and even on the signs marking each aisle's contents. Despite Latinos being the largest minority in America now, is this bilingual labeling really necessary? Just have specialty stores like so many of the other numerous nationalities that live here. Because what we're starting to see is a diminishing incentive for Latinos to learn English when they come here, and it sends the message that America is supposed to bend to accomodate them instead of them making the effort to assimilate into this culture. I'm not saying immigrants, Latino or otherwise, should completely abandon everything, or even anything, about their native cultures. Cultural diversity is what makes this country so great. But think about it this way: when English speakers move to a non English-speaking country, would they expect that country's citizens to start becoming familiarized with English for the sake of the newcomers? Of course not. If you're moving to a new country to start a new life, then you have to be prepared and willing to start doing some things a little differently.
Posted By Anonymous AM, Manhasset, NY : 4:22 PM ET
I lived in a West Texas town, for 36 years before I moved to Houston. I can't tell you what a pleasant suprise it was to experience real "Cultural Diversity".
I finally found a place where you could hear other languages! Surprisingly, one of those lanuages was English!
Posted By Anonymous L. M., Houston, TX : 4:24 PM ET
I grew up overseas. In the 3 countries we lived in while I was in gradeschool, it was REQUIRED by law that we take classes to learn the native language, even though the schools I attended were English-speaking International Schools. We should really try that here, it wouldn't kill a (legal)foreigner to learn English, just as I had to learn the languages of the countries I lived in. As for the Illegal immigrants, they need to go.
Posted By Anonymous karen, NYC : 4:26 PM ET
I don't think Latino-a/hispanics are trying to force culture on others. I really don't even see this as a huge issue. What even is "American"? Speaking English? There is sooo much diversity in this country and ethnic groups adding into the mix. Obviously depending on where you live and the makeup of that area, the dominant ethnic group will stand out and have more of a voice. I don't see the problem.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Washington DC : 4:27 PM ET
Latinos are NOT trying to turn the USA into the Mexico of the North. The studies have shown that latino kids learn English and those who claim their forefathers came here legally (there were no immigration laws on the books until laws were passed to keep out the Chinese) and learned the language (there are STILL neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Chicago and New Jersey where Polish and Italian are still the only spoken languages) are simply not reflecting the truth.

As for Ugly Betty, the show is a Latin American Telenovela, it just has a bigger budget and is written in English.

Finally, to those who claim they only oppose ILLEGAL immigration let me riddle you this. Would you still say you've got no beef with LEGAL immigration if all your neighbors were Puerto Rican (who are all US Citizens by birth) instead of Mexican? The Puerto Rican experience in NYC and Chicago seems to imply that lines like "I am only concerned about illegal immigration" are really covert lines to cover up personal bias and bigotry.
Posted By Anonymous Ep Sato, DC : 4:30 PM ET
I live in South Florida. This area has been taken over by Latinos. I'm all for the melting pot but this is horrible. You can hardly get a job here unless you are bilingual. I refuse to have to learn Spanish. I was born in this country. Learn ENGLISH! Being an English speaking Anglo is now the minority down here and I'm moving. It's sad that this country is being TAKEN OVER! The good ol USA is no more. I have many Latin friends. But.............being the minority is not acceptable to me.
Posted By Anonymous Gloria LaRoche, Coral Springs, FL : 4:31 PM ET
You can't call it "diversity" or "melting pot" when all other cultures and languages are ignored, some of which have been here a lot longer than the hispanic culture. Why is it we only have a choice between the Spanish or English language? What about offering Russian? or Chinese? or German? or Japanese? WHY? because those cultures realized when coming to American they must learn English in order to have success AND they did not come here expecting society to bend to their whims. They acclimated to the American culture, not the other way around. I'm sorry but I am offended when I take my young children to school and the classroom is decorated with English and Spanish signs. I am offended when driving down the street and billboards are in Spanish. I am offended when I stop in a fast food place and the ordering person cannot speak English. I am offended when I go into that same fast food restaurant and everyone of the staff is speaking Spanish to each other. The sad reality is as a caucasion AMERICAN I am labled a racist by the liberal media for having these opinions, when RACE has absolutely nothing to do with it. I eat burritos, buy salsa, and married a half latino man and gave birth to two half-latino girls. This is not diversity. Can you wonder why some see it as an "invasion"? There is nothing wrong with celebrating your culture, I do so every St. Patrick's day, but this seemingly attitude of entitlment and dominance is so contridictory to the concept of "diversity" it would almost be humerous if it weren't so insulting.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills, CA : 4:33 PM ET
It is very unfortunate to read some messages where people express their views towards immigrants as tax evaders or rippers of the American Culture. I should say that diversity and hard working people is what makes this country so special. I can assure you that if Europe or Middle Eastern were as receptive as the majority of Americans to immigrants, they wouldn't be going there. Instead of promoting blind and outdated conservative, ideas the American people (those of white background) should embrace the importance that Latinos have had in the past half century over their country. Moreover, Americans and specially some southern individuals should take a quick study of American history and remember that Texas, part of California, Arizona and New Mexico belonged to Mexico only a couple of hundred years ago. So please!!!! Latinos are part of America.....have tequila and burritos and shake hands!!!
Posted By Anonymous Andres, Toronto, Canada : 4:34 PM ET
Hello everybody... I was born and raised in Latin America and has been living in the US for 8 years now.
I agree with most people that illegal immigration must go away, most latin american countries are not nearly as welcoming to illegal aliens as here in the US. Even in Mexico, they give a hard time to other latins trying to get in illegaly.
Second... I agree that if you come to this country you have to learn English and try to adapt to the american culture. Now, I am proud of who I am and where I come from, and I will reinforce that idea on my kids.... I think they need to be aware of their heritage and maintain Spanish as a SECOND language.
Posted By Anonymous javier, KC MO : 4:36 PM ET
In response to "God help us, the German (in this case Latino)barbarians are on the gates", and to "Forcing everyone to learn their culture is not right"
Gee I wonder if that is how the Native Americans felt when the European settlers first came to this country...
Posted By Anonymous Debra, New York, NY : 4:36 PM ET
I'd just like to know when we are all going to stop demanding our culture and unite under 1 culture. All this diversity crap is further dividing us, not uniting.
Posted By Anonymous M, Canton, Michigan : 4:40 PM ET
The current "latinization" of the US only reflects a leveling of the global playing field. The US has opened its borders to increased competition from abroad but we experience definite benefits to accessing the purchasing power of different populations of this world. The simultaneous change in the US' social landscape is challenging us to be more prepared for the global experience/marketplace. We are being forced to be more well-rounded and more able to adapt, just like any immigrant looking to be more competitive in a new country, no matter where they send their remittances.
Posted By Anonymous William, Washington, DC : 4:40 PM ET
I am very tired of being a foreigner in my own country. I recently moved from Miami so I could feel again what it felt like to be in an AMERICAN CITY.
I look at places like NYC, and I think it is a true melting pot. I believe all American metropolitan cities should reflect a larger sample of the world, not just a LATIN population. Granted Albuquerque, NM and San Antonio, TX should reflect its origin: Mexican and Native American. But why aren't we exploiting our Asian influence, or broadcasting more European shows, like Benny Hill ???
I want to see more diversity in the U.S., Not JUST LATIN!!!
A concerned American
Posted By Anonymous Haley, Palm Beach, FL : 4:48 PM ET
You know. I was originally going to comment on how great people are beginning to accept the Latinos through music, movies and television. How I actually learned some Polish while in high school in Chicago because I went to a school that was surrounded by Polish stores, restaurants and bakeries. But from reading some of the comments it just seems like some people cannot get passed the illegals and how they don't pay taxes.

Everyone I know tells me "I wish I could speak a second language." Many Europeans know 2-3 languages and people here (US) are so hard headed that they only want to speak English. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Americans cannot take advantage of going into different neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, Greek town, Korean town, or their Spanish speaking neighborhoods and asking the locals "What is this? How do you pronounce this? What is this used for?" My goodness, we live in such a diverse country. Stop looking at it as they don't speak English or they're illegal and look at is, this is my opportunity to learn a new culture in my own back yard.
Posted By Anonymous SL - LA, CA : 4:49 PM ET
Based on what I've seen on Spanish-language TV, heard from Latino music, and seen from the behavior of the Latinos in my community, Latino popular culture completely blows. For a people who claim to be so 'hard working', why don't they learn English to communicate in public spaces like EVERY OTHER immigrant group? Seriously, if you're so wrapped up in the culture and greatness of your homeland, go live there! Don't bring us down because you can't control your reproduction!
Posted By Anonymous William White, Evanston IL : 4:50 PM ET
I am a second generation Norwegian. My Father had to have a green card, a sponsor, and proof of a job prior to coming to the USA in 1963. There were no signs in Norwegian when he arrived, not even for the restroom.

I don't think any American minds people speaking in their native tongue if they are visiting, or newly arrived. But when you are here, working, for years and can't speak the language, that is an issue.
Posted By Anonymous Rolf , Watertown, NY : 4:57 PM ET
Well, I just wanted to respond to a few things in one of the comments: Unfortunately, the U.S. does not have an 'official' language, although English is just simply considered to be the official language. Also, it is not only Mexico-born immigrants that come into this country illegally - all countries of Central America have thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants here on our soil - it just so happens Mexico takes the blame since they are on our border. I agree that there needs to be a better enforcement of immigration, though - and honestly, a fence isn't going to stop anybody from coming in here. Our government needs to open up their eyes. I am originally from PA, and proudly of German descent - I cannot even communicate with half of this city (Miami) due to laws not enforcing English - but funny how Spanish is enforced in our schools and, basically, everywhere you turn. I've been forced into attempting to speak a language that I never wanted to speak.
Posted By Anonymous Stacy, Miami FL : 4:58 PM ET
I must agree with the majority of what Americans are saying regarding this subject... Feel free to come to America... Feel free to become a legal citizen... But don't force your language/ethnic background down my throat... I was born and raised in South Florida, and I like the English language... I do not want to have to bring my Spanish dictonary inorder to drive south to Miami... This is the United States, the language is English, if you want to live here, learn English... At 50 years of age, I should not have to learn a new language unless I am moving to another country... No habla Espanol! That is the extent of my Spanish...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry, Sarasota Fl : 4:59 PM ET
"America" has always been a whirlwind of different cultures. First off, not all of us Latinos are Mexican. The terms are used interchangeably and, frankly, it's annoying. My family is Cuban and came here under political asylum (my grandfather was put in jail for going against Castro). So, no, not all of us are illegal, and not all of us are Mexican. Second, it's insulting the way that "real" Americans treat Latin culture. Bigotry is completely accepted in this country. What ever happened to the American ideals my family came here for? Thirdly, yes, my family does like Cuba more than this country. From what I've been told of Cuba before the revolution, it was damn better than America is now. But can I go there? No. I was born here. In my heart, I and my entire family are Cubans. On paper, we are Americans. We speak English, we pay taxes, we have steady jobs. Don't lump us all together.

I was speaking on the phone to my mother in Spanish a while ago and walked by two teens. One of them told me to "speak English, damnit!" and the other one told me to go back across the Mexican border. Normally, people react in surprise when I say I'm Cuban (I don't look Latina at all). By speaking Spanish, suddenly I'm a dangerous Mexican alien. What is this???
Posted By Anonymous Bekah, Coral Gables, Fl : 6:19 PM ET
I contacted Comcast today to get rid of the non-english channels, all they said was, "unfortunately there is no way to remove them all of our packages will offer some bilingual programming". Why don't we have a choice? Why should we pay for channels we can't understand???????
Posted By Anonymous Abigail, Larkspur, CA : 6:21 PM ET
I agree 100% with what you wrote.
Just one remark though: as "Latina", you should mention that the expression "Latinos" is also related to us, brazilians. And we don't speak Spanish, we speak Portuguese.

So, as your aproach is related to Spanish language, the "politically correct" should be refer to "Latinos" of "Spanish language only".
Posted By Anonymous Gustavo Bastos, Fairfield, California : 6:25 PM ET
Having Spanish so predominate in U.S. culture is not ..."a coming together, a melting in the melting pot". Unlike the Italian, Polish, Irish, Germans, French, Swiss, various Asians, etc., the Latino has not 'melted' into anything. They have simply transported their culture from there to here, and have steadfastly refused to 'melt'. I say.....if your Spanish is so important to you, if your Latino culture is so important to you that you refuse to acclimate to America and adopt the English language, then go home. Go home and demand change from your own country, your own peoples, your own governments. Then maybe you wouldn't feel the need to come here for work, take American dollars and send most of it back to your country. Go home. We don't want you here unless you're willing to MELT into the American pot and accept that America IS a melting pot, that we speak English and that you will never belong unless you adapt.
Posted By Anonymous Angela Gomez, San Jose, CA : 6:28 PM ET
I am a 5th generation Latina who is proud of my heritage. I grew up in Texas and only recently have began to master Spanish. I remember living in New York City meeting people from all over the world and every single one of them was multilingual. Perhaps Americans should learn all the many Native American languages of this land before they came in and took over the people who are the true natives and forced them to assimilate into the white european culture. As for illegals not paying taxes? Really? If they have fake ID's they are paying taxes, including social security which they will never see.
Posted By Anonymous Carolina , Atlanta, GA : 6:33 PM ET
I am from India, where almost the entire population is multilingual, and that is even without considering English, which is spoken by everybody with at least a secondary education. There are 14 'official' languages, though most government communication is in English or Hindi. There have been political movements driven by language and cultural chauvanism in the country's history, but most died out when their political usefulness expired. There are 24 major languages each spoken by more than a million people, and hundred upon hundreds of dialects. So, is the country falling apart on lingual lines? Far from it. I think the United States, which is a beacon of multiculturism in the world, can learn valuable lessons from the Indian mindset in this respect. By and large, learning a second language is much more fun and less painful than it is made out to be. It is intellectually stimulating, practical and does not diminish, but enhances a person's self worth.
Posted By Anonymous Partha, Seattle : 8:04 PM ET
Here in Canada we don't have that problem. Everything is taught in English, kids go to special E.S.L. classes. You underestimate the child's mind, they CAN learn a second language, they absorve it faster than adults and learn quickly. I come from spanish speaking parents and came to Canada when I was 8, it was hard at first but you learn quickly. I was so happy to be able to speack in English in the end. Either the teachers are too lazy or the kids have learning disabilities. Do your research!
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth Bernardini, Toronto, Canada : 8:15 PM ET
Thats the problem in this country, you call yourself a Latina, some call themselves African-Americans, Latinos, how about calling yourself an American. I don't ever recall ever hearing my grandparents calling themselves French or Swiss-Americans. They were proud to be Americans and if you are not proud enough to be an American or call yourself one then leave, along with the rest of the hyphenated - Americans.
Posted By Anonymous R. Lewis Highlands, NC : 8:38 PM ET
Does anybody know about the history of the United States?

Immigrants have always been vilified.

In the mid-19th century The Irish were said to be stealing jobs from Americans and that their influence would corrupt democracy to the extent that the pope would run the country.

This is a very old tune being played here and it smacks of what it is -- intolerance and fear.

I wish we'd find a new tune (preferably one ith a Latin rhythm)
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Pittsburgh, PA : 8:44 PM ET
i agree that our country is changing fast some people are just to blind to see that or want to pay attention.
Posted By Anonymous josh warner indanapolis indiana : 10:11 AM ET
Growing up in Texas, I learned Spanish and English and I have been blessed with the best of two worlds. Because we as Americans are 300 million strong today, maybe you naysayers ought to ponder what being an American really means. Be citizens of the world and abandon all your hopes!
Posted By Anonymous Javier Perez, Washington : 10:47 AM ET
Pity and ignore the panic and anger of the anti-immigrant voices, time and reason has and will dilute them to a memory. With such a short life we should simply focus on enjoying another beautiful day in one of the most diversed societies in the history of mankind. Shakira, will you marry me?
Posted By Anonymous Carlos, Houston TX : 11:02 AM ET
People don't understand or don't want to see that our population and world is changing because of immigrants. People are too caught up in their pride to see that not all immigrants are doing bad things for our country. A lot of things they do are helping us out with entertainment, low-paying jobs that we refuse to do, and if their weren't any immigrants than what would our politics have to argue about?
Posted By Anonymous Jessica Reddick, Indianapolis IN : 11:05 AM ET
I don't mind that more spanish speakers our coming into our country. You have to admit that alot of Americans our lazy and don't want to work, but most Hispanics would kill to have a job. They do the jobs well too! So what if you have to broaden your horizons and learn spanish? It makes you smarter and you'd be bilingual. America's a big enough country, so what's wrong with Hispanics living in America? The more the merrier!
Posted By Anonymous Amanda Ezell, Indianapolis,IN : 11:08 AM ET
It seems to me, that the current influx of latino immigration is no different than the countless other minority migrations into America. People seem to so quickly forget that nearly all of us are immigrants. People claim that latinos are not acclamating or adjusting as past immigrants did. This simply isn't true. The vasy majority of latinos are learning English and adapting to our cultural norms. The arguments today over immigration are the same ones our nation has had since its inception. People attacked the Irish when they came, the Jews, the Poles, Italians, Chinese, and evry other minority ethnic group. They all adapted to American culture (albeit after enriching it with their own unique strengths and traits). The "mexican" food in grocery stores is often Americanized, as is much of the Spanish spoken here. Latinos are adapting to America, and America is adapting to them (as it has with every immigrant group on the past). We should not be afraid of immigrants, we should embrace them and welcome them as fellow Americans in the tradition of those who welcome my Polish and Italian Great-Grandparents to this great nation.
Posted By Anonymous Scott D. East Lansing, MI : 11:09 AM ET
I don't have any issues with immigrants, as long as they go through the legal channels the best way they can and become productive, tax paying citizens. Welcome to America!
Posted By Anonymous Andy Theus, Indianapolis IN : 11:12 AM ET
I am from New York queens, were most of the population there is hispanic. The U.S population has grown even more threw out the past couple of years because of immigrants. I am glad that the population is growing because it give my people a chance to better there life and there family.
Posted By Anonymous carolina Rodas, Indianapolis Indiana : 11:12 AM ET
Sorry to bum out some of the more ignorant, but your country is not being invaded by an alien culture, it is merely becoming dominated by one that has been there a long long time. Prior to independence, areas like California, New Mexico (duh) and Texas were populated by a majority of Spanish speakers of latino origin. Why do you think there are so many places with Spanish names (Colorado, El Paso, Las Vegas to name but a few).
There is no 'American' culture, only a pale shadow of even paler western european bigotry from the 18th century. How could a vibrant, life embracing culture, such as that broadly characterised as 'latino' not win-out in the end?
And please, citizens of the United States, you are but one country in America and in the minority as far as speaking Spanish goes. 'America' was latinised a long, long time ago, you just didn't pay attention in geography class...
Posted By Anonymous Chris Daley, Balakot, Pakistan : 11:12 AM ET
My Two Cents. I am a sophmore in high school, who is taking Spanish class. I think that the latin population is great for us(Americans). We don't really get to do things of the ohter culture. It teaches us to expand our vocabulary. The latin population also help us with our ecomny. I mean people think people of the latin race is bad, but really all thier doing is helping us.So thank you for your time.

This is just "My Two Cents"
Posted By Anonymous AshleeB.Indianapolis, Indiana : 11:12 AM ET
I agree with Elizabeth Bernardini -- children CAN learn new languages more easily than some adults seem to think. It's interesting to me that the adults who think Latino children need special forms of education are usually the adults whose jobs depend on providing that education. I therefore tend to discount whatever they say.

Although I think most education in US schools should be in English, Spanish is a perfectly good language and there is no harm in learning to speak it well. I would like to see more programs that help students who learn it at home to acquire the formal, educated levels of the language. There's no need to run the whole chemistry class in Spanish, for example, but it might be useful to teach the Spanish vocabulary of chemistry (in a LANGUAGE class) so that students can learn to talk about that subject. Lessons like that might be useful for advanced non-Latino students too, and in languages other than Spanish if there are enough to students to make such a program reasonable.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Alexandria VA : 11:26 AM ET
Wow what comments, OK lets send back everybody who is not english speaking nor american and with them goes your latino food,german food, and any other american food, your chinese and your japanese electronics, send back your BMW's and all your non-american cars, suv's etc, send with them your techinological advances and their break-through advances in medicine, keep them all out too those like einsteins and anyone like him keep them all out and send them back.
Did you notice al those electronics you buy has the book with instructions in VARIOUS languages FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WHICH INCLUDES ENGLISH!. If it was me I'd put it only in the language from the country it came from. Lets see you figure out your DVR/VCR/ANSWERING MACH then!
Hey where are you going on VACATION? ANother country perhaps? Where they accomodate english speaking tourists, with english language signs and accept US currency? They don't have to do it. You say to get US money. Well why then don't you spent your vacation IN THE US? And don't forget all those trinckets you bring back from other countries too. Like those of you who visit other countries to smuggle back some cuban cigars, oh yeah smuggle in the cigar but don't let in the guy who slaves over the field and rolls them for $1 a month in food. OH no can't have that. We can't give him the opportunity to come here, buy a farm, cultivate the land and grow the same crop and hire workers and be productive. NOPE let the american sell the farm and build condos that's a better idea.

We say OH but its OK to get the goodies we get from all these countries but just don't let the people in right?
Posted By Anonymous Mayra, Southington CT : 11:30 AM ET
I am an immigrant who used to prepare amnesty and other immigration application. Americans concerned about racial harmony and political stability in this country should take examine closely the social and political consequences of exploding immigration-driven population growth.

According to the 2000 Census, the U.S. population grew about 13% from 1990 to 2000 while people who identified themselves as Mexicans increased by 53% during the same period. If this trend continues, even without another amnesty or other increased in immigration, within decades, the majority of people in the U.S. could very well be of Mexican descent.

In 1997, then-President of Mexico said in Chicago: "I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important, a very important of it."

Mexico has actively encouraged illegal migration to the U.S. and has vigorously opposed all U.S. efforts to secure our borders while it does not tolerate illegal immigration on its own soil. And more than half of the illegal aliens in the U.S. came from Mexico. Once amnestied, many of them will bring in extended families who will consume energy, need jobs, education and many other social services that any taxes most pay will not cover due to their low incomes. Also, naturalized citizens can vote in future U.S. elections.

Undoubtedly, many Mexican Americans are patriotic. However, during massive demonstrations in recent months, many protestors were waving Mexican flags and pressuring the U.S. with demands identical to Mexico's. Many activists of Mexican ancestry publicly said: "Today we march. Tomorrow we vote." Many of them claim that the American Southwest is THEIR land and is "stolen" land.

Is Mexico uinsg both legal and illegal migration to strongly influence American policies, our future elections and to eventually extend the Mexican nation?

Yeh Ling-Ling
Executive Director
Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 517
Oakland, CA 94612
Posted By Anonymous Yeh Ling-Ling, Oakland, CA : 11:30 AM ET
What I find interesting is that most of the things I wanted to comment about, most people covered them. I am 1/16 Cherokee Indian/Dutch/Irish/English/French, and more i'm sure. I married a half-mexican half-italian woman and have 4 children. This is what america is about. Most people called America a melting pot. When you melt things, all their ingredients meld together to form a new substance. That is the american culture. It takes spices from different cultures and melts them together to form their own. Most hispanic cultures and holidays have become americanized already. While most of the traditions that we americans have were forms of other countries traditions. (you see where this is leading). In the old Eurpoean countries, that have had citizens from way back in the BCs, they have rich, defined cultures, ways of life. America has only been a country for 230 years. And how did we become a country? We IMMIGRATED HERE!! hello!!!
And you took the lands that my forefathers had and made it your own.
And you took the lands that Mexico had, and made it your own.
Sounds like we need to take a look at our past and accept what we are as Americans. We are many people from around the whole world who have the same desire to be Free; to have Opportunity.
Posted By Anonymous Rick S., Little Rock, AR : 1:34 PM ET
Yesterday I sent in a pretty stinging comment to the blog. After reading everyone else's comments, I realized that my "anger" is directed specifically to part of what Yeh Ling-Ling pointed out. That during the recent demonstrations, many demonstrators were carrying the Mexican flag [and yelling "viva Mexico!!"]; all the while making demands of the U.S. government and its citizens. Simply put, that's what caused me to move to the other side of this immigration issue. Until then, having married a second-generation Mexican, having taken many Spanish classes, and having patronized many Latino establishments, I was a strong proponent of (legal) Latino immigration. But not anymore. Not while I have to "press 1 for English" while living in the U.S.
Posted By Anonymous Angela, San Jose, CA : 3:46 PM ET
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