Changing Dynamics and Hispanic Youth!
In our last blog, I wrote about how some Hispanics, especially Hispanic youth, struggle with identifying themselves as fully Hispanic when they don’t speak Spanish. Being Hispanic is much more than speaking the language. It’s an identity, a way of being and living that, yes, can come to fuller expression through language.
The reality is that our community is changing, as is our way of living and interacting in this country. In years past, immigration was the biggest contributor to the growth of the Hispanic community in the United States. For at least the last two decades, the state of the community was that many of us were first generation immigrants. A great number of us did not speak English and the number of fully acculturated, and sometimes assimilated, Hispanics was smaller than it is today.
With the tighter immigration laws of the last few years, we have seen thousands upon thousands of undocumented immigrants and families suffer more than ever, casualties of the broken immigration system. The price of coming to the United States, undocumented, has reached its highest price it seems, permanent detentions, separation of families, and in many case loss of lives, a price no many can afford to pay anymore.
These are some of the reasons the dynamics within the Hispanic culture have shifted. As of this year, the Hispanic Pew Center reported that the Net Immigration from Mexico has fallen to zero. This means that the same or a greater number of Mexican immigrants are leaving this country than coming in. This can be extrapolated to the greater Hispanic community. This also means that most of the growth of the community is in the form of Hispanic children born in the States.
This poses an interesting challenge for Hispanic families. Before, it was much easier for children to keep their language and culture, and to communicate with their parents and grandparents, because Spanish was the dominant language at home. As time passes, more children prefer to speak English at home, many times leaving “mamá” or “los abuelitos”, who don’t speak English, in the dark.
I personally see it all the time. Children don’t have the patience to find all the words they need in Spanish to communicate, which can make them feel awkward around others, so they prefer to give up on conversations. This leaves parents and other adults wondering how they are feeling or what’s on their mind, resigned to this new reality.
What is your experience with this issue? Do you ever have trouble communicating with family members? How does that make you feel?
If you are like many children and young people I know, you probably struggle sometimes. But there are plenty of things that you can do to brush up your Spanish, and you should take advantage of them. These lessons can be the best way to strengthen, start where you left off, or even start learning, and you have them right at home. Think about what you can do to achieve this and feel free to share it with us.
In our next blog, we will write about some practical things that you can do to rekindle your Spanish fire and expand your cultural awareness.
I hope these lines can help you reflect upon your own reality as a Hispanic young person and lead you to some great and fun ways to rediscover or keep exploring the wonderful things about being Hispanic.