Hispanics Challenging Assumptions
By George Anderson
A piece in Business Week, Hispanic Nation, details the growing size and influence of those describing themselves as Hispanic and says, as a group, they are challenging
many of the old assumptions about how immigrant populations assimilate into the American mainstream.
The rapid growth of Hispanic Americans is felt in the consumer marketplace, business, politics and popular culture. In some cases, institutions are adapting to meet the needs
of this group rather than requiring Hispanics to make language accommodations, for example.
In some states such as Texas and California, for example, Hispanic influence is growing to the point where some are predicting a situation akin to the French-speaking Quebec
Research suggests Hispanics are less likely to assimilate, for a variety of theoretical reasons, than previous immigrant populations.
According to the Business Week article, “a study of assimilation and other factors shows that while the number of Hispanics who prefer to speak mostly Spanish has dipped
in recent years as the children of immigrants grow up with English, there has been no increase in those who prefer only English. Instead, the HispanTelligence study found that
the group speaking both languages has climbed six percentage points since 1995, to 63%, and is likely to jump to 67% by 2010.”
Moderator’s Comment: We’ll ask the same question as the Business Week article, “How
much will Hispanics change America, and how much will America change them?”
An English-speaking health professional we know has said more than once she wished she had taken Spanish instead of French when she was in school. There’s
not much call in the emergency room for French speakers in the hospital in which she works, but Spanish is becoming a necessity. – George
Anderson – Moderator