Hispanics in the U.S.

Hispanics in the U.S.

Unfortunately, different departments of the U.S. government classify what Hispanics are in various ways. We will not get into that argument today. The definition of Hispanic or Latino origin used in the 2010 Census is the following: “‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.”

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, there are currently around 48 million Hispanics in the United States (U.S.A.) today, which is almost 16% of the total population. Just to give you an idea of the growth of this segment of the population, in 1970, there were about 10 million Hispanics, which made up about 5% of the total population.

So basically, in a span of just 40 years, the Hispanic population has grown almost five times that number. And the percentage of the total U. S. population has tripled. The current projections are about 103 million by 2050, which will be about 25% of the total U.S. population. These numbers are impressive. Why the substantial increase?

One obvious reason is employment. Anytime I want to practice my Spanish while in the U.S., it’s not difficult. I just visit fast food places like McDonald’s, construction sites, hotels, landscaping sites, you name it. You don’t even have to leave your home. Just turn on Univision or Telefutura on your TV, or just call your bank or some other corporate business and press A or B for Spanish.

I remember growing up in the Midwest in the sixties and seventies where Mexican restaurants were a novelty. If you had an encounter with a Spanish speaking person, it was indeed rare. Fast forward to today, and we are literally a bilingual society. Politics aside, one could say we have a de facto bilingual society now.

Here’s a personal example of this phenomena and how having the ability to communicate in a second language comes in handy. A few days ago I advertised a single bed for sale on Craig’s list. I had a call within three hours of the ad posting. It was a Mexican gentleman who was ready to look ASAP.

In relatively decent English, he wanted to know if it was still available and where he could inspect it. He said, “Just text me the address and I will use my GPS to find it.” He had all the necessary tech gadgets to conduct his search and willing and able to take action now. So I had to move fast.

Even I was bit surprised how quickly he responded to my ad. I would like to think it was my magnificent marketing jargon, but that is just fantasy thinking. I lucked out, so quickly adjusted, and told him I would send him the address. I did so, and within a few hours, he and his companion were at my place looking at the item.

Here’s where it gets interesting. They didn’t say much. Perhaps, because it was at the end of the day, or perhaps they just were not the talking sort. Maybe they were a bit nervous, as was I, since we were strangers, it was becoming dark, and they were coming to my place in an unfamiliar neighborhood. But something happened when I simply asked, de donde es? All of a sudden it seemed the air the room changed and the slight tension was gone.

Surprised, they replied, “Estado de Mexico” then with a slight smile the leader of the two men asked me in Spanish where I learned to speak the language (which seems to be the standard reply in these situations) and I replied, “in Uruguay and at college.” Then he asked me if I was from Uruguay and of course I said no, “de los Estados Unidos.”

Next, the negotiations began. I advertised $135 as the price. He said $100. I replied $110, he replied that he only came with $100, which I suspected wasn’t true, but it was all part of the bargaining. He left with the bed and frame and I kept the $100. We were both satisfied. He wanted to spend $100 on a good bed and I had my cash. Done deal.

So that second language came in handy again.

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