For the past three and a half years I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with the HHF’s Youth Awards and LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) while doing side projects in print and broadcast media while completing my degree in Public Communication and Marketing at Montgomery College and now at American University. These experiences have opened a window into the real ‘the browning of America’ that is beyond the ‘colored statistics’.
Through the Youth Awards we see tens of thousands of students from across the country taking the time-consuming effort to apply for scholarships. They represent only a small piece of the pie that includes an increasingly diverse group of students in age and economic status. This will be the fastest growing segment of the population in the next 15 years, where second-generation Latinos will represent 36% of all Hispanics based on me2, the first major Latino youth-only national study. And with our growing buying power and influence, here are a few things to consider in our evolving identity:
Will we identify ourselves as Latino/Hispanic or American?
Will we speak our parent’s language or loose Spanish all-together?
Will our values be driven by our culture or our parent’s culture and religion?
Will we consume English-only or a bilingual mix of media?
How will we find a way to reconnect with our culture?
And a policy question that also came to mind… Will affirmative action have any relevance?
In matters of identity, as the meaning of ‘being Latino’ evolves, perhaps these results from the me2 survey conducted in 2006 will provide some clues:
Being Latino means more than just speaking and looking Spanish; to YLA it means being family oriented (84%), proud (83%), hard working (81%), passionate (80%), tied to tradition (77%), religious (71%), and believing in higher education (60%) and giving back to their community (53%)