Surprise! Latinos Not a Monolithic Bloc!

Virginia Latinos — a diverse group

A week ago, I asked whether the high concentration of Latinos in certain Northern Virginia neighborhoods was best described as “segregation” or “self separation.” Are Latinos the victims of residential discrimination, or do they voluntarily cluster together for reasons of income (they can afford to live only in certain neighborhoods) or culture (they like being around others like themselves)? Predictably, a visitor to the blog suggested that my post “verged on racism,” presumably for suggesting that racism and discrimination did not fully explain Latino residential patterns.

I based last week’s observations on research sponsored by the Civil Rights Project. Now comes a new study, “Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexicans,” which finds that residential segregation varies widely among Hispanic sub-groups.

The original study does not appear to be available online, but Brown University wrote this article and the Wall Street Journal extracted some of the report’s key findings. Cubans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans have much higher levels of education and income than Mexicans and Central Americans, for instance. The level of residential segregation has declined for all Hispanic groups since 1990 — except for Mexicans, who comprise more than half of all Hispanics. (Interestingly, the study does not discuss Hispanics of American origin, whose ancestors settled in territories before they were acquired by the United States.)

The boundaries between smaller immigrant groups and larger American society also appear to be breaking down more rapidly than the boundary between Mexicans and mainstream society, even though members of the smaller groups have lived in the U.S. for shorter periods of time. The assimilation trend applies even to less affluent Hispanics from Central America who have comparable income and education levels to Mexicans. Perhaps the ability of Mexicans to coalesce in larger communities explains their ability to maintain ethnic boundaries longer.

What a breakthrough — recognizing that Latinos/Hispanics are not a monolithic group! Immigrants from different nations come to the United States under different circumstances, they are imbued with different types of social capital, and they behave differently when they get here. Culture matters. Circumstances matter. There are many factors at work beyond the default explanation of racism and discrimination so routinely invoked to account for differences between racial and ethnic groups.

— JAB

20 Responses to Surprise! Latinos Not a Monolithic Bloc!

  1. Jim,
    Not to be mean,but saying that Latinos are different is sort of like discovering that Europeans are different. The statements shows that someone really doesn’t know many Latinos. It’s like lumping dour Swedes in the same bunch as passionate Sicilians. Of course, Latin Americans are different!
    Another problem is that you are making the exciting discovery that Latinos are “not a monolithic group.” Whoever said they were? A conservative think tank magazine? Mother Jones?
    The only thing “monolithic” about them is that the vast majority did not vote for Mitt Romney but that’s about as far as it goes.

    • I’m not making any such discovery — I never believed that Hispanics are a monolithic group. You’re missing the entire point of my post:

      Immigrants from different nations come to the United States under different circumstances, they are imbued with different types of social capital, and they behave differently when they get here. Culture matters. Circumstances matter. There are many factors at work beyond the default explanation of racism and discrimination so routinely invoked to account for differences between racial and ethnic groups.

  2. dead on Peter. Jesus H. Keeeerist… Bacon… Asians are not monolithic either nor are Europeans!

    No one on the left has ever said that. It’s the folks on the right who like to “categorize” and then to make it worse, ascribe lifestyles, and work ethics, and political leanings etc.

    What this really shows is a little view of how the right sees things…

    GOTCHA Jim Bacon! You have demonstrated EXACTLY what the right’s “problem” is with dealing with “others” than old white guys!

    there ought to be some sort of “re-education” program available for those so inflicted, eh?

  3. Your Richmond-centric view is somewhat odd. Every year I drive to the Outer Banks to go tuna fishing around Thanksgiving. after the fishing, I drive home. The timing of the fishing leaves me looking for dinner on 295 in Henrico County on the way home. So, I stop for some fast food. I am always amazed by the fact that nobody working at the fast food restaurants is speaking with a Spanish accent. Nobody. You just don’t have many latinos in Richmond. So, I am not surprised to read that you think latino = Mexican. I know a lot of latinos in NoVa. None of them are from Mexico. Honduras, El Salvadore, Chile – but not Mexico.

    • What is this? Pile on Bacon day? Twist Bacon’s words day?

      Richmond does, in fact, have a lot Latinos — even if you don’t see them working in diners on I-295. A lot of the Latinos I know are very well educated — many of them work at VCU. I helped one guy, a Bolivian, get a business off the ground by investing in his business. How many Latino enterprises have you invested in?

      I have *never* thought all Latinos were Mexican. My point is precisely the contrary. My beef is with people like the author of the study cited in my previous post who suggest that if “Latinos” disproportionately live in “segregated” neighborhoods, that there is some great social injustice occurring. I countered that residential living patterns may reflect income and cultural attributes of immigrant groups. The study I cited in this post simply reinforces the point.

      • “Richmond does, in fact, have a lot Latinos — even if you don’t see them working in diners on I-295.”

        Hispanic or Latino population:

        Richmond – 6.3%
        Henrico – 2.3%
        Chesterfield – 2.93%

        DC – 9.1%
        Fairfax County – 15.58%
        Prince William County – 20.3%

        Facts are stubborn things.

  4. worse that that: The GOP thus speaks: ” All Latinos are illegals and “takers” ”

    and then the GOP sez: ” we have a “messaging” problem?

    I mean.. it don’t get no better (worse) than this!

    and THESE folks THINK they know how to lead, govern, and balance the budget!

    it’s like a modern-day tableau of blundering into the bar scene for Star Wars!

    • “The GOP thus speaks: “All Latinos are illegals and ‘takers.’”

      Really, Larry? gee, I missed the memo. I don’t recall hearing that at all. Ever. A lot of Republicans are hostile to illegal immigration, but I have never heard a reputable GOP figure make a claim like that. None of my conservative friends have ever made such a statement.

      You’ve been listening to the MSNBC propaganda machine way too much. I mean, that comment is totally divorced from reality. Not only is it divorced from reality, it is really offensive, attributing grotesque sentiments to people that they do not possess.

      • Actually, that statement tells me a lot more about Democrats than Republicans. It perfectly illustrates the kind of moral preening that goes on in the Democratic Party. To some Dems, Republicans aren’t just wrong, they are morally repugnant. And those Dems will make up any kind of nonsense to convince themselves of that.

        (Please note how I don’t make blanket statements about *all* Democrats. I do not suggest that moral preening is a universal Democratic trait.)

        • Jim – It’s more than moral preening. Political power depends on keeping these false myths alive.

        • Actually, Reed, I regret making that last comment. I retract it. Larry ticked me off and I responded in the heat of the moment. But maligning your opponents doesn’t constitute an argument of any kind. I concede no ground in my argument with Larry, but categorically maligning Democrats, even in response to Larry’s reckless statement about Republicans, is not how I wish to conduct myself. There are lots of great Democrats out there, and I apologize to them.

          • reed fawell III

            That’s an excellent point. And there again we agree.

          • and I apologize to Jim for hacking him off.

            But it’s a simple proposition. In the current electoral world, if you want to win elections, you have to have a wider appeal than just white guys.

            It’s not the “message”. It’s do you know what their concerns are and are you willing to respond to them as a legitimate constituency.

            there is no way to mealy mouth this.

            either you do or you don”t.

            and if you scare the Hispanics.. you scare the Asians also… in fact, you’re going to scare all the other constituencies if you keep singing the angry white man song.

            but I do apologize to Jim.

      • Jim, Jim, JIm… it was the LATINO VOTERS who got that memo!

        didn’t you hear?

        I’d apologize if I offended you but guy.. the GOP is truly myopic on this issue … it’s painful to listen to them because it’s so clear that they totally do not identify at all with these groups.

        Then they screw things up even worse by saying that their “message” needs “tweaking”.

        Enough voices on the right come across so loud and clear that they scare the holy bejesus out of all the black and brown folks and the GOP says “who me”? like they truly do not understand why it’s happening to them!

  5. It gets worse and worse!

  6. I, too, apologize to jim. He won’t even return my phone callstoinvitehim to lunch!

  7. re: ” (Please note how I don’t make blanket statements about *all* Democrats. I do not suggest that moral preening is a universal Democratic trait.)”

    the problem is Jim – the GOP has some voices – associated with the GOP that are downright scary to minorities and the GOP as a party get tarred with it because the others in the GOP do not disavow those voices.

    Surely you recognize that.

    This is what happened in the election.

    As a PARTY – you have to EMBRACE the minorities not with words or messages but with actions that clearly demonstrate that you consider them to be a constituency rather than folks you must give “free stuff” to.

    If you don’t do that – and at the same time you have some ugly and racist language coming under the perceived aegis of the GOP – and no one in the GOP disavows it – then what happens?

    do you not see this guy?

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