Every day more Latinos make a life in the United States and without a doubt, they leave their mark. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month let’s take the opportunity to highlight some of the most important contributions of our community to the United States.
Currently, 60 million people in the United States identify as Hispanic or Latino. This represents 18% of the population, becoming the minority with the largest presence. In turn, more than 36 million are of Mexican origin, which makes up 63% of the total number of foreigners from Spanish-speaking countries.
Although these figures have increased substantially in recent years, as early as the 1980s the influence of Latino culture was felt in different aspects of American society.
So much so that from then on and by presidential decree, Hispanic Heritage Month was instituted. This celebration, that spans from September 15th through October 15th, is intended to recognize and pay tribute to the contributions made by Hispanics in the culture and development of the United States.
Latino contributions to the culture of the United States
For generations since the Second World War, Latinos have had the opportunity to thrive and bring their talents to the country. Likewise, practicing their customs during their day to day and transmitting the roots to their descendants, has inevitably become notorious to the point of being adopted by many Americans.
It is clear that the most notable contribution of Latinos to the culture of the United States has been the penetration of the Spanish language. Today, Spanish is spoken in 41 million homes in the country, and so it has positioned itself as the second most studied language in educational institutions, surpassing French.
On the other hand, the United States is considered one of the countries with the most Spanish-speakers in the world. In fact, according to demographic projections, it is expected that, within 40 years, one in every 3 inhabitants of the region will be Hispanic. It seems that it is destined to be the first country where Spanish is spoken the most, after Mexico.
A curious fact in relation to this is that, in most of the states of the Northwest, Northeast and South of the United States, Spanish is the second language of common use.
Another aspect of American culture that has been influenced by Latinos is gastronomy. Tacos, for example, have gained preference over hot dogs and tortillas sell more than hamburger buns. As for desserts, the “dulce de leche” flavor in ice creams ranks fourth among the favorites.
One of the Mexican dates that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States is Cinco de Mayo. Similarly, it is striking how piñatas are part of the birthday celebrations of 12 million children, where half of them are not even Latino.
Of course, Latinos also excel and contribute to the development of different sports. Baseball, boxing and golf are some of the fields that are most influenced by them. For example, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans have had outstanding participation in the major leagues.
Musical genres such as salsa, merengue, trap and reggaeton have managed to sneak into the tastes of Americans. It is interesting to note the collaborations of established artists such as Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber with Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi and J Balvin, just to name a few. And for the first time, the Super Bowl halftime show featured two great Latinas, none other than Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
Influence of the Latino community in the US economy
The presence of Latinos in the United States also impacts its economy. 57% of the purchasing power of Hispanics corresponds to Mexicans, which translated into about 881 million dollars.
Likewise, there are more Latin American entrepreneurs than Asians and African Americans. Highlighting that in the last decade, Latino startups have been in constant growth.
Latino Participation in United States Politics
On the other hand, now more than ever our community has participation and representation in the political sector of the United States. A new historical record has been made in Congress with 41 Latino leaders among its ranks.
Regarding the elections of this 2020, Hispanics are the largest minority group, constituting 13% of voters. In this sense, the candidates are including initiatives in their speeches and proposals that consider Latinos as a relevant and influential population, by virtue of the fact that there are 32 million votes in favor or against.
Finally, in many other fields, Latinos have made their mark and continue to contribute to their growth. Let’s remember, for example, Ellen Ochoa, the Californian with Mexican roots who in 1990 became the first Latina astronaut. With over a thousand hours in space, Ellen continues to be an iconic character at NASA.
Do you know of any other scenarios in which Latinos have made important contributions to the United States? Join the conversation on social media.