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Hispanic American Diversity

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Hispanic American Diversity 1

Dominican American is an immigrant or descendant of immigrants from the Dominican Republic to the United States. There are approximately 1,200,000 Dominican Americans, both native and foreign born.

Since the early 1960’s, economic problems and political turmoil in the Dominican Republic have led to a vast migration of Dominicans to the U.S., mainly to east coast cities, particularly New York City, New York, (Washington Heights, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx and Brooklyn). Americans have settled in these areas largely because of the already existing and growing Latino community found in these places, having come on the heels of a similar migration of Puerto Ricans. Dominican Americans are now one of the largest Hispanic groups in the United States, less numerous than the Mexican American majority and Puerto Ricans, and about even with Cuban Americans.

An overwhelming number of Dominican Americans are young first generation immigrants without a high school diploma. Many Dominican Americans also come from the rural countryside of the Dominican Republic. Many are poor, and have language barriers as well. Second generation Dominican Americans are significantly more educated, as reflected by their higher incomes and employment in professional or skilled occupations. Dominican Americans have college degrees, slightly below the national average, but significantly higher than U.S. born Mexicans and U.S born Puerto Ricans. This signals that Dominican Americans are progressing. Dominican Americans are statistically the poorest ethnic group in the United States.

Hispanic American Diversity 2

As soon as the Dominicans set foot in the U.S., many of them went right into business. Spanish is undoubtedly the first language of choice, especially for recent arrivals.

Dominican immigrants have a long way to go in the process of political empowerment, but signs of improvement are already visible. The U.S. House of Representatives does not yet have a Dominican member, although at least two dozen Dominican Americans are elected as councilmembers, county legislators, and state legislators throughout the United States.

The electoral participation of Dominicans in the United States may improve as a result of the 1994 approval of dual citizenship by the Dominican legislature, which makes it easier for migrants to become U.S. citizens without relinquishing their Dominican nationality. Traditionally, Dominicans living in the U.S. are passionately involved in politics back home, but unlike other Spanish-speaking ethnic groups, such as Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans, Dominican Americans are not as inclined to take an active part in U.S. politics, partly because many dream of eventually returning to the island.

Dominican Americans view themselves as racially mixed, neither white nor black, nor other single race. In 1990, 29.2% of Dominican Americans have responded that they were white, while 30% considered themselves black.

Music is the heart of the Dominican culture. Dominican music includes meringue and bachata, a modification of bolero. Bachata, as well as hip hop, and reggaeton, has become popular among many Dominican American youth.

Hispanic American Diversity 3

Almost 90% of all Dominican Americans are Roman Catholics, Dominican Catholics are involved in the cult of the saints, and the cult of the national virgins, Altagracia and Mercedes, which are strong symbols of Dominican identity as the flag.

Dominican food features white rice, habichuelas (beans), yuea, plantains, mangu, beef, and sancocho. Presidente is the most popular national beer while the national drink is rum made from sugarcane.

Since most Dominican Americans are first generation immigrants, many are in a transition of retaining their culture while at the same time assimilating to the American culture.

Cuban Americans

Cuban American is a United States citizen whose trace their ancestry to Cuba. Many communities throughout the United States have significant Cuban American populations. However, Miami, Florida stands out as the most prominent Cuban American community, partly because of its proximity to Cuba. It is followed by North Jersey and West New York.

In the late 1800s, a Cuban entrepreneur named Vicente Martinez-Ybor started a cigar making business in Tampa. Soon, other Cuban businessman followed Ybor’s example. Within several years, Tampa had a thriving cigar making industry. Numerous Cuban families lived and worked in the area known as Ybor City near Tampa, and there are many third and fourth generation Cuban Americans who trace their Cuban heritage

Hispanic American Diversity 4

directly to this early immigration. The majority of an estimated 100,000 Cubans arrived in the time period usually came for economic reasons.

Political upheaval in Cuba created new waves of Cuban immigrants to the U.S. In 1959, after the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, a large Cuban exodus began. From 1960 to 1979, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left Cuba and began a new life in America. Most Cuban Americans that arrived in the United States came from Cuba’s educated, upper and middle classes. Like many immigrants, the Cuban Americans often had little money.

In order to provide aid to recently arrived Cuban immigrants, the United States Congress passed the Cuban American Adjustment Act in 1966. The Cuban Refugee Program provided more than $1.2 billion of direct financial assistance. They were also eligible for public assistance, Medicare, free English courses, scholarships, and low interest college loans. Some banks even helped Cuban Americans with business loans. These loans enabled many Cuban Americans to secure funds and create their own businesses.

With their Cuban-owned businesses and low cost of living, Miami, Florida and Union City, New Jersey were the preferred destinations for many immigrants, and soon became the main centers for Cuban American culture. The culture of Cuban Americans varies from community, and from person to person. However, there are distinct features that characterize most Cuban Americans.

Hispanic American Diversity 5

Cuban Americans represent a total of only 4% of the Hispanic population in the United States. Compared with the rest of the Hispanic population in the United States, Cuban Americans are older, have a higher level of education,



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