Discussion: Erroneous Perceptions
Hispanic is not a race but an ethnic distinction; Hispanics come from a variety of geographic regions and are not all genetically related. The ethnic label “ Hispanic” was the result of the desire to quantify the Spanish-speaking population for the U.S. Census Bureau. For years, the U.S. Census Bureau considered Hispanic to be a race. They changed that definition before the 1970 census, and in 1977 the U.S. racial classifications became American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, and White, with the added ethnic classifications of “ Hispanic Origin” and “ Not of Hispanic Origin.”
Chicano, which is an abbreviation of the word “ Mexicano,” is a more exclusive term and is used solely to refer to people of Mexican descent who are Americans with Mexican heritage (Mexican American). Originally, this label was used by non-Hispanics as a racial slur. Around the 1950s, however, Mexican Americans adopted this word, and it changed from a derogative term to an expression of confidence for Mexican Americans. Although Chicano is an old word, many elderly Hispanics of Mexican descent do not like it because of its history as a derogatory reference to Mexican people.
If you are trying to figure out how to refer to a group of people, the one concept on which most Hispanics and Latinos agree is that they prefer to be referred to based on their immediate ethnic group, for example, Mexican Americans. The United States government continues to use “ Hispanic,” and we will use that label throughout this chapter unless the data source identifies the ethnic group differently.
History of Hispanics in the United States
People often hold the misconception that Hispanics are a recent group to migrate to the United States. This erroneous perception is mostly due to the media attention given to Hispanic groups in the 1980s, when the Census revealed that Hispanics were the fastest growing group in the southwestern United States. The reality is that Hispanics have a long history in the land now encompassed by the United States. On the other side of the continent, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. The United States acquired Puerto Rico at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and has retained sovereignty. By enacting the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917, the U.S. Congress declared that all Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, enabling a migration free from all immigration barriers. In the Caribbean, many Cubans and others have wanted to come to the United States. Many risk their health and lives by turning to smugglers who charge high fees, or they may resort to making homemade boats or traveling through foreign countries such as Mexico to enter the United States.
You must proofread your paper. But do not strictly rely on your computer’s spell-checker and grammar-checker; failure to do so indicates a lack of effort on your part and you can expect your grade to suffer accordingly. Papers with numerous misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will be penalized. Read over your paper – in silence and then aloud – before handing it in and make corrections as necessary. Often it is advantageous to have a friend proofread your paper for obvious errors. Handwritten corrections are preferable to uncorrected mistakes.
Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.
Likewise, large type, large margins, large indentations, triple-spacing, increased leading (space between lines), increased kerning (space between letters), and any other such attempts at “padding” to increase the length of a paper are unacceptable, wasteful of trees, and will not fool your professor.
The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.