Latino communityWhat factors seem to unite and to divide the Latino community?
The biggest factor dividing Latinos in my largely bi-cultural community is whether they were born in the US or are first generation immigrants. There is a tendency among whites to lump all Latinos together in terms of their perceptions of language, culture, and economic class, and the opposite is true within the Latino community. Another strain of that divide is language itself. Those that speak Spanish vs. those Chicanos that do not are often at odds in my school.
Within the immigrant community itself, the divides that existed in Mexico or their country of origin are often brought to America and transplanted in the community here. For example, there is considerable prejudice and racism between urban Mexicanos and those from the agricultural provinces, especially those with more Native ancestry. Anti-Native slurs like "La Negra" and "Indito" are common among Latinos in my high school.
One division I see in our high school is the difference between the students who associate primarily with other Hispanic students and speak Spanish to their friends in the hallway as opposed to the Hispanic students who have assimilated themselves into the diverse population of the school. There are sometimes tensions that arise from the idea that the kids who assimilate better are "putting on airs" or "pretending to be something other than what they are." It is very interesting to see how this plays out sometimes. Sadly, many of our male and female Hispanic students don't have very high academic achievement for any number of reasons, but it is very encouraging to see more and more Hispanic students embrace the opportunities that their education can give them.
The largest divide in the U.S. immigrant Latino community is the same as that which divides people of all cultures, countries, times, and eras: the largest divide is that of education and income and privilege. Those who are without these three advantages immigrate--legally or illegally--to the U.S and those who have these and want a better opportunity and larger vista legally immigrate. The difference between the two sets of demographic groups is the same difference between the educated and financially successful in any location--and this difference exists even between educated and financially successful immigrants and uneducated, unsuccessful native Americans.
There are so many points that could be made. I will only name a few.
Wealth separates the Latino community. Those with wealth tend to congregate together and those without tend to be together. The level of wealth and education is probably the largest distinguishing factor.
Second, at times language divides people. Not all are able to speak Spanish. If a person has been here for a few generations, there might be very little language abilities left. So, the amount of time a person spends in America can also make a difference.
I have read that some Latino immigrants who entered the country legally resent illegal immigrants. I have also read that some Hispanics who are legal residents of the U. S. worry that they will suffer because of feelings against illegal immigrants. Here is a relevant link that discusses some of these issues:
One thing you need to be very careful about is lumping all Latinos together into one "community." In fact, there are a number of important differences between the different nationalities of S. and Central America, and there are animosities that exist between the different nationalities. Bolivians, for example, consider all Peruvians to be criminals, and Brazilian students likewise have a reputation for being "loose" individuals.
A major dividing factor is that Latinos come from different countries. Also, they are divided based on how long they or their families have been in the US. Where I teach, there is a big split between recent immigrants and people who are 2nd or 3rd generation. The major connecting factor is language and, to some extent, a shared experience of being non-white in a white country.
The divide between the Latinos is no different than the issues which divide the United States. Regional issues and immigration (legal/illegal) issues are the greatest reason for the divide between the Latinos. Just like the US, Latinos identify with a specific area of their native land and any issues which exist in their native lands will continue to exist in America.