Mexican Americans

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Mexican Americans, also referred to as Chicanos, are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from Mexico.


  • One of the initial debates in the study of Mexican American English revolved around the question of whether it should be considered a native variety of English or a Spanish-influenced transitional language that would eventually converge on one of the regional dialects of English. Some researchers have viewed Mexican American English as nothing more than English with a Spanish accent… In contrast, other scholars recognize Mexican American English as a set of stable features, sometimes arising from Spanish influence, that is shared among large numbers of Mexican American speakers. Allan Metcalf, for example, defined Chicano English as “a variety of English that is obviously influenced by Spanish and that has low prestige in most circles, but that nevertheless is independent of Spanish and is the first, and often only, language of many hundreds of thousands of residents of California.”
  • Though they have not caught up with native-born whites in most measures of economic mobility, people of Mexican origin have experienced an appreciable degree of structural assimilation as measured by education, occupation, residential location, and intermarriage. The structural assimilation of Mexican Americans has also weakened the hold that ethnicity has on how parents raise their children. Over time, the use of the Spanish language diminishes, ethnic customs play a decreasingly important role in family life, and the ties that Mexican Americans have to family in their ethnic homeland diminish.
  • La Tierra es vida” (The land is life) is a popular dicho (folk saying) used by the Mexican-origin people of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to describe the belief that humans must respect the land because it is the source of life. This land ethic instructs people to act as caretakers of the earth. It also requires of them a sense of political responsibility because the community must actively confront greed before it leads to abuse of the land. This aspect of the Mexican American land ethic is retold in folktales like that of the Forest Spirit. The “Forest Spirit drove the man out of the forests for cutting down too many trees, for he was greedy and without shame.” Folktales like this relate the folly of greedy people who act out of balance with nature and community because they suffer from sinvergüenzas - a shameless indifference to the harm that others suffer as a consequence of their actions, which are designed solely for individual gain.
  • At the national level, the Mexican-origin population exhibits the lowest levels of education of any other racial or ethnic group. Only 7.3 percent of Mexican Americans hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28.8 percent of whites, 16.1 percent of blacks, and 45.8 percent of Asians. Mexican Americans are also the least likely of all groups to be employed in middle- (service and skilled blue-collar jobs) to high-status occupations (professional, technical, white-collar occupations) and are largely concentrated in low-wage labor.

See also