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A Portrait of Hispanics Living in California Classification Essay

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Updated: May 19th, 2022


A community portrait is a detailed description of the important social, economic and other demographic characteristics of a group residing within a particular locality. The aspects covered in the portrait include population patterns, education, employment, households, housing community as well as the community’s cultures. A community portrait is used mostly as a tool to enhance understanding of a community or to provide information on changes that have taken place within a certain community. This paper will outline a portrait of Hispanics living in California.

Ethnic backgrounds of Hispanics

The government of the United States adopted the name Hispanic during the 1970s. This name was used to refer to those Americans whose origin was Latin America or Spanish-speaking countries. The Hispanic population in the United States is distributed unevenly. However, according to the US census bureau in 2006, it was noted that the Hispanics are highly concentrated in the following five states; Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Illinois (US census bureau, 2006, p.15). It’s also worthy to note that California is the second leading state where Hispanics live after New Mexico.

The originality of the Hispanic population in the US can be traced to different ethnic groups comprising of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cubans. Generally, Hispanics living in the United States today trace their lineage to over twenty-two different countries. It is believed that these Hispanics migrated to the United States at different times. Census statistics reveal that forty percent of the entire Hispanic population in the US is immigrants from Hispanic countries with the majority being Mexican (US census bureau, 2006, p.30). Many ethnic groups are found in California today, this includes African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives as well as non-Hispanic whites. Before the year 2005, states like California, Hawaii, and New Mexico had already attained the majority-minority status. This means that the non-Hispanic whites were no longer the dominant population group. This is because census results revealed that the populations of African Americans and Latinos were at par with that of the non-Hispanic white population. Future projections indicate that Hispanics will become the dominant group shortly (Kraemer, Newell &Prindle, 2008, p.31).


Two main methods are used in the United States to provide education for immigrant children. In the first one, young immigrant children are taught all their school subjects in English together with their peers of the same age group. In the second method, the children are taught their subjects in their native language. Spanish as an instructional language is used mainly in teaching foreign-born Hispanics who can’t speak English.

Hispanics in California can be divided into three groups based on language use and proficiency. The majority are English dominant, the second group is bilingual (speaking both Spanish and English) while the last group is Spanish dominant. English is used by many Hispanic students in higher learning institutions as well in a variety of settings like work and schooling. The use of Spanish is mainly used in the family and close family associates.

Start of Parenting

In the year 2006, the US census bureau indicated that the average age at when male Hispanics marry is twenty-seven years and for the females, they are married off at twenty-four years. Thus, most Hispanics become parents between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-seven years (US census bureau, 2006, p.31).In addition, Kanellos, Padilla &Fabregat,1994 p.162) explain that Hispanic groups differ in patterns of marriage, female leadership, poverty rates, and fertility patterns. They however note that Mexican women record higher fertility levels when compared to other Hispanic groups and non-Hispanic white women. Mexicans also record high birth rates with most parents being regarded as generally young.


Statistics from the census show that Mexicans score poorly on indicators of social status and wellbeing. For example, they have low levels of education completion, lower living standards, and lower life expectancy among the Hispanic population. These factors limit them to secure jobs with better remuneration. This is the reason why the majority are employed in the hospitality industries as cooks, cleaners, and waiters and are underpaid (Kanellos, Padilla &Fabregat, 1994, p.162.)

Before 1982, dropout rates for Hispanics in educational institutions were high. This was attributed to the segregation and inequity that were prevalent in the education system at that time. Schick (1991, p.79) points out that school enrolment for Hispanics below 16 years remains lower than those of the general population. Similarly, males are most likely to drop out of school than females. These findings are also reflected by a report on Hispanic education by the National Council of LaRaza (Kohler & Lazarin, 2007, p.1).

At the beginning of 1988, it was noted that the educational attainment among Hispanics improved tremendously. Since then, there has been great progress in education among Hispanics. This can be attributed to the rising awareness that education is an important determinant to lucrative jobs and the increasing adoption of multicultural strategies in education which has enabled the integration of immigrant children in schools.

Another factor that can also explain this shift is the increasing number of opportunities to pursue higher education that are being availed to Hispanic children and scholars. An excellent example of such opportunities can be seen in several foundations and initiatives like the Hispanic Educational Endowment Fund which offers scholarships to Hispanic children to pursue college and university education.

Norms and family values

Many Hispanics from Central America do not maintain strong ties with their ancestral origins, unlike other Hispanic groups who are known to have strong ties with areas from where they immigrated from. Generally, Hispanics have a high value on family and this has made Hispanics have strong family bonds. Work in Hispanic families is differentiated by gender with women working at home and taking responsibility for children, while men engage in outdoor occupations. Men bear the responsibility of providing for the family as well as providing security and protection.

New Hispanic immigrants live and form close relations with fellow Hispanics resulting in a closely-knit and expansive social network. Hispanics use Spanish as their main language in communicating among families and other social groups. This further reinforces their Hispanic identity.

Most of the Hispanics are Roman Catholics, only a few have assimilated other religious beliefs. Globalization and urbanization has totally impacted on the Hispanic former way of life. It has made Hispanic women to also participate in outdoor work to supplement the earnings of their male counterparts. They are also recording higher attainments in education and other professional fields. Many Hispanic fathers are known for stressing autonomy for their daughters and less strictness for their sons. Similarly acculturation has led to a greater involvement of Hispanic fathers in parenting and there is a growing emphasis on education among Hispanics as demonstrated by the increasing numbers of Hispanics who have attained university and college education.

Social economic situation

Referring back to the US census bureau findings, Hispanic participation in the labor market is varied. Hispanics are significantly involved in business and professional services. Their involvement spans across various sectors like marketing, production, transportation and construction. Others are engaged in farming, fishing and forestry (US census Bureau, 2006, p.34).

Despite this Cubans have been relatively successful both socially and economically compared to other Hispanic groups. This is attributed to the factor that they are relatively more educated compared with the rest. They were also the first group of immigrants which was assisted by the federal government to settle in the United States. On the other hand, Puerto Ricans have the lowest standard of living among the Hispanic populations. Miranda (2007, p.185-187) reports that the social-economic situation of most Hispanics is not desirable as many are faced with the challenge of poverty, gainful employment and adequate housing. However there have been efforts to increase minority hiring and encourage educational achievement among Hispanics in California and other states as well.


In order to encourage diversity, everyone in the school and community needs to have a good understanding of their own cultural background as this forms the basis from which people learn to appreciate other cultures. Cross-cultural interactions should also be encouraged among parents from different ethnic backgrounds. The school and community administration should foster an environment where every individual feels that they belong. Initiatives like the Hispanic Association for Bilingual Literacy and Education (HABLE) will go along way in ensuring faster integration of Hispanics to the mainstream education system and community life in California.This will encourage social interaction which in turn will lead people to embrace and encourage diversity.


Kanellos, N, Padilla, F.M & Fabregat, C.V. (1994). Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Sociology, Volume 3.Texas: Arte Publico Press.

Kraemer, R.H, Newell, C & Prindle D.F. (2008).Texas Politics. Belmont: Cengage learning.

Kohler, A.D.& Lazarin, M. (2007).Hispanic education in the United States. National Council of LaRaza statistical brief No.8.

Schick, F.L &Schick, R. (1991). Statistical handbook on U.S. Hispanics. United States of America: Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG.

US Census Bureau. (2006). Hispanics in the United States. Web.

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