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Culture Review: Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican Americans Coursework

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Updated: Feb 22nd, 2022


California is one of the populated USA states inhabited by large number of different minority groups which for centuries have defined and characterized the state’s social, cultural, economic, political, and religious environments. At the same time, the state appears to be increasing in the number of minority groups. By 2010, California had an estimated population of 37,253,956 people (USA Census Bureau, 2011).

This constituted a 10% increase, as compared to 2000 population of 33,871,648 people (USA Census Bureau, 2011). Out of this population, Hispanic population (Latinos) make up 37.6% compared to 40.1% of non-Hispanic white population and the rest represent other minority groups in the state (USA Census Bureau, 2011).

Hispanic Americans or popularly known as Latino constitute the fastest growing minority group in the state. By 2020, it has been estimated that the ethnic group will be dominant in California (USA Census Bureau, 2011). Although the Latinos form the largest and growing minority group in the state, the ethnic group is composed of various sub-cultures.

Some of the notable sub-cultures of the group include Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, etc. On a wider scale, the Latinos may exhibit similar socio-cultural and economic aspects. Therefore, it is likely to find some differences among the sub-cultures that may be associated with the diverse geographical and political backgrounds.

It is also necessary to undertake more apt studies that identify similarities and differences between the various sub-cultures of Latinos that may be appropriate for action-based cultural programs and understanding. As a result, the study will focus on two sub-cultures – Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans Americans.

Specific emphasis will be placed on the analysis of such common themes as holidays and traditions, education and family structure, and religion to define the basic differences and similarities between Mexican Americans and Puerto Rican Americans.

Hence, holidays and traditions play an important role among members of Hispanic group, so do family structure because they influence social interaction. Second, language has also a major impact on other cultures these two groups interact. Finally, religion introduces an important component to cultural development of both Mexican Americans and Puerto Americans.

Results Section

Brief Overview of Mexican Americans

The Mexican American culture is constantly changing because of the impact of other cultures. Especial attention is given to the cultural exchange between Mexican and American cultures through flow of traditions and ideas.

At this point, “Mexican Americans hold very strong bond to their language, people, traditions, and homeland” (Bravo, 2005, p. 157). In this respect, such dedication to cultural issues has a potent impact on the native population.

Holidays and Traditions

Despite the merger of American and Mexican cultures, the Mexican Americans have a strong sense of cultural identity and, as a result, they strive to sustain their original roots and traditions (Mexican Americans in the Columbia Basin, n. d.). Moreover, they have always strived to reinforce their cultural traditions and sustain cultural renaissance (Garcia, 2002).

In this respect, cultural revival can be traced through celebrating different holidays and keeping loyalty to different important rituals, such as wedding, funeral, or anniversaries.

Because the percentage of Mexican Americans is significant in the United States, particularly in California, Texas, and Arizona, Native Americans consider it quite easy to observe cultural traditions and sustain close cultural ties with different Mexican communities through different cultural celebrations, such as Cinco de Mayo, which is also known as the day of Mexican Independence (Bravo, 2005, p. 158).

With regard to food preferences, Chicanos largely eat traditional foods that reflect Mexican-American diet rich in variety of foods and dishes (Ohio State University, 2010a). The diet is normally a blend of pre-Columbian, indigenous India, Spanish, and French varieties.

Moreover, Chicanos consume in large number; local fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and protein sources (Ohio State University, 2010a). One of the most famous components of the Mexican cuisine is tortilla that is traditionally made of corn, which is the basic ingredient for Mexican dishes.

It should also be stressed that Mexican Americans are committed to sustaining different sub-cultures. In this respect, Mequel Mendez is one the acknowledged Mexican American writers revealing the essentials of Chicano culture. This is specifically revealed in his best known story called Pilgrims in Aztlan, revealing the main peculiarities of Mexican traditions within the American context (Mendez, 1992).

Language and Family Structure

Though the Spanish language is the main language of the Mexican people, younger generations living in the United States are more likely to blend the Spanish language with English.

Aside from language issues, Mexican-Americans try to defend their system of education and prove that their teaching approaches are also effective (Association of Mexican-American Educators, et al., v. The State of California and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, 1996).

Family is an important aspect that Mexican Americans (Chicanos) practice (Williams, 1990). Chicanos practice effective strategies for child development throughout one’s life cycle. Mothers are the ones who stay with infants for a long time whereas men are supposed to work outside to earn money for their families. Women are supposed to perform all household chores including childrearing (Williams, 1990).

As a result, mothers become the perfect agents of socialization for the children. Moreover, Chicanos families are largely extended in nature with many members. Despite significant differences between the American and Mexican cultures, Mexican American families are often referred as to the American type of extended families.


Religion remains an important aspect in the lives of Mexican Americans. In fact, Mexican Americans associate the happenings in the world to religious beliefs and practices they have held for a long time.

The predominant religion majority of Mexican Americans have associated with is the Roman Catholicism (Williams, 1990). Religion is seen to be the expression of entity that stresses sacredness and human existence among Mexican Americans.

Brief Overview of Puerto Rican Americans

Holidays and Traditions

Traditions of Puerto Rican Americans are largely influenced by Afro-Spanish history because many customs are mixed with the Catholic religion of Spaniards and religious orientation of the West African slaves brought to the island in the early sixteenth century (Countries and Their Cultures, 2012).

There are many other celebrations that typical of the Puerto-Rican culture, such as El Dia De las Canelarias, (“candlemas”), when people dance around a huge bonfire (Countries and Their Cultures, 2012). There are also holidays that are also celebrated by the Americans, such as New Year’s Day and Christmas.

Great influence of American culture can be observed in the poems by Martin Espada, particularly by the poem Coca-Cola and Coca Frio (2010-2012). In this poem, one can notice a negative impact of the American mass culture on health of Mexican children. Specific emphasis is placed on the problem of obesity and overweight.

Aside from cultural traditions and customs, Puerto Rican Americans have become much more concerned with global issues and, therefore, they have increased cultural awareness (Rosello, n. d.).

Economic stability and awareness of social problems is brightly presented by Soto (1995) who provides his outlook on the problem of employment in the Untied States. A famous painter, Ramon Frade also dedicated his painting to depicting real of Puerto Americans. His picture called El Pan Nuestro de Cada Dia (n. d.) mirrors the poverty and daily routine of the people.

Puerto Rican America diet resembles that of Mexican Americans although it is not spicy as that of Mexican Americans (Ohio State University, 2010b). The cuisine largely prepared by Puerto Rico Americans involves diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as bread, cereals, soda crackers, rice, and corn meal.

In addition, the diet is likely to have calcium elements and milk (Ohio State University, 2010b). Meat also forms part of the diet and favorite dishes include chicken, pork sausage, turkey, beef, spare ribs, and small quantities of fish.

Language and Family Structure

Puerto Americans attach great importance to the institution of family and every member is supposed to respect and uphold the family traditions (Bryan, 2004).

Children are taught and socialized to respect their elders and women in the community (Taus-Bolstad, 2004). Family is considered the first and foremost vital aspect where members are supposed to show commitments to extended family that include uncles, aunts and cousins (Bryan, 2004).

There are many stereotypes and misconceptions related to the language because there is no a Puerto Rican language, but Castilian Spanish originated from ancient Latin. Spanish spoken Puerto Rican Americans have a different pronunciation than that spoken by the Spanish (Countries and Their Cultures, 2012).

Despite the fact that English is usually taught by Puerto Rican children in public schools, the Spanish language remains the main one. Influence of Puerto Ricans to the American people is also tangible in terms of language, which led to the emergence of the so-called “Spanglish” language (Countries and Their Cultures, 2012).

Judging from these exchanges, Puerto Rican Americans have a potent influence on the language development in the United States.


Religion is another feature that is important among the Puerto Rican Americans. Many Puerto Americans have demonstrated diversity and freedom of worship but on closer look and analysis, the Catholicism values and teachings dominates the population and their religious beliefs (Bryan, 2004). Catholicism is combined with other beliefs, which have become predominant among the Puerto Rican Americans.

For instance, some of the dominant beliefs in this community include ‘Santeria’ and ‘Espiritismo’ (Bryan, 2004). Santeria constitute a mixture of Catholic beliefs and rituals from the Yoruba tribes (Bryan, 2004). Yoruba found their way to Puerto Rico as slave immigrants.

On the other hand, Espiritismo constitute a belief in spirits that date back to the native Taino tribes and has become one of the dominating beliefs among the Puerto Americans (Bryan, 2004).

Discussion and Conclusion

Similarities in Cultures

Because both sub-cultures refer to similar national group (Hispanic, or Latino), it is logical that they have much in common with each other in terms of traditions, social structures, cuisine, and religion. To begin with, both cultures attain much importance to family structures, as far as greater affiliation to older generations and cultural roots is concerned.

Family structure also influences the roles and responsibilities that each member of the family takes in life. Both Mexican-American and Puerto Rican American value family as the basis for building social communities and reinforcing cultural identity and traditions. In this respect, many traditions are closely connected with family celebrations, such as wedding, funeral, etc.

Specific attention should also be given to the traditional roles of males and females since both cultures introduce make dominance whereas the role of women is confined to housekeeping and looking after children. Therefore, women are usually less engaged in career building. However, living in the United States, more and more females are ambitious about receiving education and promoting their career.

Close resemblance of cuisines is also observed because both the Mexican and the Puerto Rican make use of beans and corns as the major ingredients in preparing traditional dishes, although there is certain divergence in the cooking process.

Finally, there is a great similarity between the cultural communities in terms of religion and religious beliefs. Specifically, both cultures are connected to Romanic Catholicism. Moreover, both Mexican American and Puerto Rican Americans believe that religion play a pivotal role in other social spheres, including education, traditions, and family issues.

Differences in Cultures

Despite a great number of similarities between the two Hispanic groups under analysis, there are explicit differences between those that should be taken into the deepest consideration. Specifically, Mexican Americans have deep sense of cultural identity, as well as richness of culture, which is based on very old traditions originated from the Maya culture (Bravo, 2005).

Despite that, they have quickly assimilated among the Native Americans and have become the largest minority group in the United States. In contrast, Puerto Rican Americans are more affiliated to their roots and, therefore, they rarely call themselves as American. Being proud of their culture, this people is more oriented on preserving their original root. As a result, the process of assimilation is quite difficult.

Though Hispanic cuisine is quite similar, certain discrepancies between Mexican and Puerto Rican cuisine can be found. Hence, the Mexican diet takes roots from Spanish, Indian, and French influences whereas Puerto Rican is more based on West African flavors, such as increased popularity of coffee and cocoa beans.

Regarding language, Puerto Rican speck Castilian Spanish whereas Mexican Americans a “pure” Spanish language. Despite the differences, both languages have quickly assimilated among the American speakers and, as a result, a great number of new words and accents have emerged.

Three Approaches to Using Information in Classrooms

Regarding the above-presented analysis and synthesis of primary and secondary resources, it can be stated that both sub-cultural are rich in traditions, cultures, and celebrations, which should be learned to the meet the global requirements. First, living in the era of internationalization, cultural diversity issues have acquired great importance.

Therefore, the found information can be used in such lessons dedicated to the conflict management, globalization, communication and mass media. For instance, learning more about family structures of both Puerto Rican Americans and Mexican Americans is significant because it allows to learn more about how to favor a socially appropriate environment for such people.

Second, learning cultural differences can provide a better understanding of cultural exchange between American and Hispanic culture. In this respect, the found information can be used while studying different traditions of Hispanic people and how they affect American culture.

For instance, how Mexican celebrations, such as the Day of Mexican independence, influence American customs. Cultural distinctions can be also viewed by studying the peculiarities of the Castilian Spanish language. spoken by Puerto Rican Americans, as well as how it influence the English language.

Finally, the given study can provide a better understanding of the problems of discrimination and gender because these issues of higher importance of the cultures in question.

Issues of racial and gender discrimination can be applied to such disciplines as political science, sociology, and legal issues. Analyzing legal case studies presented above can provides students with a better picture that Hispanic groups experience while living in the United States.

Personal and Professional Relevance

Brief Overview of Methods

While searching for the primary information, the following methods have been used:

  1. Introducing the keywords “Hispanic groups” , “Cultural awareness”, “Mexican American”, “Puerto American” to the search engine;
  2. Analysis of information with regard to the established topics;
  3. Using Internet, I have managed to find out Google images displaying traditional cuisine;
  4. Once the information have been gathered, it has been studies to find out common thematic nodes, that have presented above;
  5. Introducing common themes have been through analysis of differences and similarities.

Primary and secondary data gathered have provides a full overview of all concepts necessary for meeting the demands of the research topic. Non-internet sources were found in the library achieves. Specific focus was made to the books revealing culture and history of the development of Hispanic groups.

Importance of Sources

The poetry represented by Soto and Espada are of paramount importance because they represent modern tendencies and influences in Mexican and Puerto Rican culture, as well as how these cultures are influenced by the American society.

In particular, there primary documents are dedicated to discussing the urgent global problems and the way they affected cultural minority groups, including the spread of mass culture, childhood obesity, and protection of human rights and freedoms. Other resources, such as pictures, and governmental documents, reflect how Hispanic culture can influence the American one.

Analysis and Synthesis of the Information

While gathering primary and secondary information, secondary resources have been gathered first to get a general idea of the main peculiarities of both cultures.

As soon as the basic features of each culture have carefully been considered, a shift has been made to searching for primary resources related to Mexican and Puerto Rican culture. It has been found that all the materials found reveal increased cultural awareness and aspiration to maintain cultural identity.

Once all sources have been gathered, I have highlighted the part that referred particular to the themes being investigated – language, family structure and traditions, and religion. Once I have looked through the primary sources, I found evidence in secondary sources displaying similar topics. I used notes and underlined the parts that related specifically to the topics.

Importance of the Report for Teaching

From a personal perspective, learning more about different cultures is important because it provides a wider insight into a better understanding about what influence it would have for your culture. Besides, knowledge of host cultures can provide you with information of how to act in a conflict situation in case cultural discrepancies come to the forth.

From a professional perspective, learning techniques largely depend on the way teacher can provide students from different cultural backgrounds with knowledge.

In particular, cultural differences, including family background, religion, and language peculiarities should be taken into consideration because it will significantly enrich teachers’ experience while presenting materials for such linguistic and historical disciplines. Learning more about Hispanic culture is paramount because it will contribute to a more successful communication at a global level.

Alternatively, ignorance of minority cultures can lead to conflict and misunderstanding, which prevents the American society from achieving social and economic welfare. Hence, the study of peculiarities of social and family roles performed by the representatives from different cultures is indispensible for establishing effective communication and cooperation between ethnic groups.


Primary Sources

. Web.

A, et al., v. The State of California and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (1996). United Stated Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Web.

Espada, M. (2010-2012). Coca-Cola and Coco Frio. MartinEspada.net. Web.

Mendez, M. (1992). Pilgrims in Aztlan. US: Bilingual Press.

Rosello, P. . The United States Department of Justice. Web.

Soto, G. (1995). Getting Ahead. Poetry Foundation. p. 268. Web.

Secondary Sources

Bravo, A. (2005). Mexican-Americans: A Culture of Struggle, Dignity, and Survival. CS & P, 3(2), 157-163.

Bryan, N. (2004). Puerto Rican Americans. NY: ABDO Publishers.

Countries and Their Cultures (2012). . Web.

Garcia, A. M. (2002). The Mexican Americans. CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Mexican Americans in the Columbia Basin. . Web.

Ohio State University. (2010a). Cultural Diversity: Eating in America, Mexican-American. Family and Consumer Sciences. Web.

Ohio State University. (2010b). Cultural Diversity: Eating in America, Puerto-Rico Americans. Family and Consumer Sciences. Retrieved from Taus-Bolstad. (2004). Puerto Ricans in America. NY: Lerner Publications.

USA Census Bureau. (2011). State and County quick facts. Web.

Williams, N. (1990). . CA: Rowman & Littlefield. Web.

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