The Making of a Latino Ethnic Identity

The Making of a Latino Ethnic Identity

The Latino press and Latino leaders claim that their group may well be the political movement of the 1980s. Estimates show that by the year 2005 those classified by the census as Hispanics will outnumber blacks to become
the largest minority in the United States —politically, socially, and culturally—a demographic event of great significance. Within the group there are visions of a golden epoch where “now that we have the numbers” it will be easy to achieve greater political representation and national prominence: to become, in the words of the League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC) president, Ruben Bonilla, “a truly visible political force.” The bold ones even envision transforming the United States into a bilingual nation.

This prospect has not escaped the attention of the media and of prominent politicians. Some, like California’s ex-senator S. I. Hayakawa, already see the specter of a linguistically divided nation in which a large percentage of its citizens, with ties to nations south of the border, will demand that Spanish be made the official second language in the states where they predominate. Others, like Colorado’s governor Richard Lamm, believing that the national spirit is fragmenting, and fearing a problem similar to that of Canada with Quebec, want action at the highest levels of the federal bureaucracy.

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Lima