Intra-Latino Stereotypes

Stereotypes aren’t just put on Latinos by non-Latinos. Sometimes the worst things are the things Latinos say about each other. Sometimes it can seem funny, like this video by Juan Bago (aka Michael Diaz):

Other times, however, it’s downright awful. We asked our listeners to share some examples of intra-Latino stereotypes. Maria Hinojosa talks to Senior Producer Daisy Rosario about what our listeners had to say.

Are Hispanics the New Mainstream?

Editor’s Note: A Spanish version of the following article was originally published by the World Economic Forum. The authors submitted a corresponding English version for publication.

There is a highly concentrated market in specific areas of the United States where the critical mass-spending power binomial is moving forward at a steady pace, even outgrowing the economies of several Latin American countries. The world’s current political polarization and volatile consequences can be left behind if one begins to focus on this community’s progress to reactivate an inactive sector of the U.S. economy. This market —the new trend among producers— is the U.S. Hispanic market.

Who Are U.S. Hispanics and Why Do They Matter?

According to the United States Census, the country’s Hispanic population is currently around 54.1 million people, making it the second largest racial-ethnic group of the country. In 2010, Hispanics (26%) outnumbered the African American population (22%) to become the largest minority in major American cities. Hispanics are currently 17% of the population, much more than the 5% they were in 1970. But they still have a long way to go in terms of growth—they are estimated to be 26% by 2050.

One out of five U.S. individuals under 18 is Hispanic and by 2050, this ratio will be two out of five. With an average age of 27, this population is making an important contribution in stopping the ageing of the United States, especially when compared to similar economies, like China and Japan. With the youngest population among all ethnicities and races in the U.S., Hispanics represent the core of the future of the American Union. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2060, the U.S. Hispanic population will be at 119 million people.

55% of the U.S. Hispanic population is concentrated in three states: California, Texas and Florida. When breaking down the U.S. Hispanic population by country of origin, those of Mexican descent are the largest group (63%), followed by Puerto Ricans (9.2%), Cubans (3.5%), Salvadorans (3.3%), Dominicans (2.8%), Guatemalans (2.1%) and Colombians (1.8%).

Contrary to popular beliefs, most Hispanic men and women were born in the United States. In fact, three out of four are American citizens. They have adjusted quite well to American culture: 76% of them have a good English level. From that 76%, 24% speak English as a first language at home.

Why Is This Market Trending?

According to the World Bank, the U.S. Hispanic economy would be the world’s 16th largest economy, larger than Mexico’s and just smaller than Brazil’s.

Still, U.S. Hispanics have yet to reach their full economic potential. According to the Census, the average Hispanic household income of $40,963 is only higher than the income of African American households. White and Asian households have higher incomes than Hispanics, even though Hispanics are still under the national average. However, Hispanics as a group have increased their income the most in the last few years. Plus, the demographic window allows them to have an effective spending power than Whites, African Americans and Asian Americans.

According to the Bureau of Employment Statistics, in 2012, U.S. Hispanics represented 16% of the working force of the United States, with about 25 million employees. By 2018, the workforce will increase to 18%. The Hispanic population also works in various sectors: 19% have management and professional occupations; 26% work in service jobs; 21% in sales and office occupations; 17% work in production and freight transportation; and 16% work in construction, maintenance and natural resources.

83% of working Hispanics are employed in the private sector, which is significantly higher than that of Whites and African Americans. However, Hispanics are less likely to be employed by the government, which becomes evident by the fact that they are underrepresented in Congress and the federal government. According to CNN, only 4% of corporate boards of directors’ positions are held by Hispanics, while only 3% of Hispanics have of C-suite level positions in Fortune 500 companies. In technology, only 3.8% of the workforce is Hispanic.

U.S. Hispanic men and women have generally come from non-privileged backgrounds and are now looking for better social mobility opportunities. Even with some degree of difficulty, Hispanics are now part of American society and are looking to spend their dollars on products, services and investments that will confirm their economic advancement. The U.S. Hispanic market is here to stay, and it’s finding its place in the national economy.

U.S. Hispanics and Their Valuable Contributions to the Economy

It has been widely documented that immigrants are two times more likely to open a business than third- or fourth-generation Americans, which highlights the Hispanic entrepreneurial spirit and drive for economic compensation. The amount of U.S. Hispanics starting businesses is increasing dramatically. Hispanics are currently owners of 2.3 million non-agricultural businesses, which make up 8% of the total businesses in the U.S. According to the Small Business Administration, these businesses make $468 billion every year.

These trends have had a positive impact for small businesses, as well as for big companies. According to the Americas Society/Council of The Americas, 5% of Main Street businesses are owned by U.S. Hispanics. These include grocery stores, restaurants, hair salons, dry cleaners, beauty salons, liquor stores, clothes stores, jewelry shops and gas stations.

Among businesses opened by first-generation immigrants, 20% are opened by U.S. Hispanics, half of which are financed by Mexican immigrants. Furthermore, there already exists a subgroup of Hispanic businessmen in upper tiers of the income curve in the U.S., with incomes higher than $150,000 a year per household. The growth index of Hispanic businesses is expected to keep on growing faster than the national average.

These results follow the trend described by the Partnership for a New American Economy, which said that the amount of U.S. Hispanic entrepreneurs has quadrupled in growth, from 321,000 to 1.4 million between 1990 and 2012. At the same time, the amount of self-employed U.S. Hispanics of Mexican descent grew more than five times, reaching 765,000. In other words, 1 out of 10 individuals of Mexican descent in the U.S. can be considered entrepreneurs. Hispanic women deserve a special mention as they are six times more likely to open a business than the rest of the U.S. population. Today, 1 out of 10 female businesses in the U.S. belongs to a Hispanic woman.

The U.S. Hispanic impact is currently felt in the daily life of U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and San Antonio, among others.

The Four Challenges for U.S. Hispanics

Hispanics have a great opportunity to add value to their market and to their growing influence, which could potentially impact their communities and well-being. The following are a few challenges to bear in mind:

  1. Expansion of Spending Power Per Capita: U.S. Hispanics can take of advantage of their economic prosperity to speed up their integration into the economic system. With a strong currency, they will have the opportunity to expand their income and, at the same time, they can send less money to their families from their countries of origin, while still maintaining the same spending power.
  2. Improvement in Education: Hispanics are more educated than ever, but they need to improve their overall education performance and develop their skills in order to compete with a diverse and educated American society.
  3. Acquisition of Assets: The cheap credits that stem from low interest rates will allow U.S. Hispanics access to loans and finance mechanisms to build their properties and obtain assets that will allow a buoyant future. Among them, the most important could be to increase home ownership.
  4. Access to Health: U.S. Hispanics are the ethnic group with lowest access to the health system. With a larger number of options and a greater access to the system, they would have the opportunity to receive better coverage and be less vulnerable to illness.

If these four challenges were condensed into one concept, it would be this: U.S. Hispanics should assert their current conditions and opportunities to continue their integration into the U.S. Simultaneously, they have to convince themselves and the rest of the nation that they have reached an important position in the life and history of the American Union. A few years ago, the debate would have been “What would happen to the U.S. economy without a Hispanic workforce?” Nowadays, the question is “In which new and broader forms will Hispanics shape the U.S. economy?”


Javier Arreola graduated with honors in Civil Engineering from UNAM and won the Mexico City Engineering Award.  He holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the George Washington University, where he was a Carlos Slim Scholar. He also served as a Research Assistant at The Brookings Institution on Latin America.  He currently writes for Forbes México and The World Economic Forum.

Alberto Altamirano holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Austin and an Executive Education Certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to joining the Alamo Area MPO as a Public Involvement Specialist, Alberto worked in the Texas House of Representatives and in the United States Senate. In addition, he participated as a research assistant in the Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative and has community organizing experience. In 2015, Alberto won the VotoLatino Innovators Challenge by introducing Cityflag, a citizen-engagement mobile application.

Featured image: Downtown Los Angeles, 2010 (Basil D. Soufi/Wikimedia Commons)

After Ferguson: Being Black In Miami

The killing of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, M0. has reignited the spirit of the civil rights movement in the African American communities around the nation. While protests regarding Brown’s case continue in Missouri, his death has also reopened a long overdue conversation about the policing of black communities.

Miami-Dade County has not been the exception. The county in South Florida is predominantly Latino — Hispanics make up 65% of the population, blacks are just over 20%. The county’s mayors have been consistently Hispanic since the late seventies. And Hispanics make up a majority of the County’s Board of Commissioners.

On September 3rd, 2014, Dennis Moss, one of the county’s four black commissioners, opened the County Hall floor to a discussion about the lessons that Miami could learn to prevent events like Ferguson in Miami-Dade County.

The Commissioner and other members of the black leadership spoke of the feeling of hopelessness in the city’s black communities. They spoke of language discrimination in job applications — you have to speak Spanish for jobs– lack of access to private and public contracts, and opened a frank discussion about the policing of African American communities, especially black males.

The police department in Miami-Dade county is sharply different to the one in Ferguson. Miami-Dade’s police force reflects the different population groups, including Hispanics, blacks and other groups. Still, black leaders continue to sensitize police forces of every race on how blacks, especially men, experience police encounters.

City officials like Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez took part in the conversation, and all parties were glad the conversation happened in the open.

For this segment, we ask Dr. Walter T. Richardson, senior chaplain of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and Retha Boone-Fye, head of the Black Affairs Advisory Board in the county, about the conditions of African Americans in a place that is predominantly Latino/Hispanic.


Dr Richardson

Dr. Walter Thomas Richardson, a Miami native, is the senior chaplain for the Miami-Dade Police Department and Senior Pastor at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Perrine, Florida. Dr. Richardson currently serves as adjunct professor of religion at St. Thomas University where he teaches “World Religions.”





Retha BooneRetha Boone-FyeRetha Boone-Fye is the director of the Miami-Dade County Black Advisory Board. She previously served as Public Affairs Director for South Florida’s only Historically Black University—Florida Memorial.  She has been recognized by InFocus Magazine’s “Quiet Storm Award”; was named one of South Florida’s “Most Distinguished and Influential Black Women for 2010” by Success Magazine and was recently honored by ICABA World as one of South Florida’s “Most accomplished Black Professionals for 2011.”  She’s the second generation daughter of Bahamian parents and Jamaican great-grandparents. Mrs. Boone-Fye was the first of her immigrant family to attend university and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and her graduate degree from Nova-Southeastern University.




Latino USA intern Julia Shu contributed reporting.

Photo of gathering in front of Government Center in Miami on December 1st, 2000. Photo by Robert King/Newsmakers via Getty Images. 

Physics Teacher Puts Latino Students On STEM Tracks

A Latino student’s mind is a terrible thing to waste. Especially in California, where more than half of public school students are Latino.

But despite those numbers, high potential Latino students that would excel in Advanced Placement, or AP courses, are not taking them. Nationwide, as many as 4 in 10 qualified Latino students don’t take AP science courses, according to the College Board. In many low-income communities, AP courses are not even offered to students. And according to a ProPublica study, even when several states give equal access to low-income and higher-income students to AP courses, low-income students pass them in much lower numbers than their wealthier peers. Even though California has actually expanded the number of students taking AP courses, Latinos are still lagging behind in taking high-level AP science courses and passing the exams.

Michael Towne, a physics teacher at Citrus Hill High School in Riverside, California, is doing something about it. He’s created a physics program that’s channeling students from his class into careers in science and engineering. He’s been featured on national College Board reports, and in 2014, he was chosen out of more than 800 teachers to win the Fishman Prize, a national award for outstanding teaching in low-income communities. Mr. Towne has gone to Washington D.C. to talk to policy makers about expanding AP science course offerings for Latino, Black and low-income students. Mr. Towne and Alejandro Torres, one of his students, talk to us about cultivating genius and empowering Latinos through physics.





Michael Towne served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a small business owner selling shoes before becoming a teacher in 2001. Mike has been asked to address both houses of the United States Congress on behalf of the College Board, and in 2013, he also spoke before Congress advocating for increased access to AP Physics. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Education, Society and Culture from the University of California, Riverside, specifically focusing on access and equity for ethnic minority students in science. He credits his wife, a teacher for more than 20 years, with motivating his own move into teaching.




imageAlejandro Torres was born and raised in Southern California, by Mexican parents, the second of four children. He is a first generation college graduate from University of California, Riverside with degrees(B.S) in Physics and Applied Mathematics, currently a marketing analyst for California Steel Industries.





Photo by Alexandra-Beier/Getty-Images

Measuring Intelligence with Latinos

What do we mean when we talk about intelligence? We start by taking a look at some controversial claims about Hispanics and IQ.

Then we talk to Dr. Michael Lopez. He explains a little bit about our complicated brains, as well as what factors he believes need to be accounted for if you are looking for ways of gauging intelligence for people of all backgrounds.





Michael López, Ph.D., a Principal Associate at Abt Associates, brings over 25 years of extensive experience conducting policy-relevant, early childhood research, at the state and national levels, with an emphasis on low-income or culturally and linguistically diverse populations. He currently is serving as Co-Principal Investigator for the National Center for Research on Hispanic Children and Families. Prior to joining Abt, he was Executive Director of the National Center for Latino Child & Family Research.


Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

My Tia’s Battle With Mental Disorder

Blas Díaz is a social worker at a nursing home for the mentally ill in Chicago. Even though he spends his days helping people battle mental disorders, he was shocked to discover his own aunt had been battling bipolar disorder her entire life. Blas sat down with his tía and talked about the struggle to find the right medicines, the ever-present temptation of suicide, and the family support that’s helped her come this far. She has chosen to remain anonymous for this piece. Blas’ story comes to us by way of the Vocalo Storytellers Workshop from Chicago Public Media.

Deena and Jay: Living with Depression

Ever since she was a young girl, Deena realized that something wasn’t right – that she never felt happy or comfortable in her own skin. She suffered from depression. But in the South Texas, Mexican-American family she grew up with, there was a stigma around mental illness that prevented her and her family from seeking treatment.

In college, Deena met Jay. They got married, had kids. After each birth, Deena suffered really bad post-partum depression. After she miscarried her third child, things fell apart. Deena’s depression was getting worse. On top of it, her marriage to Jay began to unravel. She decided to try getting on medication.

The doctor prescribed her Lamitrogine (also known as Lamictal), an epilepsy drug with a secondary use of treating manic-depressives. A week later, she developed flu-like symptoms, then irritation in her eyes and throat. She didn’t realize it at first, but these symptoms were the beginnings of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a life-threatening condition that often happens as the result of an immune reaction to medication.

With Stevens-Johnson, cell death causes the outer layer of the skin to separate from the body and die, including the the epidermis inside your body and internal organs. Deena has to be airlifted to a military hospital, where doctors saved her life by oxygenating her blood outside of her body for almost a month while she was in a medical coma.

Deena survived. But with various medical complications ranging from damaged eyes to a scarred throat, life is full of new challenges that impact her mental health. While she was under, her husband Jay had to make the decision to put her on the machines that saved her life. Deena says that sometimes she wished he had let her die.

Now they have to figure out how to pick up the pieces of their life and marriage, and raise their kids. Nothing about it is easy.


Sabiduria: How I Stopped Drinking

In order to deal with stress, many people turn to alcohol. But one Latina tells us how she, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, stopped drinking. Our guest has chosen to remain anonymous.


If you need help with alcohol addiction, you can visit the following websites:


Photo by John Kraus via Flickr

Health Care Reform Leaves Undocumented Uninsured

The Affordable Care Act does not actually cover everyone. Even in California, the state that leads in enrollment, an estimated one million people cannot access health care – undocumented immigrants. Many are undocumented immigrants. We visit Sonoma County’s Graton Day Labor Center, an advocacy and training group that tries to address this community’s needs.

Photo by Lisa Morehouse



The World Cup and Latinos: Vamos USA!

More and more Americans started tuning in to Team USA’s matches in this year’s World Cup in Brazil. The US’s heart stopping match against Portugal became the most watched soccer event in US TV history. It’s still unclear if the soccer hype will outlast the tournament — especially now that the US National Team is out. But one thing is certain: soccer is especially popular among Latinos in the United States. And as reported by our former producer Brenda Salinas, Latinos have divided allegiances when it comes to the World Cup. We continue our coverage of the World Cup by taking to the streets of Queens, in New York City, at one of the most demographically diverse places in the nation, to ask Latinos of different national origins who they’re rooting for this World Cup.

We found strong rooting for the countries of origin for immigrants, first and second generation Latinos. And we also found support and excitement for the US National team. And when it comes down to it, even if Mexico, Colombia, Argentina or Costa Rica were to face off against the U.S., Latinos don’t feel like picking a side. Some of them even enjoy the benefits of rooting for two national teams.


Our interns Roxane L. Scott and Sarah Barrett contributed reporting for this piece. 

Cover photo by Getty Images.