Friday, June 06, 2014

It's Not That Hispanics Are Different

... it's that the technology allows them to maintain connections in ways that other immigrant groups could not.

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to have breakfast with a professor of theology from Notre Dame. He spoke at great length about the Latino Church in America and how it was different from everything else. For the life of me, I can't figure out just what makes it so different aside from the language, but I do recognize that they think it's different and perhaps that's the difference right there.

In the conversation, he discussed how Latinos maintain strong bonds with their countries of origin. They send money back, they keep in touch by phone and email and even continue to participate in local gossip. That's when it hit me - it's not the culture, it's the technology.

If you've ever been to an Irish pub on a weekend night, a pub that's really hopping, you'll find all kinds of Irish-Americans and wannabe Irish-Americans trying to immerse themselves in a bit of the old sod. You can't convince me that some Hernandez from Oaxaca loves his old home more than an O'Brien from Limerick loved his in 1845 when he came to America to escape the famine. Given the patriotism of the Irish at that time, fed by British repression, I'd argue that the O'Briens might have had even more love for the Emerald Isle.

The difference is communications. When you came to America in 1845, it was like Cortes burning his ships when he landed in the Americas in 1519. Once you got here, there was no way to get back and no way to even communicate with the old country short of spending a lot of money to send a letter. Gossiping with old friends still in Ireland? What a laugh. Wasn't going to happen.

Lads, it's time we gave up soccer for baseball.
Maybe the reason that Mexican-Americans boo the Stars and Stripes when Mexico plays the US in soccer here in the States is the cell phone and the Internet. Maybe the Irish would have done it, too, had they been able to Skype their mates in Ireland every day.

On the whole, I think the Irish got the better end of the deal. In the past few months, I've fired two Mexican gardeners who couldn't speak English despite having lived here for years. They kept their culture, but lost out on earning my money. Try feeding your family with Hispanic pride, hombres, and see how far it gets you. Meanwhile, the Irish are doing alright.


Ilíon said...

I have Mexican cousins on both sides of my family. They (the Mexican-American kids) speak English, their (American-born) Mexican fathers speak English, their Mexican immigrant grandparents spoke English.

It's not so hard -- immigrate to America, learn English; immigrate to Mexico, learn Spanish.

Mostly Nothing said...

My great grandfather never learned English. He didn't need it. My great grand mother spoke Norwegian but understood English. The kids spoke English and understood Norwegian.

K T Cat said...

Ilíon, our current gardener speaks English, albeit with a heavy accent. That's all good wit us because he does a good job and we can communicate with him. He gets lots of referrals for more work from us because of that. Learning English has paid off for him.

K T Cat said...

MN, our two ex-gardeners tried to use their sons as interpreters and it didn't work so well. For one thing, none of them, son nor father, knew the first thing about gardening. They were strictly mow-and-blow chaps. I didn't mind that as I knew plenty, but I couldn't teach them through an interpreter. In any case, they didn't seem all that keen on learning, either.

Mostly Nothing said...

I wasn't defending. At the time, the Chippewa valley was mostly Norwegian emigrants. There was no need to learn English for a farmer.
But they also knew that wasn't going to last. The kids were required to speak English.
Today's world is not isolated like the turn of the 20th century.