Bridges Not Walls: Acculturation is a Two Way Street

by Jonathan Sumers – Director of Sales, AOL Latino and Huffington Post LatinoVoices

The alternating between Spanish and English, often mid-sentence, is a microcosm of the interchanging cultures Hispanics live in. One minute it’s Dia de los Muertos, the next it’s the super bowl. From Chicharito to Albert Pujols, Hispanic Americans live in two worlds and we as a country choose to see only the half we are familiar with. Often times non- Hispanics think of Latinos as immigrants, Spanish-speaking, or Mexican. When in reality this could not be further from the truth. Hispanics are not ‘foreign’ or ‘other’; they are ingrained within American society. Latinos represent 1 of every 6 people in this country, and 1 of every 4 children under the age of 18. With a population over 50 million there are more Hispanics in the U.S. then any other country in the world besides Mexico. That is why Washington’s focus on putting up a wall to keep Hispanics out misses the mark. Hispanics represent over 55% of this nation’s growth over the past decade and almost 70% of that increase is domestic growth. Hispanic births not immigration, is the driving force behind Latinos’ surging presence. This is why we as a people need to realize that acculturation is not a one way street, Americans must wake up and reach out to Hispanics not solely on a lingual level, but culturally. There is no cultural Rosetta Stone, one must live and breathe the traditions, music, food, dance, and other social highlights to truly understand the heritage and flavor of a people.

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