Professor Cristina Mora examines the forces that led to the creation of a “Hispanic” identity in the United States.
Although terms like the Hispanic/Latino community, the Latino vote and Hispanic culture are common today, panethnicity has not always been a major form of group representation. Indeed, if we were to examine America in the late 1960s, we would find that this community was, for the most part, geographically, culturally and politically disparate. During that period, all the major Mexican-American civic organizations were based in the Southwest, where Spanish-language media outlets imported programming from Mexico, and student activists developed a “Chicano” youth movement. Puerto Rican civic organizations, by contrast, were clustered in the Northeast. Television and radio stations from New York through Philadelphia aired Spanish-language soap operas, variety shows, and news programming imported from San Juan. And activists there focused on two main issues: Puerto Rican sovereignty and urban poverty in “Boricua” neighborhoods. Lastly, Cubans and their organizations in the 1960s were primarily based in Florida. There, exiles built close-knit ethnic enclaves that remained intensely focused on the developments of Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution, and Cuban households tuned in to media stations that broadcasted news of Havana.