Have you ever noticed how Asian and Latino cultures experience the same difficulties when they migrate to the US? When the Rivera family arrived at their new home, it was a whole new world for them. It was a whole new world they were expected to learn. Their culture and experience from their home in Patzcuaro, Mexico was completely different from the American culture. The way the author, Christina Henriquez, described how they had trouble in the Dollar Tree reminded me of a time when I went to the store with my grandparents. The lingering and glaring eyes of waiting customers sparked a flashback of my childhood. These similarities have shown me that Latino and Asian cultures may not be as different as it seems. Immigration is a key to America since we are a nation born from other nations. Latino and Asian families have key similarities and differences when it comes to immigration as well as discrimination.
Latino and Asian families have faced many difficult problems over the past generations and many of them are quite similar for both sides. The Latino and Asian communities have some important similarities like the immigrant experience, language barriers and large populations in the Western United States. Like the confrontation the Rivera family experienced within their first day in the US, my grandparents go through the same confrontation every day because of their language barrier. Another similar factor is how Hispanic and Asian parents push for their children’s education. According to the Global Post, “Several factors are playing into the brain drain, including “political reform, infrastructure improvements, pollution, and education,” according to the immigration study. But the single biggest motivation for 80 percent of immigrants: to find a better education for their children” (Carlson). The Rivera family moved to the United States with hopes that Maribel could have a better education. With the special needs education program, the Rivera family were hoping that Maribel could advance through her education after the accident. Also, “over 80 percent of Chinese immigrants are moving to the US for better education. Although China placed one with their overall international exams, the school system is challenging for each student” (Carlson). The majority of Chinese immigrants come to the US believing that their children can have an equal opportunity in the education system. Despite China leading in education, many Chinese families migrate to the US because of the challenging educational system. Latino and Asian immigrants may have different issues and obstacles from their home, but their reason for coming to the US is the same.
Although both families carry similar problems, there is a difference in other aspects as well. Immigrants that come from foreign land tend to have a deficit with speaking English, but according to the Pew Research Center, “Mexican immigrants are less likely to be proficient in English than Asian immigrants. In 2013, 31% of those immigrants ages 5 and older born in Mexico were proficient in English, while 54% of comparable Asian immigrants were proficient in English” (Gonzalez-Barrera). Potentially, this makes them more appealing for employers, allowing the Asian population to have an upper hand in terms of being hired than the Latino population. In addition to getting employed, there is a major difference in earnings and income with the ability to speak English. Based off statistics from the US Census Bureau, “the differences in earnings between those who spoke English at the highest ability (very well) from English-only speakers was relatively small ($966). The earnings difference between the “very well” speakers and “well” speakers showed the largest gap in earnings ($7,000) between adjacent levels” (Day and Shin 6). America is largely oriented around the English language. The ability to speak English can predominantly affect the amount of income while working in the US. For immigrants to come with very little knowledge of English, they are at a huge disadvantage from the start. From getting hired for a job to simply buying groceries, speaking and understanding English is a necessity when living in the US.
Till this day, minorities from all over the world are still suffering from discrimination. Asian and Latino share some important institutional discrimination and the statistics are quite similar when it comes to percentages. According to Harvard’s school of public health, “a quarter or more of Asian Americans say they have been personally discriminated against because they are Asian when applying for jobs (27%), when being paid equally or considered for promotions (25%), and when trying to rent or buy housing (25%)” (Discrimination in America 2). Latinos are not far behind with these percentages. In a survey with over 800 adults identifying as Latino or Hispanic, about a third of Latino Americans say they have been discriminated against because they are Latino when applying for a job (33%), when being paid or promoted equally (32%), and when trying to rent or buy a house (31%) (Neel). To many immigrants, the American Dream usually consists of having a stable job and owning their own white picket fence home. The American Dream may be hard to accomplish with over a quarter of Asian Americans and a third of Latino Americans are being discriminated institutionally.
The initial immigration experience may be similar with most races, but the cultural differences between each race distinguishes them from each other. Moving to a new country will always be difficult for everyone. We should welcome them with open arms instead of discriminating and treating them as aliens. According to our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, “We are not merely a nation but a “Nation of Nations” (Peters and Wooley). Until we cancel these terms such as, minority and job stealers, problems will always occur for our newcomer. Hopefully they can search for a better future and not end up facing more problems compared to before they left their homes. Maybe the Rivera family could have avoided the tragic accident if America treated them as an equal.
Carlson, Benjamin. “Why Chinese Immigrants Choose America.” Public Radio International, Global Post, 21 Dec. 2012, www.pri.org/stories/2012-12-21/why-chinese-immigrants-choose-america.
Day, Jennifer Cheeseman. Shin, Hyon B. “How Does Ability To Speak English Affect Earning?” U.S. Census Bureau, 31 March. 2005 www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/acs/PAA_2005_AbilityandEarnings.pdf
“Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views of Asian Americans.” Nov. 2017, www.npr.org/assets/news/2017/12/discriminationpoll-asian-americans.pdf.
Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana. “Appendix A: Mexican and Asian Immigrants Compared.” Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, 19 Nov. 2015, www.pewhispanic.org/2015/11/19/appendix-a-mexican-and-asian-immigrants-compared/.
Neel, Joe. “Poll: 1 In 3 Latinos Report Discrimination Based On Ethnicity.” NPR, NPR, 1 Nov. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/01/561185815/poll-1-in-3-latinos-report-discrimination-based-on-ethnicity.
Peters, Gerhard, and John T Wooley. “Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress on Immigration. – January 13, 1965.” The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26830.