12 Ways Hispanic Culture Is Changing America
7 min read
Did you know that the Latino and Hispanic population in 2020 was 62 million—around 18% of US residents? Since 2010, this segment has grown 23%. More than half the nation’s total population growth comes from Latinos and Hispanics.
Topics you’ll discover in this article:
- Latino vs Hispanic
- Hispanic Influence on American Culture
- Hispanic Contributions to US Culture
- Learn Spanish To Explore Hispanic Culture
3 Out of 4 Americans Know Latinos Are Changing America
Latino culture has greatly enriched North American culture. Hispanic influence is on the rise: it is profound, transcendent, and permanent. It comes from the fastest growing, largest minority group in the U.S.
Taking characteristics of one culture and integrating it with yours—regardless of whether it’s the dominant or recessive culture—is called acculturation. Although one of the reasons is the size of the Latino population, there are more significant other ones.
Three of every four US residents believe Latinos have had a major influence on American culture, according to a study.
Read this article to discover 13 ways Hispanic culture is changing American culture and other important aspects of the actual picture of multiculturalism in the U.S.
Latino vs Hispanic
Many people use the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” interchangeably, but they mean different things. While most Hispanics are Latino and most Latinos are Hispanic, the terms don’t apply to the exact same group of people.
Latino/a refers to people who are descendants of Latin Americans. Technically, “Latino” applies to all people in the American continent who speak Romance languages that come from Latin such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
Meanwhile Hispanics are those who speak Spanish or are descendants of Spanish speakers. This includes Spain.
So, while a Mexican is both Hispanic and Latino, Brazilians are Latino but not Hispanic (because they speak Portuguese rather than Spanish), and Spaniards are Hispanic but not Latino.
The reason some people use these terms interchangeably is because the vast majority of the two demographics overlap. Most American government agencies and studies do not set them apart.
Hispanic Influence on American Culture
Hispanic influence has become something we can’t ignore.
The size of the Latino population is expanding—in 2012, 1 out of 6 people in America were Latino and projections say they will be 1 in every 3 by 2050. Consequently, so is the supply of products and services that cover their demands.
Geographic proximity is a factor. The U.S. borders Mexico and the two large nations share many products, ideas, media, beliefs, and more. Both sides have adapted, adopted, and borrowed cultural characteristics.
Discrimination and Opportunities
While 55% of Latinos believe this minority encounters discrimination often, only 15% of non-Hispanics think so.
Half of both populations think that opportunities are becoming more equitable, but statistics show that’s far from happening. Hispanic and Latinos are the 4th median household income by race in the U.S., falling below Asian, White and Pacific Islander and above African American and Native American.
12 Hispanic Contributions to US Culture
According to a study, nine of every 10 non-Hispanics see biculturalism as positive. Biculturalism or multiculturalism is when American culture recognizes and appreciates Latino culture and contributions as sources of enrichment. Here are 13 of the greatest Hispanic contributions to US culture.
90% of Non-Hispanics think that the greatest Hispanic influence on the U.S. is food. Tacos, guacamole, and other corn and salsa-based snacks and dishes are super popular in the States.
Mexican food—and Tex-Mex—is the most notable Latin American cuisine, but plenty of others are starting to gain visibility, like Brazilian and Argentinian churrasquerías (steak houses), Colombian and Venezuelan arepas, and Peruvian ceviche.
In many cities, people serve tacos, pupusas, and other Hispanic dishes from food trucks.
In 2020 and 2021—for the first time ever—a Latin American was the year’s most-streamed artist on Spotify: Puerto Rico’s Bad Bunny. This reggaeton artist surpassed nine billion streams, beating Justin Bieber and BTS.
Other highly influential Hispanic musicians include:
- Ricky Martin
- Mariah Carey
- Gloria Estefan
- Jennifer Lopez
- Christina Aguilera
- Carlos Santana
- Marc Anthony
- Camila Cabello
Hand-picked for you: 13 Classic Hispanic Songs You Should Know To Feel Native
Soccer is on the rise in the U.S. Latin Americans have always followed this sport passionately. In places like Mexico, people watch it religiously on Sundays.
In the U.S., the Copa America has had the highest ratings ever in recent years.
Around a third of Major League Baseball players are Latino. The National Baseball Hall of Fame has made the ¡Viva Baseball! exhibition permanent to celebrate Hispanic influence on US sports culture. In boxing, Mexican-American Oscar de la Hoya has established several records. These athletes are some of the wealthiest Hispanics in the US.
In the past decades, if Latinos were represented at all in show business, they would get stereotypical roles on set.
Today things have changed. Hit shows like “Ugly Betty” and “Jane the Virgin” are Latino. They also introduced the telenovelas concept and format to US culture.
The famous show La Reina del Sur recently had a US remake as The Queen of the South.
Univision, Telemundo, and other Latino networks have made much of this visibility and presence possible.
Hispanic influence in American culture and politics have become more palpable in the last decade. Prominent politicians like Marco Rubio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are major influencers.
The Latino bloc is increasing by the day. In the 2020 elections, 32 million Hispanics were eligible to vote and 19 million did.
6. Social Media
Many Latinos in the U.S. are highly motivated social media users and early adopters of new technology.
One of the best positioned social media queens is Selena Gomez with 313 million followers on Instagram. Selena Gomez and other famous Hispanics in the U.S. use their platform to transmit their beliefs, share their lifestyle, language, and look.
7. Fashion and Beauty Standards
Hispanics influence US culture in terms of beauty standards, appearance, style, and clothing. The Latina aesthetic is considered highly fashionable in many parts of the U.S.
Lots of haute couture fashion designers have a Latin American background, including Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, and Narciso Rodriguez.
Theater-goers have noted the Hispanic influence on Broadway since “Hamilton.” Latino actor, singer, filmmaker, songwriter, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and starred in this unprecedented sung-and-rapped American musical.
Check out: Hispanic Contributions to World Literature
One of the basic kinds of cultural “glue” is a shared language. It’s how people communicate and transmit certain traits and characteristics and pass information and traditions from generation to generation.
In the 80s, only 11 million people or 5% of the population were Spanish speakers. By 2012 that number had gone up to 38 million or 13% of the population according to the Pew Research Center.
51% of Hispanics and 12% of Non-Hispanics believe Spanish fluency is necessary to live in the U.S. And nine out of 10 feel that speaking both languages makes a major impact on a person career-wise.
Religion is one of the pillars of Latino communities, which are mostly Catholic. This comes with a set of values, traditions, and holidays that are important for Hispanics.
The most important thing for a Latino is family. We have extended, close-knit families, and it’s common to find three generations living in the same house or next door to each other.
It’s common for sons and daughters to move out of their parents’ house in their late 20s or even later.
Parents are normally strict, while grandparents spoil kids more. All of them play important roles in the children’s upbringing.
We spend most of our Sundays with family. Some say we have Thanksgiving every week. It’s funny how we instantly locate other Latinos and plan social events with them when we’re abroad.
Hand-picked for you: The Powerful Role of Family in Hispanic Culture [Unlike US Culture]
Just as many immigrants adopt holidays from US culture such as Thanksgiving, some Americans take ours. No Mexican celebrates Cinco de Mayo; that’s a U.S. holiday.
Blending the Day of the Dead with Halloween, listening to a Mariachi band, and eating tamales at Christmas are just a few examples.
It depends on the region of the U.S. Miami has a greater concentration of Cubans, Texas and California of Mexicans, and so on.
Continue reading: How To Celebrate Mexico’s Day of the Dead Like a True Mexican.
Learn Spanish To Explore Hispanic Culture
Clearly, Hispanic influence in US culture is a big deal. And speaking Spanish is an excellent skill now in the United States. It will help you get a better job, a better paycheck, and a better chance to connect with others. Become one of the more than 580 million people who speak this language worldwide!
Open the door to Hispanic culture by enrolling at Homeschool Spanish Academy! Join our 24,000 monthly enrolled student community who trust our decade of experience. Together, we’ll tailor a Spanish package that suits your needs and interests. Get online, flexible, individualized sessions with our certified, native-speaking teachers.
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these…
“This is the best way for your kid to learn Spanish. It’s one-on-one, taught by native Spanish speakers, and uses a curriculum.”
– Sharon K, Parent of 3
“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”
– Cindy D, Parent of 3
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
Don’t Miss Our Spanish Language & Culture Latest Posts
- Dejar vs Salir in Spanish (Plus: Parar, Quedar, and Permitir)
- Essential Swimming Vocabulary in Spanish (100+ Words!)
- Top 10 Bilingual Interview Questions To Land Your Dream Job
- The Creepy-Crawly Guide to Insects in Spanish: Free Printables and More!
- The Glamorous Guide to Beauty Salon Vocabulary in Spanish
- What’s the Difference Between Hispanic and Latino?
- 38 Regular -IR and -ER Verbs in Spanish You Can Master Today
- Irresistible Breakfast Food Vocabulary in Spanish
- 20 Classic Mexican Quotes and Proverbs in Spanish - November 11, 2022
- These Were the Secret Nazi Colonies in South America - October 31, 2022
- 14 Spanish Sayings That Mexican Moms Say - August 24, 2022