An Effort to Pay Racial Costs: Explanation of Latin Americanization Process and Race Relation in US

by Bhakti Eko Nugroho

International migration is an impact and, at the same time, the part of continuously globalization process. Canales (2007), in one of his publication, mentions that Latin America has become a region of emigration contributing to the south to north population movement that is a major characteristic of this era of globalization. Besides Europe, Australia, and Japan, United States was became a most popular destination for Latin American migrant. Then, the number of Latin American migrant had increased year by year. Canales (2007) said that in 1970 there were fewer than 1.7 million Latin American immigrants in the United States, representing only 18 percent of the total number of immigrants in the country and less than 0.8 percent of the total U.S. population. Surprisingly, today there are more than 17 million Latin American immigrants in US.

Phenomenon of Latin American arrival in US, definitively, has influence the social order and then creates the new social order of US society. Silva and Dietrich  explain this process by using “Latin Americanization” as a terminology. In the simple way, Latin Americanization is the process which migrant people from region Latin America have been socialized their own unique culture and race in the US. There are some costs of being certain race when people lived in US. Patrions (1996) said that in many country of the world there is a “cost” to being an ethnic or racial minority. So, Latin Americanization also can be seen as the process of how Latin American or Latinos survive in US society by tried to achieve top position in social hierarchy of US society. Silva and Dietrich said that Latin Americanization as attempting to classify where everyone will fit in the racial order.

Biracial system in the US, where people distinguished as black and white – had left. Social type in the United States had evolved into a complex racial stratification system. Silva and Dietrich said that United States is developing a triracial system with whites at the top: an intermediary group of honorary whites, similar to colored’s in South Africa during formal apartheid: and nonwhite group or the collective black at the bottom. These three racial strata, where the Latinos stayed in middle position of strata, had not shaped in rapid time. Latinos had conducted many efforts to mobilize their position in social hierarchy structure. Their fundamental attempt was constructed “shared value” about strengthened Latinos identity. Using Silva and Dietrich words, most Latin Americans, even those obviously black or Indian, refuse to tab them self in racial terms because they are all Latin Americans.

The strengthening salience of Latinos in United States had become an important step in the term of process Latin Americanization. Whether in banks or universities, in stores or housing markets, “smiling discrimination” tends to be the order of the day. However, this situation was empowered the ties of Latinos. When Latinos collective more solid, it make Latinos more confidence in doing their job in social life. During post-civil Rights era, racial discrimination had occurred in its various forms. Result of all Latinos effort is the change of US national demography. Racial minorities have increased to 30 percent of the population today and, as population projection suggest, may become a numerical majority in the year 2050.

Interestingly, although their ties identity of Latinos becomes thick, differentiation among Latinos based on the gradation of skin light still occur. Most “white Latinos” in US – Latin American immigrant from Argentines, Chileans, Costa Ricans, and Cubans – had worked at the top jobs of economy. On the other hand, “the dark Latino groups” such as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central Americans, usually works in the lower position of business. This situation show that the successful of Latinos effort in achieving their social – life goal had determined by their skin color. Latin Americanization process has been exclusive. In this process, only “white Latinos” had been participated in that social mobility process. “The dark Latino” groups had faced some obstacles when they tried to get life-social goal. Triracial system in US show us that racial discrimination have been occurred and Latin Americanization could not paid the “Racial Costs“. We might say that overcome the racial inequality/ discrimination in US was implausible. However, Latin Americanization is an effort.

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