Busting The Myth: The Real Values Of The Millennial Latinx Community

Busting The Myth: The Real Values Of The Millennial Latinx Community

By: Oliver G. Alvar -

American Latinxs have a host of amazing ideals—don't let anyone say otherwise. Here are the real values of the millennial Latinx community.

Yes, Latin America and Latinxs in America are becoming more and more relevant in the US social, cultural, and political landscape. And that's a good thing. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016 there are over 57 million Latinxs living in America—that's more than 18% of the U.S. population. A fifth of American millennials are young Latinxs who are increasingly becoming more relevant in the social and political affairs in the country, so it's important to understand what moves them and what doesn't.

However, we're talking about a vast and varied group with many cultures and values, so trying to come up with a single list of cultural uniformities for all Latinxs is much like trying to come up with the same list for all humankind. Yet, there are at least some general patterns that most Latinx communities seem to share, so we might as well venture a list broadly exploring these topics. We can tell you, for starters, that crime is not a common feature in Latinx values, so we might as well get rid of that stereotype already. busting the myth real values of the latinx communityMore specifically, it's time to bust the current Trump-era myth that Latinxs in America are for the most part "criminals" and "not the best" of Latin America. Reflected in their common values is a sense of justice and social awareness that doesn't fit Trump's narrative at all, so it's important to acknowledge that fact. We would know, after all. So, to help bust the myth, here are the real values of the Millennial Latinx community.

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Family

The single most important thing for the general Latinx population that distinguishes it from most other communities is the value it places on family. It's not that other groups don't value family too, but Latinxs do so in a very unique way. According to a study published in the Michigan Family Review, 

"Latino families are generally described as being allocentric or collective. In other words, families have been observed to possess a relatively strong sense of mutual empathy, trust in groups, and a readiness to support one another."

busting the myth real values of the latinx communityWhat's more, unlike many other American groups, on average, Hispanic Millennials put family before close friends, colleagues, and most romantic partners (unless, of course, they form a family with them). In other words, non-Hispanic groups generally prefer to maintain an active social network of friends, casual partners, and business contacts over their close family, whereas Latinxs are the opposite.

"The importance of extended family marks a unique aspect of Latino families—that of familialism. In addition to providing a relatively strong attachment to the nuclear family, the strong familial orientation provides a sense of solidarity while concurrently reinforcing the notion that the family is more important than the individual," the MFR report states. 

Latinxs, especially the Millennials among them, place a great degree of trust in their family relations as opposed to other forms of social testimony, such as apps and mass media. This represents a striking contrast with most Millennials, who generally use social media as their main source of information.

Did you know... 
The Spanish phrase for "I love the United States" is "amo a Estados Unidos."

Cultural Heritage

This is a very general category, so let's get a bit more specific. Cuisine. Food. The whole culinary world is of great importance for Latinxs, Millennials included, mainly because of the meaning food has had both historically and culturally in pretty much every Latin American country. The Latinx community has a very proud cultural heritage that over the centuries has developed a deep sense of identity and belonging, and one of the most creative and concrete ways in which that heritage is expressed is through food. 

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In other words, sitting down and eating your culture's traditional food is a powerful mechanism to make you feel at home—to make you feel like you belong. This happens to every culture, sure, but Latin American food is so characteristic, its tastes and preparations being so strong and unique, that it's no wonder food lies at the core of the community as a source of identity. A report by Media Post found that Hispanic Millennials proudly consider themselves "foodies," meaning they are deeply committed to the exploration of different culinary wonders. But more importantly, Hispanic Millennials relate to food in far more intimate ways than many other groups, as the study shows. Latinxs see food as a means to connect back to their cultural roots.busting the myth real values of the latinx communityCombine the importance of food with the central role family plays in the Latinx millennial, and the results are amazing. That's how you get great social phenomena like the value Latinxs place on inheriting recipes that have been passed down through generations upon generations of a single lineage. You've probably heard the expression "the recipe from my abuelita," right?

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Burritos are far more popular in the US than in most of Mexico.

Language

While not every Latin American country is Spanish-speaking, Spanish is nonetheless characteristic of the Latinx community in the U.S. In 1980, about 11 million people spoke it as their first language in America—that was roughly 5% of the population. By 2012, however, this number had increased to more than 38 million—a staggering 13% of the U.S. residents.

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Latinx Millennials face a sort of transition phase in terms of their social approach to language. While many were raised by Spanish-speaking parents, learning most of their English outside from their own home, surveys show that most Hispanic Millennials are choosing to speak mostly English themselves.busting the myth real values of the latinx communityBut that doesn't mean their ancestors' language isn't important to them. On the contrary: it's a key aspect of their own traditions and identity, and they acknowledge that. Speaking English in an English-speaking country is more a matter of convenience. But Hispanic Millennials still put emphasis on keeping in touch with their parents' language in other ways: as shown by a study by the Hispanic Millennial Project, over 47% of American-born Latinxs watch TV shows in Spanish. So, yeah, they may communicate mostly in English, but they're sure not willing to lose touch with their linguistic roots.

Traditions

Finally, there's the other face of Latin American folklore: traditional festivities and celebrations. Cultures in Latin America are colorful, and their traditions show it. We know rhythm, we know taste, and we know cultural parties. Festivals such as Day of the Dead are famous across the world for their charm and liveliness, and the Latinx communities in America know that. Eating the food, dancing to the music, speaking the language, and celebrating the festivities all come together to produce a unique way to relate to one's own culture, and balancing their heritage with their lives as American citizens is part of the very identity of Latinx-Americans. Those are the real values of the Latinx community.

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