By 2020, Latinos will be the ethnic majority in the country, and second generation young Latino Americans (YLAs) born in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent will represent 36% of all Latinos. Understanding the Young Latino in America, a new study commissioned by mun2tv, reveals some information about this group of young people between cultures (italics are mine to highlight what I found especially intriguing):
- When it comes to nationality, YLA are specific and identify themselves by their country of origin. The younger age group of 14-24 year-olds are more likely than those aged 25-34 to identify with specific nationality based on preferences of their parents and grandparents. The younger segments refer to nationality as a way to be more unique.
- YLA feel that the current definition of being Latino is based on language and looks: 59% say that other people think Latinos must speak Spanish; 58% say other people think Latinos must look "Spanish" (dark hair, eyes and skin). Because not all YLA look Latino or speak Spanish, many feel the need to explain themselves: 36% say people don't believe them when they tell them they are Latino; 29% feel like they have to prove their Latino identity to people.
- YLA exist in a hybrid world and are masters at navigating their spaces and identities; 77% report that they are in control of which identity all or most of the time. YLA identify with being Latino when they are with their family (48%), around Latino friends (43%), in their home (41%) and in their country of origin (41%). YLA identify with being American when they are with non-Latino friends (31%), in public spaces (26%), at school (24%) and at work (24%). Their Latino and American identities intersect often, such as when in public spaces (59%), at school (50%), in bars and clubs (48%) and with non-Latino friends (47%).
- Being Latino means more than just speaking and looking Spanish; to YLA it means being family oriented (84%), proud (83%), hard working (81%), passionate (80%), tied to tradition (77%), religious (71%), and believing in higher education (60%) and giving back to their community (53%). YLA are unconventional in terms of religion; 60% believe you do not have to go to church in order to prove your faith to God and 49% believe religion is an extremely important part of their lives.
- YLA are extremely interested in maintaining a connection with their culture; 67% agree that this is something that is important to them and nearly half of YLA have the desire to form a stronger connection to their Latino culture. While YLA don't seem panicked, there is some concern over the possibility of becoming disconnected: 31% agree that they are afraid of losing the connection; 30% feel that they are unequipped to pass down their culture, and 25% are unsure of how to maintain the connection.