Latinos in Chicago: The Unity of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 1216
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Bachelor

Chicago is a multiracial City with people from various ethnic groups such as Asians, African Americans, and Latinos. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the Chicago metropolitan area, with most of them being of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. Based on statistics and data, the Latino community in Chicago has grown significantly and is now broadly scattered throughout. The population of Mexicans in the city is the biggest among other Latinos, followed by Puerto Ricans as the second-largest group. When the two groups got into Chicago, they settled together to establish the Latino culture, where they interacted in many ways, such as holding cultural events, festivals, and even intermarrying. The unity of the Mexican and Puerto Rican Latinos in Chicago is evident in cultural celebrations and festivals and the fight against discrimination. Additionally, women, politics and activism also play an active role in unifying the two communities. This paper describes the unity of Mexican and Puerto Rican Latinos in Chicago.

Chicago is a metropolitan city comprising various ethnic groups where Latinos are the largest. Latinos first came to Chicago in the 1980s with the formation of the 1884 Mexican Consulate (Acosta-Córdova). The Mexican Revolution, which impacted many sections of the country, spurred migration in the 1910s. New immigrants were attracted to Chicago because of the higher-paying job prospects. The first Puerto Ricans in Chicago relocated from New York in the 1930s, with migration speeding up in the late 1940s (Vazquez-Hernandez). Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are the largest groups of Latinos in Chicago, making up 74.7% and 13.2% of all Latinos (Acosta-Córdova). While in Chicago, the two groups have interacted with each other for a long time to intermarry among themselves. However, some specific neighborhoods are identified with each group. Additionally, various factors illustrate their unity as Latinos, while only a few give them separate identities as Puerto Ricans and Mexicans.

Latino culture is a factor that unites and identifies the Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. The two groups are associated with the Latino culture, which is highly recognized in Chicago. The Latino ethnic neighborhoods strive to keep their culture alive by frequently holding celebrations of their identities (Acosta-Córdova). For instance, they come together yearly to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Various neighborhoods in Chicago, such as Belmont Cragin, Pilsen, Logan Square and Humboldt Park, are established as main centers of the Latino culture due to the settlements of many Latinos. Additionally, some neighborhoods are known for conserving specific groups’ cultures. For example, Pilsen is known for the Mexican culture, while Humboldt Park is known for observing the Puerto Rican culture (Acosta-Córdova). Therefore, the Latino culture unites the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans as a racial group in Chicago.

Another significant aspect that unites all the Latinos in Chicago is their fight to gain their identity after settling in the area. They formed part of the minority groups in the US and thus joined the others, such as African Americans, to fight for liberalization and fair treatment (Wallace et al. 780). The Latinos participated in various activism movements to demand their freedom and equal treatment in the US. In Chicago, the Mexicans and Puerto Ricans also participated in the campaigns for fairness. According to Wallace et al. (780), after the Great Recession, many Latinos had to fight to raise the minimum wage through forming rallies in the streets and conducting campaigns. The fights for justice and freedom brought together all the Latinos as part of the minority without differentiating the individual groups.

Women also act as a unifying factor between Puerto Rico and Mexican Latinos. Mexican and Puerto Rican women played critical roles in establishing their respective communities. Women worked and supported their families and actively participated in activism in churches, schools, and cultural and political groups to help shape their communities (Zambrana et al.). Puerto Rican and Mexican women often form alliances to define their destinies. Together, they become activists and confront every form of gender-based inequities through various organizations such as Mujeres Latinas en Acción (Zambrana et al.). This organization works to empower women through various activism on educational, legal, and social services. Through such organizations, women from the two groups have also fought for equal treatment to men in their societies. Specifically, they have joined active politics and slowly made the communities believe in their leadership just like their male counterparts. The unity between the Mexican and Puerto Rican women leads to the unity of the two groups as one.

The Latinos in Chicago and the entire United States are united by their political stand, illustrating their urge to get power over their White counterparts. According to Rodolfo et al., the growth in the Latino population in Chicago granted them a significant influence over the political issues in the city. Particularly, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Chicago join the other Latinos to fight for political power as they believe when in power, their societal problems will be solved. They believe that a fellow Latino understands their issues better than a non-Hispanic. Thus, having political influence will benefit them. Additionally, according to Rodolfo et al., Mexicans and Puerto Ricans mostly work as operatives in low-wage service sectors where they earn average income levels and have low education. These disadvantages negatively affect their individual political influence. Therefore, to be more powerful, the two groups unite to form some political movements to ensure their concerns are heard and resolved.

Although aspects of racialization and freedom threaten the two groups’ unity, they are still united as they believe that they are likely to achieve more together. According to Valle (29), Puerto Ricans, either born in the US or not, can freely move around the central lands in the US. The freedom is granted to them because they are termed as part of the US since the acquisition of their Island during the Spanish-American war. On the other hand, Mexicans are not US citizens and thus face restrictions of movements within the country, especially those without citizenship documentation. However, amidst this difference, Mexican and Puerto Rican activists and politicians believed that the two groups were equally disadvantaged as minorities. The only way they could liberate themselves is through community coalitions (Francis-Fallon). This leads to activism and political movements to fight for freedom and fairness as Latinos. Particularly, the two groups could become more vocal together than individually.

Conclusively, the unity of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans as Latinos in Chicago is evident. Although their arrival in Chicago was at different times, they have become the majority of the Latinos in the city. The Mexicans and Puerto Ricans have contributed significantly to the city’s Latinos cultural practices, such as the annual festivals held to celebrate their cultures. Remarkably, they have made Chicago famous for its Latino cultural observations. Women are a unifying factor for Mexicans and Puerto Ricans as they played active roles in establishing their communities and settlements. Additionally, the two groups are also united by their dedication to fighting for their freedom as minorities in the US. Although factors such as the citizenship rights and freedom awarded to Puerto Ricans and denied to Mexicans bring inequality between them, they still unite to fight against discrimination from the non-Hispanics. Therefore, the unity of the Mexican and Puerto Rican Latinos is noticeable as they have interacted for a long time and lived together.

Works Cited

Acosta-Córdova, José Miguel. “The Latino neighborhoods report: issues and prospects for Chicago”. Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, 2017. Web.

Francis-Fallon, Benjamin. “Latina/o Politics.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. 2020. Web.

Rodolfo, O., et al. Latino Voices: Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Perspectives on American Politics. Routledge, 2019. Web.

Valle, Ariana J. “Race and the empire-state: Puerto Ricans’ unequal US citizenship.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 5, no. 1, 2019, pp. 26-40. Web.

Vazquez-Hernandez, V. Puerto Ricans in Greater Miami. The Journal of History, Miami Museum, vol. 129, no. 79, 2019. Web.

Wallace, Sophia Jordán, and Chris Zepeda-Millán. “Do Latinos still support immigrant rights activism? Examining Latino attitudes a decade after the 2006 protest wave.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 46, no. 4, 2020, pp. 770-790. Web.

Zambrana, Ivis Garcia, and Maura I. Toro-Morn. “Mexican And Puerto Rican Women in Chicago.” Global Women’s Work. Routledge, 2019. Web.