In Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the influential Hispanics who came to the United States to build a future with their work, effort, dedication, and respect for the laws. By doing so, they have contributed to the development and economy of this country.
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
DORAL, FL – As every year since 1988, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 as a way of recognizing the achievements, and contributions of the Hispanic community in the development of the nation.
Today, Hispanics in the United States are increasingly stronger, and having an integral role in shaping the American experience. They are leaders in the government (41 Latinos make up the United States Congress) and in areas such as laws, business, science, sports and art, among others. They are even receiving awards and high honors for his meritorious actions in the Army, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
This strong influence of the Hispanic community, nevertheless, is closely linked to its rapid population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic people are the most significant minority in the American nation.
The number of Hispanic inhabitants in the United States is projected to double in the next 30 to 40 years. Today, there are about 58 million, and it is expected that this number gets to 106 million in the year 2050.
This reality regarding the population growth of the last decades and the future projections is being key in the great influence that the economic and socioeconomic behavior of Hispanics is holding in the overall trends of the country, as well as in important decisions. An example of this is the increasing number of eligible Hispanic voters that for the 2020 Presidental Elections will be of 32 million.
Given this outlook and on the occasion of Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to know what is the Hispanics’ level of influence in the United States nowadays taking into account that their prominence in the different spheres of society is rapidly increasing, although they still need to work in reaching other population’s influence.
Hispanic influence in American pop culture
Because the Hispanic community roughly represents 18 percent of the total population, the Latin “idiosyncrasy” is increasingly being felt across the United States.
In this matter, it is essential to note that although the United States is an exporter of culture, it also absorbs other cultural traditions with relative ease. Today, certain Latin customs have been taken by Americans, such as breaking a piñata in children’s birthdays and celebrating Cinco de Mayo, a traditionally Mexican date that today unites Hispanics and non-Hispanics in a “national celebration” among cities like Miami, Los Angeles or New York.
But the Hispanic influence is notorious as well in the gastronomic market. Mexican food, for instance, is one of American’s favorites across the country. In fact, currently, more tacos are sold than hot dogs.
Another curiosity is that more sauce is sold than Ketchup, and dulce de leche ice cream (a flavor that several Latin American countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico have in different presentations) is the fourth best-selling in the country.
On the other hand, the Unanue family, of Spanish and Puerto Rican origin, and owner of Goya Foods (a brand that Miamenses know very well), is among the richest Hispanic ones in the United States, while two of the 12 best-selling beers in the country are from Mexican brands.
But apart from Latin cuisine and traditions, the Hispanic influence is also visible in other sectors such as sports, as many Hispanic athletes and sports entrepreneurs have contributed to the transformation of professional sports, such as baseball, boxing, and golf, to name a few.
As for baseball, Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, Chicano Keith Hernández, Dominican Sammy Sosa and former player Alex Rodríguez, among others, have opened the industry to the dozens of Latin players that stand out today in Major Leagues.
Executives and television personalities have also had a great influence in the country. This is the case of sports broadcaster, Andrés Cantor, and Heineken’s vice president, Esther Garcia, who was responsible for the beer’s sponsorship in the Champions League.
Hispanic music influence
Among the most important Hispanic cultural influence is the world of entertainment. Salsa, merengue, Latin rap, Latin songs and today, Reggaeton, consolidate a stable market not only for the Spanish natives but for the Americans as well.
Brand names such as J Balvin, Maluma, Camila Cabello and Ozuna are widely known in the national music scene. They not only sell albums massively but for the first time are being interviewed in American TV shows like ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’, where Nicky Jam, Jennifer Lopez and Bad Bunny, among others, have been invited.
But in addition to appearing on American television shows and doing live musical performances in American awards, such as the MTV Video Music Awards or the Grammys, they are also getting the attention of American artists that, due to their popularity, have invited them to sing a duet.
This happened to Madonna, who released a song with Colombian urban singer Maluma, Beyoncé who joined J Balvin in a new version of the hit song ‘Mi Gente’, Justin Bieber who surprised the world by singing Despacito alongside Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi, and Katy Perry who made a duet with Daddy Yankee in ‘Con Calma’.
From minority to influential in the Congress
From all the sectors in which the Hispanics have made an impact, perhaps one of the most important ones is political. The Hispanic representation was strongly felt last year when 41 Latinos were elected to the United States Congress, marking a new historical record. Thanks to this important achievement, today, the Latino community has several political references that are having a great influence on society.
This power of influence is also noticeable in voters. According to Pew Research Center, upcoming 2020’s elections will be the first in which Hispanics represent the largest minority group of the electorate with a little more than 13% of eligible voters.
This shows that although the Latino population that votes has long been considered a “sleeping giant” in American politics, it is not so now. Today, Hispanic voters are an increasingly important and influential demographic group for political candidates.
This tendency has led most candidates to be present in the Hispanic communities, where oftentimes they say a few words in Spanish to win the Latino vote, and even take a Cuban “cortadito” during election campaigns while responding questions to voters or making an announcement in some Hispanic restaurant.
Since the creation of the United States more than 200 years ago, Hispanics have had a lot to do, in one way or another, with the nation’s greatness, and it is predicted that in the next decades this group will have a greater social, political, cultural and economic influence in the United States.