Moyers: The Rise of Hispanic America
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It's not that the Latino immigrants don't want to establish roots here, but their country of origin is right next door. And there's this very special link that they have and their cultural identity is very strong. I remember when Jorge and I started working in the media a few years ago people used to say, "You should really try to make a crossover to English because there's no future in Spanish language media. Latinos will assimilate and there won't be an audience to watch you."
14 million Hispanics then, 50 million Hispanics now. I think they didn't understand that. And even though Latinos have been assimilating and acculturating, what people don't understand, is assimilation doesn't mean leaving behind your culture and your language, but adopting a new one, embracing a new one.
So I think, you know, Spanish isn't going anywhere. This is a very important part of the identity of the Latino community. That's the one thing that does unite all Latinos is you have some that are more conservative and, you know, more liberal. There's several things that separate, like we said they're not monolithic. But the one thing that does unite the Latino community is the love of the language.
BILL MOYERS: You used over and again the term Latino communities, Latinos, Latinas where most of us have become accustomed to saying Hispanics and the Hispanic community.
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: I know that there's people that give a lot of importance, a lot of credence to a label.
JORGE RAMOS: We don't, right?
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: For me personally you can call me whatever you want. You can all me Chicano or you can call me Mexican-American, Latina, Hispanic as long as my ethnic culture is involved. I'm very proud of being a Latina. My daughters were born here and I was born in the U.S. And my daughters were born in Miami and they feel Hispanic.
JORGE RAMOS But it's interesting because--the study of the Pew Hispanic Center just recently, they did a wonderful study on how do we like to be identified. And first of all people prefer, Latinos prefer to call themselves Mexicans or Cubans or Puerto Ricans, first of all. Then maybe Hispanic or Latino and third American. I know this is going to sound terrible to many. But that's the way it is. They feel much more comfortable saying, “I’m, Soy Mexicano, I'm Mexican or I'm Cuban American." Even though there's so many differences within the Hispanic communities, it’s not monolithic.
BILL MOYERS: You were born in L.A., you came there as a young man, a student. I was intrigued to watch both of you age in the—
JORGE RAMOS: I know.
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Oh my God—
BILL MOYERS: --in the videos.
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: He had brown hair. I still remember his brown hair.
BILL MOYERS: --what does this country, what does this culture look like to a kid coming from Mexico?
JORGE RAMOS: It was a wonderful opportunity because this country gave me the opportunities that my country of origin couldn't give me. I was censored in Mexico when I was 23, 24--
BILL MOYERS: As a reporter?
JORGE RAMOS: --as a reporter. It was the usual thing in Mexico. The government would say what you could say on the air and what you couldn't say on the air. And I decided I didn't want to be that kind of a reporter. So I sold everything and came to the United States. So just imagine that now I can talk to anyone without asking permission for anything, and I had to leave my country because of that.