Distinguishing cultures from one another has become increasingly difficult as various societies continue to intertwine and share their aspects of popular life. Constant exposure to US and other world cultures has changed the cultures of Latin American countries somewhat, but much of society remains unchanged. Moving to the United States from Latin America alters life a great deal, and keeping touch with one’s original culture may sometimes seem unimportant or simply impossible, but those who remain Latino instead of becoming “Americanized” are those who care the most for and have the strongest tie to the culture.
Because the United States has long been involved in Latin-American affairs, “American” and “Latin American” culture may not be two completely separate entities. Through foreign policy, economics, politics, and trade—to name a few—US influence has been woven into the cultures of many countries. And the US doesn’t only impact the really serious aspects of life. As the world’s largest exporter of music, movies, and television programming, the United States constantly bombards other countries with its media, most of which is in English.
But interaction between the US and Latin America has by no means wiped out Latin American culture. Using sports as a cultural indicator, Latin America has maintained its identity as a fútbol dominated continent, rather than showing a preference for football. Interestingly enough, “America’s” favorite pastime—baseball—is continually gaining popularity across the American continent, clearly thriving in the United States but also in Latin American countries, where many of the players are from. Other cultural differences include: the common practice among middle- and upper-class Latin American families of having an “empleado/empleada”; the inacceptability of Latin American teenagers having jobs; the way Latin Americans dress nicely for even the simplest of occasions, even though it is acceptable in the US to walk around in casual dress. Keeping family close with several generations living in the same household is a tradition that continues to be maintained in Latin America, as does respect for elders; these are simply givens to Latin American children, much like wearing a uniform to school every day.
Yet there still exists blurry line between the state of being, or not being, a Latino. Saying that a person must speak Spanish (or Portuguese) to retain his or her status as a Latino, for example, may be a bit harsh, but it contains an undeniable grain of truth. The common language somewhat levels the playing field by allowing social interaction between different groups of Hispanics; this fact remains true whether the setting is the United States or a Latin American country. Language also serves as a tie to the motherland—one’s own motherland, or that of his or her parents—that can’t easily be taken...