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Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Time Has Come for an English Language Latino Network

Marketers, media and politicians take note: demographics indicate that more than half of Hispanics born in the U.S. are now English dominant—and the statistic is growing

Stealing Tuesday night’s show at the Democratic National Convention along with First Lady Michelle Obama was Julián Castro – the first Latino ever to deliver a convention keynote address. Yet while the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio represents perhaps the most coveted bloc of swing voters in this presidential election, there’s one thing about the Stanford- and Harvard-educated Castro that might seem counterintuitive to non-Latinos: He doesn’t speak Spanish. He knows enough of it to recall his Mexican-born grandmother, as he did in his speech, telling him, “Que Dios los bendiga.” (May God bless you.) But he admits that your average white kid studying Spanish in high school probably speaks the language as well as he does.
That’s not exactly a plus for the Democrats, especially when the Republicans’ Latino standard bearer, Senator Marco Rubio, speaks fluent Spanish. Still, Castro is hardly an anomaly. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study found almost two-thirds of Latinos (or Hispanics) living in the U.S. are either bilingual or English-dominant. A majority (51%) of Latinos born in the U.S. are now English-dominant. That doesn’t mean all those Spanish-language ads Craig Romney is narrating for his dad’s presidential campaign are a waste of time. But it does suggest that the U.S.’s largest and fastest-growing minority group, despite its still strong connection to its Latin American roots, has become much more linguistically and culturally assimilated, a la Julián Castro, than mainstream America had anticipated. “For Hispanics,” notes Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision, the U.S.’s largest Spanish-language television network, “birth rates are now higher than immigration rates.”
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