We’re Creating Rainbow Families
By and large, our parents tended to marry others from their own ethnic groups, but mixed marriages are more common among U.S.-born Latinas. For example, according to the CPOP figures, 12 percent of Mexican American women are married to white non-Hispanic men, and nearly half of second-generation Cuban American women marry white non-Hispanic men.
Cuban-Puerto Rican legal recruiter Nilda Del Valle is a perfect example: The New Yorker will marry a Jewish man in May after having earlier divorced a fellow Cuban American she said expected her to do 100 percent of the housework. While she’s quick to say she knows that not all Latino men expect their wives to be virtual slaves, she did find her new fiancé far more willing to help out with chores. Of course, they’ve hit a few bumps: He wanted to pass on the Jewish faith to any children they might have in the future. And when Nilda tried to teach him to dance merengue, she cried. But they’ve found a way to compromise: Since Nilda isn’t particularly religious, she doesn’t mind her fiancé raising the kids Jewish. He’s fine with the fact that she’ll primarily speak to them in Spanish at home. And the dancing? They’ll live with it as an irreconcilable difference.
With marriages like Nilda’s growing ever more common, the number of multiethnic children is naturally booming, too. Already, about 10 percent of children born to Mexican American women have a non-Latino father, according to the CPOP report, and for Latinas as a whole, that figure is surprisingly almost 25 percent. Still, that doesn’t necessarily spell a decline in Latino identity or a disruption in traditions being passed on. Instead, we’re more visible than ever among Generation Y: dual-language schools are on the rise, and bilingual Dora the Explorer is one of the most popular children’s television shows. “Forty years ago we were ashamed to speak Spanish, but now there’s a very real browning of America,” Dr. Rios says. “We’re actually seeing a resurgence of latinismo, of keeping our language.”