Recognising the Latino immigrant’s space in the American neighbourhood and creating a community for peaceful coexistence
Americans in suburban communities have perceived local Hispanic immigrants in search for a better life as the cultural other, widening the ‘space’ for mutual learning and the opportunity for building a stronger, peace-enhanced community. But what is fueling the auto- and hetero-stereotypes of the immigrants and Americans? Using the participant observer approach and a survey, this study compares first impressions Latino immigrants and Caucasians in a US suburban community have about each other and investigates their comfort levels of living together. It examines communicative adaptability, language acquisition, and cultural knowledge as constructs for negotiating community coercion and diversity in the semi-urban locale. Analysis of data from separate questionnaires administered to Latino and Caucasian American respondents show a correlation between the American value of equal to opportunity and Caucasian Americans’ view of Latino immigrants. Data also reveal that both groups are comfortable living together, but auto-and hetero-stereotypes persist among both groups. The study further offers steps for strengthening intercultural understanding between both groups.
Key words: Caucasian American, Latino, comfort level, interaction, social cohesiveness, suburban, stereotypes.