By Rick McClatchy
I work with young Hispanics each week when I teach a class at Baptist University of the Americas (BUA) in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, there are three more people on the CBF Texas staff besides myself, and they are all Hispanic, so what I am writing is not anything new to my BUA students, the CBF Texas staff or any other Hispanic individual. In fact, they are the ones who have taught me.
This article is designed to help the non-Hispanic population in CBF life to better understand the challenges that young Hispanics have to negotiate.
- Immigration — Many young Hispanics have family members, either immediate or extended, or friends who are struggling to deal with legal immigration. This causes feeling of concern and uncertainty about the future of the ones they care about. Some of the young Hispanic adults personally face a special immigration problem. They were brought to the United States as young children by their parents but without legal documentation. They have grown up in the U.S. with no memory of their home country. At the present they are in limbo, being able to stay here by Presidential executive orders but with no permanent legal status. Furthermore, the new incoming administration might reverse this executive order.
- Language — Many young Hispanic adults can only speak English. This of course becomes an especially difficult issue for families when grandparents speak little or no English. Another issue related to language, is when first generation immigrant Hispanic children or teenagers are placed in the role of becoming their family’s translator. This gives them major responsibilities in the adult world at too early an age.
- Disconnection and Isolation — Young immigrant Hispanics can often feel caught between two worlds, that of the Anglo culture at school and work, and their family’s Hispanic culture at home. Young Hispanic Protestants feel this isolation even more deeply. By becoming Protestants, they are abandoning their tradition Hispanic Catholic culture and at the same time not truly fitting into the Anglo Protestant culture.
- Women’s roles — Younger Hispanic women feel the tension of fitting in with the traditional roles of women in Hispanic culture and fitting in with the roles of women in the Anglo culture which are less traditional.
- Human Trafficking — A sizable number to younger Hispanics have been victims of human trafficking for labor or as sex workers. Most often this occurs when young impoverished Hispanics are trying enter this country and are preyed upon by criminal organizations.
- Poverty — Many young Hispanics have had to deal with the poverty issues of substandard housing, inadequate medical care, predatory lending and food insecurity.
- Education — The high school dropout rate for young Hispanics is improving but still family economic pressures sometimes cause this to occur. More young Hispanic are entering college but a significant number never finish, which is often caused by a lack of funds.
- Respect and Leadership in the Church and Community — In Anglo culture, a young adult gains respect and is given leadership by education and work experience either as a volunteer, intern or paid employee. However, in Hispanic culture, a young adult gains respect and leadership by working to make life better for everyone in the church or community. This means that frequently young Hispanics will be respected and given leadership by only one of the cultural groups. It is demanding for a young Hispanic to be respected and given leadership in both cultures.
These individual challenges are not unique to only young Hispanics, but taken collectively they do form a set of challenges that are rather unique for young Hispanics. As a Christian community, we need to be aware of these challenges and create resources to assist young Hispanics in meeting them. CBF Texas and BUA would be glad to provide your church with resources to help you assist younger Hispanics in your church and community.
Rick McClatchy serves as the field coordinator for CBF Texas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.