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census 2000
 

Census 2000

 



Lost in America
                                                                                
              Elsa Flores fled El Salvador's civil war in 1980, moved to Los Angeles
           and cleaned offices until she had saved enough money to open a small
           clothing store. But her American dream fell apart in 1992 when racial
05        tensions, videotape and a controversial court verdict erupted into the
           Rodney King riots*. Flores huddled with her four children in a back
           bedroom. They could hear gunfire and shouting outside. Watching the
           news on TV, they saw flames dance from the window of her clothing
           store. Flores assumed the rioters who destroyed her business were
10        black. But then she caught a glimpse of them on camera. They were like
           her: Latinos. Now she says: "They are not bad people, but they become
           frustrated here."
           The ambiguous role that Latinos played in those events underscores, a
           muchphenomenon: the vast new wave of lowimmigrants
15        has yet to find its place in the United States. Like Flores, who scrimped
           and borrowed and rebuilt, most Latino immigrants bring enough ambition
              with them to compensate for a lack of education. About two thirds
           achieve at least a workingincome. But many others, though
           equally determined, fail. nd more significantly, their children often fail.
20        Latinos are in danger of becoming locked into the same distinctly
           American form of poverty that has been perpetuated    through
           generations of innerblacks. In fact. if current trends persist, in
           another decade, Latinos will replace blacks as, the United States'
           biggest underclass. More than 30 percent of Latinos who arrived in the
25        1980s live below the poverty line.
               For many immigrants, the journey north is an attempt to overcome
           centuriesbarriers of race and class. What they find is new barriers of
           class and race. The immigrants who have the strongest memories of
           home do best in the States; however bad, it is still an improvement.
30        But for their children, who often have no rnemory of home, America
           seems like a raw deal. They watch their parents and see only toil and
           poverty. They watch American TV and see only affluence. Public
           systems on the brink of collapse fail to give them the tools they need. "I
           can tell by looking in their eyes how long they've been here." says the
35        Rev. Virgil Elizondo, of San Antonio, Texas. "They come sparkling with
           hope, and the first generation finds that hope     rewarded. Their children's
           eyes no longer sparkle. They have learned only to want jobs and        
           money they can't have."
             Take the case of Mexican newcomers. Last year the National Research
40        Council, America's most distinguished society of scholars, found that
           Mexican immigrants start out with the lowest wages of any nationality –
           and that the wage gap grows the longer they live in the United States.
              The statistics for their children are even more troubling. Nationally,
           teenage births are declining. But not so for girls of Mexican descent,
45        for whom the rate has risen by a third during the 1990s. Last year nearly
           11 percent of Latino teenage girls gave birth double the rate for whites,
           and for the first time surpassing the rate for blacks. Schoolrates
           are also gloomy. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 44
           percent of foreignLatino youths between the ages of 16 and 24 are
50        dropouts. That number for Americanchildren of immigrants is 17
           percent: for blacks it is 13 percent, for whites, 17 percent. Because
           secondLatinos are the fastestsource of new
           American workers, their lack of basic skills could put a brake on the
           national economy.
55           In the search for solutions to America's growing Latino underclass, the
           simplest proposal has been to reduce the flow of lowimmigrants.
           That may be politically expedient, but it won't work. The truth is that the
           United States needs these people. In a decade, when the bulk of the
           babygeneration* hits retirement age, there will be a tremendous
60        shortage of young workers. More than a third of the Latino population is
           under the age of 18. The vast majority are nativeUS citizens, and
           they are not going anywhere. They are the nation's future. Unless new
           avenues of opportunity open up for Latino immigrants and their children,
           the nation as a whole will suffer. Remedies are still possible. A
65        generation of young people is still in school waiting to be taught, and
           expectations are still alive. But the opportunities are rapidly dis-
           appearing.

(about 730 words)
 
from: Newsweek, 15 June 1998

 
Annotations:
 
* Rodney King riots: reference to the riots that broke out in ethnic neighbourboods, especially black areas, of Los Angeles in 1992, when a court acquitted several white policemen accused of beating up a black driver, Rodney King; the incident had been filmed on videotape.
* babygeneration: the generation born between the late 1940s and the early 1960s, when the birth rate after the war was high.



Assignments

Note: Read all the questions first, then answer them in the given order. Use your own words as far as is appropriate.

1. Comprehension

1.1. Describe Elsa Flores' "American dream" (l. 4). What happened to it and what were her reactions to this experience?  
2. How successful are Latinos in the USA? (Refer to lines 13 25.)                
3. What do statistics reveal about the problems of Latino youths in comparison with their black and white peers?           
 
2. Analysis and discussion
 
2.1. Find a suitable title for the text in question.
2.2. Divide the text into its constituent parts. Explain your decisions.
2.3. Explain the difference in attitude towards life in America between the first and the second generation of Latino immigrants.
Write about 120 to 150 words.
2.4. What is the writer's position in the political debate about a growing Latino underclass?
2.5 Show three different ways in which the writer tries to arouse the reader's interest in his topic.               
2.6. Melting pot or cultural pluralism? Which idea seems the more promising?  
Discuss this issue with reference to the United States. Take your reading knowledge into consideration.
2.7. Would you like to live in the United States? Explain why or why not in not more than 200 words.

 
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