The Latino Population has grown dramatically in Rhode Island in the last two decades. This has been particularly the case in Central Falls and Providence where Latinos make up 48% and 30% of the population, respectively. This influx has created a shift in the racial/ethnic make up of these cities and in the cultural background of large sectors of the residents.
The arrival of large numbers of persons who do not speak English and who are not familiar with the structure and practice of public services would, under any circumstance, present a challenge. But the fact that they are recent newcomers and that they are mostly young and poor has made this challenge even more complex. The thrust of systems is towards stability and most resist and delay changes called for by demographic shifts, because it most often means transforming organizational cultures and practices and smoothing the way for institutions to begin to reflect the cultures and needs of the new populations. Quite often, in response to the resistance to integrate them, newcomers develop their own mechanisms of support and organize their own services. These never achieve the breadth of the established system, but they do provide the first order of formal support in these communities.
In Rhode Island, both the resistance to integrate the needs of Latinos to the institutional fabric of the state and the continued struggle of Latinos to organize social support, and develop political power in order to address their own needs is already a part of the history of the state.
This study seeks to assess the situation of Latinos in Rhode Island: it is a scan of issues that throws a wide net and gathers information on broad range of areas. The guiding question was “What is known about Latinos in regards to...” areas such as the make-up of the community, the community’s major national subgroups, as well as more focused issues such as education, employment, housing, health and human services. In doing so, we have drawn on information from the Census, national and local studies and from state administrative sources.
Uriarte, Miren; Carrión, María Estela; Gorlier, Juan Carlos; Jones, Charles; Carithers, Natalie; and García, Juan Francisco, "Rhode Island Latinos: A Scan of Issues Affecting the Latino Population of Rhode Island" (2002). Gastón Institute Publications. 34.