Before the beginning of the next century, the Hispanic, African-American, and other “minority” populations in the United States are expected to increase at a faster rate than the white population. In fact, the Census Bureau projects that Latinos will become the largest minority and, together with African Americans, will constitute one-fourth (25.5 percent) of the U.S. labor force by the year 2010. However, despite some gains, increases in population have not been proportionate to increases in voting and buying power—or to comparable increases in economic success or socioeconomic stability—for a significant proportion of either Latinos or African Americans. Moreover, inaccurate perceptions have influenced public understanding of both groups. For example. despite the existence of factual information to the contrary, major opinion polls indicate that Americans perceive Latinos to be lazy, unpatriotic, and mostly recent immigrants. Similarly, while recent research has documented factors that have contributed to the poor socioeconomic status of many African Americans, newspapers and other media continue to depict African Americans as unemployed, prone to violence, and/or on welfare. The public image of Latino and African-American young males, in particular, is especially poor and has been adversely affected by the increases in both teenage pregnancy and female-headed households, high unemployment rates, and other social and economic problems affecting both groups.


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