An Emerging Reactive Ethnicity Among Latinxs in Tennessee
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Keywords:Integration, Identity, Latinx, U.S. South
The burgeoning Latinx communities in the U.S. South provide rich case studies for examining the identity formation and group consciousness of children of Latin American immigrants. This paper explores the identities and sense of belonging of 1.5- and second-generation Latinxs who have come of age in Tennessee, a Southern state that has experienced a surge in immigration from Latin America in recent decades. In-depth interviews with Latinxs who have grown up in Tennessee reveal how these individuals contemplate their identities in relation to questions of belonging to (and within) U.S. society. A shift toward developing a reactive ethnicity is evident as Latinxs convey how perceived interpersonal discrimination coupled with recent national and local anti-immigrant policies drive ethnic group solidarity. These factors influence individual life choices and encourage participation in social and political activism. Such reactions will have long-term ramifications for local Southern societies.
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