Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Racism and Prejudice among Latinos! – Qué!

Racism and Prejudice among Latinos! – Qué!

Growing-up  in NYC  you tend  to meet people from the around the world. As a child raised in Hell’s Kitchen I was exposed to various cultures but, the circles that I was exposed to more often were mainly Latino and Black children. Throughout my childhood I would hear Latinos poking fun of other Latinos. It was innocent fun but, everyone usually got along or so I thought. As I got older I noticed that some Latinos took stereotypes to heart and framed their minds to classify people according to that perspective.  I am going to divide  my prejudices, stereotypes and Racisms experiences  from a Latino perspective so you can see my point of view.

Stereotypes:  These are sometimes are funny remarks about a culture, group or race.  What I have heard: Mexicans are always drunk, or having babies. Puerto Ricans are loud, beat their wives and live off of welfare. Argentinians are stuck-up and think that they are all European only. Salvadorians are hard-working but are violent - of course since I am Salvadorian  (I don’t know what other Latinos are saying for real!- trust me its’  probably bad).  Dominican women are good but the men are control freaks that kill their wives if they ever leave them, and are loud.  Columbians think that they are the best in everything and are just broke people who spend all their money on looks or drugs. You get the point! No one is spared from stereotypes.  The problem is if you truly believe in them then you will never get to know other Latin American cultures and how beautiful they are. Also, the people that are from NYC are not always a good representation of the cultural norms and values people have in their native country. My experience is that one fellow Central American friend who  thought I was “tough” because I was from El Salvador, um no I don’t carry machete with me. However, I do have one at my farm house in El Salvador- LOL!

Prejudice:  This when Latinos from on group want to divide themselves from others. Latinos with papeles ( legal) vs Latinos without papeles ( undocumented). Nothings get my blood boiling is when I hear other Latinos bashing a fellow Latino for not being legal.  Let’s  start geographically :

North and Central America: Mexicans take all the heat for undocumented people. In the news when there is a law affecting immigrants they run to the Mexican community and take videos of Mexicans protesting and talking about how this law will affect their lives. Hellloooo there are other people in America that are undocumented – such as other Latinos from all over Latin America- including Brazil! Lots not forget Europeans, Indians, Asians, and Africans! But no, according to the media it only Mexicans- I am sick of it!

Some Mexican and Central American Latinos get upset at other Latinos for coming here illegally accusing them of abusing the system - " I  came here legally why can't everyone else".  Undocumented people may seem that they are taking advantage of the system but, they are not. We all know  many employers of undocumented people pay them very low rates (below minimum wage), if they get fired they can't collect unemployment, welfare or social security. They do have to pay taxes so -who is taking advantage of who?  Medical use, they do not have medical insurance  and it's  well documented that illegal immigrants under use hospital care because they are afraid of being caught. Everyone is trying to do the best they can based their own reality. 

Caribbean:  The same issues here as well-  some Puerto Ricans look down upon  Dominicans for being illegal. Puerto Rico is a territory of the US so they are automatically US citizens.  Let’s not kid ourselves- if Puerto Rico was not a territory of the US then some Puerto Ricans will be here illegally as well . Some Dominicans   discriminate against Haitians - it’s was in the news recently that the Dominican government wants to ban Haitian children to attend Dominican schools. Some Cuban's try to assimilate to the American culture as best as they can -so much so that some choose to not speak Spanish their children so they won’t have a Spanish accent! Ay Dios Mío!  I think that is fine but, it important to teach your children your roots.  There are of course many Caribbean people who advocate for immigrant rights no matter where they are from and helped immigrants out in generous ways. I am speaking from experience!   I've had the privilege enjoy  the Caribbean culture growing up in NYC and I  love  its music, beaches, people and food! 

South America:  I am not that familiar discrimination among these countries  but, given the pattern I seen it probably happens.

Racism: It’s a color thing! Yes we too have this issue and its bothers me as well. If a fair skinned woman wants to marry a dark skinned man it’s an issue or at the very least they will say comments about the guy’s color.  
In Central America when describing someone you tend to hear“ he was so good looking he was white, blues eyes, blond haired” You will hardly ever  hear: "he was so good looking he was dark, brown eyed and had brown haired” I am even laughing at the thought because I have hardly ever heard someone say that – it’s a shame! But guess what -  I do – I always  say “ he was so handsome – brown skinned, beautiful brown eyes” – especially to people who always say the opposite. 
In El Salvador it's really bad:  you used to ( don’t know if still happens) have to put your picture on your resume. If you looked dark- well you might not get the job! El Salvador was so racist with Blacks that until recently Blacks could not  immigrate into the El Salvador. There was a banned on Black immigrants in 1930 and it was removed in 1980. Crazy!  It’s a  really ugly way of thinking and I have to say when I was pregnant the people that were most polite and helpful was the Black community and they did not care that I looked “white” or another other ethnicity! Don't get me wrong, there many great Salvadorians that are not racist and will welcome you with open arms no matter what!

Side Note: its goes far  beyond color if you look “ indio” meaning native American some Latino people will discriminate you as well.

Once-  I was in a store shopping, the store had a Latina saleslady she looked at me like with  what do you want face- so I said “ do you have  blah blah blah ” and she said “look over there”. Then a blond haired, blue eyes woman  came in the store- and  it’s as if the Queen of England  herself walked in - this sales lady was like “Hiii how can I help you” – her voice went up I don’t know how many octaves and all her teeth were on display. O-M-G- What a shame – that was not my only experience and it won’t be my last.  

The reason for writing all these things is that Latinos already have other groups discriminating, stereotyping and hating on our culture that we don’t need more hate from each other. It would be so wonderful for Latinos to work together more often to become prosperous not only in America but, with among Latino countries.

How I  view Latinos               vs.     How the media portrays Latinos


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Breastfeeding a Gateway into Cultural Norms!

  The TIME magazine cover where the mom is breastfeeding her soon to be  4 yrs old son.  I wanted to talk about breastfeeding in general and then I will express my opinion. Every culture has their view points on breastfeeding, how and when a woman should breastfeed. In the Latino culture breastfeeding practices varies from country to country but, generally a woman who breast feeds in public is not frowned upon. In El Salvador for instance it is  normal to see women breastfeeding on the bus, in the market, church, park etc. In fact, breastfeeding is the norm, its odd to for a woman not breastfeed.  However, i find that women with higher socioeconomic status tend to breastfeed less in public. I have a hunch that developing  countries breastfeed more than developed countries. Why do I think that, breastfeeding is inexpensive, accessible - while formula is expensive and depending on where you live not as accessible . As a research at heart I went ahead and looked at data for breastfeeding trends to verify my hunches.Unicef has a nice dataset for various countries around the world.  The data shows that 76% of Salvadorian women exclusive breastfeed until the baby is 9 months.  There was no data for the US or the UK. However i did see developing countries have a higher trends of breastfeeding than the developed countries listed. There are many organizations out there such as La Leche League who work hard to increase breastfeeding among women in the US due to these trends. 

         In my family, breastfeeding is encouraged but, i had to do it behind closed doors because men are not allowed to see women breastfeed. I am happy about that because i wont want them to see me either. One thing I was surprised about was my mom and my mother-in law wanted me to give the baby formula so he can be strong. I was caught by surprise  by this, as I thought they would be my cheerleaders encouraging me to keep up the good job. My mom bless her heart tried every chance she would get to tell me give my baby formula. My doctor on the other hand wanted to make sure i was exclusively breastfeeding. Why did this happen? Why were two women from different developing countries telling me the same thing. I think that marketing companies back in the day did a good job in convincing women that formula is better than breast milk - think about there is no fda or fcc  in developing countries ( not that they always have our health at heart- that is another story) . For the record my mother and my mother-law gave  and still give me tremendous amounts of support in other areas-I am indefinitely indebted to them.   I had a great support system  my for breastfeeding from my cousins, friends and my awesome husband! Currently in the Uk infant formula commercial are  banned. In Iran you can only get formula by prescription only. 

 With all that being said,  I am not against formula. I had to use it for my baby for medical reasons and if you want to give your baby formula that is your prerogative. Everyone chooses what is right for them and their family! Here what i think of that magazine cover:i am happy to see that this woman had the patience and was brave enough to breastfeed past 1 yrs old.  Notice I did not say healthy. In don't think  she is significantly improving this child health or mental mental health by breastfeeding for this long.  Skin to skin contact is important for infants  Mother -child bonding - I am sure that you can have a healthy bond with child that you don't need  to breastfeed a  4 yrs old. There are plenty of other methods to bond with your child. Nutrition-i dont know how much nutrition the 4 yr old is getting with  the breast milk --he needs to eat more than breast milk to stay healthy. I dont know enough about immunology to say if his immune system is really benefitting from breast milk.  Besides she could pump ( if she can )and give him the milk in a sippy cup. What i really think happened is TIME magazine needs money so they needed something that will bring attention to their magazine. What I think is hypocritical is that if you care so  much about your son why expose him to the media and make a spectacle out of it.  So I question her true intentions to expose her sons identity.  The mom on the cover said she was breastfeed until she was 6! So her cultural norms told her its ok to breast feed for a long time, so I don't blame her to do the same with her son but, she knows it's odd and  is aware of the positive negative attention her family will receive.