Current Marginalization of the Latinx Community

By Sara Cadona

Still today we face the problems of marginalization of oppressing certain races based on their culture, language and color. The Latinx community is every person that identify themselves with being Latin (Blay, 2016). This term of Latinx is gender neutral and makes it easier when talking about a whole community (Blay, 2016). The Latinx community is still facing the problem of oppression and their equality in the United States. The Latinx community has had a hard past of being marginalized but still today people are racist against them and still see them as their past. Stereotypical attributes conveyed in society and unrepresentative laws and policies affect the Latinx in a negative way causing them to never achieve separation from their abusive past. We will be looking at how the Latinx community is still discriminated in immigration and the laws and policies that are still in place today; the discrimination they still face within the school system; and overall racism and stereotyping they have to face day to day.

Immigration is a major concern and the amount of people that would like to come into this country is ever-growing. The United States has people from all over the world trying to get visas to come to the United States. Recognizing this increasing desire of people to migrate to America the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1965 in order regulate the number of immigrants coming into the country (Johnson, 1998). This put a cap on the number of immigrants that were allowed to come into the United States from developing countries like Mexico, Philippines and India (Johnson, 1998). For other countries and nations there was no cap on how many immigrants could come to the United States (Johnson, 1998). The Immigration Act also stated that depending on where a person’s country of origin is this determined how their immigration visa was processed (Johnson, 1998). In the article written by Kevin Johnson (1998), talking about immigration laws there have been facts that showed unfairness toward Mexicans trying to enter, “For example, as of March 1998, fourth-preference immigrant visas (brothers and sisters of adult citizens) were being granted to Philippine nationals who applied in April 1978, compared to October 1987 for virtually all other nations. For third-preference immigrant visas (married sons and daughters of citizens), the applications of Mexican citizens filed in May 1989 were being processed in March 1998, compared to September 1994 for applicants from almost every other nation” (Johnson, 1998).  This is a great example of discrimination and how Americans are discriminating different marginalized groups. Immigrants that are trying to come from Mexico are having a harder time getting their visas approved than other marginalized groups like Indians or Filipinos.

When Clinton was president he enforced many immigration laws that took away not only immigrants natural rights but their freedom. In Howard Zinn’s book (2003), he talks about American citizens views and how they felt about these immigrants that came from Mexico.  Zinn states, “… were blamed for taking jobs from citizens of the United States, for receiving government benefits, for causing higher taxes on American citizens” (Zinn, 2003, 648). This is a good example that Zinn talks about how Americans are being racist and needing someone to blame for their problems. America started to see a developing problem with immigrants over ruling citizens in the workplace so political parties decided to take action to stop it. Zinn also talked about what actions Clinton and political parties took to stop the conquering and mass growth of immigrants. Zinn talks about how they created a policy where if you were an immigrant your welfare benefits would be taken away and this was applied to all immigrants, did not matter if you were in the country legally or illegally your benefits would still be taken away. This law applied to all immigrants and the only way to avoid this was to become a citizen. Zinn mentions that the test for citizenship was nearly “impossible”(648) so this would make it very hard for immigrants to escape this policy. These citizen tests were basically designed for them to fail because they did not want them to have easy access into our country (Zinn, 2003). This test was in English which already cancelled out a good proportion of the immigrants that wanted to come into the United States (Zinn, 2003). This also did not help the elders that wanted to come into the country because if they wanted to they would have been forced to learn English if they only knew how to speak Spanish (Zinn, 2003). The elders did not see a point in learning to speak English because they were too old to go back to school (Zinn, 2003).

The Latinx community has faced major discrimination and racial profiling, and one place it starts and is a huge problem is within their education/schooling system. The problem originates from the majority of the community all growing up in a rough neighborhood and having them all go to the same school. This also is an effect to teachers that are not motivated for them to learn and do not care about each individual and their learning state of mind. These are usually the schools that do not have many resources and are surrounded by gangs. The learning rates and success rates have direct effect on the community that it surrounds and the safeness in the neighborhood. Within schools the diversity of teachers is directly related to the rate of success. Teachers at a lower academic standing school will usually have less motivation and care for their students. At these schools with high academic success the overall diversity of the students is not as diverse as a school that is not as successful. Even though Latinx communities are the second largest population group among school behind whites, most of the Latinx communities were raised so that Spanish was their first language. “From 1990 to 2013, the number of American public school students has grown from 41.2 to 49.9 million.3 Over a similar time period, the racial composition of the schools changed dramatically, falling from 69% white to 50% white. The share of Latino students during this time soared from 11% to 25%” (Orfield, Ee, Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, 2016). This shows that not only have public schools across America have grown in size but their diversity has increased. In a recent study done to look at the comparison of races and the percentage of all students to go and get a four year college degree these were the results, “ As of 2014, among Hispanics ages 25 to 29, just 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, among the same age group, about 41% of whites have a bachelor’s degree or higher (as do 22% of blacks and 63% of Asians)” (Krogstad, 2016). These are the numbers and statistics today, even though the number of hispanics getting an education is increasing the numbers are still not comparable to other races.

Along with the lack of qualified educators accessible for members of the Latinx community, the United States is unable to supply translator causing the children to become the middleman in conversations. This has had major effects on these children being a translator and communicator. This has forced children to grow up too early and deal with adult problems too early. Most schools have a language barrier and automatically assume that everyone speaks English so they do not have the option of having handouts or a translator in class. This is a disadvantage for students that are not every good at speaking or reading English and puts them behind in school. This also lead to discrimination in schools against the ones who spoke Spanish. In Journallistresources.org written by Cynthia Thaler she state the fact, “Only students who translated for their limited-English- speaking parents were more likely to perceive discrimination at school” (Thaler, 2013). This goes to show that once students showed their diversity and difference in language people were quick to assume and lead to conclusions and discriminate right away. This leads to students not being open to who they really are and hiding their culture because they want to fit in with the rest of the students (Thaler, 2013). Being a minority has taken a toll on this Latinx community because they have to hide who they are and their cultural background.

Racism has always been a problem within our country of the United States and that will never go away. Racism has always depicted and targeted minorities mostly coming from races of the majority. Wilkinson (2014) writes a good argument about Latinx people and how they feel when they are among other racial groups. She talks about an experiment that happened with Latinx people in different communities, “ Latinos sense that they are in a position of power such as by residing in a predominantly white environment (more than likely a high socioeconomic setting), they are more likely to identify with whites. When Latinos perceive that they have limited clout (i.e., being surrounded by African Americans and thus more than likely residing in a low socioeconomic environment), they are more prone to believe that blacks are encroaching on their status and regard blacks adversely” (Wilkinson, 2014). This shows how influential other ethnic groups can be on others in a positive or negative way. Another effect can be the communities economic status and the value of the houses because that can distinguish the type of people living there (Perez, 2004). Factors like money, education and background can affect each other and one thing can lead to the next so if the neighborhood does not have a high net worth then that could lead to poor people living there (Perez, 2004). There is a good chance that this community is very diverse and full of minorities and this leading to these minorities kids going to all of the same school (Perez, 2004). In a poor neighborhood this leads to poor funding for the school which means no extra curriculars, limited school materials like textbooks, and low pay for teachers so the quality of getting good teachers is low. A good teacher can have a huge effect on a student’s education because if they are good teacher then they can motivate them, tell them that success is possible for them as a minority and good education because they know the material these kids need to learn to test good.

Racist comments and words that the Latinx community is often generalized with is the term “aliens”. This is a term that is commonly affiliated with them and can make them feel isolated and that they do not belong (Feagin, 2002). This term has been given to Latinx immigrants by white supremacy and American white citizens (Feagin, 2002). This term is given because the whites think and see any immigrants as foreign and they believe that they do not belong here (Feagin, 2002). Racism has been existent in the United States since colonists arrived in the United States (Feagin, 2002). This will forever be a problem within our societies and with all races (Feagin, 2002). Majorities will always subject out minorities and oppress these groups because there is not as many. In Feagin’s article (2002)  he states, “ Yet it is not just ordinary Americans, but powerful whites as well, who create the negative image of ‘aliens’ invading the country”. This is a powerful statement because he is stating the fact that the ones that have the power and influence on citizens of the United States. These high class powerful whites do not like these immigrants coming into their country so they have the power to give them a bad name and representation associated with their classification as an immigrant to the United States (Feagin, 2002).

In today’s society we are still struggling with racism and discrimination. This is a struggle that all the Latinx community is coping with and all ages are living with some kind of marginalization. Latinx immigrants are still encountering problems with coming into the country because of the policies that are still in place today. Latinx children are facing problems in school because they just want to fit in with the rest of the kids and do not want to speak their language or show their pride in their culture. White supremacy sees color and automatically categorizes them as legal or illegal aliens because of their culture and background. This stereotyping has kept racism existing today and since racism has been in our past it will always exist in the United States.

Works Cited

Benner, A.D.; Graham, S. “Latino Adolescents’ Experiences of Discrimination Across the First Two Years of High School: Correlates and Influences on Educational Outcomes,” Child Development. March-April 2011; 82(2):508-19. doi: 1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01524.x.

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/education/latino-adolescents-experiences-discrimination-high-school

Blay, Z. (2016, July 6). Why Pepole Are Using The Term ‘Latinx” Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-people-are-using-the-term-latinx_us_57753328e4b0cc0fa136a159

Feagin, J. R. (2002, Summer). White Supremacy and Mexican Americans. Retrieved from http://www.racism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=315:latinos03a&catid=65:hispaniclatino-americans&Itemid=236

Johnson, K. R. (1998, Fall). The History of Racial Exclusion in the US Immigration Laws. Retrieved from http://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/immigr09.htm

Krogstad, J. M. (2016, July 28). 5 facts about Latinos and education. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/28/5-facts-about-latinos-and-education/

Orfield, G., Ee, J., Frankenberg, E., & Siegel-Hawley, G. (n.d.). BROWN AT 62: SCHOOL SEGREGATION BY RACE, POVERTY AND STATE. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED565900.pdf

Pérez, S. (2004). Shaping New Possibilities for Latino Children and the Nation’s Future. The Future of Children, 14(2), 122-126. doi:10.2307/1602798

Wilkinson, B. (2014). Perceptions of Commonality and Latino–Black, Latino–White Relations in a Multiethnic United States. Political Research Quarterly, 67(4), 905-916. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24371961

Zinn, H. (2003). A people’s history of the United States. New York, NY: New Press.

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