Observations On Latino Discrimination (You Might Not Like #2)

At Project Enye (ñ), our mission is to use cultural and familial stories to build community among first generation American born Latinos with at least one parent from a Spanish speaking country.

Over the past 18 months, we have conducted more than 70 interviews with truly remarkable Latinos from all walks of life. It has been a privilege to share their stories through the Project’s first season of documentary shorts and weekly podcasts. While the response to our Latino content has been overwhelmingly positive, to leave it at that would be ignoring an ugly truth.

As our online media engagement grew, the haters showed up in droves. A small but vocal chorus of voices began posting messages of hate on our comments and I even received emails directly to my inbox. The comments were vicious and unwarranted.

These posts echoed the divisive and hateful rhetoric that permeates our media today. After reading several hundred of them (yes there were that many) I asked myself “In what scenario is it ok for us as Latinos to allow ourselves to be numbed to this kind of hate?”

The answer “Never.”

To ensure we’re on the same page, I’m putting haters into two categories:

1. Garden variety uneducated, uninformed, intolerant = Trump loving haters
Just the other day, while picking my daughters up from school my husband told with me that a guy angrily screamed “wetback” out of his car window at a child’s abuelita who was waiting in her car to pick up her grandchild from the same school! He mentioned how scared she looked and how hard it was to witness this moment that came and went as fast as he drove his car past her. We know this guy, and you probably know many others like him.

2. Latinos hating on Latinos
These are the (yes I’m going there) Latinos who choose to criticize and humiliate other Latinos because they see themselves as the judge and jury on what makes a Latino a Latino. They are the ones who remind you that you don’t speak Spanish so you can’t be Latino(a) or that your Spanish isn’t good enough. They are the ones that pick you apart from head to toe, criticizing your skin color, your attire, your features and anything else they can think of to put you down.

Why do we do this? Better yet, why do we allow others to do this and go unchecked?

I admit, I’m guilty of doing it. I’ve been in a room and witnessed people being blatantly racist and I chose not to say anything. I was the victim of racist bullies in middle and high school and I deliberately chose not to stand up to it. I held my tongue because I didn’t think one person could make a difference or I didn’t want to lose a friend.

Seriously? Thank goodness I know better now!

There are so many examples of misinformed and offensive commentary about Latinos in the current media landscape, but for some some reason many of us are caught up in judging someone else’s Latino-ness while others are content sitting on the sidelines. Why?

Two weeks ago I wrote a post called “Am I Latina Enough” where I explored these ideas in depth. A heated discussion broke out in the comments section with a Category Two hater and one brave voice spoke up and said, “This wasn’t written for you. A lot of us feel this way.” And she invited him to leave the discussion.

Imagine the impact we could have on this world if we collectively acted like that one brave voice?

If you’re like me, you love your culture and you’re proud of who you are. Stop allowing garden variety haters and Latino haters to go unchecked. ¡Basta! #BackTheChange you want to see in this world and help us silence the haters by helping us spread the word and rally for more thoughtful and representative stories about Latinos. Collectively, it’s time we say #EnoughAlready.

>> Read Denise’s Blog on HuffPost Latino Voices >>

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