Once a week I facilitate a group on race relations with students. We talk about different issues that face people of all races. While that conversation is completely confidential, I will tell you that there was an exercise that makes me think about my own place in this world.
In this exercise we are to list 3 stereotypes that are identified with your own racial group. So for me, I need to list the stereotypes that are most common for Latinos. After a discussion on that, list we are to think about which stereotype, if it was ever possible, would we want to get rid. So in basic terms, I would pick the one that hurts the most and if I could make disappear from human vocabulary then I would.
The 3 I listed were, lazy, oversexed, and gang banger (not in the good way). For me picking the stereotype of lazy is a no brainer. I think that there is clear thought in the minds of many that Latinos are lazy and always late. The funny thing is that in the same breath, one would make jokes about Mexicans outside of Home Depot. The oversexed stereotype was something I have heard about Latinos being like the “Latino Lover”. I equate this to movies when you see the “tall dark and hansom” Latino man that sweeps the white woman offer her feet with his flowing jet black hair and his accent. Then there is the Gang Banger. This is the typical representation of the Latino Male that we see in a lot of movies with the bandanna, the long sleeve shirt that is only buttoned at the top, with a plethora of tattoos.
The sterotype that I chose to do away with is the lazyness. I look at how hard my father worked and how hard my mother worked and they are far from lazy. I could span the entire length of my family and maybe come up with 1 person that was lazy. But even then that is such a stretch. I also find interesting that people of color (Latino and African Amercian in particular) can be considered lazy when most of us have spent years in bondage building up cities.
What I have been ever fascinated with is what the American view of Latinos are. If you look at movies alone, then you do not have a great view of what Latinos are. You may think that we are all Mexican for one. Clearly nothing wrong with being Mexican but it is hard to shake that when the white majority sees you all in the same light. But, then we get into the discussion of what does Latino look like?
Yesterday, I did the 25 random things that have spread through Facebook like a virus. One of my old friend’s participated in this and I found one of his noted to be very interesting.”Nobody thinks I’m Puerto Rican so I don’t know what a Puerto Rican is supposed to look like.” That just floored me because in many of my ways he is my opposite. We even joke about one of my previous blogs about Dark Latinos that he understood the whole notion of not looking Latino. In a seriousness, is there a measuring stick? But he did joke and said we were the Puerto Rican Ebony and Ivory!
Sure, I can give a history lesson on how the Spanish Colonizers, who were white, “discovered” Latin American and killed off 90% of the native population and replaced them with African Slaves. I could also talk about the remain native population intermixing with the Africans and while some were raped or worse by the Spanish. Sure I could go there and say that is why Latinos are all different colors…but why do that? Because if that was the case then…we would be considered part Native American…or worse…BLACK!!!!!!!!
Look, I love my black skin. Nothing wrong with being black clearly! But sometimes being black gets this bad wrap. Like there is something wrong with it. I don’t get it. But you know what… I saw some thing the other day that will prove to you that Black is not bad…