By Anel Ceballos, Oct. 5, 2021
It is performative for the U.S. government to designate Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month while continuously denying the underlying discrimination toward Hispanic and Latinx people and upholding consistent inequalities between white people and people of color.
Being Mexican doesn’t automatically mean I should be happy that we’re in Hispanic Heritage Month; instead, I feel cheated, let down and misrepresented. Being recognized for one month will not change the brutal history of Mexican-Americans or forgive the current treatment of Latinx people today.
What’s the point in recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, if doesn’t create change? What’s the need for celebrating, if Hispanic and Latinx people are still treated poorly in this country?
In 2019, Hispanic people were the second group in poverty with 15.7%, according to the United States Census Bureau. White people had the lowest poverty rate with 7.3%, making Hispanic people two times more likely to live in poverty than white people. The Lean In demonstrated a graph that shows how Latinas are significantly underpaid compared to white men and white women.
Latinas make 55 cents to the dollar, while white women make 79 cents. Latinas are underpaid in numerous careers — including nurses, cashiers, sales professionals, chefs and cooks and computer and mathematical occupations — compared to white men. It is estimated over the course of a Latina’s career, the loss in income is more than $1 million while white women lose about $530,000.
I’m in my last semester before graduating from Cal Poly Pomona and knowing these statistics has me discouraged about pursuing any career because I will likely earn less than my colleagues.
Not only are Hispanic people making less money, but we also have less representation in the media. Latinx people are among the most underrepresented groups on television.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Latinx people make up more than 18% of the U.S. population, but make up less than 6% in shared broadcast TV roles in 2018-2019 and only 4.6% in film roles.
UCLA found that of the 145 top-grossing films in 2019, Latinx people make up just 2.8% in writing credits and 2.7% in directing credits.
Growing up, all I saw on television and films were white people, people who do not look like my parents, my siblings or myself, which leads me to question my worth. Hispanic and Latinx children need representation because we need a role model who looks like us.
I think the most heartbreaking experience was Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and term. Seeing posters and hats that read “Make America Great Again” makes me sick to my stomach. It is triggering to this day.
During his campaign, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
The fact that this man still became president was a slap to my face. He created negative stereotypes about immigrants, yet it didn’t matter what he said in public, it didn’t matter that there are millions of Mexicans living in the U.S and it didn’t matter that he’s a racist; he was still granted power.
During his term, I felt scared for my parents and family; the majority of them only speak Spanish. I had a fear that one day my parents would be at the store and someone would yell at them, “in America, we speak English” or “go back to your country, you’re not welcome here.”
Although his term is over, should we forget who Americans elected? Does it make it okay now that Joe Biden is in office? No. Let’s not forget how hard it still is for immigrants to become citizens.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you must first become a permanent resident, apply for naturalization, pay a $725 fee, receive a green card, meet certain eligibility requirements, provide personal and income information and study the U.S government, as well as prepare for an English test. The process could take years depending on the status of the applicant.
There is still so much to fight. Thousands of children are still separated from their parents at the border, 1,700 of which are currently held at the Pomona Fairplex. Parents and migrant children remain missing. The inequalities that minorities face happen every day.
It is 2021 and racism is alive and thriving. We can recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, but it does not stop there. We need to do more.
Read from Hispanic and Latinx authors. Advocate for more Latinx artists, actors and creators. Read about our accomplishments and our history. Support our businesses and street vendors. Address internalized racism that you may have. Vote with people of color in mind.
Not just this month, but every day.
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