Ms. Stone, M.Ed.
A.P. Literature and Composition
9 June 2011
Being a Latina
Throughout the years, there has been a trend in my family, in which every one of my older sibling has had a child and dropped out of high school. Growing up as the youngest, my parents always worry that I would follow their example and become pregnant. In fact my mother believed for a long time that I would not finish high school and when she would become angry at me she would say, “ tu no vas a ser nadie en la vida y te vas a embarasar como todas tus hermanas.” It is sad to know that this scenario is not only seen in my home but it is seen in many Latino homes as well. Therefore, my family constantly pressures me to seek a higher education and advises me to think about the choices I make wisely. As a Latina, I have to work twice as hard to prove that it is possible to overcome the negative stereotypes that society imposes.
As a Latina people have their unique expectations of me. Sometimes they wish for me to seek a higher education, and other times they expect typical stereo-types to come true. My life as a Latina is a constant critique among others and it is sometimes difficult to figure out in which direction to steer my life. My mother argues that since I have a boyfriend I will automatically become pregnant; others, like my brother, argue that I will not make it through high school for simply being “Mexican”. However, not all Latinas are the same, in fact a copious amount of Latinas including myself seek a higher education for a better tomorrow.
Some people think it is safe to say that in the Latino culture men are expected to work and contribute to the household expenses, without ever finishing school. Women are expected to become housewives, in which they may occupy their time cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and catering to men. However, it has been a long time since those stereotypes were once true. Today, in my culture, the roles of men and women have evolved for the better. Although, once it a while people find it shocking that I am still enrolled in school and plan to attend college. Sometimes within my own culture people do not understand why I value education more than working and contributing to the expenses in my household. When I announced that I will attend college most people supported me. Society simply views my people as brown, lazy, and ignorant individuals with no aspirations to better ourselves, not knowing that we are at constant struggle to survive daily. In my home, we face financial issues frequently because not everyone in my home is academically prepared. We Latinos are judged by the mistakes that few of us chose to make. The color of our skin isolates us from other groups and motivates us to be the change the world needs. More Latinas like me are proving the stereotypes wrong and proving that we too can climb the social ladder through dedication.
Each and every day Latinas are making a difference in the world. More and more Hispanics are now enrolling in college. According to the College Enrollment and Work Activity, 2.2 million students are enrolled in college, 59.6 percent are Hispanic, and 74.0 percent are women. It is incredible how fast the numbers are growing compared to several years ago, when it was rare to find a brown face among the crowd. An anonymous student at Locke High School claims, “It has been hard, but I’m making the first step and going to college.” Although many struggle to finish high school, the fact is that there is a determination that moves students like me forward. In my Advanced Placement classes many Latinas take the course and really challenge themselves because the want to see a brighter future, in which they are not judged for simply being a Latina.
An event occurred to me recently that sadden me. As I was walking through the empty hall in my house, I reached the living room in which my brother was calmly sitting; he complained to me, “Eres una huevona porque no trabajas.” I angrily responded, “I don’t work, I study!” He replied with words that shocked me deeply,” You are Mexican. Mexicans don’t study they work.” I looked at him in shock and he continued, “instead of wasting your time in school, get a job and help out around the house.” I said the only thing I could say, “People like you is what makes us look bad!” Although, I am sure that his words held sarcasm, I also know that he believes what he said. Throughout the day his words repeated in my head over and over again until I decided that leaving school is not worth a few dollars. Knowing that in this day and age someone so close to me thinks dropping out is a reasonable idea makes me realize that I need to prove everyone my family wrong. I need to make the point clear that education pays off some day.
In conclusion, Latinas are expected by society to drop out of high school and become pregnant. Sometimes people in my own culture create the illusion that there is nothing wrong with dropping out of school to earn money faster opposed to waiting until one finishes their education. Others think that from the day we are born, we are destined for failure because we are lazy. The truth of the matter is that Latinas are not all lazy. In fact, this group tends to work harder than any other group I have seen in my life. I have realized now that I am proud of being a Latina because we work hard and challenge ourselves to prove that we can overcome all negative stereotypes. As long as we do not stop challenging ourselves academically, no one can deem us for failure again.
Press office, 2011. College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2010 High School Graduates.
Anonymous, personal interview. 8 Jun. 2011.