An Anonymous Letter to the Latin Community

Anonymous  Dear Students and Faculty at The Latin School of Chicago: Despite what you may think by the way I look, I am a Cuban girl. Though I am only 50% cuban, Latina culture is the primary culture celebrated by my family. There have been countless times where my Cuban ethnicity was called into question by others at this very school, and it is just now that I have woken myself up and realized I stereotype others as well. We ALL do it. Now that it has been brought to my attention, I can see my peers at school assuming someone’s lineage based on their looks. When I was newer to the Latin high school, one of my teachers was speaking Spanish to another student during class. As the conversation progressed, one of them said something funny that, believe it or not, I understood. They turned to me as if as if I wasn’t capable of understanding. It was actually pretty funny. In the end, they were very interested in knowing about my heritage. The moral of the story is that all it took was one laugh out of me for them to realize that they weren’t the only ones who could understand one other. Why does someone have to fit a stereotypical look of a group to be considered a part of it? In my high school career, I have felt as though I am less a part of the Latino culture because of the countless questions I have received regarding my looks — and I clearly do not fit the “Latino look.” Research shows that the top 5 stereotypes of this “look” consist of “fiery attitudes,” “curvaceous” bodies, fluency in Spanish, huge families, and “olive” skin. I understand that people may argue my point saying that because I do not fit this look, I have greater privileges. I do agree that the way I look has given me greater privileges in life, but this is not the point I am trying to make. Would you want to constantly explain who you are to people just because you don’t fit their brain’s idea of what you SHOULD look like? Recent studies have shown that more than 85% of people of the Latino heritage have started to simply mark their heritage as “White.” I can’t help but think that this is because so many of these people are feeling the same way I am today. Together as a community, we need to be more aware of this and take into account that anybody in this world, no matter their looks, can be from many different backgrounds. I believe it can make for a more comfortable environment that all of us can feel accepted in regardless of the way we look. ]]>