Stereotypes lump numerous teams of individuals collectively — erasing their individuality and humanity — and set them up for the every day drudge of difficult biases. They’re effed up, painful, and proscribing, so what occurs once you truly fulfill them?
I am Latina, and I meet most of the hackneyed concepts which were positioned on that id. Bodily, I am a brief, light-skinned woman with plump breasts, a spherical derrière, and straight brown hair falling down my again. I prefer to put on form-fitting garments that hug my curves and reveal some pores and skin. I will be caught every day in gold hoops or doorknockers, with a nameplate necklace and ring, and a number of bangles on every arm. Since center faculty, I’ve sported lengthy acrylic nails and dope kicks. I am fluent in Spanglish, and I name the lads I date “papi” and check with my homegirls as “mamis.” My hobbies actually do include cooking (I can whip up a imply arroz con habichuelas) and listening and dancing to reggaetón, Latin entice, hip-hop, salsa, merengue, and bachata. Selena Quintanilla is considered one of my favourite singers, and I contemplate Huge Pun to be among the finest rappers of all time. As for sports activities, baseball and boxing are amongst my prime three faves. My father actually is overprotective, and he and my mom are very spiritual. After I was in school — I am additionally a first-generation graduate, by the way in which — considered one of my a number of jobs was as a housekeeper.
As somebody who publicly writes and speaks in regards to the hazard of stereotypes and why we should problem them, I used to be shocked to find simply what number of of them I subscribe to in my very own life. Unfavourable stereotypes about my neighborhood, from being felony to ignorant, hinder many people from reaching our full potential, whereas so-called constructive stereotypes, like being curvaceous sexpots, could make a few of us really feel insufficient for not dwelling as much as the best. “Does becoming, and sometimes embracing, these stereotypical points of myself make me problematic?” I contemplated. “Am I a part of the issue?” I requested myself. If stereotypes are dangerous, and I am checking most of them off, then one thing has bought to be tousled.
After some self-reflection and deep conversations about id with associates, I spotted that, regardless of my fast discomfort, there’s truly nothing fallacious with my dwelling as much as many myths about my neighborhood, even when these typical concepts should be debunked.
Stereotypes aren’t inherently fallacious. It isn’t dangerous to be horny or passionate. Place these attributes on a white lady and nobody will bat a watch. The issue comes when these concepts, that are oftentimes compelled on marginalized individuals to “exotify” or criminalize them, grow to be extensively believed conceptions that institutionally maintain them again or make them really feel inferior for satisfying or not satisfying them.
By filling some cultural Latina stereotypes, I am concurrently being true to myself and reclaiming a story that was positioned on me with in poor health intent. I am not conforming to Western concepts of respectability. As a substitute, I am exhibiting as much as company conferences as my entire self, sporting my Huge Pun laptop computer bag, bamboo earrings, and tight, low-rise shirt together with my bicultural, Spanglish brilliance. By doing so, I am permitting myself to be as snug as I will be in areas that weren’t created for individuals like me, and I am forcing people who find themselves accustomed to rule and order to be uneasy, even when only for a second . . . and each are highly effective.
As somebody who additionally meets many bodily Latina stereotypes — notably my mild pores and skin, European phenotypes, straight hair, and curvy, small physique — I am given unearned privileges that a lot of my different Latina sisters, particularly those that are of extra African or indigenous descent than I’m or whose physique form doesn’t match popularly held concepts of “stunning” or “horny,” haven’t got. As such, it is my accountability to make use of the affect, as restricted as it might be, that I’ve to problem dangerous stereotypes that do not influence me immediately and to uplift the tales and voices that I am unable to communicate to personally. By doing so, I may help be certain that my singular Latina expertise, the one that’s nearly all the time centered on, is not the one one that’s underlined or centered.
So, sure, I match a number of Latina stereotypes, however I personal all of them. Some, like my language and magnificence of costume, are weapons that enable me to outlive in a racist, classist, and sexist society. Others, like the colour of my pores and skin and the feel of my hair, allow me to affect others to query and resist these concepts, to know that these conventions that ring true for me do not for all of us.
Picture Supply: Raquel Reichard