National Council of La Raza
Many Latino teens feel regularly stereotyped in school, especially by teachers and administrators, and therefore often find themselves viewed by their peers as “others,” this study says.
Teens from Los Angeles, Nashville, Providence, and Washington, D.C., shared with the researchers their experiences with discrimination. One girl from Nashville noted her frustration with being placed in an ESL class even though she could fluently speak English, just because she was Hispanic. Another said that many of her administrators don’t expect her to graduate because of the color of her skin, and that she’ll “just work in construction or something.”
Such discrimination and stereotyping was found in each of the cities surveyed, and was not limited to school. The teens emphatically described feeling unfairly and habitually profiled by law enforcement, especially in juxtaposition to their white friends. The report says law enforcement typically holds negative stereotypes surrounding Latino youth involvement in gangs and crime, which “compound feelings of vulnerability and distrust within their community” among teens. Hispanic youth also feel as though the workplace is the site of unfair racial practices; youths from all four cities told stories of their parents working for less than minimum wage for hostile employers.
Nevertheless, the study concludes that many teens are optimistic about the role of education in their lives, and see education as a necessary step on the path to thriving careers. Many are motivated to succeed academically by the high expectations of their immigrant parents and a desire to contribute to the Latino community. They glean inspiration from their parents’ hard work as immigrants, and hope to provide their children with better lives.