Not Divided But United

Livi Foraker, Feature Editor

Imagine being a young nine year-old Latina in a public elementary school. You represent the Hispanic minority in a tiny town on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, growing up an American but looking like a foreigner. 

These differences are responsible for the growing divide between cultures,  known as microaggressions. 

A microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups, according to Wikipedia. 

Growing up with a Hispanic parent does not always mean that their children will follow along with the basic assumptions of that race: speaking the language, practicing the Catholic religion, and eating exotically different foods. Plantains, pernil, and tamales were strange foods to me at that age.

Microaggressions have also become more prevalent with the wave of cultural discrimination that has resulted since the induction of social media. ‘Oh, do you like (fill in the blank)? I read that’s what people like you eat’ is a fine example of this. 

But because of the color of my skin, I was chalked up by general society to be the perfect image of a Puerto Rican girl. Dark brown eyes, brown hair, and tan skin. Literally meeting the exact criteria of what America has decided us of the Latinx* community should look like in order to be accepted.                   

Imagine being me. In no way is it implied that every child feels this way, but it has become increasingly common as people show more interest in the physical appearance of people rather than their character.  

This assumption is a common misconception that every person of Hispanic descent should look like I do. This is a result of ethnic stereotypes; many members of the Latinx community are blonde, pale, and have light blue eyes — this means that their ancestry is more focused on the original Spaniard attributes as opposed to Taíno, Mayan, Incan, and Aztecan descent. 

It was only at the age of 12 that speaking the Spanish language began to truly integrate itself into my daily routine. It came easily. Now, many people believe that this was my first language and that it was not the skill of an ancestral speaker instead.

People glance at me strangely when I speak Spanish in public, but shrug simply because the language matches the looks. 

As a society, we need to learn to recognize when these microaggressions are being used. 

While we learn to accommodate the lifestyles of others, we can all learn to be more open to constructive criticism and  advice, considering the potential mental effect it could have on those who are being marginalized. 

So, together, we can end social injustices such as these and move forward as one, not divided, but united. 

 *a general term for Latinos of both genders