Youth Voice: Reflecting on the Latino Perspective

Over the summer, ThreeSixty Journalism opened a call for youth to weigh in on recent events in the community. Students were asked to submit audio, visual, and written entries in response to a youth-inspired prompt. The latest #360YouthVoiceChallenge is open to all high school students through Nov. 15, 2020. This fall, the #360YouthVoiceChallenge comes with its own Youth Voice Workshop, wherein students can work on writing personal essays and editorials that they may submit to the #360YouthVoiceChallenge. 

Evan Odegard, junior at Nova Classical Academy

Since the murder of George Floyd in May, communities across the country and world have come together to protest racism and police brutality in unprecedented numbers. As one of the United States’ largest and most diverse minority groups, the Latino community has overwhelmingly shown its support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a Latino, I have seen several examples of our community stepping up for equality in the past months. Even though many Latinos have stood in solidarity with anti-racism, several problems still exist within our community that need to be addressed. The most obvious of these issues to anyone outside the Latino community are related to racism against Latinos, such as mass deportations and human rights abuses at ICE detention centers. Even though these issues are important and deserve recognition, it is equally important to recognize the rampant anti-Black attitudes within the Latino community. Because racism against Latinos receives much more attention and media coverage than issues within our community, it is necessary that Latinos act to educate each other on racism and eradicate anti-Black attitudes. #360YouthVoiceChallenge: Summer 2020

Latin America’s history with racism looks different than that of the U.S. Since the European discovery of the Americas, more enslaved Africans were brought to Latin America and the Caribbean than to the United States. As slavery was banned throughout the 1800s, many of these societies mixed and integrated, leaving a heavy African influence on many countries. However, the legacy of racism also endured, leaving people of Afro-Latino heritage disadvantaged. Along with racism against Black Latinos came a culture of colorism, where lighter-skinned people continue to be favored for advertising, modeling and other opportunities. Even though at this point the majority of Latinos are multiracial, racism and colorism are still widely accepted across Latin America.

With these attitudes so prevalent in Latin American society, many immigrants bring anti-Blackness with them to the United States. It is common to find many Latinos using the N-word and other racist language, especially in younger generations. Even this summer when the Black Lives Matter movement began to gain more awareness, many Latinos complained that the same attention wasn’t being given to our issues. But police brutality and racism ARE our issues. Supporting Black Lives Matter doesn’t take away from our efforts, but actually supports our struggle for equality for all. Many people within our community don’t understand the simple fact that oppression is not a competition. Trying to prove that one group has it worse than the other is not an effective way to eliminate systems of oppression and gain equality. What’s needed right now is solidarity in the face of challenges to the rights of our communities. The only way to end oppression and racism is to do it together.