Inequality Experienced By the Latinos and Latinas of the United States

Assignment 1


April 11, 2004

The Latinos and Latinas of the United States have faced many challenges over the years. Despite their contributions to the making of the United States, they have and continue to experience social, economic, and political inequality. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the inequalities experienced by the Latinos and Latinas of the US.

Social equality is something that each individual should be entitled to, regardless of background, religion, gender, or any other characteristic that makes each of us unique. It is the first topic of this essay, because I believe it has laid the foundation for many of the challenges faced by the Latinos and Latinas of the US today. Some areas of social inequality that affect many Latinos and Latinas of the US include racism, prejudices, discrimination, and stereotypes. Historically, Latinos were stereotyped as possessing naturally violent tendencies and severe disregard for women, sometimes known as “machismo.” According to Garza, some of the characteristics of machismo include: insensitivity, power, violence, indiscriminate sexual conquest of females with the aim of lowering their status (2001, p.15). The slandering of Mexicans did not end there. Racists referred to Mexican men as “yellow-bellied greasers,” while the women were referred to as “styled greasers…sensual” or “half-breed temptresses” (Garza, 2001, p. 31). On other occasions, all men were stripped of their identities and simply called Juan. The women were called Juanita. These prejudices led some shops to even display “No Mexicans Allowed” signs.

Social inequality was further demonstrated after a strike that began on September 22, 1913 in Ludlow, Colorado. Soon after the strike occurred, mining families were evicted from their homes. The union set up tent colonies for the homeless. While living in this tented colony, the families were forced to find ways to protect themselves from the frequent machine-gun fire. Eventually on April 20, 1914, militiamen started the tents on fire. These families were already living in low social conditions, but now had to find new homes while mourning the loss of their families.

Education was another area of social inequality. In the early 1900’s, in the US, Mexican children were not allowed the same rights to education as Americans were. Some Mexican families attempted to send their children to Catholic school, but found their children to be placed in their own ‘room.” In the public schools, segregation existed as well. Moreover, children typically experienced fragmented education, as a result of their families having to relocate to find jobs.

Lastly, another important factor in the quality of education, for those children who were fortunate enough to obtain an education, was the language barrier. Just as the Catholic Church did not welcome Latinos into the priesthood, so they could have Spanish-speaking priests, the same was true with education. It left Latino children with a hopeless future.

Another area of social inequality that must be examined is the treatment of Latinas, throughout their history in the US. Early on, during the gold rush days, women were treated horribly. According to Garza, “often Latinas became the victims of drunken Anglo rioters, who were intent on proving their superiority to Mexican men by raping their wives and daughters” (2002, p. 30).

As time progressed and Latinos were eventually granted the right to vote, the Latinas were left behind. The Latina feminists even attempted to coordinate their efforts with the American feminists, but found that there was little concern for them. The women were compensated less for their work, if they could even obtain a job. In the medical world, most women were forced to consult doctors that offered discounted services, which generally caused more harm that good. Latinas were used for testing new drugs, such as the birth control pill, which ultimately led to the death of five women.

The second area of disparity is economic inequality. It is built on the foundation of a turbulent past, filled with discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes. As a result of the continued employment discrimination and social inequalities, Latinos and Latinas have been forced to accept the ‘less desirable jobs.’ Some of these jobs include sweat-shops, farms, cleaning services, etc. These types of jobs offer little room for advancement into positions