Speaking from my experience being a Latina, I can tell you that being a minority is not easy. While I think most people today are much more aware than in the past of the struggles that minorities face, many are still not aware of the competition that minority groups tend to have with each other.
This was brought to my attention recently when I attended a casual but very open and honest Zoom call with the dance group Fuego del Corazon, of which I am a member, and the Philippine Society of Boston College to talk about anti-Asian hate crimes.
The first part of the meeting was very informational. To be honest, I had not realized how unaware I was of the prevalence of these hate crimes that have been happening, but then once the statistical talk was over, we all sat and listened as some attendees poured their hearts out in grief. It was beautiful, but it was also heartbreaking. I saw friends of mine that belong to the Asian community cry like I’d never seen before, and I was devastated to see so much agony.
All I could think about sitting there, besides what actions I could take or how I could be of more help, was, “I am a Latina, but I am scared to talk and resonate because I have not been through this. It is not my place.” What I failed to realize for all this time is that it was my place, in a way. It came up in the Zoom call that minorities tend to diminish the struggles of other minorities by bickering about who has gone through more. People on the call were of several different minority groups, all of which have experienced oppression. While the experience of some has been worse than others, oppression is oppression. The truth is none of us deserve it.
We should be focusing on the fact that we, as minorities, have all experienced some sort of oppression, and it is not fair to be comparing our experiences. I had never really grasped this concept until I was on the Zoom call with so many people belonging to different minority groups and saw how we all came to stand by each other in solidarity.
Before this call, I had silenced myself. I was afraid of admitting that I felt I was being discriminated against because I did not want to offend anyone. Time and time again I have opened myself to other people about microaggressions I have faced in the past as a Latina, and I get the response of “Oh, but you are white-passing, you don’t have it as bad as others.” I knew that other people had it worse than myself, but the time of silencing myself is over. Yes, I am white-passing, but that does not mean I don’t have a right to be upset if I am offended by things that others say about my heritage and roots. I have a voice, and I have just as much of a right to use it. Everyone does. It is time for us all to realize it. Because if we do not, we will never be able to stand our ground against any mode of discrimination.
Being tagged as a “model minority” does not mean you don’t struggle. Being tagged as a “white-passing Latina” does not mean you don’t struggle. We all struggle, no matter what minority group we belong to, and it is not right to compare and diminish the pain of others.
As minorities, we should be standing together, with each other, to hear and validate one another. As minorities, we should not shun or deem one group unworthy of reparations or conversations depending on our struggles. The point is that we all struggle, so we should grow from those experiences together.
Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau/ Heights Editor