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Hispanic American Discrimination

Stereotype of a Hispanic American

Stereotyping is a common enough occurrence that despite its negative effects it continue to exist in our society. What is a stereotype? The term has been associated with such concepts as "myth", "generalizations", "preconceived notions" or "impressions". It is also slangily referred to as a "pigeonhole". This makes the concept of stereotyping as a negative and limiting definition of a certain object, person or group, which in this case the Hispanic Americans. All of us have "mental pictures" of Hispanic Americans. In this article, the commonly held stereotype of a Hispanic American is explored.

An editorial in , href="http://www.retirethechief.org/Essays/stereotype0503.html">Retire The Chief, Hispanic Americans were described as "lazy, violence-prone, unintelligent and unpatriotic" and to prefer welfare to employment more likely than non-Hispanic Whites.

A high school research project on stereotyping and discrimination published online has these terms associated with the stereotype of a Hispanic American: Taco. Cactus. Poverty. Welfare. Sombrero. Mules. Lots of children. Chicken. Farmers. Tequila. Migrant workers. Illegal aliens. Chips-n-dip. Pollution. Ponchos. Limited variety of food. Markets. Gangs. Cameros. Field Workers.

Majority of these terms present a dim view on Hispanic Americans.


American culture is replete with negative stereotypes about Latinos. Whether it's the "greaser", "bandito", or "macho" stereotype, they are portrayed as lazy, shiftless, lawless, thieving, immoral, or violent. Most of these stereotypes go back to the War with Mexico. "Greaser", for example, came to be applied to other ethnic groups, but originated with the use of Mexicans to grease wagon train wheels.

One of the major events that resulted in some permanent social damage was the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. Young Mexican Americans (and some African Americans) started dressing in long coats with padded shoulders, porkpie hats, watch chains, and peg-top trousers tapered to narrow cuffs. The outfit was later picked up in the 1960s by blacks as the superpimp look, and it has made a comeback in the 1990s with swing music. It was designed to be battle gear to defend themselves in LA from the sailors who were encouraging the red light districts of their neighborhoods. Numerous fights and killings broke out between the Zoot Suiters and servicemen, and for several nights, the police response was to let vigilante bands of servicemen and citizens run amok and with impunity maim or kill as many Latinos and Africans as they wanted. More Mexican Americans died in the Zoot Suit Riots than all who served in WW II.

On a more contemporary note, there are complaints that Hollywood does not have enough Latino movie stars, TV actors, sitcom or soap opera stars. They are typically cast in crime shows for some reason. There's a good number of Latino comedians, however, but much of that comedy may unintentionally reinforce stereotypes. There's also an Anglo tendency to exoticize Latino sexuality. On the web, there are numerous address broker sites (as they are called) offering dates with Latino women.


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