Mexican culture presents problems for women, people of color

Hannah Figueroa-Velazquez, Opinion Editor

My Mexican culture is something I have always been proud of growing up. Every year since I was a baby I’ve visited my mom’s side of the family in Puebla, Mexico, a big city that I consider to be my second home. Although we live far from each other, every visit I feel an instant connection to my family, especially my cousins, whom I consider to be some of my best friends. The music, art, history and energy of Mexico are things I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their lives – a beautiful country full of welcoming people. 

As I grow to be older, however, and continue to become increasingly aware of the societal issues that surround me, I can’t help but notice that alongside the sense of pride that I’ve carried for my heritage, there’s significant room for shame, as well. While many cultures are working together to progress towards a more accepting tomorrow, one where people are no longer discriminated against on the basis of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender and so on, many Latino people refuse to embrace the changes happening around us.

 I, alongside many Latina women, can attest to the role of misogyny in a Mexican household. It affects the expectations of women in regards to domestic work as well as marital abuse often being swept under the rug for the sake of the male family figure remaining dominant. Currently, in Mexico, there has been a call for the end of femicides, as in the first five months of 2020 alone, the death count for murders based solely on gender was at 375 and counting. Although this drastic statistic may not pertain to the United States, there remains a sense of “machismo” that taints the dynamic of many Mexican families, including my own. I often find myself explaining how sexual assault and gender inequality are a reality to distant uncles and beloved grandparents who grew up believing one thing and are too proud to admit that they could be wrong. This fear of femininity and sexist undertones of our culture also contribute to homophobic sentiments, as traditional Latino beliefs cloud a more progressive and welcoming era. 

Additionally, there is a largely anti-Black sentiment that is ingrained within Latino culture, and one that we must all work together to dismantle. Generationally, Latinos have been persuaded to find partners with Eurocentric features, one of the most prominent being lighter skin. This has resulted in prejudice against all people of darker pigment, including Mexicans discriminating against one another due to darker skin color. Especially now, as the United States is once again presented with the effects of racism against African Americans, we Latinos need to hold ourselves and our family members accountable for an injustice that perhaps we didn’t create, but have upheld with the stereotypes and racial prejudice that further pit minorities against each other, rather than unite us in a common quest for equality. 

Ultimately, I am a strong believer that one should be able to have pride and love for the good in their culture, while at the same time being open to critique it. This is not to say that Latino culture stands alone in its flaws because, honestly, we can all do better. But real change cannot occur without, first, accountability.