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SaludToday Guest Blogger: Barbara Ferrer
Chief Strategy Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Migration of Latino families to America is an inspiring story of men, women and children leaving their native countries, often searching for better opportunities and safety for their families.
Yet, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s recent poll of Latino families also reveals that a different narrative develops – frustration from racism and discrimination is wearing down Latinos over time in the United States.
The newest Latino immigrants are brimming with hope, as they pursue opportunities to better educate their children, improve personal finances and find affordable housing. Meanwhile, those who have travelled a similar path – Latinos with generations of family roots in the U.S., as well as those with more education and higher incomes – are decidedly more skeptical and disappointed.
Clearly, a significant gap exists between the life experiences of Latinos and those of many other immigrants. Historically, immigrants arrive on American shores and the prospects for their life outcomes vastly improve. They may harbor initial fears and anxiety about finding jobs, housing and social services, but as they assimilate into American society, they enjoy the expected immigrant experience of having their quality of life improve for each generation.
But that narrative is reserved for mostly white immigrants.
For people of color, and as the survey demonstrated, especially for Latinos, there is a far, far different reality. The longer Latinos are in the U.S., they grow less and less hopeful about their opportunities in this country.
Our poll discloses that as Latinos face discrimination at individual and institutional levels, their fears and anxieties increase over time.
For instance, while Latinos respect police and cite a need for law enforcement, they are deeply concerned about police brutality – 18 percent said they know a Latino friend or relative abused by police. Moreover, an astonishing 68 percent fear that police will use excessive force against Latinos, and 37 percent said law enforcement officers treat Hispanics unfairly. But racial bias is not limited to law enforcement. Latinos also fear they may face discrimination in the workplace and virtually anyplace they may go in public, such as stores and restaurants.
For America to progress, this must change.
Continue reading: Ferrer Op-Ed.