November 15, 2015, Facebook user Miguel Marquize Howell posted a video with the caption, “OK that was a grown up move… Kids was getting bullied and ragged on about his shoes…. so another student bought him some Lebron’s the next day…💯💯💯.” 180,104 likes and 229,624 shares later this video continues to go viral. But why?
According to “Latina Teen Suicide and Bullying,” published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, bullying is an issue prevalent across many different races and even across countries. In a sense, bullying is a universal problem, but the effects of bullying seem to take a different toll on Latinas. “Compared to national trends, [the] state-wide data of Latina adolescents, predominantly of Mexican descent, [indicated] higher than national rates of suicide ideation, plans, and attempts.”
While Latinas had higher rates of suicide attempts, which were associated with being victims of bullying, they also had higher rates of plans and ideation, which were associated with being the actual bully. Con cuidado chica; don’t let this be you, being a bully is nothing to be proud of.
As a Latina, however, you may also be susceptible to different kinds of bullying.
Some Latinas are fortunate enough to have been raised speaking two languages, the pronunciation may not always be perfect, pero le haces el intento, but you try. People, however, may try and use this against you. You either speak too much English, or speak it too well, and are shamed for being white-washed. Or you speak with too thick of a Spanish accent, and then are made fun of or judged. Just take for example Vanessa Ruiz, a news anchor, who was torn to pieces by the media for pronouncing Spanish words in Español.
What You Wear
Latinas also have to be really careful of their attire. You can’t wear hoops and dark lipstick simultaneously, or you are automatically perceived as a chola. For some this can be a “fashion statement,” but for others it can be seen as a “negative” portrayal of culture.
Color of Your Skin
Shades of skin are also an attribute Latinas are critiqued on. “One day, I stayed out too late in the sun and when I came back inside my Abuela flipped. ‘Pareces pan tostado,’ she said. There was a look of horror on her face. I don’t think it was so much so because I was tan. But because now the world could see it,” says Daniela, 19.
Standing Up Contra Los Bullies
While Latinas may experience bullying in different ways than others, the experience of being bullied is not unique to Latinas alone. As members of society, we must aim for improvement of our own conditions as well as the conditions of those around us. Bullying may be an issue that will be around for years to come, but you, chica, can make a difference.
Some steps to combating bullying include:
- Don’t participate in bullying! Consider your actions and the feelings of others during social interactions.
- Be able to recognize bullying. If you see it, stop it. Speak up and act against it. More often than not, the bully is able to act up because she feels that no one will stop her. But if someone calls attention to her actions the odds of her continuing them will diminish.
- But most importantly, if you are being bullied, don’t let them get to you, chica. Whatever the reason be for their actions, you are perfect and you should be proud.
Tu voz es poder. Your voice is power, and with it you can build this world up or tear it down. But how awesome is it to know that you alone can do good in this world, that by simply speaking up for others or refusing to act in a hurtful manner, you can shine a light on a hurting soul or even save a life. You never know.