Machismo Culture

feminismopunhoMachismo, or macho, can usually be described as a number of presumably masculine traits, such as aggressiveness, strength, and dominance, that a man identifies with and which form his personality. This personality can dictate his behavior and ultimately affect everyone around him. Although this “manly man” can surely be found in almost any culture, we can take a look at it from a Latino perspective and see how it has influenced women over the generations and see if it has evolved with the changing times.

For a lot of Latinas, their fathers are the first macho people that they encounter and are affected by regularly. “I recall, in high school, telling [my dad] I wanted to leave home to attend college and he wasn’t supportive; if anything, he discouraged me and told me I was a girl [and] I needed to stay close to home,” reflects 32 year-old Linda Flores. Linda also acknowledges that her father was the one to help her with her homework and encourage her to finish high school, which she is thankful for. However, she still felt stifled by the limitations that he placed on her while growing up.

It is not uncommon for a girl who grows up in an environment fueled by machismo to feel limited, to be told that she is not capable of certain things, such as leaving home for college or going to college at all. It is not necessarily the case that this girl is unloved, but rather, is expected to meet different standards than her brothers, for example.

“I grew up with four brothers,” shares 20-year-old Latinitas volunteer Polet Espinoza.

“When our dad would ground us our punishments would be different. I would have to clean the house and the boys would get their phones taken away,” adds Polet.

Although Polet recognizes the machismo nature of her father and how this affects the way the household is run, she also acknowledges that her mother has been the one to teach her that women are capable of leading independent lives. Polet compares her own world-view to that of her grandmother’s, whom she declares has the understanding that a woman cannot be independent, and decides that, in her family, the way women deal with machismo has definitely changed over the generations.

“I grew up in an all girl household. It’s more of my school life…it’s like guys are good at math and science, but I want to be also,” states 17-year-old Alliris Lopez. While she doesn’t necessarily feel the effects of machismo culture in her home, she has definitely noticed the macho tendencies of her classmates and teachers. Alliris is in the Math club at her school and expresses that she and the other few girls in the club have to try especially hard to be acknowledged as much as the boys.

This is the reality that many Latinas over the years have had to deal with in their own ways, whether it has been domestically or socially. Some choose obedience, some choose to rebel, but it is also safe to say that in recent decades many girls have taken the negative influences of Machismo and used that to help themselves grow as strong women.

“I believe…it’s made me stronger, it’s made me want to excel, and show myself it is possible for women to be independent and successful,” asserts Linda.

Above all else, perhaps what we can be sure of is that girls and women will continue to set goals and continue to strive. Machismo influences may have evolved and become less impactful to a great many American Latinas, but is still a factor in certain domestic environments and even in the media. However, what we can also see is that so many girls and women have changed their ideas about their own roles in the world too. “[Since I began college], I’ve started to think I can do anything, “declares Polet. “I have my own voice.”

Celebrating Hanal Pixán


“You’ve probably heard of the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.” Since my ancestors were Mayans who originated from Yucatan, Mexico, we sometimes celebrate the holiday with a different name: Hanal Pixán.

Hanal Pixán and Dia de Los Muertos are practically identical, except Dia de Los Muertos was inspired by Aztec festivals and Hanal Pixán was created by Mayan culture. Whether one was inspired by the other is unknown, but, in modern days, the holidays are interchangeable due to their similarities.

For Hanal Pixán, my family goes to an annual “Day of the Dead” festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate with other Mexicans and Latin Americans. We decorate our faces as sugar skulls, and my mother and I wear traditional Mayan dresses. We usually parade the streets with enormous puppets and posters while other members hold candles and pictures of their passed loved ones.

At home, we make sure our house is clean the day before. The reason for this is because we want the ghost of our ancestors to feel welcome. We tie red ribbons on the children, so our ancestors won’t accidentally take them when they leave. We also set their favorite foods on the table, which often includes traditional Mayan cuisine, like chimole, tamales, tortillas, arroz con frijoles, and spicy hot chocolate, next to beautiful altars dedicated to them.

Hanal Pixán has become more important recently since my Maya great-grandmother, who raised my father, passed away two years ago. She was an important part of my family and one of the reasons I am passionate about embracing my indigenous background. During this day, we also honor my mother’s brother who died at the age of 16 during a house fire, and my pet bird Kiwi who passed away a few months after my great-grandmother.

Hanal Pixán and Dia de Los Muertos are my favorite traditions

Latino Racism Against ‘Indios’

In the United States, it is common to hear about discrimination against Latinos, particularly immigrant ones, by other Americans. An AP-Univision poll conducted in 2010 showed that Latinos in the United States experience more discrimination than any other minority. 61% of those polled said that Latinos face considerable discrimination, while statistics for blacks and women were 52% and 50% respectively. Furthermore poll research showed that the inferior treatment of Hispanics stems largely from controversy surrounding undocumented immigration.

But this is not the only type of racism that plagues the Hispanic community. Latinos themselves are not innocent of discrimination against a people they sometimes view as undesirable. In Racism and Discourse in Spain and Latin America, Teun A. van Dijk, a scholar who researches racism, writes that “racism against the indigenous peoples has been a fact of their everyday lives since the conquista [Spanish colonization of Latin America] nearly 500 years ago.” According to his research and interviews, Latin America is a hotbed for racism against native peoples more commonly known as indiosIndios, unlike majority Latin American populations, did not adopt cultural aspects from the Spanish colonizers or reproduce with them. Some examples of indigenous populations include the Maya in Mexico and Central America, the Inca in South America, and the Taino in Caribbean countries.


In truth, present-day indigenous populations in Latin American countries are still remarkably isolated, often living in their own villages and speaking their native tongues instead of Spanish. Many live in poverty, and those who travel to the cities for work are subject to discrimination due to their indigenous appearance and strange Spanish.

Sylvia, a 19-year-old Mexican-American and Latinita, recalls visiting Mexico City growing up and noticing the inferior treatment of indios by other Mexicans. She said the only jobs the indios could get were selling stuff on the streets, and people were likely to be rude or refuse to acknowledge their presence. Sylvia says that even as a child growing up in a Texas border town she knew that indios were considered of the lowest class.

The Latino hatred towards indigenous populations is apparent even in every-day speech. It is not uncommon to hear a Latino insult another’s appearance by saying that he/she looks indio/a.

Maria, 18, recalls thinking how hypocritical other Latinos sometimes are in their attitude towards indios. Other girls in her Chicago, Illinois high school would complain about discrimination or stereotypes based on their obviously Hispanic features or their slightly accented English, but then they would insult girls they didn’t like as indias. Maria was shocked that people who complained about racism could turn around and be guilty of the same wrong themselves. What’s going on, she wondered?

Truth is, discrimination against those viewed as ‘different’ is an unfortunate tendency of human nature that has probably always existed. Racism is even documented in the Second Book of the Bible when it describes the enslavement of ‘inferior’ races by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans hundreds of thousands of years ago. But just because this discrimination has always existed and comes naturally to some people does not mean we should disregard its poisonous effects. Instead one should be conscious of the natural human tendency to discriminate against people whose differences make them seem strange or lesser. If one is aware of the driving force behind racism she can better combat it in every day life. Simple actions, like eliminating indio as an insult and treating with attentive respect indigenous peoples in the United States and Latin America, reject the engrained belief that indigenous are somehow lesser than other Hispanics.


479924-250A lot of girls and women have body image issues. As much as they wish they didn’t, they do. And most of the time, these issues revolve around one main thing: la panza – the belly. There are all kinds of different panzas, the size doesn’t make a difference, and for some reason a lot of people just aren’t okay with the way their panzas look. This is something that needs to be fixed.

The Panza Monologues, a performance based on a collection of stories written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, looks into the lives of Chicanas who have some sort of experience involving their own panza or the panza of someone they love. Despite the continuous humor throughout the performance, all of the stories connected into one central theme: The panza is life. If you are suffering, your panza is suffering.

All throughout the performance, the three actresses – Florinda Bryant, Deanna Deolloz, and Eva McQuade – played out the stories of different women whom Grise and Mayorga wrote about. The performance opened up with a prologue that explained how a performance like this was created, and ended by the three women chanting, “VIVA LA PANZA!” This automatically got the audience excited and amped up. The energy within the audience remained this way up until the very end.

The Panza Monologues is an eye opening work of art for both men and women. After the performance, Florinda and Eva allowed the audience to ask any questions about anything they wanted, mostly in regards to the show itself.

A few members of the audience asked about a couple of the stories, mostly concerning why some of the women did not save themselves from their abusive relationship or take care of themselves, and how their story really had anything to do with the panza. The takeaway was that the panza is hardly ever the reason for someone’s pain. Even after losing your panza, you might not be healthy. Being thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Mental health is more important in most cases.

Some people lose their panzas because they aren’t eating and aren’t healthy – this is an effect of bad mental health. It’s always important to take care of yourself first. According to Eva, “we are all contradictions within ourselves,” and “you need to be positive, you need to love yourself.”

Victoria Humphrey, a junior at Texas State University, attended the last showing of the performance and thought it was phenomenal. In one word, she said it was, “realistic.” And she says there were two things that she really learned from this performance, “Love your body, it’s the only one you have,” and, of course, “VIVA LA PANZA.”

At one point during the performance, the women explained about the panza plyers – plyers used to help pull up the zipper of jeans that might be a little too tight. During the Q&A, a male in the audience asked if the plyers were “for real.” Eva’s only answer was “Dude, c’mon!” Needless to say, the entire audience burst into laughter, most knowing all too well of the panza plyers.

The final comment was from a woman in the audience, which left everyone, including the actresses, with the sense of happiness. “Panza llena, corazón contenta”(roughly translated, that means “full stomach, happy heart”).

Breaking Puerto Rican Stereotypes

By Vanessa Mari

I come from a very proud family. I was raised to love my culture and my heritage, and for that I greatly appreciate my family. I think this is something very important for Puerto Rican. As a colony from the United States, many feel as if our culture is being lost…as we no longer have an identity of our own. Not only this, but being a colony also takes away our independence and freedom. This is one of the reasons there have formed various misconceptions of Puerto Ricans that I would like to eliminate.

The first term used to describe Puerto Ricans is “Spiks”. This is the nickname Americans gave us because when the first big wave of Puerto Ricans first immigrated towards the United States in the 1940′s (specifically New York) many did not know how to speak the language. Puerto Ricans said “I don’t spik English” and that is how the nickname of Spik came about. What I find ironic is that when people from the United States visit Puerto Rico, they are surprised by the amount of people who know English. And when they don’t, they expect us to know their language, but they make no effort in learning ours. I would like people to stop with this misconception and realize what we are a SLA speaking society and that we are doing our best to learn English in a place that was first colonized for over 500 years by the Spanish.

The other misconception I hear a lot about Puerto Ricans is that we are lazy. This one bothers me a lot because I know so many hard working individuals that have accomplished many great things. I am a hardworking independent woman who is finishing her masters degree. I am aware that there are a lot of people living in projects and others who depend on welfare, but so does many other countries. This is a topic I could write my dissertation on. My last thoughts for this is that believing we are lazy is only promoting self hate and this is the worst thing that could happen to a small community like ours.

When this happens is very important to spread awareness of how beautiful our culture is. I am more than a Spik or a “lazy” person. I am a proud Boricua and I want to people to know where we are located in the map. Even though we are a small island in the caribbean, Boricuas have a big heart and we have accomplished great things. Yo soy Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepas! ;)


We Are Not Stereotypes

Young Latinas speak out against Latino stereotypes!  team

“I am not a trophy, I am a human being. In today’s society, Latinas are seen as unintelligent, uneducated and insignificant because they are a minority. People feel that they are entitled to stereotype them based on what they’ve seen in the media. They generalize that our only responsibilities are to cook, clean and give birth. What people fail to understand is that Latinas are worth more than their looks or their ability to satisfy the needs of others. They are strong, powerful and intelligent and they deserve so much more respect than they are given. Through Latinitas, Latinas can stand tall and united against stereotypes.”



“Stereotypes are a cruel way to brand someone without any prior knowledge of the person. They do not fit every subject involved and wrongly characterize a group of people from a certain race, nationality or culture. In order to dissolve such stereotypes it is necessary to give everyone an equal opportunity without judgment. As a Latina in the United States, it is very easy to be misconstrued as an undocumented immigrant because of my tan skin and dark hard. As anyone else I was a natural born U.S. citizen and deserve to be given the same respect as a girl my age with blonde hair and blue eyes.”

– Elizabeth


Most stereotypes in any type of culture, religion, race or organization are based off the extremes of that group of people. There is more to every type of group of people that not everyone sees. This is because most people come across as close-minded and are almost too lazy to see the full picture of any culture, organization, etc.

“Stereotypes are interesting. I don’t let them get to me as much. Latinas are not dumb. We have hopes, dreams, fears, doubts just like the rest of the world. It our minds that will really make you. Some Latinas are actually loud and don’t take anything from anyone. I guess you could say some have an attitude problem, but not all are like this. A lot of us do love tortillas and beans, but that not really enough protein for me and way too much carbs.”

– Alyssa

Latinos in Media

Do you ever feel like you don’t see enough Latinos in TV and movies? Have you ever felt like the Latino characters you do see are often stereotyped negatively? A new report confirms that many Latinos are not alone in feeling stereotyped and underrepresented on TV and film screens. The ”Latino Media Gap” report conducted by Columbia University  delves into the lack of media representation of Latinos as well as highlight the fact that this dilemma endangers society with the possibility of causing long-term damage to American Latinos. photo.jpg

The study took a close look at the number of Latinos in front and behind the scenes in both TV film. The study points out the following key findings.

Latino talent in major movies and television is less than two percent and not increasing anywhere near the rate of the rise of the U.S. Latino population

The study done in 2014 points out how Latinos make up 17% of the US population and surprisingly make up almost half of  the population in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood. From the years 2010-2050 Latinos have the fastest projected growth in population. Despite these numbers, from 2010-2013  the percentage of writer, producer, and director positions held by Latinos in Network TV never reached up to 6%. This indicates that the majority of what is on television does not account for the current marginalization of Latino talent or stories. The report states that the Latino media exclusion is equivalent to the exclusion of more than the entire states of California and Illinois from American media culture.


Latino stereotypes are extremely prevalent in mainstream media

Latinos are typically cast as unfavorable characters. The principal investigator spearheading the report was, Frances Negrón-Muntaner a filmmaker, writer, and scholar. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Negrón-Muntaner  stated that, “People largely imagine themselves and their relationship to others according to the stories circulating in the public sphere; they also act according to the information provided through news outlets. So, if Latinos are not part of the story and the information available is limited and biased, this has at least two major consequences. One, many Latinos will internalize that they are not valuable human beings, leading to diminished aspirations and wasted potential. Two, many non-Latinos will also incorporate these ideas and feel that they have a license to marginalize and even physically harm Latinos. Either way, we all lose.” The news also contributes to the misrepresentation of Latinos, according to the study, “stories about Latinos constitute less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of these stories feature Latinos as lawbreakers.”


Latinos audiences expand viewership

According to Columbia’s study, if US Latinos constituted a nation it would be the 14th largest economy in the world. Latinos buy 25% of all movie tickets) to watch cable and other types of programming to only view negative representations of themselves.



Representation of Latinos is important.

These stereotypes pose as a huge problem in our society due to the fact that these representations often set the foundation how the general U.S. population perceives the Latino community. People who may not know any Latinos are therefore susceptible to believing that all Latinos embody a negative stereotype that is manifested in the media. Negrón-Muntaner told the Huffington Post that the study highlights “ a growing and profound disconnect between the characters you see on screens and TV, and who is sitting next to you on the bus, teaching your children how to read or coming to your rescue in case of a fire.”


Latinos can ignite change through social media

As a solution to this dilemma, the study suggests that Latino consumer pressure can be effective when it comes to demanding new representations in the media.


Latinos are needed for new media production

Due to the lack of diversity of industry executives, there are stories that are not being told as well as people that are not being represented as they should. According to the study, there were no Latinos who were serving as studio heads, network presidents, CEOs, or owners.


Shades of Shadeism

ShadeismCreated by five students from Ryerson University’s School of Journalism in the spring of 2010, Shadeism, according to the Shadeism website, is a word that means “discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community.” In Latina terms, that pretty much means women who are treated differently, or unfairly, because their skin color is lighter or darker than other Latinas.


Sometimes, a person might not even realize they’ve experienced Shadeism until they really think back to it. It can happen so unnoticeably that you’re not even sure if it’s even considered Shadeism. On the Shadeism website, there is a clip of the documentary that was done to start off the Shadeism movement, and in it are girls of color (not all Latinas) who talk about ways they’ve experienced Shadeism. One of them even says that her family called her by a nickname that was based off of her skin color when she was born. Kind of like calling someone “guerita.”


“My family’s been calling me guera since forever,” said Mia Salazar, 22. “I’m the most light skinned in my family. It’s never bothered me, I guess, because I am. I’m a guera. I never thought there was anything wrong with it.”


But if Shadeism isn’t always a bad thing, what’s the big deal? If people are treating you better because of your skin color, it must be okay, right? Wrong. Although it probably feels great to be called prettier because of your darker or light skin color, it’s not okay because of the people who aren’t being called pretty based on their skin color. This is why Shadeism began.


“I, myself, have never experienced Shadeism, but I’ve seen it a lot in my family,” said Luz Treviño, a freshman in high school. “But I’ve seen my tias and tios do it. They call one of my cousins pretty because her skin is whiter. They still love their son, but he’s darker, like his dad, so they just think she’s prettier.”


The five people who started the documentary realized Shadeism existed and wanted to get the word out on it so they could one day stop it. For now, the founders of Shadeism hope to finish filming their documentary, after visiting different countries and talking to people of various communities, just to raise awareness in hopes of getting the people of that community to get rid of any Shadeism they may have experienced in their region. Although the Shadeism website  has yet to inform readers of how exactly to stop Shadeism, there is a video on the homepage that allows you to see the discussion between five girls and how they went about becoming aware of this type of prejudice. Discriminating, or treating people badly, because of a difference of theirs, for any reason, is always wrong, no matter what. And the best way to stop Shadeism starts with anyone who has seen it or experienced it within their own community.


If you ever notice someone treating anyone better or worse because they have light skin or dark skin, tell them it’s wrong. Especially if it happens in your own family. Family members might not even realize that they’re doing it, and telling them it is wrong can be helpful to them, as well as your community. Everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their differences.

Quiz: Do You Know the Chicano Education Struggle?

Social Media Done RightSo you know about the Alamo, Santa Ana, and maybe about Cesar Chavez. But what else do you know about the history of Mexican Americans? There’s a lot to our past that we know very little of – but no fear, we are here to help change a little of that. The Latino and Latina’s right to education has not been an easy path, and we are here to put your knowledge to the test of the Chicano educational struggle, from prominent court cases to terminology.

This quiz is not for the faint of heart. Are you up for the challenge? Step up to the plate and try your best – it’s okay if you can’t get a perfect score. You’ll walk away from this quiz learning a lot more  about the Chicano educational struggles, which is way more rewarding.

1. There were many justifications school officials used for segregating Mexican American students from white students, aside from prejudice. What was not a reason used for segregating?

A) Mexican American preference – they wanted to be segregated

B) Low achievement – they did not do well compared to other students

C) Language problems – the language barrier between Teachers and Spanish-speaking students

D) High achievement – they did better compared to the other students

2. Which act prohibits discrimination against faculty, staff, and students in educational institutions?

A) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

B) 14th Amendment

C) Equal Education Opportunity Act

D) Right to Education Act

3. Crystal City, Texas is home to one of the most prominent school walkouts in 1969 for civil rights. Students walked out in protest over the racial limitations on the ______________ put by the school board.

A) Football team

B) Student body

C) Teaching staff

D) Cheerleading squad

4. Which president passed the Bilingual Education Act, which aimed to improve programs for students with limited English-speaking abilities – but ultimately failed?

A) Lyndon B. Johnson

B) John F. Kennedy

C) Ronald Reagan

D) Barrack Obama

5. Mendez v. Westminster is a court case that addresses racial segregation. It’s most known for critiquing the “separate but equal” standard created by Plessey v. Ferguson by adding that _________ equality should be involved in the standard.

A) Social

B) Racial

C) Gender

D) Economic

6. Cisneros v. Corpus Christi ISD was the first court case to argue that Mexican Americans were an ethically identifiable minority group and abandoned the ___________ strategy that many other cases had used previously.

A) Hispanic-Caucasian

B) Other white

C) We’re all the same

D) No race

7. What does LULAC stand for?

A) Latinos United in Latin American Countries

B) League of United Latin American Citizens

C) Leave Underrepresented Latino Americans in Class

D) Love and Unite Latin Americans in the Country

8. What is the name for the type of segregation that occurs when Caucasian students leave a school because of the rise in attendance of Mexican American students?

A) De jure

B) Jumping ship

C) De facto

D) White flight

9. LULAC vs. Clements was a court case that fought for access to equal educational resources (such as higher education) for Texas residents in _______________ region.

A) Panhandle

B) South

C) Central

D) Border

10. Which of the following is not an outcome from segregated schools settings?

A) High drop out rates

B) School stress

C) Increase in college-bound students

D) Poor performance in academics

Answer Key:

1. D – Students were not segregated because they preformed higher than others.
2. C – Equal Education Opportunity Act was an important act for educational rights.
3. D – There was a restriction of only 2 Mexican American students on the cheerleading squad, despite the largely Hispanic population. This walkout prompted a change in the school board to reflect the population of the town.
4. A – Lyndon B Johnson emphasized education as a necessity for the American Dream, especially for minorities.
5. A – this case said stated the social inequality should be implemented with the “separate but equal” decision, and sparked a ripple in Civil Rights cases. It had an indirect influence on the Brown v. Board of Education case.
6. B – other white refereed to Mexican- Americans as the “other white,” but this was changed with a school attempted to mix African-American and Mexican American students as a form of “desegregation”.
7. B – LULAC is an organization that advocates for the rights of Latinos in the US.
8. D – de facto is segregation by law and de jure is segregation by residential neighborhoods.
9. D – this case was about residents in Border regions. Although they lost, it influenced the creation of South Border Texas Initiative, which is a funding package for 9 four-year universities in the area.
10. C – segregated settings negatively affect the amount of students going to college.

This quiz was inspired by a class available at the University of Texas at Austin.

Holidays in Latin America

As Latinos, we don’t just have one way to celebrate it. Latin America covers a big part of the globe and Latinas come from various countries, from Chile to Venezuela, Colombia to Guatemala and Mexico to Puerto Rico. Below you’’ll find some popular festivities from around the world.

Christmas Eve in Argentina
The day before Christmas, people participate in the lighting of paper balloons. These balloons are lit on the inside and released into the air. Firework displays are also a common activity. As in the USA, families place their gifts under the Christmas tree. They attend a midnight service at church and then they go sing Christmas carols from one house to another.

Christmas on Mexico
In Mexico, the Christmas season starts on December 16th. People adorn their houses with “Noche Buena” flowers (poinsettas), evergreen pine trees and colored lights. Sometimes families put on a nativity set (Pesebre) which can be as big as the family wants from just Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the entire city of Bethlehem. During December “Posadas” are celebrated where groups of families and friends gather together and eat, sing a break the “Piñata.” A posada commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem in search of shelter.

Consoada in Portugal
Consoada is a holiday dinner a day before Christmas where families honor their dead relatives and friends. Once the dinner is set up they add an extra seat and place setting that is left empty for the souls of the dead. Once the dinner is over they leave leftovers on the table to feed the hungry ghosts.

La Quema del Diablo, Guatemala
It translates as the Burning of the Devil and it is a prelude for Christmas. The purpose of this event is to ensure a devil-free holiday season. People sweep all the dirty corners of their houses, collect and gather the dirt and garbage in a huge pile outside, put a sculpture of the devil over the pile and light it on fire.

Christmas in Colombia
Holiday celebrations in Colombia begin in early December. Because most of the population is Catholic, the ceremonies start with the honoring of Virgin Mary. On December 7, families light candles and outline the streets with them until the whole city is illuminated. Later on December 16, Christmas trees are decorated with the start of the Novena which is a nine-day prayer ritual with a rosary in anticipation of Christmas day.

Although we are one big community, we have different customs and traditions in celebrating the holidays, but enjoying time with loved ones is a common focus.

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