A particular part about being a member of an ethnic minority group is that sometimes we are viewed and treated differently than others. These instances of differential treatment may cause us to feel distrust, anger, sadness, judged, misunderstood, and feeling less than others. What we are talking about here is discrimination. For Latino/a youth this can be something that we encounter daily – even in places that we should feel safe, like school and work. These encounters of discrimination may create difficulties for us as we question the reasons for why people feel or behave in these ways towards us or towards our family members.
We might also begin to question our abilities due to hearing others tell us what they think we can and can’t do. An example may be that our counselors at school might not want to help us with college applications because “we should focus on more realistic expectations,” as though we as ethnic minorities should not be college bound. We might think that it’s unfair to experience this type of discrimination just because we belong to an ethnic minority group—and it is unfair– but that does not make it go away. Latino/a youth are more vulnerable to discrimination than youth that do not belong to an ethnic minority group and it is important that you know you are not alone and that we understand – because we’ve been there. Some of the common feelings and questions that come up regarding these situations may include:
- Why don’t I fit in? I feel so lost.
- Why do other people look at me that way?
- Why is it ok for others to make jokes about Latino/as?
- I don’t feel safe or comfortable here. Will those people threaten me and call me names again?
- I feel strong emotions when I hear the news talk about illegal immigrants. How do I deal with that?
These, among others, are all questions and emotions that we may have when we are in this situation, and that’s why we’re here! We hear you and you are not alone! Questions and feelings like these as well as others are all things that we can talk about with a counselor. Whether you are at school or at a community agency, seeking special time with a counselor gives you a safe space to talk about these things without feeling weird, judged, or misunderstood.
To get more information on where to find someone to talk to click here!