Younger Latinos More Likely to Discuss Racism & Discrimination

Younger generations of Latinos are more likely than their immigrant parents to talk about issues like racism and discrimination, particularly when it comes to discrimination against Black people.

“Most of our societies are fundamentally racist against darker people,” said political science professor Eduardo Gamarra, according to Carmen Sesin and Cora Cervante of NBC Latino.

Generation Z, typically defined as those born between 1997 and 2015, may be more willing to confront their immigrant parents about racism because they are more racially diverse than past generations and active in social justice movements.

Let’s examine how Latino youth compare to older generations, some characteristics of Generation Z, and the implications for how Latinos can tackle discrimination and implicit bias.

Why Do Generations Differ on Racism & Discrimination?

Young Latinos tend to be more open and critical when it comes to discussions on race and discrimination than their parents who immigrated from Latin American countries.

This could be due to the experiences of older immigrants in their countries of origin.

Although history and social movements differ in the U.S. and Latin America, historians point out that Latino immigrants likely witnessed how racism and classism are intertwined and carried those ideas with them.

“Beyond the lack of knowledge and stereotypes around the Black American experience, there is widespread racism embedded in Latin American countries that immigrants can bring along with them when they migrate. The legacy of colonialism and slavery left social, economic and political consequences that persist to this day,” according to NBC Latino.

This means that Afro-Latinos and indigenous Latinos in Latin America are worse off than white Latinos, who are more likely to have the income and opportunity to move to the U.S.

“In reality, Afro descendants and Indigenous people tend to be at the bottom of the barrel in terms of education, income and positions of power,” according to NBC Latino.

Latinos face discrimination.

But those experiences often differ with skin color and are worse for those with darker skin.

Student Protest Racism

“Latinos with darker skin, compared to Latinos with lighter skin, are more likely to fear for their personal safety (35% to 23%), say people acted as if they weren’t smart (55% to 36%), been treated in hiring, pay, or promotion (30% to 19%), and been unfairly stopped by police (24% to 11%),” according to a Salud America! research review.

Older Latino immigrants may be more focused on their own experiences with discrimination rather than other groups.

“While we Latinos face discrimination, to be a person of color in this country, specifically to be Black, is something that comes with a lot, that at times we have a hard time recognizing because we are so wrapped up in our own experience” said Saul Ríos, an older Mexican immigrant, according to NBC Latino.

Younger Latinos, on the other hand, are more likely to seek out information about race from a variety of sources, like television and social media.

“That knowledge, among the younger generations, isn’t knowledge that’s coming from schools or formal forces of information,” said sociology professor Jomills Braddock, according to NBC Latino.

What are Characteristics of Generation Z?

The youngest generation, Gen Z, is unique from past generations in their ethnic/racial makeup, immigrant status, education, and their increasingly progressive political beliefs.

The following are key findings about Gen Z from a May 2020 PEW Research survey:

  • 25% of Gen Z members are Latino, with 14% being Black, 6% Asian, and 52% white
  • 57% are enrolled in college
  • Gen Z Latinos are less likely than past generations to be immigrants
  • Gen Z leans liberally on issues like climate change, racial progress, the role of government

Group Of Teenage Friends Dancing Outdoors Against Sun

Gen Z Latinos have also been studied for how unique they are compared to older generations of Latinos.

“With a median age of 28, Latinos are the nation’s youngest major racial or ethnic group,” according to PEW Research.

Here are some key findings on young Latinos:

  • 81% of young Latinos are U.S. born, compared to 42% of Latinos older than 36
  • 76% of Latinos ages 18 to 35 said it was not necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino, compared to 67% of older Latinos
  • 41% of young Latinos are English dominant, compared to 24% of older Latinos
  • Young Latinos believe in the American dream, with 77% saying most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard and 75% saying that when their children are adults, their standard of living will be much or somewhat better

With the increased diversity, education, and shift in opinion, it’s not surprising that young Latinos want to speak up about racism and discrimination.

How Can We All Learn About Bias and Discrimination?

Unfortunately, implicit bias and discrimination can harm many people of color, including Latinos.

Racial and ethnic discrimination can lead to negative impacts on educational attainment, which limits future educational, health, social, and career opportunities for people of color, according to a Salud America! research review.

Many people think that they aren’t biased or believe they know their biases and don’t act on them.

But everyone has implicit bias.

Implicit biases are stereotypes that affect our actions and decisions about others, beyond our conscious control.

Fortunately, we can learn about our implicit biases and work toward more compassion for others.

Download the free Salud America! Action Pack “Find Out If You Have Implicit Bias and What to Do Next.”

This Action Pack will help you see if you have implicit bias, and learn from others who have overcome their own implicit bias. You can also encourage others to learn about implicit bias, too.


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