I teach a class called ‘Decolonize Your Diet,’ and I talk about the Spaniards arriving in Mesoamerica. One of the first things they tried to change—in addition to religion— was the way people ate. They introduced wheat and tried to make eating bread something that was seen as more valuable than eating corn. They outlawed amaranth, and in South America they outlawed quinoa.

I tell my students to think about how the dominant powers are invested in controlling what their subjects eat, and then to take that concept from the 1500s to our contemporary era and ask themselves, ‘What are the powers that be wanting us to eat right now? Where are all the food subsidies going? How is that influencing what we’re eating? Who’s benefiting and who’s suffering because of that?’ For students, drawing those connections is really powerful, and it gives them a tangible way to analyze relations of power.

Some Latinx-American issues that are not discussed enough
  • A rapidly increasing number of hate crimes against Latinxs. From 2011 to 2012, the number of attacks reported increased more than threefold (x).
  • Racial profiling from law enforcement officers, which leads to a variety of other problems. Latinxs are 2.5 more likely to be issued a ticket, 1.5 times more likely to be arrested, and 20% more likely to have their vehicles searched for contraband although deputies are 85% less likely to find drugs than in vehicles driven by those of other ethnic groups (x).
  • Widespread police killings and brutality against Latinxs. Latinxs accounted for the second highest police-induced fatality rate in 2015 behind African Americans (x). These incidents become more common in heavily Latinx areas. For example, of the 23 people fatally shot in Los Angeles County from January to July 2015, 14 were Latinos (x).
  • Judicial bias has led to harsher and longer sentencing for young Latino males. Contributing to this situation, Latinx people are less likely to have the financial means for a private attorney; thus resulting in higher incarceration rates (x). A Latino male on trial has a 17% chance of serving prison time while a white male only has 6% (x).
  • Presidential candidate Donald Trump launched his campaign by denouncing Mexicans as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” and suggested building a wall on the US-Mexico border paid by the government of Mexico. If Mexico were not to comply, all remittances sent to the country would be blocked (x). In August 2015, two white men that identified as Trump supporters beat a 58-year-old homeless Latino man with a metal pole and then urinated on him. Trump responded by saying his supporters are “very passionate” (x).
  • Under the Barrack Obama administration, the number of deportations have grown rampantly. The US is removing immigrants at nine times the rate of 20 years ago with over 2.8 million people having been deported since Obama took office, easily making him the president with the highest number of deportations (x)(x)(x)(x). Deportation of non-criminal immigrants still accounts for the majority of all removals as well (x).
  • Medical repatriation allows hospitals to put undocumented patients, often unconscious, on flights back to their home countries. This is done to avoid the costs of keeping patients with uncertain financial means (x). Over 800 cases were found from 2006 to 2012 (x).
  • Arizona SB 1070 remains law in the state of Arizona as of 2010. The law requires aliens staying in the US longer than 30 days to register with the US government, carry documentation at all times if not be charged a misdemeanor crime, reserves the right for state law enforcement to stop or arrest suspected illegal immigrants, and imposed penalties on those sheltering, hiring or transporting illegal immigrants. These provisions were upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court and inspired a number of similar bills in other states (x)(x).
  • Arizona also banned ethnic studies in public schools. They are considered to be “un-American” (x).
  • Legislative proposals have been made to strip US-born children of immigrant parents of their birthright citizenship (x). A number of politicians have expressed support for this, including Trump (x).
  • Underrepresentation in political office at both federal and state levels (x). There are currently 28 Hispanics in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate despite the fact that Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US and account for an estimated 18% of the population (x).
  • Lack of representation in mainstream media. Since 2006, only five Latinx or Latinx-descendant artists have reached number one on the Hot 100 as a lead act. Latinxs are also the most underrepresented ethnic group in television, film, and even fewer exist in top media positions (x)(x).
  • Erasure of Afro-Latinxs in the media and a lack of understanding for the identity. Afro-Latinxs also face additional racism from within the Latin community (x)(x).
  • The gender wage gap affects Latina women most severely. On average, Latinas earn 55 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes. In some states, this ranges from 43 to 59 cents, thus making Latinas the most underpaid group in the US (x).
  • Human and sex trafficking. Hispanics account for the vast majority of labor trafficking victims in the US, with over 55% of all victims being Hispanic. Additionally, over 23% of sex trafficking victims are Hispanic (x).
  • Latinx households experience disproportionate levels of poverty and have lower household income than non-Hispanic whites. The median income for a Hispanic household is $42,491, whereas the median for a non-Hispanic white household is $60,256.  Poverty rates for Hispanics are at 24%, more than double the 10% of non-Hispanic whites. Ten percent of all Latinos live deep in poverty as well, compared to the national average of 7% (x).
  • Food insecurity.  Latinx households are more than twice as likely to be food insecure as non-Hispanic, white households. More than 1 in 4 Latinx children live in food insecure households (x).
  • Hispanics have consistently had the highest high school dropout rates by ethnic group since 1990 or before (x). A lack of financial resources, inadequate school resources, and parents’ limited knowledge of the US public school system have contributed to this (x).
  • Undocumented high-school graduates have less access to higher education. In all states, undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid from the federal government. Most states require undocumented students to pay out-of-state or international rates to attend colleges or universities in their home states, thus resulting in highly exorbitant costs and blocking many from higher education. In Georgia and other states, undocumented students are banned from enrolling in some public colleges or universities altogether (x).
  • According to a Pew Research Center, Latinx people are the 2nd most discriminated against ethnic group after African-Americans. An estimated 22% of Hispanic/Latinx workers reported experiencing workplace discrimination (x). Meanwhile, 58% of Latinx people agree that racism is a prevailing issue (x).

Coke is using Rio to target Latinos — and that’s a huge problem.

Food advertisers are thirsty for attention during the Olympic Games, and a recent interview with a Coca-Cola spokesperson reveals that the brand is targeting Hispanics with its #ThatsGold campaign.

In an interview with Portada-Online, associate brand manager Melissa Palacios said that the #ThatsGold campaign will include themes of positivity and inclusiveness because “… more than other ethnic groups, Hispanics are particularly interested in the potential underdog stories, those stories of hard work and success.”

The problem: Coke isn’t celebrating Hispanics or the variety of cultures in the Olympics — the company is currying good favor with specific populations. The goal? To gain lifelong Coke addicts —ahem, consumers. Junk food marketers disproportionally target minorities.

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I came upon a study of Latinas and breast cancer where they studied San Francisco Bay Area Latinas with breast cancer. They found that immigrant, foreign-born Latinas had a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer than U.S.-born Latinas. We started doing more research into Latino immigrant health and found out that it’s very well known in the public health literature that immigrant Latinos, when they first arrive in the U.S., have better health than middle-class white Americans. Those first ten years their overall mortality rate, infant mortality rate of children born to immigrant mothers, all these statistics are really strong, which is very surprising given health disparities in this population. There are literally hundreds of studies about this dichotomy. The more educated Latina you are, the higher your risk of breast cancer. We started thinking, Well, what if it’s diet? We started researching Mexican ancestral foods, the foods that people in rural Mexico are eating, and finding that it’s really a plant-based diet. Meat is used only as a condiment. It’s not the cheese-laden food that you find at the typical Mexican restaurant here in the U.S.
White Passing Latina in America

I’m a writer and web developer from Colorado, and I am a white passing Latina. I was born to a German/Russian/Jewish mother and a Mexican/Nicaraguan/Spanish/Martian father. For most of my life, I had no idea what ‘Latino’ was, or that my mom’s family was Jewish, or really anything. I heard my dad speak words I didn’t understand, and he wouldn’t tell me what they meant. 

I was about ten years old when I began learning about my heritage. As I learned more about what Latinos were, what their culture was, what their languages were, I felt like this missing piece of me was finally coming back. 

One problem: I’m white. I looked nothing like the people I saw in pictures, or even like my family in Mexico. When I told my friends I was Mexican, I was met with, “You’re too white to be Mexican.“ This came from whites and Latinos. After all, I’m white, I don’t speak Spanish, I’ve never been to Mexico, I don’t spend time with my Mexican family, no way am I Latina. 

Today, I speak Spanish, like Spanish music, dance salsa, and enjoy Mexican cooking, but I still hesitate to call myself Latina.

Beauty Standards: White skin doesn’t help you when you’re fat. I was constantly reminded by family, by schoolmates, random men and by media in general, that I was too fat, that boys like skinny girls, that girls liked skinny girls. Although, since I’m a woman, I’d be getting crap whether I was skinny or not.

I grew up during a time when tanning was all the rage (and arguably, still is), and started getting crap for being too white. So, while all the white girls were tanning, all the girls of color were trying to look more white.

By the time I was a junior in high school, I gave up trying to please everyone and went back to playing my vidya games. 

Dating and Relationships: My family doesn’t discriminate when it comes to sex, and apparently, neither do I. My first “boyfriend” in middle school was Vietnamese, and in high school, I had two Filipino/Mexican boyfriends. In college, I dated a German/Chinese guy, a Russian guy and a black/Korean guy. I, uh, I’m noticing a pattern here.

Every once in awhile, I’d get those douchebags that used Spanish pick up lines. I’m all for speaking another language, but not if you’re reading pick up lines from a site that teaches you how to flirt with Latinas. Relying on outdated stereotypes, and things you’ve learned from porn will get you nowhere. 

Well, it might get you a kick to the crotch. 

Food: Even before I fully embraced my Hispanic heritage, I loved the hell out of Mexican food. I also love sangria. If you want to be my best friend, take me to a place that has sangria. No issues here, just love for food!

Identity issues: I’m a walking identity issue. To prevent those negative thoughts, and many of those lovely micro-aggressions, I just say I’m white and be done with it. 

Micro-aggressions, Or How to Quickly Piss Me Off: 

  • I’m too “white” to be Latina.

  • You talk too much like a white girl. 

  • You’re too smart to be Latina or You’re like, the only smart Latina I know. 

  • Wow, a Mexican girl who doesn’t have a kid? 

  • No, where are you really from? 

And just so we’re clear, ignorance knows no race. I’ve heard every single one of these comments come from whites, [Black people]  and even other Latinas. 

Things I’d like to see less of:

  • “No, where are you really from?” Seriously, stop it. 

  • Stop fetishizing women of color. We’re human beings, not porn categories. 

  • Jokes about Asian men’s penis size. It’s not funny, and it’s not going to make you friends.

  • Idiots on the internet. Hey, I can dream. 

Things I’d like to see more of:

  • Well written interracial relationships. Not just about a white guy and the flavor of the month. 

  • More well written Native American characters. 

  • More diverse lit, shows and films. Preferably more diverse sci-fi stuff. Cuz I leik sci-fi.

Tropes/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing:

  • Say it with me now: No more Latino stereotypes! No more “fiery Latinas”, maids or drug dealers. If the character is a maid or dealer, at least write them realistically. 

  • Female characters getting killed/raped/tortured/kidnapped as a plot device, to shock, or to motivate the male character. 

  • Stereotypical Muslim villains, or helpless Muslim women who need Americans to save them. 

  • No more outdated stereotypes. It’s 2016, time to move on.