Latinas Listen Up

I got these statistics from Latina Magazine but you need only to look in our backyard to see that they are being generous when it comes to our city.

51% of Latinas get pregnant at least once before turning 20. It’s twice the national average.

8.26% – Latinas have the highest teen pregnancy rate in America compared to 2.67% of whites.

One-third of 9 to 15 year old Latinas cited pregnancy or marriage as the reason they dropped out of school.

22% of Latino kids ages 16-24 were not in school in 2005 and it’s double the percentage of African Americans at 10.4%. That equals 1.4 million kids.

36.5% of recent immigrants skip school to go to work.

38% of Latinos ages 16-19 work.

34.4% of Latinos who dropped out in 2006 said they dropped out to work.

49% of Latino kids attend the poorest schools and 56% attend the largest schools. These schools offer very little in the way of advanced courses, which makes it hard to get entrance into universities.

45% of schools serving Latino kids have advanced courses and 74% of girls want them.

So what’s up? From my vantage point as a 45 year-old Latina, I see a few problems. One is that there is an inferiority complex in Latino culture and I am not sure where it comes from. We are a proud people so that may be an issue when it comes to getting some information. Ignorance is why people don’t achieve bigger things; they just don’t seek out a better way. Maybe they feel that a menial job is good enough but according to Latina the average high school drop out makes $22,000 a year. That’s below the poverty rate and hardly enough to support a family. Get a married couple making an average of $44,000 combined and while it may look a little more decent in household income that leaves the dilemma of who is at home watching the kids? While other immigrant families come here and within a generation has turned their circumstances around Latinos still have not done so.

The second is expectation. While I see very strict upbringing with a strong emphasis in education in an Asian home or a Middle Eastern home, I do not see that in a Latino home today and have never seen an importance put on education in the average Latino home. Our response to our children’s behavior is to look dumbfounded and throw our hands up in the air. We don’t expect a great deal out of kids. We criticize White America as being too permissive but in some cases we are worse. The emphasis on education simply has to change if we are going to work to change statistics. There has to be an expectation set in your child from the day you bring them home from the hospital. The expectation needs to be not IF you go to college but WHERE will you go. Not IF you will make something of yourself but that you WILL make something of yourself. Not everyone is college bound but every able body person in the world needs a job! Welfare creates slaves and a narrow-mindset. We must overcome obstacles and move forward.

For some Latina girls it’s a mixed message. Go to college, is what the education systems tells us, and make something of yourself but don’t leave your culture and marry outside of your ethnicity is what our culture says. The problem with that is that boys drop out of high school in bigger numbers and the number of men doesn’t even come close to the number of women graduating from college in any ethnicity. So the message is get an education but don’t come back too smart that you won’t be able to find a nice Latino man to marry.

In short, what we need are mentors. We need solid Latinos who will give back to those youth who just lack supervision for the most part. We need to set the example and show them that there is a better way. Yes, it takes time, I mentored a youth who struggled with home strife and gang affiliation and it meant going to speak to her school counselor each week with phone calls to the school in between our meetings. We did get this youth graduated from high school and off to a technical college. It must become the normal thing to graduate from high school and from college. It must be that the first generation of immigrants set the groundwork for success for all future generations and every generation that follows must do better than the last. Our faith as followers of Christ is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus said that we would do the things he did and greater still. That means, we train up the next generation we are in charge of to do all that we do, and greater still. We have got to look beyond our circumstances and quit looking for government bailout. We can do it by changing our mind and changing our world.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Great blog! It is not that education is not valued for those of us who come from Mexico but that in that country it has little value in the sense that many do get their degrees but with so much corruption, they are left at the mercy of the rich and corrupt. Also, since the times of the Conquistadores, the economic “strat” has demonstrated that education in Mexico does not necessarily mean a better life. I know countless of people who have a B.A. or some sort of degree in Mexico but come here to work in the fields, construction, housekeeping, etc. Their educational feats ball down to a piece of paper that means nothing to their current supervisor or the State. It is not that they do not value education, but that they have not changed their mindset from their native country’s environment to the U.S.
    As to those who are 2nd or 3rd generations here in the U.S., the lack of mentorship and abundance of ignorance in the parents. We need to educate…not only the kids but the parents. This is part of my educational philosophies. Community learning and teaching. It’s biblical and practical!

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your comments. As a child, my mother did throw her hands up when it came to school – she never attended parent conferences, never checked homework or help with assignments and overall didn’t care if I went to school or not. My 4 brothers all dropped out of high school to work and do worse. Although I was not a great student (for lack of help), I stayed with it. Many times I was also discouraged by the teachers and my oldest brother who told me when I was 11 that all I would ever amount to was a “pregnant girl on welfare.” I won’t even mentioned the amount of times someone in the family ask “You’re not pregnant, yet?”

    Happy to say that I not only graduated high school, I’ve gone on to the PhD level, currently in the dissertation phase.

    Role models were non-existent in my world, as I imagine they still are for many, BUT you have to believe in yourself, in your ability and rise to that potential. Otherwise all you are doing is contributing to the viscious cycle that puts Latinos on the margins of society and defines the outcome for the next generation.

    I decided that poverty in my family would stop with me… and it did. Education provided that stepping stone.

    • You are a role model! I would love to have you write a guest blog on this topic if you’re up to it. I think the more we Latinas speak out towards education and not status quo of welfare and babies, the more, this next generation coming behind us will hear. Imagine if YOU now, would have come along side the 11 year-old you then, you wouldn’t have felt so alone and as if you were swimming upstream against the current. If you’re interested, write the post, sign it as you’d like it to read and send it to the Ask Pastor Susan at the top. I appreciate you and am so proud of your success!


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