With Halloween right around the corner, I’m already preparing myself for the abundance of Día de los Muertos costumes—costumes that reduce a sacred Mexican holiday when families and friends honor their deceased loved ones to nothing more than spooky face paint and floral hairpieces. And one of the worst aspects of this problem is how this insensitivity will most likely go unnoticed by the general public.
Whether it’s white celebrities like Lana del Rey and Kendall Jenner wearing Chola fashion for the trend, or the whitewashing of Cinco de Mayo—a Mexican holiday that isn’t nearly as big of a deal in its country of origin as it is in the United States—the appropriation of Latinx culture is not uncommon in American society. On a larger scale, the struggles experienced by Latinx Americans are all too frequently forgotten, disregarded, or even erased.
Even though there are millions of Latinx people living in the United States, the racism and cultural appropriation inflicted upon this population is overlooked far too often, and perpetrators of such appropriative acts face little to no repercussions. Given the recent growth in mainstream coverage of the issues surrounding our country’s racial hierarchy, the public scrutiny regarding injustices towards Latinx people is simply inadequate.
Especially at Emerson, where only 14 percent of the undergraduate student body identifies as Latinx, the people speaking on behalf of these issues are consistently drowned out. Outside of the student cultural organizations like AMIGOS, UNITE, POWER, and Flawless Brown, there is almost no dialogue about Latinx discrimination. And this exact lack of discussion is only a reflection of societal attitudes towards the issues faced by Latinx Americans.
Plenty of folks were quick to criticize President Trump’s repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal policy that protected thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Likewise, there were countless Facebook posts and Tweets condemning his response (or lack thereof) to the devastation of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But in regards to the everyday discrimination inflicted upon the Latinx population, these offenses are consistently swept under the rug, as though they aren’t substantial enough to be taken seriously. It shouldn’t require a hurricane or a bigoted president for people to suddenly express interest in the plight of the Latinx community.
The struggles of Latinx Americans existed long before these catastrophic events, and will continue to persist long after. When the media coverage of Trump’s proposed border wall has subsided, and the #DefendDACA hashtags are no longer trending, it is up to the rest of the public to continue to stand with their Latinx peers and actively resist racial injustice. Latinx lives matter all the time, not just when it’s convenient.