Today, there are roughly 55 million Latinxs living in the U.S. — each one of us with unique cultural experiences. In our new series #SomosLatinx, R29's Latinx staffers explore the parallels and contrasts that make our community so rich. Stay tuned as we celebrate our diversity during Latinx Heritage Month from September 15-October 15.
Navigating workplace politics is hard, but it can be even more complicated when you're dealing daily with subtle racism, demoralizing microagressions, or outright discrimination and bias. And yet, this is a reality for so many Latinx working in the U.S. today.
For the Latinx community, heightened tensions concerning immigration and widespread criminalization result in a huge spectrum of racist attitudes that show up in different ways. And while some of them are overt, such as a violent request to speak English (which is especially ironic considering huge swaths of this country are historically and ancestrally part of Mexico), other acts of racism are more subdued. But this doesn't make them any less painful.
What might be a well-intentioned comment about skin tone (You're so tan!), a seemingly innocent question about nationality or immigration status (Where are you really from? Were you born here?), or an inappropriate joke (You pass for an MS-13 member with that haircut!) can make the person on the receiving end feel an overwhelming range of emotions — particularly when these types of comments are made in the workplace. After all, standing up to a coworker or a manager is definitely not easy, especially when your livelihood is on the line.
There are also varying levels of privilege within the Latinx community, whether based on class, race, immigration status, or otherwise. And considering we come from so many different countries, racial backgrounds, and experiences, no two Latinxs are alike. For this reason, a lot of the time, colorism and discrimination aren't just perpetuated by outsiders — they happen within our own community.
While things like colorism and microaggressions are increasingly showing up in the national dialogue, there is still a lot of work to be done so that more people understand why these types of interactions can be so hurtful and alienating. For Latinx Heritage Month, Refinery29 interview 8 Latinx professionals about their experiences with microaggressions in the workplace to shed light on how these pervasive issues show up daily.