Death of Diversity Narratives by Latinos Unidos
“This school is so white,” was my first thought coming to this school. But I won’t judge a person just because of their skin color and the stereotyped elitist status that comes with it. Yet I quickly began missing La Ciudad de Los Angeles where left and right was a sea of pigmented skins, from the palest of whites to the darkest of blacks. I can do this. These people’s skin color mean nothing. They’re young adults with open minds who will accept me and my Guatemalan culture. Who will respect my religious upbringing, who won’t assume I’m Mexican, who won’t assume I like tequila because I identify as Latina. But the past three and a half years have been a series of indifferent conversations and passificity. No question as to what makes me me. I began losing the Chapina in me. The Latina barely visible. I no longer said muchas gracias after every meal. My spanish suffered as I stumbled to remember the word for spoon. El Dia de La Virgen de Guadalupe was just another night for studying. Conclusion? No one cares about diversity. Except me. Except my fellow latinos. Except the students of color. Except the students who feel alone, and lost in a sea of white children who don’t understand their privilege and how their indifference and ignorant tongues affect “that one hispanic kid” in their class.
Truth be told, I forgot how white this school was because i surrounded myself with a diverse group of people. From different cultures, different economic backgrounds, different stories. I found myself a comfortable niche. And within that comfort, I nearly forgot the issue at hand. The Death of Diversity. I am a senior now, and have little time to change things. But its enough time to start making a difference. And with the time I have left, I will not leave quietly.
– Gabriela Yoque (Gaby), Class of 2016
I hate writing things on paper.
There’s no emotion that can be read on paper. I can italicize, bold, change the font all I want.
Yet you, as a reader, will have no idea what emotions I’m really trying to convey.
So watch yourself, as you read an try to understand me.
Because even if you hear the pain in my words, and can somewhat sense the bullshit I put up with on this campus.
“When you look upset you look like you’re gonna kill someone”
“Oh so you’re straight out of Compton right?” or alternatively any usage of the form “Tacompton or T-Loke”
“Oh! You’re from El Salvador? What part of Mexico is that?”
“Calm down, this isn’t about race”
And I swear to god if someone else asks me if I’ve seen Narcos one more time!
You know what they said to my ex when I finally got into a relationship?
“ooohh you’re the girl who tamed Zeman?”
Like I was some animal. Some beast. Not even fucking human!
I am dehumanized, relegated to my appearance.
I am scary, intimidating, a man-slut and some sort of ethnic that people at this school don’t really seem to care about.
Even through all that. I still think this school is composed of good people. People who want to do right by the world. It’s not the fault of the campus so much as the systems that taught us all right from wrong.
All I ask is, if you are one of those good people. Take the time to educate yourself. Talk to the AFAM or Latino Studies Departments. Learn about systemic oppression.
If you’re one of those people on the other hand, who want to tell me to lighten up, that I’m making too big of a deal about this:
My name is Zeman Ali Nathoo. I am a Senior with a Major in Psychology, Minors in Theatre and Latino Studies. I am half Salvadoran and half Pakistani. My number is 310-989-0452. My email is email@example.com. You can find me as the one of 4 (roughly) people of color who frequent Diversions.
Now you have no excuse to not come talk to me, come find me. We’ll chat, and hopefully we’ll both learn some things.
I’ll be waiting.
I am a Latina. I grew up with frijoles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite breakfast was café con pan. As a “gifted student” I grew competitive and worked hard, this earned me a spot in a mid-upper class public school for Students for Advanced Studies. My peers rejected me. My backpack wasn’t the right style, my shoes were cheap, my uniform was bought in a barrio surplus store. My dad would take me to school in his old ‘85 Ford work truck. He’s a mechanic. Grease stains were a part of my daily life and a loud rumbling could be heard before you even saw his old jalopy coming.
Now you don’t hear a truck rumble before you see me.
Now I’ve worked hard to buy the materials I need to “fit in”.
I don’t share my story with this world, the margins of my papers are meant for doodles and imaginary tattoo drawings, not the place for me to make subtle implications and metaphors for what otherwise I can’t say out loud.
I don’t speak up because my voice doesn’t carry the same cadence, I don’t have the same language to describe my experiences which can be so vastly different from yours.
My story doesn’t fit into this place where everyone assumes your parents went to college.
My story doesn’t include living in a financially stable home.
My story isn’t shared when teachers assume I view the world through the same lens as my peers.
My story can’t compete with all the stories of your trips to Africa, England, Japan, and India – where your parents would take you on holiday.
My story has far too many humble beginnings without any certain endings yet. A period doesn’t punctuate my life, big question-marks line it from beginning to end-
I want my story to be heard but I don’t want the shame that comes along with it.
I am your friend, your roommate, the stranger you smile to–but I don’t share your story, so please, when you share yours, take a moment to hear mine and the untold truth rambling on in my head.
Just try for a moment to realize that while I’m not like you, I want the same things we all want here, it just might take me a bit longer or I might need a bit more help.
Shame. Bullying. Fear. These are the things I’ve carried on my shoulders for so long.
Don’t let my story here carry the same chains I’ve carried for what seems like an eternity.
– Ada Quevedo, Class of 2018