Discrimination and Poverty

Topics: Hispanic and Latino Americans, Hispanic, United States Pages: 5 (1467 words) Published: August 30, 2012
I chose this group because Hispanic Americans make of approximately 15% of the entire US population. Of which, “22% are below poverty cutoff” (Sullivan 2010). The head of household is headed by women which are the largest segment of that group; they account for 39% of Hispanics that live below the poverty level (Sullivan 2010). Studies show that the National Women Law Center states a staggering statistics that in 1998, more than half of women headed Hispanic families with children were poor (NWLC 1999). The text states that Hispanics have historically “experienced a great deal of discrimination in their efforts to establish a niche in the United States” (Sullivan 2010). Latinas face an ever greater set of obstacles unique to their experience. The single Latina raising her family will endure the adverse effects of stereotyping and prejudice on her employability and earning power often leading to a multi-generational cycle of poverty.

What truly interested me about this group is because I had a very close friend who witnessed and experienced bigotry and discrimination. I heard about countless stories of assumptions and sexual harassment that where deeply rooted by stereotypes and prejudice. This truly got my attention to understand the invisible forces that kept certain groups in oppressed in poverty. Through my educational pursuits, the correlation between discrimination and poverty has become clearer: the various prejudices feed the cultural orientation toward poverty. The prejudice a Latina contends with while searching and maintaining employment is very hard.

Some of the biases known to work against Latina’s would be the employer bias to disregard an applicant’s quality of education based on her ethnic origin. A study regarding wage discrimination against Hispanic females states, “Hispanics tend to concentrate in relatively poor neighborhoods with mostly minorities and lower quality schools affecting negatively their labor market rewards” (Alfonso 2001). Hence, hiring managers tend to view Latina applicants as unable to negotiate the position due to an inferior education, thereby limiting their employment opportunities to those with less earning potential. In fact, another study finds that Hispanic women are most likely to work in low paying jobs, especially service occupations such as domestic service jobs (Caiazza, Shaw, & Werschkul, 2004). Another related employer bias stems from assumed or actual language barriers. This can act as a huge stumbling block for many Latin women during the hiring process or moving up in her employment. While many Hispanics are English speaking American Citizens, there are many individuals who assume that all Hispanics are illegal immigrants who are not able to speak or read English properly. However, the Spanish language is a defining feature of the Hispanic culture. It has been noted that an “estimated … 11 percent of Hispanic workers experienced discrimination based on their race or origin in 1999” (Caiazza, Shaw, & Werschkul, 2004). This employer bias can have a negative effect - forcing Hispanic women to take or keep low-paying, undesirable positions to support her family.

As such, the cyclic nature of poverty can perpetuate a mindset steeped in powerlessness and hopelessness. This can render a Latina unable to cope well enough in order improve her situation when battling multiple layers of discrimination from employers. What's worse, the discrimination is often subtle and accepted because it is so deeply entrenched in accepted cultural norms (Sullivan 2010). Furthermore, this level of hopelessness can often thwart any substantive progress or development, further continuing the cycle.

The text refers to these phenomena as a “conflictual subculture,” where one is led to believe that the discrimination and poverty they experience has total control over their lives (Sullivan 2010). Any positive growth, change, or opportunity is in control of outside forces as opposed...

References: Sullivan, T. J. (2010). Introduction to Social Problems, Eighth Edition, Boston, MA: Pearson
NCLR: (2010)
NWLC: (1999, September 30). Poverty & Income Support, Retrieved April 2010, from National
Women 's Law Center: http://www.nwlc.org/details.cfm?id=376§ion=child+and+family+support
NWLC. (2008, September). Poverty among Women and Families, 2000-2007: Getting worse
Even before the downturn
LULAC: (2010, September)
Alfonso, M. (2001, October). Poverty and Discrimination Hispanic Women, Retrieved April
2010, from Teachers College at Columbia University: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/students/see/events/Alfonso%20-%2010-30-01.pdf
Caiazza, P. A., Shaw, A., & Werschkul, M. (2004, April 20). The Status of Women in the States.
Retrieved April 2010, from Institute for Women 's Policy Research: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/R260.pdf
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