Being a member of the Latinx community comes with its baggage, including a diverse cultural background, extraordinary resilience, delicious food, and the weight of your whole family on your shoulders. It is not a myth that a grandma’s biggest desire is to see their grandchildren become doctors and marry early.
As Latinos, we are born into these expectations that are constantly stressed during our growth, and more likely than not, those expectations have no steady support system or base to grow from. The pressure to be a successful Latino is real and, to be honest, not fair.
“Success” has a different meaning in a Latin country. As we see, our parents work two and three jobs to bring food to the table or enroll us in a decent school; it is almost verbatim that we cannot let them down.
We fear to disappoint our parents and have them believe that all their sweat was in vain. From a very young age, we are told that we must get good grades in school and work harder than everyone else because our background predisposes a disadvantage. If we do not do good in school, we won’t go to college because paying it is not an option. That the future of our family name rests in our ability to get the highest GPA, attend a good university, and get a high paying job-if in the field of medicine even better. That’s the definition of success that the Latinx community pushes, and many pass on to their children.
The unfair part comes into play when success expectations are pressed down, but there is no fundamental base to start.
Latinx students don’t have a support system that will inform them about how to get into college, the scores needed, the universities to apply to, or their opportunities. Most students can’t even ask their parents for help to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid because, according to the PNPI, 48% of them are first-generation students.
Once you are born in a continuing cycle of poor education, it is difficult to change a trajectory upwards. However, Latinos are still expected to bring their family out of that endless loop.
Even though some families affront every obstacle possible, like lack of proficiency in English, poverty, and lack of resources, there is an excellent quantity of Latinos who can overcome it all. According to the U.S Census Bureau, between the years 2000 and 2015 the, “number of Latinx college students more than doubled, to 3 million. Their share of overall college enrollment rose between 1996 and 2016 from 8 to 19%.” These statistics prove that just as the pressure to be successful is overloaded on us, our resilience helps us overcome it.
The fear of disappointing our families and not taking them out of a negative cycle is just a glimpse into the pressure Latinos feel from a very young age. Our parents raise us to be successful by their standards and expect us to rise to such entirely on our own. These expectations and our resilience to overcome it are embedded in our baggage and are among the many gifts that make us who we are.