Latinas: Race and Ethnicity

Family has the power to build or break a person’s a person’s confidence. Factors such as racial and ethnic identities also contribute to a family’s ability to manipulate this confidence. There may be some differences that can cause a person’s family to silently reject or “other” them. On the other hand, the rejection of one family member means the acceptance of another. Physical features are a part of a person’s racial/ethnic identity and can cause the family to reject or accept a person. This rejection/acceptance is clearly seen through how a family communicates (or doesn’t) with the specific family member. In the short story, “Your Lips” by Yomaira Figueroa, we are able to see how a family “others” the narrator through verbal communication, and plain disregard for the narrator. In the short story, “Sabrina & Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, there is a clear lack of proper communication with the narrator after Sabrina’s funeral. This causes the narrator to not be able to grieve in the way she finds appropriate and it also causes her to look at the negative parts of her relationship with Sabrina. Sabrina also fell victim to being overly accepted by the family, so much so that she fell down the wrong path in life.

In the short story, “Your Lips” by Yomaira Figueroa, the narrator is very clearly feeling a divide between her and her family due to her physical features. Her family causes her to not embrace her racial/ethnic identity and instead creates a self-doubt within the narrator. A quote that shows this communication from her family is when a family member states, “Ay pero Palmita, your lips are like your father’s. Tu ves? They aren’t like ours” (Figueroa 8.) Instead of playing a part in developing the narrator’s self-confidence, they choose to hinder its growth. By not allowing the narrator to decide for herself what does or doesn’t look good on her, her family makes her feel like she doesn’t belong. The reason this may have a deeper effect on the narrator could be because these kinds of comments would never be expected to come from her family. Families are supposed to be accepting and loving, and when they make comments such as these, the narrator may not view them as a positive community.

In the short story, “Sabrina & Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Corina and her feelings are completely disregarded after the death of her “pretty cousin” Sabrina. Corina’s family treated Corina as a Sabrina storyteller instead of a person who also needed to grieve. This blatant disregard made Corina feel like an extension of a person she felt she didn’t even know anymore. Not once did her family ask her how she was feeling, and this lack of communication made Corina feel like the extension of something that had already moved on. Sabrina, on the other hand, is a victim of too much communication and affirmation of her identity. A quote that reflects this idea is, “They had always admired Sabrina, copying her makeup and her clothes. She was the family beauty, the gorgeous cousin, their lovely doll” (Fajardo-Anstine 26.) Sabrina was reassured about her looks from a young age, and as explained, she was treated like a doll, not a human. She was taught that looks are everything and even tried to use them to her advantage by becoming a sex worker. Her family never reached out to her when she was struggling, probably because they did not believe that someone who was pretty could face hardship. Being treated as a doll erased her identity and her struggles and reduced Sabrina to just a pretty face.

Racial and ethnic identities and a person’s confidence in these parts of their identities are always being tested. Many would assume that families reassure people with these aspects of identity, however for many people the opposite is true. The way that a family communicates and reassures (or doesn’t) a person can have unintended consequences. It is important for family members to look below the surface level to erase any prejudice they may have. It is especially important for family members to not exclude others. Instead, families should embrace each difference in their family because that is what makes us all unique.

3 thoughts on “Latinas: Race and Ethnicity

  1. Hi, Angie

    I liked what you wrote on your blog post on both reading. While reading I agreed on what you wrote on how family reject others family member because it’s something that happen in ever Latino family. I also I agreed when you talked about how in the short story “Sabrina & Corina” the family doesn’t once ask Corina about feels on losing her cousin. Lastly, I liked when you said that her family never reach out and see her as doll because of her pretty face. There were many things while I was reading, I didn’t see while I was reading the short story, and your blog made me realized many things that was happening in this story that I have missed.

  2. Hi Angie,

    I really like your analysis on both of the readings. One thing that stood out to me that you mentioned was how families who are overly accepting of someone can also affect their confidence in a negative way like with Sabrina. Although her confidence wasn’t diminished by her family like Corina, Sabrina still suffered a great deal because her family had painted this perfect picture of her that Sabrina was pressured into fitting or even going over the standards her family had placed onto her. Like you mentioned, once she was struggling, her family never reached out to her because they didn’t want to acknowledge that she, someone who is supposed to be perfect, can go through struggles.

  3. Hey Angie, I really enjoyed how this post was pieced together. The first sentence was strong, and really captivates something that is so common in the Latino community even now. You did a great job of connecting how both stories demonstrate how familly has the power to make or break confidence.

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