Understanding Stereotypes and Discrimination in the United States: The Latino Middle Class Experience
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In the United States, the Latino middle class is growing. Now, more than ever, one can see Latino men and women in all lines of work and careers in American society. This study is an examination of the ways in which middle class or professional Latinos in the United States experience discrimination and stereotyping, to understand the effects of the encounters on the live of Latinos, and how one interprets and copes with those experiences. This was investigated by in-depth interviews with eight middle class Latinos from St. Louis area. My findings suggest that encounters with stereotypes and discrimination cause Latinos to struggle with adjusting to U.S society and North American people. This study also shows that encounters with discrimination cause middle class Latinos to distance and distinguish themselves from Mexicans, Latino immigrants, or working class Latinos in order to not be perceived as "Mexican, poor, and uneducated." It was also common for the interviewees to then affirm the common stereotypes of Latinos in the U.S. All in all, this study suggests that the interpretation of a discriminatory incident as negative or as discrimination depends on factors of national origin, U.S.-born vs. foreign-born Latinos, cultural background/socialization, race, class standing, who the perpetrator is, if the discriminatory act or statement is blatant, direct, and negative, and if the victim consciously rejects the label of discrimination.