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Bucking the Hispanic stereotype

We're in your schools. We live in your neighborhoods. We're the so-called "white-washed" Hispanics. Ostracized by our own people for not conforming to the stereotype that society and the media has labeled us with, we walk a fine line between what is considered white and what is considered Hispanic. We're being cast into a role by our non-Hispanic peers, and also judged by our Hispanic brothers who are pointing with a crooked finger and telling us that we're "less Hispanic" than they are.

I am Hispanic not because of what music I listen to or how I talk, but because of the traditions that I have been taught by my parents who came to this country from Mexico and Argentina. What makes me Hispanic and connects me to other Hispanics is our shared traditions and morals and of course, the Spanish language.

When people talk about stereotypes, we always look at those affected by them and how it negatively impacts their life, but we're always looking at it from the outside. No one focuses on what happens when the stereotyped group actually accepts the stereotypes as true and begin to perpetuate it.

Hispanics are often seen as ghetto, uneducated, poor, and lazy. Fortunately not all Hispanics are like this. While some of us relish in the ghetto lifestyle of bling and reggaet n, others are working hard to break the stereotype and show the world that we are not always what are portrayed as, and that we are just as articulate as any educated person can be.

I grew up in Great Neck, NY, an affluent, primarily Jewish neighborhood on the north shore of Long Island. In this rather privileged environment I had few Hispanic friends. The few Hispanic friends that I did have, however, all seemed to embrace this "ghetto" style, which was not a part of our life experience at all. This gangster style was something they learned from rappers who glamorized life in the ghetto and poverty and actually made it seem like something that people should strive for. I was always happy with the life I had been given and grateful that I did not have to incur any struggles growing up or resort to any of the illegal activities that these rappers or "reggaetoneros" had to resort to in order to make ends meet.

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