Hispanic Heritage Month: Disability and visibility in the Latinx community | Opinion

Hispanic Heritage Month: Disability and visibility in the Latinx community | Opinion

By Javier Robles

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the culture and contributions of the Latino/a/x community. As a Puerto Rican, I am proud of the accomplishments made by our diverse and vibrant community.

I acknowledge the great men and women like Roberto Clemente, Frida Kahloand Sonya Soto, Mayor. We are truly a multilayered and multicolored tapestry of people and stories. However, celebrating this month without recognizing the inconsistencies in our great nation as it relates to Black and Brown people would be an oversight.

My experiences have shaped the way I teach, the way I advocate, and, more importantly, the way I see the world. Growing up in the housing projects of Newark, I understand poverty like many people in our country do. Having acquired a spinal cord injury at 16, I understand disability like many in our country does not.

The Latina/o/x community continues to struggle with issues of oppression and segregation. The Covid-19 pandemic was instructional in how far we must go to achieve the dreams and aspirations of those before us.

In New Jersey, the Latinx population was the largest group to succumb to the pandemic, with young men overrepresented statistically. The social determinants of health continue to impact our community negatively as chronic disease burden Black and Brown people.

Segregation is pervasive in housing and the educational system, which is how many of our young students climb the economic ladder. Brown v. the Board of Education officially ended segregation in schools in 1954.

In 1946 a Mexican family fought and won a battle with the Westminster School District of Orange County, California, to allow their daughter to go to a white-only school as opposed to the wooden shack where Mexican students were being taught.

As you read this, the Latino Action Network et al. v. State of New Jersey is playing out in our court system, stating that Black and Brown children are being segregated by race and poverty in public schools and charter schools that violate the state constitution.

I am optimistic that we can work on the myriad issues that affect our community and leave a legacy of prosperity and good health to the next generations. But it starts with us recognizing that much work must be done before we celebrate.

Javier Robles is a professor in the Rutgers Kinesiology and Health Department. He is the President of the New Jersey Latino Action Network and chairs the New Jersey Disability Action Committee.

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This News is Published from Google Alert – Hispanic Heritage Month.

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