Okay, So “All Latinos Are Lazy.” But what does that actually mean for you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Okay, So “All Latinos Are Lazy.” But what does that actually mean for you?
by Jolie Brownell

I recently listened to Brene Brown’s Podcast “Unlocking Us,” where she interviews Ibram X. Kendi about his recent book titled “How to Be an Antiracist.” During the Podcast Kendi explains how stereotyping, or what he calls the “personalization of groups,” is when groups are given individual characteristics that turn out to be vastly false. He uses the common stereotype of the Latinx community being “lazy” as an example of this. Instead of reiterating everything Kendi said by explaining how racist and false these stereotypes are, I want to try another approach. What if, just for this moment, we accepted this stereotype to be true: “All Latinos are lazy.” What are the actual implications for us (non-Latinx) if we accept this?

Okay, So They’re Lazy...Now What?

This stereotype (I mean, now truth) that all Latinx people are lazy, in most cases does not stand alone. I mean that the laziness of these people is almost always used as a justification for something. For instance, “Build a wall so the lazy immigrants don’t come in!” or “All these lazy undocumented aliens just want to get our government benefits.” The point is that these people are not “worthy” of access to certain benefits or even an entire country because they are lazy. Lazy, then, has become synonymous with an assumed lack of moral and work ethic and therefore should not be condoned or supported by any benefits. 

If you accept everything above as true, then you have already accepted another bold belief: the productivity of a body is more important than the existence of such a body. To say a person should not have access to a country because they are lazy, is to already understand, accept, and condone the fact that this country prioritizes the ability, efficiency, and performance of a body more than its human life. If they are lazy and cannot produce (profit) or are unwilling to work, then they are not deserving of any benefits. In other words, we have come to base the worth and desirability of a person on what they can do.

What Does This Mean for You?

Here, then, is my question to you: is this how you understand the U.S. to be? If so, are you okay with this? Are you okay with living within a society that prioritizes what you can produce for it over your very existence? Are you okay with having to earn your basic rights and benefits (such as affordable food, safe housing, second chances, good schools)? Are these things we must earn in the first place? ...Or does simply being a human alone, not already make you worthy of such rights? Are you, being human alone, not worthy of this? 

Pushing even further, where do you think we learned to fuse together the worth of a person with their productivity? Does this feel natural to you, or learned? conditioned? Do you believe that living in the U.S. with a capitalist economic system (which prioritizes profit) has shifted our understanding of what it means to be human? …Do you want to continue living in this kind of society or would you prefer one where you could do nothing, be lazy and still be every bit as deserving of basic human rights? If this still feels wrong to you, I highly suggest you dig deeper into why

The things these “lazy” people are fighting for are basic human rights. So to say that they must earn their rights by working… is almost like saying they must earn their way to being considered as human. Eww! I hope that made you cringe as much as it made me typing this. 

Don’t Just Stop Calling them Lazy, Start Allowing Them To Be

I have heard this trope said about the Latinx community my entire life. I even remember back in middle school asking some of my Latinx peers about why they “goofed around” and didn’t pay more attention to the teacher at times (I know, I realize now how I played right into this stereotype). But what shocked me back then was their response: “Why should we work hard, get A’s, when no matter what we do, everyone else will still see us as lazy and undeserving.” I also know all too well how this stereotype has been used upon the Black community (i.e. Welfare queen or lazy Black people trying to scam the system instead of working harder). 

The truth is, are there lazy individual Latinx people? I am sure they are. Am I lazy sometimes? Most definitely yes!! Do you feel lazy some days? I’m sure you do. But, it doesn’t feel right to dismiss an entire group of people as lazy just as a quick way to disqualify them of rights… especially if these very rights shouldn’t be earned through productivity in the first place. 

So what I hope you take away from this, is that yeah we should probably stop stereotyping people and entire communities. But also, I want you to take it a step further. What if we allowed each other to be lazy? What if we remove the moral compass around productivity and just allow each other to rest and create entire lives that aren’t centered around productivity, efficiency, work, and profit? What kind of society would this create? What new liberations would this bring for you?

We should be allowed to rest, to not want to work our whole lives, to be lazy. We should all be given the freedom to just be. human. and supported.

Also, just FYI, to deem an entire group of people lazy, while refusing to understand the complexities of their disparities, is actually quite lazy too ;)

Post a Comment