Category — self identity

Latino Teens & The Sexting Epidemic

Texting continues to make the headlines, but unfortunately most of the attention is placed on the growing epidemic of doing it while driving.  More and more, texting has become a centerpiece in teens’ social lives and taking an active role in their sexual activity.  A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging. Fifteen percent say they have received such images of someone they know via text message.  Sexting has quickly become an epidemic.

“Teens explained how sexually suggestive images have become a form of relationship currency,” said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “These images are shared as a part of or instead of sexual activity, or as a way of starting or maintaining a relationship with a significant other. And they are also passed along to friends for their entertainment value, as a joke or for fun.”

Teens are also faced with overwhelming accounts of peer pressure to share sexually suggestive content. One high school girl that has been quoted mentioned: “When I was about 14-15 years old, I received/sent these types of pictures. Boys usually ask for them or start that type of conversation. My boyfriend, or someone I really liked asked for them. And I felt like if I didn’t do it, they wouldn’t continue to talk to me. At the time, it was no big deal. But looking back, it was definitely inappropriate and over the line.”

Another aspect that today’s teens don’t understand is that anything shared electronically lasts forever.  This is a very important point that needs to be emphasized.  Education will be critical.  Teens need to understand the long term implication to near sighted decisions.  More and more people are negatively impacted by their digital footprint.  Teens have been suspended, fired from jobs, charged with child pornography and refused admission at colleges for participating in sexually inappropriate activity online.

The key takeaway here is that in today’s environment, nothing is PRIVATE and has a PERMANENT effect on the rest of their lives.

March 8, 2011   2 Comments

Lateens at school

I had the opportunity to go to W.H. Adamson High last week and see our classes brainstorm ideas for their advertising campaigns. See related topic on previous post, and the takeaway of my experience below.

I LOVE being around Lateens. Young people in general, but Lateens in particular because every time I leave the school or I have been around them, I feel so energized, refreshed, so alive. Here are some of the words I wrote down while they were brainstorming that I thought best described them:

• Funny, super funny. They make jokes about the simplest of things every once in a while.

• Creative, it took them less than 15 minutes to come up with good ideas for their advertising campaigns.

• Short attention span, super short, you better keep them entertained.
I feel like you have to challenge them, make them think and make it quickly because they seem to get bored fairly easy.

• Real

• Sincere

• They love music. Music is their life.

• Smart

I know these are very generic words and I don’t mean to generalize Lateens, but I wish everybody had the opportunity to go and see for themselves, spend time with them. They are complex, yet simple characters. They are vibrant, yet get bored extremely easily and can come across as apathetic if you don’t look close enough. They are mostly shy, but school is their familiar environment and they feed off of each other’s courage.
Being around them was the best part of my day.

November 22, 2010   6 Comments

Some Hip-Hop

What is hip-hop to you?

Is it black?  Is it white?  Is it brown?  Is it rich?  Is it poor?  East coast?  West coast?  South side?  Is it Snoop and Dre, or is it Tribe and WU?  Is it bling and success?  Or is it struggle and pain?  Can we still hear it today?  Or de we have to go back a few years…or even decades?

If the above doesn’t really make any sense, I’ll try to explain.  For BrandLateen purposes, the important thing to know is that true Hip-Hop is the one music that tells the intricate stories of unpredictable inner-city life.  Samples from jazz and blues rhythms, mixed with heavy beats and harsh lyrics, the music has experience rapid evolution since its inception almost 40 years ago.  Most Hip-Hop artists are black, and the majority of songs are written from an African-American cultural perspective.  A handful of black artists and fanatics will argue that musicians of other races robbed the black culture of one of its creations.  That’s a radical argument considering it’s a music that originally sprung from a passion for exaggerated, emotional expression (like most music, arguably).  But the real students of Hip-Hop understand that it’s an art form that bridges and transcends cultures.  After all, inner-city life is a culture in itself, infused in all of its inhabitants, regardless of background.

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September 10, 2010   1 Comment

My Technological World

The following serves as a supplement to the previous entry, “MySpace vs. Facebook.”  Please note that this is a personal recount of a single Lateen’s experience.

It’s no secret that technology is known to make things easier. It’s known to make things work faster without the same physical effort. It’s also known that my generation takes adavantage of technology and uses it constantly. My generation is different, my generation is who will make a better tomorrow for everyone else.

At school, at work, and at home I am involved in so many different activities, from academic clubs, sport teams to volunteer services. I can honestly say that nothing would be possible without my cell phone and laptop. After a while of being so involved, I have learned to network and meet new people. I’ve learned that unfortunately, the truth is most of the time it’s not who you are, it’s who you know. This brings me to my experience with technology and how my friends and I use it.

I recently created an account on Facebook. I already had a MySpace page, but joining Facebook was a necessary thing to do because all the “older” important contacts I have made along the way only have a Facebook page. Personally, I think they think it’s professional. Throughout history, the human species has transformed constantly to meet its enviroment in an effort to survive. Clearly now people are not adapting to eating wild berries like cavemen did long ago, but people are still adapting. For example just a few years ago, friends exchanged beeper numbers.  Now, not only can you contact someone with the click of a button, but with a few more clicks, you can see documentation of their personal lives.

As I’ve said before I attend W.H Adamson High School. My school is roughly 95 percent Hispanic. It’s a small school with about 1,000 students total. Since it’s so small and mostly made up of people from the neighborhood many of us know each other very well. I was recently elected Senior Class President and to be honest there is a lot to the job. That said, I love it because I love being a leader, but a leader is no one if he or she has no followers. So when I have an idea, I like to get feedback from everyone before I make a decision. This makes others happy, and contacting all students would be hard, but now, in 2010, it’s quite easy. I communicate with my friends through mass text messages, and in turn they continue to forward them to anyone who might be interested. I can also chat with them on MySpace or send an event invitation on Facebook. All this technology makes it easier to inform everyone or make new plans simultaneously. [Read more →]

August 13, 2010   No Comments

Lateen Workers

The following entry serves as a second part to the previous entry, “A Lateen in a Latin Country.”

I think anyone with a good set of eyes can tell blue apart from red, yellow from green and white from brown. In my short week at Costa Rica it was obvious to many of the locals that I was different from the majority of the other Americans I was traveling with. Not just because of my personality, but because of the color of my skin. Although the group I was with did an awesome job, the locals of Parismina asked so many questions about what they do at home because, as they insisted, it seemed like they had never worked a day in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great group of people and all of the tasks we took charge of, we finished together. I really don’t think there is a group with more heart. But as I interacted with some of my new friends from places like Canada and Colorado, I was shocked by a turn in the conversation.

“Adan, you are a very motivated and ambitious guy,” one said. I smiled and said “I just want a better life for myself and my parents.” She smiled and responded “I wish that I had a reason to push myself more, or at least to be hungry for something better.” This struck me, and very curious, I had to ask, “Why?”

“Everything has been handed to me all my life. I really do not know the meaning of hard work besides school work.” We both laughed, but I can’t manage to forget her words. I know I cannot speak in generalities, but I came to the conclusion that many other non-ethnic groups really don’t know the meaning of working hard to survive in this greedy world, or at least in the United States of America. [Read more →]

August 5, 2010   No Comments

A Lateen in a Latin Country.

Visiting another house isn’t always the easiest or most comfortable thing to do. Now, in case you haven’t already, imagine visiting a country. Meeting new people can be challenging, so think about meeting over 100 individuals and living in the same space with them for over 300 hours. Sounds scary I know, but I can honestly say that my recent experience in Costa Rica was one that made me grow into a better person.

It all started Friday, July 16 at 4 in the morning, maybe even earlier since I couldn’t fall asleep due to excitement. I got up, looked around my room, and noticed my blue backpack, a small luggage bag full to the brim, my money next to my passport, and my ID. Before I knew it I was hugging my dad and saying my goodbye.

Shortly after, I got a hug myself, but it was actually just the security guard wrapping his arms around me as he searched me (a little too slowly I might add) at the DFW Airport. First stop: Houston. I felt like we arrived there as soon as I closed my eyes. I continued to absorb my surroundings. And all of a sudden it hit me – I was all on my own. After a couple of hours I was finally walking onto the next plane. I made sure I had both of my cameras and my cell phone. I knew the island wasn’t going to have signal for my mobile, but I carried it to listen to music. Hours after I buckled up, the plane’s captain made two announcements: First, to be courteous to the people next to you. Second, to enjoy the first view of the Costa Rican coast. [Read more →]

August 4, 2010   1 Comment

Am I Latina Enough?

Am I Latina enough? That was the question. I decided that the best way for me to try to come to grips with my new-found “mini identity crisis” was to talk to my parents about it. If anyone can help me understand where I fit on the Latina spectrum, surely it would be the people that raised me.

I started filling them in on my hesitation, when my dad says to me, “So, are you finally going to start being a Latina?” Thanks Dad—all my doubts are now confirmed—or so I thought. My mom’s take on the situation is a bit different. We’ve never really talked about our cultural identity, but now that the subject has been brought up, the floodgates are opened. I learned that my mother and I share the same struggles about where we fit in as Latinas.

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July 26, 2010   2 Comments

Difficulties of Hispanic Teen Life

It doesn’t surprise me that suicide is the third leading cause of death in young Latinas, especially first generation teenagers. Latinas don’t have it easy in any way but I think there’s a lot to do as a culture and community to help them.

Some of the reasons for suicide among Latinas might be that first and second generation Latinas have totally different experiences than their parents who immigrated to the United States.  On the one hand, young Latinas face peer pressure to fit-in at school, and on the other hand, they face family pressure to honor their heritage. In some cases, this leads to identity crisis and internal conflict.

A notable characteristic about Hispanic culture that might be an influential factor is that it is a collective culture as opposed to individualistic. Latinas are taught to take care of family, friends, community, church, acquaintances and everything in between before themselves. Therefore, not having the time or not feeling allowed to take care of themselves can lead to an undiagnosed depression that can lead to terrible outcomes.

On this note, it doesn’t help that mental health is taboo in the Hispanic culture and it is rare that teenagers seek psychological help on their own or even with support from their families.  Latinas also tend to keep problems to themselves, and considering that there’s a lack of Latino psychologists that speak the language, know the culture, and can address Latinas’ unique issues, the problem just gets bigger.

There’s room to help Latinas open up and listen, really listen when they are struggling.  Teach them to take care of themselves, talk about problems, and mentor them to find their true happy self.

July 25, 2010   8 Comments

Lateens and Authority

It is a common characteristic for teenagers (and no differently for Lateens) to act tough, to portray invincibility, and to pretend nothing hurts them, especially when they are around each other. But are they pretending? How tough are teenagers, really? When it comes to dealing with authority, how “invincible” are Lateens?

Let’s just pretend for a second that the most sacred of Lateens’ rights is violated by, say, a teacher, priest, family member or family friend, would they be brave enough to admit it to somebody else? Would they tell their parents? Would they defend themselves? And if so, how?

Say a Lateen is deprived of lunch at the school cafeteria for a day or two due to misbehaving in class, unjustly graded by a teacher, or assaulted by a professor or cop. Where would they go to denounce it?

Lateens are at an age of vulnerability. They are discovering themselves; they are exploring and learning their limits. They are sometimes lonely, and this is what makes them the most vulnerable. Harassment, abuse or an unjust situation can confuse them. If that happened, what would they do next?

Most of the time, Lateens come from a tight family bond, but would that be enough to confront a problem of this magnitude? If they reach out to their teenage friends, the friends might be just as confused as they are, and if they reach out to their parents, that can end up creating more problems than solutions.

Second-generation Lateens might be the little adults (see related post here) walking their parents through the American system and in certain instances, defending them from injustice. The chances of the Lateens’ parents being naïve or inexperienced about the American legal system, the language and the legal rights of a teen are high. As much as a parent loves their kid, their main concern is survival, providing for their family and not creating problems for society or getting attention, especially if they are undocumented.

So, where does this leave the Lateens and their problems? Again, as teachers, friends and mentors, we need to empower them, to teach them their rights, and to let them know that they are tough and have them say it over and over again until they believe it. Society, communities and schools have the responsibility to create bonds with these kids for them to succeed, to have a trusted mentor, and to have someone that can watch their backs for them and give them hope if something bad does happen.

July 22, 2010   7 Comments

The Future Lateen pt. 2

So once gain, Hispanics will be this country’s majority in 2050.

It’s funny how the statistics are all there, yet many general market agencies (major ones) are still on the fence as to whether or not it’s worth the time or money to attempt exploring and advertising to the dynamic, immense demographic. I’m not sure here, and I hate to sound harsh, but does the hesitation merely spur from not seeing the bigger picture, or for lack of a nicer word, ignorance? The prediction cited at the beginning of this post doesn’t mean that Mexico and Central and South America are simply going to swallow the United States. While Latin Americans will likely never stop migrating to this country, no one should forget about our second and third generation-ers. They’re the young ones already here, the bilingual and bicultural ones, the ones consuming every type of existing media at a faster rate than the GCM population, the ones who are willing to dive right into just about anything remotely appealing, the ones with that energy and heart America is slowly losing its grip on, and they’re the ones who in 2050 will be looking after today’s critics. The “ones”…there’s gotta be a name for ‘em. Ah, yes.  Lateens. [Read more →]

July 16, 2010   1 Comment