Summary Written by Maria Chavez, Everyday Injustice: Latino Professionals and Racism analyzes the growing prominence of Latinos in professional work environments, yet still feel the effects of discrimination and racism. Examining the various experiences of privileged Latinos who were fortunate enough to obtain high-ranking jobs, Chavez observed and recorded the findings of selected Latinos who still face considerable opposition based on their race and/or culture.
Looking at Latino lawyers in particular, the studies connect findings from focus groups and research surveys, as well as personal accounts from lawyers in and out of practice, and paint a clearer picture of the state of Latino professionals in depth. The findings presented reveal a myriad of information concerning the current state of the Latino professional, but the underlying point asserts the notion that despite overcoming considerable obstacles, Latinos still face many barriers to success.
As Chavez points at in her opening chapters, the success of the average Latino individual has grown a great amount in the past decades, yet still has many boundaries to overcome. Following the lives of current and retired Latino lawyers in Washington State, it is apparent on many levels that racial framing and social capital are a factor on the success of these individuals. Large in part, this can be ascribed to the understanding of Latino upbringings; where many attribute their cultural upbringings as the focus.
From an early age, the respondents related their experiences of being raised Latino as negative in many ways, but ultimately proved to be motivators for a large portion of them, indicating their reasons to become lawyers as wanting to “help the Hispanic community,’ for ‘self empowerment,’ to ‘help others,’ and to ‘advance social and economic justice. ” Additionally, many found their upbringings to be a positive factor of their law careers, especially in the instance of considerable bilingualism of the respondents who found advantages in obtaining business from solely Spanish-speaking clients.
However, despite these motivators and opportunities, Latinos as a whole have yet to feel a complete assemblance of integration in the workplace. Due large in part to a history of racialized immigration policy in the US, the success of lawyers in this case produces widely different results between whites and Latinos. The conventional Latino upbringing hampers many means of obtaining opportunities related to schooling and employment, with the respondents relating their difficulty in meeting professional obligations while still remaining active members in their respective community.
Additionally, the Latino lawyers related their difficulty in acting as respected gatekeepers in their profession, “from the Washington State Bar Association, to law firms, to client interactions,” leading many to simply give up on their career choice. Though many rose above the ranks and overcame the odds, the notion that “persons of color must be better than others to succeed” ultimately runs true. Women (Latinas) serve as a different case of discrimination as color and gender both play factors in their success.
Additional obstacles are prevalent for Latina professionals, such as expected family obligations, lower pay and stagnant gender roles that Latinos do not have to endure. Despite these shortcomings, the progress of Latinos is improving by those who have succeeded in the professional world. Chavez points out that while they face considerable obstacles, the Latinos in this study are success stories in many ways. This success has not only culminated into personal wealth and gains, but also the improvement of Latino communities.
While this social capital is more adept at working with whites, Latino professionals in large numbers are active in many community and professional organizations. Due to focus on law, the reader is able to fully understand the impact these professionals have on the local community in terms of political awareness and participation and more importantly overall education, something their families have only had limited access to. Access to a higher education provided the means for many professional Latinos to turn their lives around, and in turn do the same for those with which they share similar experiences.
Education is highlighted in these findings to emphasize the importance that it has in providing roads to success for disenfranchised Latinos, and how aspirations and dreams can be “strong for communities largely lacking in inherited intellectual capital and wealth. ” However, none of this can be achieved unless policies like affirmative action and greater acceptance of Latinos in education becomes commonplace in the United States. By focusing on professionals, the plight of the Latino is put into a different perspective and asserts the notion that racism against this group is very much alive.
Though there are individuals who have excelled and utilized their efforts to improve the well being of their people, American society still exudes persistent discriminatory practices to stall their advancement. The stories of the respondents highlight this notion, but also indicate that with an increased sense of awareness toward these and an emphasis on early education, the next generations of Latinos will begin to feel a greater sense of acceptance.