Tag: teenagers

Teen Angst

It’s not easy being a teenager. The zits, the hormones, the awkward encounters with the opposite (or same) sex — it’s all stressful. And you can’t even buy even buy a damn beer, at least not legally, until your teen years are long over.

But if it sucks to be an adolescent, it sucks more to be an immigrant teenager in a new country. Take all the angst that faces every teen, then add language barriers, cultural confusion, discrimination, and general discombobulation. It’s not pretty, is it?

However, in a surprising conclusion, a recent study says racist acts may affect the mental health of US-born Latino teens more than teens born in Latin America. The study, by the Society for Research in Child Development, showed that US-born Latinos who faced discrimination had higher levels of anxiety and depression.

How can this be? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that immigrant teens who face bigotry would feel more alone and alienated than a kid born here?

alienation

Well, the researchers said foreign-born teens might have stronger attachments to their Latino heritage, and thus may feel less stress when discriminated against. But native-born Hispanics, who are still trying to figure out how to balance their heritage and their American tastes, are more likely to feel ostracized and betrayed by the culture in which they grew up.

The researchers point out that discrimination has damaging effects on mental health, and stress has long-term health implications for Latino teens. In this way, it supports other findings that show second-generation Hispanics often perform worse than immigrants in a number of lifestyle areas, including mental health.

So is there any good news in this depressing study? Well, the research also implies that Latino immigrants, even children, often demonstrate high levels of psychological strength and resiliency.

Basically, you can’t shut ‘em down.

 


All Issues Mailed Flat

When I was a kid, I had a tower (and I mean that literally) of my favorite comic books. They leaned against the wall and were braced on either side by sturdy objects — milk crates or chairs or something like that. I seem to recall that the tower reached the ceiling, but I’m sure that’s not possible. It was most likely a few feet high and just seemed imposing to a six-year-old.

In any case, the tower is long gone, but I still have a few of those prized comics, issues of the X-Men and Conan the Barbarian and House of Secrets and the like. Like a lot of Gen Xers, I used comic books as a gateway drug to novels.

But even back in the day, when my love for comic books could not be quantified, I noticed something. It’s the same thing that Javier Hernandez, creator of the El Muerto comic book, noticed.

Hernandez says, “There is one thing I didn’t see in those books. I didn’t see me in there. I didn’t see us, Latinos.”

Nope, there were very few Hispanic characters or stories presented. However, a new generation of writers is looking to Latino culture for inspiration. It’s a full-fledged trend, illustrated by the fact that the Latino Comics Expo was held recently to spotlight Hispanic creators like Hernandez. His creation is a Hispanic hero based on a combination of Aztec mythology and Mexican folklore. I mean, how cool is that?

el muerto

Now, as we all know, comic books often feature thematic elements that appeal to teenagers and/or geeky middle-aged men. These include stories of heroes like the Jonah Hex and Spider-Man, who were outsiders to mainstream culture. It’s not much a stretch to say that Latinos have long appreciated the theme of being a misunderstood minority.

And now that metaphorical subtext is a little more concrete. Comic books from Hispanic authors range from traditional superhero formats to experimental stories to reality-based tales, such as the life of a Latino punk fan growing up in California.

Personally, I’m waiting for a Hispanic version of Wolverine. Now that would be something.


Backfire

As we all know, the quickest way to convince people to do something is to tell them they are forbidden from doing it. Currently, legislators in everybody’s favorite state — Arizona — are learning this most basic principle of reverse psychology.

You see, in 2010, Arizona lawmakers passed a law to dismantle ethnic studies in that state. The official reason was that such programs promoted “the overthrow of the U.S. government” and created resentment toward white people.

capitol_fire_flag_sm

Now, the ban must have been successful, because the U.S. government is still intact. And there have been no reports of rampaging crowds of young Latinos terrorizing the white people of Tucson, which no doubt would have happened if they attended a single ethnic studies class.

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Hit Delete

Every now and then, a scientific study comes out that reveals a disturbing fact, even though we cannot ascertain exactly what it means or why it’s true.

For example, a recent study shows that sexting is especially high among Latino and black teens.

So why are Hispanic and black kids indulging in this risky behavior? Don’t they know that “sexting can be associated with bullying” or extortion? And does this have anything to do with the higher rate of teen pregnancy among young Latinas (which mercifully is falling).

The researchers basically say, “Hell if we know.”

But clearly, taking pictures of your junk and sending it to strangers isn’t just for FBI agents anymore.

Somehow, that thought isn’t comforting.

 


Special

Remember that commencement speaker in Massachusetts? He told graduating students, “None of you is special. You are not special. You are not exceptional.”

The internet was ablaze with comments, most of them positively gleeful. Many people believe that the speaker revealed harsh truths and deflated the younger generation’s supersized egos.

Of course, a lot of the adults who cheered the speech are unhappy with how their own lives turned out, which is why they got off on a guy sticking it to a captive audience of teenagers. In any case, the graduates who most needed to hear such a message (i.e., the arrogant, haughty ones) are the kids most likely to dismiss it. When he was done, they flipped open their cell phones and said, “Some bitter old man tried to step on our day. Whatever, loser.”

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