For Latinx youths in the U.S., the El Paso shooting is just the latest trauma. Researchers say hateful rhetoric and discrimination are taking a toll on their mental health.
Studies tell us that young Latinxs exhibit higher rates of depression when compared to their black and white peers. And the shooting here in El Paso over the weekend has deepened that anxiety for many Latinxs. Here’s NPR’s Leila Fadel.
KATY: My name’s Katy. I’m 16 years old. I’m going to be a senior in high school right now.
LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Katy’s sitting in her living room in Las Vegas with her dad Nery Martinez and her brother Erick. The shooting, she says, made her angry, especially after the explanation of the shooter’s motivation offered by President Trump and others.
FADEL: In the last few years, Katy’s become acutely aware of how normal hateful language about people like her has become. She says it started with little things.
KATY: They’d be like, you’re Mexican. I was like, no, I’m el Salvadoran. And they’re like, oh, they’re all the same. It was, like, those small things that I realized. I was like, oh, yeah. And then it, like, built up.
FADEL: Katy was born and raised in Las Vegas. But her parents, who’ve built a life in the United States after fleeing war in El Salvador, have temporary protected status and no path to citizenship. Their future in the U.S. depends on the president. Her father, Nery, says he was already worried about a day where he and his wife might be separated from their children over immigration status. And now he’s scared of racially motivated violence and the mental well-being of his kids.
NERY MARTINEZ: I told them, like, don’t let anybody push you down. Like, you know, they’re a person. They’re humans like anybody. It doesn’t matter the color of your eyes, the color of your hair or the color of your skin.
FADEL: So Katy says she tries to educate her classmates and people online. The hateful rhetoric makes her sad.
KATY: It does bring me down, but at the same time, it makes me want to, like, talk more and reach more and talk about it more. Like, at school, I’ve been doing presentations on, like, immigrants.
FADEL: Last year, the American Psychological Association published an analysis of more than 200 studies focusing on some 90,000 adolescents. It found that Latino youth have higher levels of depression than their white and African American peers in response to discrimination. The researchers linked it to being viewed as perpetual foreigners.
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