Latino, American & Breaking Stereotypes

Latino, American & Breaking Stereotypes

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Latino, American & Breaking Stereotypes

Latino, American & Breaking Stereotypes

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“I came to this great country in search of freedom and opportunity,” reveals Luis Carrazana. “You see, I grew up in Cuba, under one of the worst authoritarian regimes.” I was completely isolated from the world, with zero access to international news, internet, technology, travel, and above all, the freedom to choose the kind of life I wanted to live. I was deprived of my basic human rights.”

“I was 28 years old when I found the opportunity to leave my birth country. When I arrived in the US, my emotions were a mix of fear and excitement. I was like a newborn infant, experiencing a whole new world with different textures, flavors, colors and sounds. I had very basic reading and writing skills in English. It was a struggle to understand, let alone speak, the language. I had $0 cash, no bank account, and I had no knowledge about basic things like dealing with taxes, norms, and the rule of law. However, I was excited and determined to go forward. I was very fortunate to have family members who helped me deal with the initial transition. I also received government assistance for a few months, for which I’m forever grateful. It is what keeps me grounded and committed to lending a helping hand to others.”

13 years after he migrated from Cuba, Luis is now one of Citihub Digital’s Associate Partners. In this article, he shares the struggles of being typecast for his origin and why representation is key to breaking stereotypes.

Immigrants adjusting to a new life in their new home country, oftentimes have a difficult start and have to work harder to catch up. Sometimes, they need the support, not just from the government, but from private sectors, too. As a Software Engineer and a Computer Science Professor back in Havana, Cuba, Luis leveraged his technical skills to find employment. Thankfully, a Wall Street firm looked beyond his (at that time) imperfect English communications skills and instead focused on his technical ability to deliver a technical job. “Everyone in that firm showed me kindness. I remember my first boss voluntarily offered her guidance in filling out the W-2 form when she realized I didn’t have any knowledge about taxes and their implications,” Luis recalls fondly.

When asked about the obstacles Luis had experienced in corporate America, he admits he hasn’t suffered any direct discrimination because of his Hispanic heritage. “I’m aware of current tensions and divisions which, in some cases, are amplified by social media. Despite some socio-economic factors, I think most of the discrimination happens because of fear, and a lack of knowledge and empathy; as well as unconscious bias causing us to form stereotypes and pre-conceptions that prevents us from listening to each other.”

Citihub’s Diversity & Inclusion program has introduced to its staff a series of unconscious bias trainings. Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside of their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Looking to the Future

“I have great admiration and respect for the history of this (USA) country and its core values. I am very grateful for the opportunity to come here and become a citizen. This country welcomed me and my family and gave us the chance to subscribe to the ideals of justice, self-improvement and the pursuit of happiness. Having an ‘outside’ perspective of the world makes me appreciate and protect what we have, while recognizing that things can always improve, Luis notes.”

He adds, “My family is my source of energy and inspiration. Knowing that my two beautiful daughters will grow up without fear of persecution for their ideas and beliefs makes all the struggles I went through totally worth it. On the professional side, being able to work in the technology field and experience career growth year after year is gratifying. This keeps me intellectually motivated and gives me the opportunity to work with wonderful colleagues from diverse backgrounds.”

Luis is proud of both his Hispanic heritage and American life. He is very much aware of the unfortunate conditions some of his fellow immigrants are still suffering. Hence, he actively participates in local programs, being a positive representation that aims to break stereotypes.

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