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20 Unwritten Rules That Latine People Follow Every Day

"Making sure our kids are always clean, have nice clothes, and neat hair. Obviously, parents of all ethnicities want their children to look presentable, but it’s something we consciously think about because we don’t want anyone thinking of our kids as 'dirty Mexicans.'"

It's no secret that many Latine folks experience racism in their everyday lives.

So, we recently asked Latine members of the BuzzFeed Community which unwritten rules they follow that others don’t even think about. Here's what they had to say:

1. "I am a Mexican American woman. I ALWAYS make sure to have my receipt in my hand when leaving a store. The number of times I’ve been stopped and asked for a receipt..."


A cashier handing someone their receipt

2. "I carry my social security card with me everywhere and have known the number by heart since I was a child. My parents made us memorize it in case la migra (ICE) ever questioned us."


3. "I make sure to not speak Spanish out loud in certain parts of my town and state. There are people who are too stupid to accept that not all Americans speak English 24/7."


4. "Making sure our kids are always clean, have nice clothes, and neat hair. Obviously, parents of all ethnicities want their children to look presentable, but it’s something we consciously think about because we don’t want anyone thinking of our kids as 'dirty Mexicans.' It’s something that my family and friends all think about, but it never occurred to my (white) husband until I explained it to him."


A group of kids smiling

5. "Having to prepare myself to answer the question: 'Where are you from?' The difference is when they ask me, it seems like they’re trying to say, 'Aha! She’s not from here!' And then, I have to give a lesson on how a Puerto Rican is a US citizen and clarify any other assumptions they have."


6. "Never share a contrarian opinion or disagreement in a professional setting unless you're 100% right and have the evidence to back up your claim. White people (especially white men) can offer up such resistance — often with a touch of anger — and are then branded as 'passionate' or 'telling it like it is,' and are seen as leaders.

"BIPOC who try to do the same face a different experience, and are then viewed as 'difficult' or 'unprofessional' for having broken the model minority myth."


7. "As a Latino, I always try to keep my distance when walking near white folks because they start guarding their pockets and purses when they notice me near them. It’s pretty sad honestly. They criminalize me without even knowing me."


8. "I have a half-Russian daughter who is very fair-skinned and blue-eyed. Safe to say she looks white. As a Mexican woman, I get so self-conscious in public just waiting for someone to make a comment about me being the nanny or something stupid like that. When my husband and I eat out, I make it a point to have her next to me and refer to her as 'my daughter' every time I can instead of calling her by her name. That way no one can doubt that she is mine!"


9. "As a Mexican American, you don’t drive slowly through nice neighborhoods to admire the beautiful homes because people might think you're 'casing the place.'"


10. "Don’t speak Spanish around non-Spanish speakers. They get offended, think I’m talking about them, and report me to management. 90% of the time, I was talking to my fellow Caribbean coworker about food and novelas."


A woman on her laptop at her desk

11. "My husband (also Latino) always feels the need to purchase an item from any and every store that we visit, not just to support said store, but because he doesn't want them to think he just went in to steal. We're 40, but it stems from trauma carried over from his youth when he was falsely accused. It sucks."


12. "I want to travel all over the US with my boyfriend (he’s white). However, I know that as a Latinx person, there are certain parts of the country I’m scared to visit that my BF wouldn’t think twice about. We would have completely different experiences."


13. "I bought my house in a predominately white neighborhood in Texas during Donald Trump's presidency. This is when the wall was being built, and immigration was a really hot topic. The first thing I did was change my drivers license address, not because it was the responsible homeowner thing to do, but because I was scared that someone would try to say it wasn’t my house."


14. "I have two kids who are white-passing and have been questioned on whether or not they are mine (strangers and law enforcement). Now, I always carry proof that they are my children."


15. "I always have to be dressed well in the workplace. Otherwise, people assume I'm uneducated and don't belong there — even if they are underdressed themselves."


16. "Whenever I email or contact someone for the first time, I only use my first name and last initial. My parents gave me an English first name, so I usually get treated better and get more opportunities."


A woman on her laptop

17. "I never take a return back to the store without putting it in a bag first in case I'm accused of stealing. And I take my white spouse with me whenever I need assistance at a high-end store so I'll get waited on promptly!"


18. "Pretend not to understand Spanish, or you will end up with extra job duties."


19. "Control your temper so you’re not called 'spicy.'"


20. And finally, "I’m a Mexican woman who is a mother to a Mexican boy. I’ve taught him to always be proud of his heritage, regardless of others trying to make him feel like he’s less because he’s Mexican. He’s 7, and we were both born in the US (my parents immigrated). However, kids are mean, and he’s already been bullied and told that he doesn’t belong in this country and 'to go back where he came from.' I’ve taught him that we’re all human beings and to always be kind to others, but never ever be ashamed of who you are and where your heritage came from."


Latine folks, are there any other unwritten rules you follow in your everyday life? Share your experience in the comments below.

Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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