1st place $50
By Claudia Ortiz, Paramount HS
Being a child of Mexican parents, I am considered Hispanic and proud of it. I was born in the United States and have always lived here. I consider myself American as well. Whenever I take a test such as the PSAT and it asks me to bubble in ethnic background I get confused. I remember the first time I bubbled in Mexican-American. That day I began to ask myself why anyone would want to know what race I am. Would I be considered more Mexican than American? I’ve never even lived in Mexico so does that make me only American? What if I’m stereotyped and someone says, “Oh look, she’s Mexican, she probably isn’t smart.” Why do we even need to tell anyone what ethnic background or race we are when all that matters is our hard work and personality? In my opinion, government shouldn’t ask about our race or ethnicity.
What makes America beautiful is its multiethnic people. I don’t agree with the government keeping track of what race we are because some people use the data as a weapon and as a way to stereotype. Once I went to the store with my mom and there were two people of a different ethnicity than us in front of us at the checkout stand. They were talking about a survey that said there had been an increase in Hispanics in California. Then one of them said that the United States was being taken over by Hispanics. I don’t know if they were saying it to be funny or what, but I don’t think they realized that what they said was a form of hatred toward Hispanics. And this doesn’t happen just to Hispanics, but to other ethnicities as well. But what is worse is that information from the census, which was designed by the government to help people, is used to back up what people say, whether or not they mean to hurt someone.
I have friends with different ethnicities and it makes each of us special. But we all feel uncomfortable asking what ethnicity we are because we feel singled out. Our race shouldn’t matter but rather what we do. This is why I am against the census asking about race.
Second place $30
By Brenda Diaz, Paramount HS
When the census asks about race it gives us insight into what is going on in the country. It gives important information about what groups are growing or what places have the most diversity. By knowing this we can be sure of what communities need. One thing that a community might need is more people who speak the same language, like in stores, so when people need help they can be understood.
It’s also good to know that not only one race is living in a community. The United States is known for its diversity. People shouldn’t think that only one race is everywhere. This happened to me. Once when I went to Target, I noticed that most of the people were white. When they saw my mom and I—two Hispanic people—they looked shocked. They gave me weird looks. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. People should know that just because even though they are the majority, there is diversity out there. It is essential for the census to ask about race so everyone will know that there is diversity.
Third place $20
By Jacqueline Martinez, Paramount HS
I would not feel hurt by the census asking about race. It’s an honor to be able to share my race! I’m half Filipino and half Mexican. I like to think of our different multiethnic backgrounds as something to be proud of. We are privileged with the opportunity to answer this question on the census. It allows us to show how multiethnic the United States has become. As they say, we are a huge melting pot! By answering this question we can see how much more diverse our country has become.
I feel it is necessary and that it is nice to be able to know how many different ethnicities have come together. The census is an opportunity to share our ethnicities, which make us who we are. This question shows our uniqueness, our individuality and that we are not just another number to be added to a statistic.
Next essay contest—When are you an adult?
Some of us can’t wait to grow up. We think about the freedom of not having to follow our parents’ rules, living on our own and doing things our way. When do you think you’ll be an adult? Is it when you go to college or get a job or start a family? Does it happen automatically when you turn 18? What does it even mean to be an adult? Tell us when you think you’ll be one and why. Write and essay to L.A. Youth and tell us about it:
Essays should be a page or more. Include your name, school, age and phone number with your essay. The staff of L.A. Youth will read the entries and pick three winners. Your name will be withheld if you request it. The first-place winner will receive $50. The second-place winner will get $30 and the third-place winner will receive $20. Winning essays will be printed in our May-June issue and put on layouth.com.
Mail your essays to:
L.A. Youth Essay Contest
5967 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
DEADLINE: Friday, April 23, 2010