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College-Educated Latinos Are More Likely to Report Discrimination

Survey finds that Hispanic-Americans experience slurs and bias.

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A new, large-scale survey on U.S. discrimination has found that more than three-quarters of Latinos believe there is discrimination against Latinos in the United States. And about a third  say they’ve directly experienced some discrimination in the job market, or when shopping for a home.

But the “Discrimination in America” survey found that Latinos with more education — especially those with at least a bachelor’s degree – also reported experiencing much more discrimination than those whose formal education ended in high school. Slightly more than half of college-educated Latinos reported experiencing racial slurs, for example, compared with 29 percent of the less-educated group. (The survey was conducted for National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)

In fact, those with a college degree were more than twice as likely to report discrimination in five different categories: slurs; insensitive or offensive comments or negative assumptions; people acting afraid of them; threats or non-sexual harassment; and sexual harassment.

The survey also found differences among Latinos in experiencing encouragement to apply and go to college. More than half of Latinos surveyed reported that college was never discussed while they were growing up, and 5 percent were actively  discouraged from attending college. Most of the rest — 42 percent — said they were encouraged to pursue higher education.

These findings cast a new light on longstanding concerns about the educational opportunities for Latinos living in the U.S., who now make up fully one-fourth of the nation’s student body. Historical data indicated that Latino students have lagged behind in school but have been rapidly gaining by, for example, improving graduation rates.  (Here’s more news from our Latino Ed Beat coverage.)

The poll also found that one in five Latinos said they, or a relative, have been treated unfairly by the courts or unfairly stopped or treated by police. In addition, non-immigrant Latinos are nearly twice as likely as immigrant Latinos to report that they, or a relative, have been stopped or unfairly treated by police because of their ethnicity.

The poll, conducted in early 2017, asked men, women, blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, whites, and LGBTQ adults dozens of questions about all areas of daily life, and gauged their personal experiences in several categories, including education. The survey concluded discrimination “pervades daily life,” from police interactions and employment to medical care, the latter resulting in a negative impact on health.