It has been just over a week since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas. Two teachers and 19 students were killed. The tragedy is affecting Latinos especially hard as they see photos and names of victims who look and sound just like them, while the nation reels.
Maria Maldonado Morales is a Houston-based clinical social worker and Maria Maldonado Morales says that this has added an extra layer of grief to the community. Uvalde's shooting isn’t the first time that Latinos have been targeted in the United States aEUR" or in Texas. The shooting in El Paso at Walmart in 2019, which resulted in 23 deaths, was also racially motivated.
Morales states that it's not just the loss in life and safety but also a layer frustration, sadness, anger, as well as the sense of community we feel as Latinos living in the United States. "I see mostly Latino students in school settings aEUR," Morales said. This could have happened to me, my family, or us.
Morales talked to NPR's All Things Considered on the impact racially motivated attacks can have on these communities, how to cope in the aftermath, and the need for safety.
This interview was edited to be more concise and clear.
Comment on whether Uvalde's shooting contributes to the sense that the Latino community is under attack
It does, I believe. Because the motive for the attack was not clear, I agree with you. This adds an extra layer of uncertainty or fear, as the shooter was also Latino.
What advice would she give people who are dealing with tragedy?
One thing I have been telling people is to have honest, open conversations. Many communities, but especially Latino communities, have a fear of having difficult emotional discussions. Parents don't want their children to feel weak or vulnerable. Children don't like to be vulnerable or weak in front of their parents. Everybody wants to be brave and strong, but it can lead to shame and guilt and isolation. Because it's uncomfortable, I encourage people to talk openly about their feelings and to share their thoughts with one another. It's not easy to share what we all think about it. We're all feeling it.
What she would tell people in the country looking for safety?
One thing I would recommend to people is to create a sense of normalcy and stability in an uncertain world. It's a good idea to have family rituals like having dinner together or reading before bed. This is also a great way to make sure you are enjoying the things that matter most. It's wrong to have fun. Joy is not something I should experience, but both can be held together. You can feel sad or scared, but also joy and hope. This allows us to feel normal in our daily lives. It won't take it away. It won't make everything disappear. We can, however, feel a sense normalcy for a moment.