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Pasadena, California

A HD 341 Communication for Empowerment:

Self- Esteem Research Paper


Professor Silvia E. Toscano
Spring 2017
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For this paper I will be describing the aspect of self-esteem throughout my life. I will also

be giving examples of how self-esteem affected my emotional development throughout my

lifespan. This paper will begin with my childhood, and follow with my adolescent years, lastly I

will be covering my current adulthood and how I am still figuring out identity as I improve my


To begin with, as a child I grew up in the city of Azusa and it felt like everyone there was

hispanic. The only language you could hear throughout the streets was Spanish. At a young age I

never thought about or realized the concept of race. My mother always taught me that we are all

equal and not only with that but seeing everyone hispanic; I never really thought about other

races. As an adolescent self-esteem had a larger impact in my life. I have always struggled with

reading comprehension for as long as I could remember. The one day I will never forget, is when

I walked into the office for a meeting containing the principal, my mom, and myself. I was so

nervous when they told me at the end of my fifth grade year that I had one of two options. I

either had to attend the Sixth Grade Academy or repeat the fifth grade because my reading scores

were too low.

There was nothing we could do; I went with the only seemingly reasonable option: I

chose the academy. My mom helped me to feel it was okay to struggle the way I did, although,

my extended family was not so supportive. My aunt and older cousin (or the golden child as I

have referred to in other assignments) both gave me the same reaction. They both constantly

mentioned that the academy was for stupid people and people that couldn’t make it in school.

They also told me that, the academy was where they sent all the bad kids. I was terrified to go

and my self-esteem dropped.

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Regardless the nonsense and the rumors that my family had told me; the academy was the

best thing that ever happened to me. The academy changed my life for the better. That academy

really helped my reading and writing skills improve. Although I still can struggle at reading but

that in all fairness was because I don’t like to read, but my writing was and is better than most

because I don’t struggle to write. After the academy I continued on with junior high. When I got

to the eighth grade; I had a meeting with my counselor. He had asked me about my three years of

junior high and I had mentioned I didn’t attend there my sixth grade and I had gone to the


He then decided to check my grades and had the audacity to shout, “With these grades?

You came from the academy?” I was beyond offended. What was he trying to imply? That since

I went to the academy I was suppose to be stupid? That reminded of the situation with Eden E.

Torres and how she had mentioned that since she is hispanic they assumed she belonged in the

kitchen (Torres, 2003, p. 75). All this reminded me of labels and stereotyping. Comments like

that made me feel that people already have their assumptions about us and basically label us as


My self-esteem was torn and there was nothing I could do to get people like him to open

their eyes. I probably could have spoken us and let them see all their assumptions were wrong

but, I wasn’t strong. I let him and others tear me down. In simple terms, as Margaret E. Montoya

mentioned, “Silence ensures invisibility. Silence provides protection. Silence masks” (Montoya,

1994, p. 521). I stayed silent; I wanted to be invisible and not make a scene. I was looking for a

sense of protection and just wanted to blend in and be like everyone else. Those comments made
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me feel like I stood out and all I wanted was to blend in and belong. My self-esteem made me

feel like I was the odd ball out and I could never fit in.

As I got older it seemed as tho my self-esteem didn’t get any better. In high school, my

freshman year, I was constantly picked on by the older crowd. All I really wanted was to fit in.

As Andrea had mention, “...women from communities victimized by white supremacy should

unite together around their shared oppression” (Smith, 2006, p. 66). Which is exactly what we

did; but not in a good way. My self-esteem was at an all time low and the same girls I knew

would gather around and pick on another girl. And what did I do? Did I stop it? Did I say

anything? I would love to continue with saying I stood up for that girl but, in reality I joined the


That crowd really was a community of girls that I wanted to be apart of. By joining them

I felt like I was apart of them and I was being fake. Instead of uniting with the new girl, based on

our shared experience, I joined the wrong crowd. I never intentionally meant to hurt her

emotionally, I just figured at the time if they were picking on her, they’d leave me alone. Which

was wrong. Just as Margaret E. Montoya mentioned, “At unexpected moments, we fear that we

will be discovered to be someone or something other than who or what we pretend to be”

(Montoya, 1994, p. 517). I didn’t want to be labeled as fake or as not belonging. I wanted to be

seen as one of them and I was afraid if I didn’t act as they did and make fun of that girl, they

would figure out who I really was and would shame me for it.

I am currently at adulthood with zero experience. I can say I grew up and learned from

my mistakes but that would seem like a lie. I am 24 years old and I feel like I’ve committed the

same mistakes multiple times. I’ve always thought I needed to belong and needed approval to
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help my self-esteem. I never realized I was looking in all the wrong places. I looked for love,

acceptance, and belonging, at least I thought I found it; until I was sucked into a big black hole

of despair.

Lookings back and reflecting my past, I am able to realize that my self-esteem issues

were more about fitting it. They had nothing to do with my gender or race or any of the “isms”

Torres had mentioned. Although I do agree when they mentioned, “Though the authors

acknowledge that isms can never be completely separated from people’s attitudes and individual

behaviors, they emphasize that racism and sexism are systems of oppression which give rise to

structural inequality over time” (Torres, 2003, p. 84). Which I do believe a lot of inequality and

caused oppression are all results from unfair “isms” people already have inborn. It seems like

every generation just keeps spreading that mindset and judgmental behavior and actions.

Although I did not see it growing up; and at this rate I know it was always around and I might

have been blind to it but I am able to clearly see now. And each generation continues to spread

the same thoughts that include all those assumptions caused by “isms”.

I have noticed that I can relate more with those articles now; than then. When put in a

difficult situation or being put on the spot I have a tendency of shutting down. I have noticed that

when I am in an unfamiliar location or around a bunch of strangers I speak more in Spanish. It

gives me a familiar and comforting sense. As Montoya had mentioned, “Sometimes Spanish was

spoken so as not to be understood by Them” (Montoya, 1994, p. 514). I know that a lot more

people speak Spanish and many that don’t but, by speaking Spanish gives me a sense of security

and relaxes me. I feel like it helps take me back to a better simpler time. As I had mentioned

growing up, everyone spoke Spanish and everyone seemed more as one community.
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Which brings me to the point of agreement with Smith when they said, “We need a

model based on community relationships and a mutual respect” (Smith, 2006, p. 73). Some

people tend to follow by example and learn from what they see. Which is why a lot of

assumptions seem to continue. If one community would finally stand up and end all the “isms,”

the oppression, all the issues, maybe we all would have a fighting chance. People need to be the

example so everyone can see and learn. If we were able to have that decent mutual respect and

follow it; humanity might get better. I know it may seem like a long shot but as Torres had

mentioned, “In fact, many of them are eager to transcend their ignorance and open their minds to

the reality of a diverse world” (Torres, 2003, p. 80). That still gives me that their is hope that the

world can change for the better and we will all be one.

In conclusion, I never had many self-esteem issues growing up as a child. Although I

might have been blind to it but I can see now where a lot of the issues come to play in an unfair

society. But that is an issue we all face and since we can all related why not stand up and change

it. With time I hope to learn from all this any change; even if it’s just me. I want to put an end to

the common “isms” and spread oppression and want to raise my future children with an open

accepting mind; the same way my mom taught me. And to see people for the way they are and

not by the way they look. Change can start with just one.