The health and well-being of Chicanx and Latinx communities are influenced by many factors. Throughout this chapter, we learned about and analyzed aspects of traditional health and healing that have been degraded by generations of settler-colonial structures and the enforcement of western medicine. These larger structures have influenced health disparities for Chicanx and Latinx communities, including individual-level indicators like physical health and mental health. Institutional healthcare has failed to address the wellbeing of Chicanx and Latinx communities, ranging from direct violence at the hands of medical practitioners to exclusions in health policy and bias and discrimination in the delivery of healthcare.
Yet, communities, healthcare providers, and activists have continued to sustain traditional practices of health and healing for the present and future generations. This work addresses the disparities and gaps created in the dominant western medical system, and creates opportunities for collaboration to invest in holistic health, community wellbeing and healthcare for all. With a sustained effort grounded in education, families, and creating spaces of belonging, we heal from the physical, mental and spiritual struggles of the body, mind, and spirit.
Ancillary materials for this chapter are located in Section 11.9: Chapter 9 Resource Guide, which includes slides, media, writing and discussion prompts, and suggested assignments and activities.
Institutional health care: Health care provided by hospitals and with doctors, physicians, prescribed medications, surgical procedures, and psychiatric appointments, which typically involve insurance.
Traditional health care: Indigenous ways of health and healing of cuerpo y alma (body and soul) mediated through curanderas/os (healers) or other specialists, like parteras (midwifes) and involves remedios (medicinal herbs), ceremonies, limpias (spiritual cleansings), sobaradoras/os sobadas (massage therapist or massage), huezera/o (bone setter), informal counseling for bilis (rage), susto (fright), or envido (envy), and ancestral foodways.
Acculturation: The process over time of adapting to and adopting cultural practices of a new environment, which can include both individual change and community and cultural change.
Latino Health Paradox: The pattern of immigrant Mexican and Latinx people report better health and longer life expectancy compared to their acculturated Mexican origin and Latinx counterparts and European Americans of higher class statuses.
Promotoras: Health workers who have received specialized training to provide basic health education in the community, who have been key mediators for Chicanx and Latinx communities to gain health access.
287(g) agreements: Policies that permit the cooperation of federal immigration authorities with local police and have increased the use of invasive and violent strategies in deportation and other immigration enforcement activities.
Structural vulnerability: Someone’s status in society’s multiple overlapping and mutually reinforcing power hierarchies.
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA): Law that made permanent residents are ineligible for public assistance during their first five years in the U.S.
Public charge rule: A policy based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 212(a)(4), which states that individuals are inadmissible to the U.S. if they are “likely at any time to become a public charge”, and discouraged noncitizens from pursuing needed benefits prior to regulating their status
Act 22: Law that allows individuals to operate in Puerto Rico without paying any capital gains taxes, which encourages predatory capitalism that has left the island in a constant cycle of exploitation.
Environmental justice: Addressing environmental concerns in conjunction with other aspects of exploitation and oppression, including white supremacy, capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy, and settler-colonialism.
Essential work: A phrase that describes people whose jobs contribute directly to the daily basic functioning of society, most of whom would be categorized as low-income and working-class workers, including agricultural workers, retail clerks in grocery stores, pharmacies, and supply stores, and maintenance workers.
COVID-19: A pandemic that reflects many recurring and long-term barriers to healthcare, including a lack of healthcare providers in Chicanx and Latinx communities, skepticism of physicians, and the exclusion of immigrants and non-English speakers from health resources.