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Science Daily: Linking Depression With 'Americanization' of Latinas

by: warner todd huston | published: 08 17, 2008

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Another day another "study" of dubious worth. This time it is Science Daily letting us know that "Latinas" in the United States have high rates of depression because of that dreaded "Americanization" they apparently unfairly face. So now, just the gall-darn, odiousness of becoming "Americanized" is enough to send "Latinas" to the funny farm, I guess. But, it seems to me that this "study" tends to say that it is single motherhood and out of wedlock pregnancies causing the depression not the fact that they are "Latinas" that have become acculturated to American ways.

Just look how horrible it is for Latinas to become Americans:

A study of 439 U.S. and Mexican-born Latinas seeking pregnancy and postpartum services at public health clinics in San Antonio uncovered elevated levels of depression among the more "Americanized" women, report researchers from The University of Texas School of Public Health and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

First of all, I have to say that the term "Latina" is ridiculous in the first place, just as is the word "Latino." The term Latino covers far too many cultures, nationalities, races and languages to be a useful term. A Haitian person has a different culture than does a Mexican and those "Latinas" actually born in the United States (women such as appear in this study) have absolutely no cultural connection to a Bolivian... yet they are all supposedly "Latino." The term Latino is completely unacceptable for its imprecision to be used as a category in any serious study.

Another main problem with this study is that it seems to proclaim that Latino women are more prone to depression if they have been "Americanized" yet from the article it doesn't seem as if any effort was made to quantify what being acculturated and not being acculturated means in relationship to depression. Further, the study seems to be about unwed mothers and out of wedlock births, not "Americanization." It seems more like the fact that the women wished to conduct their interviews in English was incidental. The entire study seems to be placing some onerous weight upon having become Americanized. As if acting like Americans was troublesome, or somehow bad for these women in and of itself.

It seems that this study is cursory at best.

Now, let me posit a possibility for woman of Hispanic or Latino birth being depressed when they find themselves pregnant and unmarried. It can be summed up in one word and that one word is not Americanized. Here is that one word: Catholic.

The largest portion of Mexicans, South Americans, Latin language speakers, et al, are culturally Catholic, they are largely more religious than many native born white Americans, and Catholicism spurns out of wedlock births. So, they feel shame -- as well they should given their religious convictions. This just maybe, sortta, might cause them to become a tad bit depressed, seeing as how their entire cultural upbringing tells them that having a baby and no hubby is a bad thing.

Here we all take a minute to say, "DUH!"

But, no, this "study" links it with the fact that these women wish to be considered "Americanized." It seems a totally unproven supposition.

Let me also suggest a reason why we might see women who wanted to conduct their interviews in Spanish not announcing that they were "depressed" to the interviewers. They were probably illegals and were happy to be getting their helathcare for free, so wouldn't complain too much for fear of losing it (the American born women not in as much fear of that and, therefore, freer to whine to the interviewers).

There is one last absurdity to note in this study. If a woman is born in this country, how is it that she is considered "Americanized" as if it were some conscious choice? If she was born here is she not just American as opposed to "Americanized"?

I have to say that this looks like just another study of no worth made with the singular purpose of casting blame, doubt or aspersions on being an American. No doubt researcher and graduate student of UT School of Public Health Marivel Davila is merely looking for more funding for her "work" to continue so went for what might sound sensational: "Americanized" Latinas have it harder than everyone else (give me money to "study" more, please).

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