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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Katushka Olave, December 9, 1998. Interview K-0659. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Latinos face more discrimination than African Americans

Olave believes that Latinos encounter more discrimination than African Americans, whom she describes as a "high level" minority group. She hopes that the two groups can band together to fix shared problems, such as violence, substance abuse, and educational disadvantages.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Katushka Olave, December 9, 1998. Interview K-0659. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ALICIA ROUVEROL:
We were talking about how different it was getting involved in that organization in comparison to El Centro and Causa.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Oh, okay. Well, the difference in being involved in that they show you more about the difference. You know, the human being difference
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Meaning?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
What we call, or what we sayߞ, I don't want to say that. I don't use really frequently that word, racismo, or racism.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
And are you talking about this in terms of the Afro-American and Latino community?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Right, in terms of Afro-Americans, Anglos and Latinos on other cultures. It's a lot. And also being in another, you know, as Latinos we're considered a minority. And being part of another minority, you know, culture is hard. But I think there is a difference. The Afro-Americans are, I would say, the high level minority. And then would come the other ones. You know the other cultures come down. But, you know, what's really strange for me is working with them. When I say it's strange, it's not because I don't like themߞthe way they were accepting me. They wanted me to be involved in little tiny things that they were doing. Which I was like, "Why do they want me? Are they playing with me or what?" You know, you never know what could happen. But I think it is because I was really open and I was telling them and I talked with them, how communities, how we organized this. And showing them, or giving them information about that, what it is about the community, what the needs are of the community. And when they realize that they are the same needs that their own community has, they were like, "so we're in the same shape?" We are in the same shape, you know, it's the same. So, perhaps that's why we link really good.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
To realize that the needs are the same.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Right.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Do you want to talk a little bit about what those needs are, that African-Americans and Hispanics share?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Well, I think the big need is housing in both communities. There is not any support from the city about that, and you know for some reason our community won't establish, or put their seats in the same community where we have the Afro-Americans. But there is not any help, there is not any support at all for them. So that is one thing. The second one, I would say, is violence. You know, it'sߞ, they have their way in violence the Afro-Americans, and Latinos they have their own way. It kind of like in the beginning the Afro-Americans going for the drug thing and Latinos have this violence because of the alcohol. You knowߞ.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
A lot of folks are here solo. A lot of the men are here solo. That's what Iߞ.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Right. It's the sadness of missing family that brought them here. But it'sߞ, I sometimes feel like I would rather be an alcohol rather than a drug user. You know, which neither of those are good. But if I need to decide, or maybe smoker or something like that. So those are the two similarities, you know, the same needs. Talking about education, not because I want to hurt them, but I think the percentage of illiteracy in Afro-Americans is really high, in their, you know, English language. And for the Latino community, of course it's going to be higher in English because it's not their main language. But it's not as bad as we thought, you know, comparing theirߞ, talking their, speaking their own language.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
So you're saying that their literacy in their own language is good, the Latinos, but not English? What, I'm not sureߞ.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Yeah, their own native language is not as high literacy as gonna be English because they don'tߞ, I mean comparing to the Afro-Americans we have a high percentage of illiteracy in the Afro-Americans.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Here at the Durham Literacy Council what is the make-up of the population that you work with here?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
The majority is Afro-Americans.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Do you have ESL programs for the Latino community here?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Yeah, that's what I do here. I do the ESL programs. But in another program I have the ABE and the GED. There are more Afro-Americans that are taking those exams. But, anyway, so that was, you know, the same needs that both communities has. Also health. A lot, perhaps. You know, birthߞ, what is it, maternity.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Right, prenatal care.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Prenatal care.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
HIV.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
A lot, a lot. I mean a lot of health education needs to be done in both communities because it's just getting worse. Not only HIV, also the development of the community, the growing of the community. I mean more babies every day. Young people, I'm talking about sex. Sexuality education is a big issue. I would say in the Afro-American, maybe eight years old they're having sex now. That is a lot. Then I would say another is educated themselves, I mean educated into the system.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Sort of learning the system?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Learning the system, right.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
So that's an issue in both communities?
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
Yeah, in both. Because that's still, you know, they are Afro-American, they live, they're born some of them here but they have in their blocks and their roads and their ancestors, whatever they suffered, when they just come here. So it is a little bit of promise of what is inside, and Latinos have the same but, you know, Latinos came in a different way, I mean, if we are comparing the way they came.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Exactly. Different heritages, yeah.
KATUSHKA OLAVE:
So, also what else is there? Well, now it's the same needs.