HAYES-BAUTISTA: Challenges Negative Latino Health Stereotypes
David Hayes-Bautista, director and founder of University of California-Los Angeles' Center for the Study of Latino Health, has worked hard over the years to counter a "timeworn image" of the Latino population, according to a profile in Monday's Los Angeles Times. Unsatisfied with the perception of Latinos as "largely poor and uneducated, as problem people lacking a work ethic and family formation skills and suffering from high mortality rates," Hayes-Bautista set about establishing a different view. In his 1988 book, "Burden of Support," the author looked at the young Latino work force and predicted a "massive increase in the state's Latino population." In 1990, he began culling through data from the county health department and found that contrary to popular belief, "Latinos had fewer heart attacks, less cancer, fewer strokes and a lower infant mortality rate than the overall population of Los Angeles County." His findings fueled a paradigm shift, from one that focused on the highly publicized problems of the Latino population to one that emphasized the group's "largely unappreciated healthy behavior."
Latino 'Myth Buster'
Calling Hayes-Bautista "the preeminent Latino scholar in the United States," Gregory Rodriguez of the New America Foundation said his former colleague "made the transition from a health specialist, looking at Latino health in medical terms, to healthiness in behavioral terms, the capacity of Latinos to run society as they were becoming the majority." Although Hayes-Bautista insists that he does not shy away from problems that plague Latinos -- he recently has studied HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, pregnancy and teen violence -- he says the focus should now be on building a positive future for Latinos. It is easier, he says, "for scholars to secure public funding to study a group's deficiencies -- studies that, in turn, give politicians something to wave in their own efforts to get money for programs" (Cardenas, 5/24).