What Are the Conflicts in American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

Judith Ortiz Cofer’s essay “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” from her collection “Silent Dancing” explores the conflicts that arise from the stereotypes and prejudices faced by Latin American women living in America. Despite being a part of American society, Latinas are often viewed as foreign and exotic, leading to numerous misunderstandings and conflicts.

Stereotypes and Prejudices

Cofer’s essay describes how Latinas are often stereotyped as passionate and seductive beings who are always ready to please men. This stereotype is perpetuated by media representations of Latinas as maids, dancers, or prostitutes. The author also notes how this stereotype is further reinforced by the way Latinas dress, with their tight-fitting clothes and bold makeup choices.

Furthermore, Cofer highlights how these stereotypes and prejudices lead to a lack of respect for Latina women in American society. Latinas are often subjected to catcalling, unwanted attention, and harassment due to their perceived sexuality. They are also frequently discriminated against in the workplace due to their ethnicity.


Cofer’s essay also explores the issue of identity experienced by many Latinas living in America. They feel caught between two cultures: their ancestral culture and American culture. Many struggle with finding a sense of belonging in either culture while trying to maintain their unique identity.

The author shares her own experience of feeling out of place at a school dance where she was not allowed to dance with her date due to racial tensions. This experience highlights how difficult it can be for Latinas to navigate relationships in America when they feel like outsiders.


In conclusion, Judith Ortiz Cofer’s essay “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” explores the conflicts that arise for Latinas living in America. Through her personal experiences, the author highlights how stereotypes, prejudices, and identity issues can lead to misunderstandings and discrimination against Latinas.

Cofer’s essay serves as a powerful reminder that diversity should be celebrated rather than feared. By embracing and respecting different cultures, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming society for all.