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colorism: in the latinx community

January 14, 2018

col·or·ism

ˈkələrˌizəm/

noun

US

  1. prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

 

      Recently there has been lots of attention that has been brought to the topic of colorism and dark skin Latinx's and whether or not they exist. Specifically because of an episode on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami which features the Dominican AfroLatina artist Amara La Negra, where her "blackness" and her look are questioned to be unelegant and not the right representation of a Latina. A music producer on the show questions her look, stating that she could be "a little less Macy Gray, and a little more Beyonce". After the episode aired social media had many questions: If Amara was using blackface, if her accent was real, if she was faking being a latina, and what exactly is an Afro-Latina? With these accusations and questions up in the air Amara had to post personal childhood photos and videos on her social media accounts to show that she has always had this beautiful skin complexion and that she is as real as they come. It was mind-boggling to me that people would question whether or not a Latinx person could have dark skin and an afro and still be a Latina?! 

 

      If you were to stand all of my family members side by side, although you'd see many similarities, you would see different skin tones, hair textures, and much more. Taking a look back at our ancestry and how we came to be, the tale of Puerto Rico, in short, goes like this: indigenous Taíno and Carib Indian races were mixed with African and European bloodlines. Just like many other islands, the states, and other places around the world- we too are a mix of all kinds. Now, you’d think a simple explanation of that would justify how we come in a variety of different skin tones... but that’s not the case.

 

     When I hear about racism, many times it's usually the American white and black issue. But I think people are unaware of what goes on in other communities. On the island and even through people I grew up around and met later on in my life, I realized that racism wasn't (or isn't) just a white and black issue. Colorism and racism is something that is on all continents and communities of this Earth. Many people question their children or grandchildren when they are of lighter skin complexions and bring home a partner that is of dark skin complexions. Remarks of "No Dañe La Raza" (Don't ruin the race) run loosely off of tongues or saying things like hair is too nappy, your nose is too wide, your kids will come out dark, the list goes on and on. Which again is mind-boggling when our history shows that our bloodlines come from all backgrounds which leads to the reason that we come in an array of skin tones. 

 

     So why is it that those even in the Latinx community have these racist tendencies? Honestly, I don't have an exact answer for you. However, from what I've studied and read, even experienced, it's a tale as old as time- generation after generation have been brainwashed to believe that a lighter skin complexion, straight hair, and a thinner nose equals beauty, and if you are the opposite of that are you even Latinx or even beautiful? We have been taught to believe that if you are of light or white skin complexions that you are the superior race. Now I'll be the first to admit that I love receiving compliments, I have long curly hair, lighter golden skin, and hazel eyes; but that shouldn't determine that I am more beautiful than a black latino or black person just because they have a wider nose and tighter curly hair than I do. I have come to recognize my privilege and that I am no better nor superior because of how I look in appearance.

 

    Now, of course, this isn't just in the Latinx community. Every community should be held accountable of their wrongdoings because every community has its prejudices against those with darker skin. My biggest advice to those that want to be allies or activist for the good fight is when you hear or see something that is wrong- SAY SOMETHING! Always lead with love and an openmind. You have to realize that people were raised and taught to think this way, so automatically they'll think their way of thinking is the correct way. You have to realize that sometimes these things take time. Now, I am in no way condoning any violence or arguing with people because that will never end well. What I am saying is to educate those around you. You won’t win everyone over, but every conversation you have is a step towards a greater future. I believe it is our duty as fellow human beings to speak-up to our family, friends, boss, co-workers, friends, and strangers whenever you experience or hear them speaking hurtful words and to show them that we are all equal and deserve to be treated as such.

 

   Bigotry and racism have always existed in many communities, but it serves no purpose in this world. It is what we do and how we share what we know with the world that has created change, time and time again. After all, nothing good ever came from staying silent. My friends this, in short, were some of my thoughts that may or may not have made any sense to you, but I will say it’s a conversation that I will continue to share with the world until it makes sense and starts to create change. For now, I am leaving you with my thoughts and a quote by the late Martin Luther King Jr. that truly inspires a lot of what I fight for and keeps me going. Be well and spread love. 
 

 

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." 

 

                                                                        ↓WATCH THIS↓

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Signing off, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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