The Latinx community is filled with multiple ethnicities that range from Mexico to Brazil. We come in many different shades and colors. But unfortunately, some skin tones are praised and admired more often compared to other skin tones. Similar to many other cultures, lighter skin tones are often praised and preferred to darker skin tones.
We’ve all seen it while watching telenovelas with our tias (aunts) and abuelas (grandmas). Our TV screen is filled with white-passing Latinx actors while actors with darker complexions are either the side characters or simply not represented at all.
The lack of Black and Brown people in the Latinx media is a visual representation of colorism. Colorism is the act in which an individual with a lighter skin tone is preferred over someone with a darker skin tone. Those sly-racist remarks you hear from your abuela about dating someone that is white-passing is colorism. The rude remark you hear from your hairdresser about having “pelo malo” (bad hair) is colorism.
The Latinx community already faces discrimination in the United States because we are a part of the minority. But for the individuals that are not white-passing, they not only have to deal with the racism within the US but as well as the racism within their own community.
“But my community discriminates me as well for not looking Latinx enough!”
That is true, many white-passing Latinx individuals (myself included) have to prove our “latinhood” to our own family and friends. It feels like an erasure of our culture as to how often we are told “you don’t look Latinx.”
Although that is an issue, we must also accept the fact that our skin color allows us to have “white privilege.” And with white privilege, we do not face the same amount of discrimination as someone that is not white-passing. However, we do face discrimination for being Latinx within the United States, but not for the color of our skin.
We should not tear down one another because of the color of our skin. Instead, we should accept our “white privilege” and seek out the sources to help out against the systemic racism that many black and brown people face in the country.
The casual colorism that happens in our own homes needs to be addressed as well. Talk to your family members and explain to them why saying things like “mejorar la raza” (improving the race) is offensive and outright racist. But most importantly, tell them that we have to take pride in our culture and not shame one another. After all, unidos somos más Fuertes (together we are stronger).