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Shades of race

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Shades of race

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Colorism is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group (Google Dictionary). It basically means people of the same race or ethnicity treat people with lighter skin better than people with darker skin.  Even though it may sound like it’s racism, it’s not. Racism is prejudice against someone based on their race which people may assume by skin color. Colorism is very big in places like Latin America, Asia, India, the Philippines, Africa, and countless other places in the world.  

Colorism is the idea that if you have lighter skin than you are perceived better and that you deserve more respect. If you have lighter skin, most often others expect that you are more likely to succeed, marry, and in general have a better life when compared to people with darker skin. The worst thing about it is that this narrow point of view happens in one’s own racial or ethnic group. In places like Latin America everyone wants to be white and if you disagree just look at the most popular telenovela stars or just most popular Latino stars. Look at the one thing they have in common, they all have light skin and more European features. There’s nothing wrong with these Latinos in the spotlight, but when this is the only thing Latinos recognize and consider beautiful it can start a lot of problems.

The messed up thing about colorism in Latin America is that having light skin is seen as a good thing, but then you come to the U.S if you have light skin you hear things like ”… oh you don’t look Latina” or “… you can’t be Latino you’re so white”. My own grandmother has even told me not to stay in the sun to long so I won’t get ‘too dark’. Then you have upper class Latinos who almost always have lighter skin insisting they are better because of their more European features.

It’s even tougher for Latinos who have African ancestry or appearance, or otherwise known as afro-latinos.They are two minorities that get oppressed for being Latino and oppressed for being black. They can’t win. But the hardest part is that a lot of this discriminations comes from their Latino side. You have Latino parents telling their kids to not date or marry people with darker skin so they can “mejorar la raza” (improve the race). Yes this is a real thing that many (not all) parents tell their children.

Talks about colorism and oppression of afro-latinos have come out thanks to singer Amara la Negra from the TV show Love & Hip Hop: Miami. In an interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” back in January, hosts Charlamagne and Envy were having a hard time believing what Amara was saying. They had a hard time believing how Amara could be Dominican and black. They asked her if she was sure colorism wasn’t just ‘all in her head’ and comparing her journey to people like Cardi B and Issa Rae. She also went on to say “If you’re Latina, you have to look like J.Lo, Sofia Vergara, Shakira etc., but when you look like me, it’s, ‘You don’t look Latina enough,'” she explained “Why aren’t we on magazines? Why aren’t we on movies? It bothers me. I don’t think you should change the way you look to succeed. It’s my place to let people know, ‘Hey, you are beautiful.'”

As a person who watches way too much TV in English and Spanish I can confirm this. You never see afro-latinos or just darker or browned skin Latinos is Spanish programming. It’s just lighter skinned Latinos and when they are portrayed they’re seen as the help or the villain. When this is the only thing portrayed in shows and in the media it gives the idea that only Latinos with light skin can be successful. I love my culture, but I hate seeing people preaching stuff like ‘viva la raza’ and then degrading people part of their ‘raza’ for having darker skin.

I then asked students about their experiences with colorism.

What are your experiences with colorism?

“Darker skinned Latinos are either always the villian or poor in telenovelas.” said Alondra Cardenas .

How does colorism affect you?

“ It affects people with darker skin more than it affects me.” said Melanie Hernandez.

What do you think about colorism?

“People shouldn’t be treated differently because all people are created equal.” said Kamesha Paredes.

Every culture and place has some sort of bias based on skin color. I guess that’s the beautiful thing about hatred, it can affect anyone no matter what they look like or believe in. The silver lining, however, is that we are not our parents or grandparents. You decide what you think and how you treat people.

Anahy Sanchez Olivarez, Staff Writer

Hey my name is Anahy I’m in seventh grade and always have a story to tell. I have three cousins who are the same age as me and I always feel like I have...

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Shades of race”

  1. mbrandy on April 13th, 2018 6:59 am

    This is deep, and thank you for writing such a well-needed article. Unfortunately, this is a global issue that is rarely discussed. It’s clear to me that you invested a lot of time, thought, research and hard work into this article; I thought I was reading the New York Times for a minute. I have to say, “This is the most powerful and informative article I’ve read in the Gazette, so far.” Don’t ever stop writing!

  2. MsGraybill on April 13th, 2018 12:20 pm

    Wow! The complexity of this article is mind boggling! It is evident you put a great deal of time, effort and thought into this piece! Thanks for bringing this topic, a topic of substance, to GP Gazette. It is definitely an issue that needs to be shared and discussed. I looked up Amara la Negra and she is absolutely beautiful! I am glad you are both enlightening us on this issue! Keep writing, you have a gift!

  3. mckenzie hancock on April 16th, 2018 11:37 am

    😉

  4. DDGaitan on April 18th, 2018 10:43 am

    Very interesting topic and great article! Thanks for bringing this to light. It’s a very sad reality on how we have been programmed to perceive “beauty” in human beings.

  5. McKenzie Hancock on May 16th, 2018 11:02 am

    so are you implying that no human is beautiful?

  6. Joel Mitchell on April 23rd, 2018 12:38 pm

    I mirror the other comments on this post – this is one of the most substantive topics I’ve seen so far. Anahy’s research, writing, and reporting match the importance of the issue. I witnessed colorism (although I didn’t learn this term until reading your article) first hand while living in Brazil and having grown up near a large Filipino community in Washington. Thanks for your thoughtful article, and like Ms. Graybill says, keep writing!

  7. Hope Ramirez on February 12th, 2019 10:42 am

    I think that we as a people shouldn’t treat other people different or judge them by their skin color. We should treat people for who they are and not what they are. We are all created equal. We are all human.

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Shades of race