By Annie Patricia Woods
As a light-skinned Latinx, I will talk to those who resemble me. White people, you deal with your folk, non-black people of color, in general, find those who look like you and have this conversation.
I grew up very racially conditioned in a country in which we literally need to remind each other that “todos tenemos el negro detrás de la oreja” (We all have black behind our ears) Because we tried our best to lighten, straighten, speak the African out of our culture.
My dad, who by all means would be considered a black man in the United States, will get offended if you call him a black man. My mom, who has lighter skin than I do, is called the “savior” of my paternal family’s race. My Dominican driver’s license says I’m white.
Until I moved to the U.S. I didn’t understand colorism… And here I am, figuring out I grew up privileged as fuck, and racially biased to boot. Slavery is not an exclusive historical fact of the U.S. There is NOT ONE Latin American country that does not have the blood of African people running down their rivers; let’s wake the fuck up, and dissect our relationship with race.
If you are walking on this earth as a Latinx and you consider yourself “color blind” or “not racist,” My invitation is to you is to admit… You are racist, I am racist, it is not something we chose, it’s something we learned, and we get to unlearn it because being “woke” is not a fashion statement.
Here are some active stands you can take now and forever:
Check your colorism: This is self-awareness and observation of your thoughts and feelings around people based on their skin toned. We grew up striving for lightness to fix the race, we straightened our hair and learned to not go out in the sun. When you find yourself in front of a dark-skinned person, observe your thoughts and your instinct, then do the opposite of that shit.
Don’t say the N-Word: In Spanish or English… This one was hard for me, so I know what you might be thinking, “It’s a term of endearment.” Please choose another one, use the N-word (because it is a color) in Spanish when describing a car or a pair of shoes, not a person, you can describe someone in many other ways, use your full vocabulary… Don’t be lazy.
Ask Afro-Latinx people about their experience: You will be surprised to know that they don’t think being “color blind” is a favor or a virtue, and if you’re brave enough to ask, you might learn what YOU have done that’s racist. (This was a rude awakening for me, it was a necessary one)
Please do not compare your non-black Latinx experience to that of your Afro-Latinx friend: I have been guilty of this many times… Cut that shit out, speak from your experience, we have all experienced discrimination; it will differ depending on your skin tone, and the name on your driver’s license. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE.
Please do not compare your non-black Latinx experience to that of Black people in predominantly white countries: Slavery and its end were very different across the world. Our history with race is different, honor those differences and get curious about it. I used to generalize a lot and claim my dad’s skin tone as a free pass to belong in a community that has gone through enough and does not need my narrow mindedness.
Let black people and Afro-Latinx lead the conversation: Shut up and sit down.
Support organizations and people that are doing the hard work every day, here are some links from the last few days you can use to make a difference:
* Minnesota Freedom Fund: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/donate
*Minnesota ACLU: https://aclu-mn.org/en/donate
*George Floyd’s family gofundme : https://gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
If you really want to educate yourself about your own privilege as a light-skinned Latinx, let’s start analyzing your relationship to whiteness and where YOU rank on the race scale.
I recommend a collection of essays, “My time among the whites.” by Jennine Capó.