Racism From Within Examined

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Life, Love, Mexico, Politics, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

As a young child, I believed that the ‘safe zone’ from racism was within my own Hispanic community. In East Los Angeles, unquestioned acceptance was certainly the vibe.

In the barrio, everyone was poor and Chicano. If a Vato killed another Vato, it had to do with payback or insult. So, if I behaved as expected, I would be completely safe.

This was my perception as a young child. Later, amongst actual Mexicans and other Latinos, a new perception emerged. Latinos, with darker complexions, were viewed as inferior.

Such Latinos, were and are still curiously absent from TV and positions of power and/or leadership. The indigenous tribes of Mexico are often times treated as undesirables.

The existence of dark-skinned communities is seen as a weakness by many Mexicans. How is this possible? Terms like ‘wet back’ and ‘beaner’ plagued Mexican immigrants for years.

Mexicans are nannies, gardeners, housekeepers, factory workers, farm hands, construction workers and janitors. This is how white America viewed us for decades.

So why would they do it to their own people? Maybe because a class war still exists in Mexico.  Revolutionaries fought for the poor peasants against the wealthy ‘white’ European-looking landowners.

It was not unlike the English treatment of the Irish during the potato famine. Latinos passing for Europeans gave a sense of legitimacy, intelligence and beauty.

The lighter the better, is the message. African-Americans, I have observed, cripple themselves the same way.  Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry are all seen as beautiful (and they are).

They also pass the ‘paper bag’ test (no darker than a paper bag)! I recall seeing the cover of a magazine with a very dark, black woman crowned by her virgin Afro.

I thought she looked beautiful, but many of my black friends said that she looked like a turd. I was shocked. She looked like a pure-blooded African and they were offended.

When I heard that Catholic and Protestant Irishmen fought each other, I thought that man will always find a reason to hate, belittle, look down upon their own kind or any kind.

It’s a coward’s way of stepping on others in order to feel superior. I remember my grandmother saying to my grandfather, “You’re old, stupid and ugly. And nobody loves you”.

His response was, “That’s okay, I love myself”! What an excellent way to combat an insult. I think that many people can benefit from such logic. No love required, I love myself!

  1. Doris says:

    you always have a way to end your post, I like that phrase, will use it.


  2. kate says:

    You see this so often, but it always surprises me. The NY Times just ran a story a few weeks ago about how Chinese women completely cover themselves — including wearing face masks — because having tan skin is undesirable and denotes farm work.

    On more than one occasion, I’ve met a Latino male who has told me that he has cousins who “look like you, with light eyes and fair skin.” I never knew how to take this, but it felt like they were telling me they were legitimate for me to consider because they had some European blood, just like me. (Sad.)

    Even in the white community, you see it. My mom and my grandmother have each made self-effacing jokes or negative comments about their ability to tan very dark. (Southern Italian.)


  3. chicapoet says:

    Racism in all its forms is always hurtful and sometimes quiet unexpected. But it happens, and hard as we may try to pretend that it doesn’t exist, it does. People can be so judgmental.

    When I was younger, I attended a university where the majority of the students were Caucasian. There were few blacks, a few Mexicans, and a lot of Asians. I remember walking down the campus one day with my friends, and some Caucasian student yelled out that we had gotten accepted to school through the back door, and that we should have gotten accepted to Accidental College, instead of the one that I was attending.

    That stayed with me, but I must say, that it was just one person. I met a lot of Caucasian students, and I got along fine with them. We talked about movies, our classes, and the families that we had left behind to attend school there.

    Not all people are the same, and before them, we should try walking in their shoes.

    Thanks for this post. (-:


  4. I was born in LA and lived in a poor neighborhood until i was 5 but i remember alot from my early childhood. its cool that youre from there too, i had no idea…cool 🙂


    • coconutspeak says:

      Yeah. I live in North Hollywood now. You should read the first 19 posts of coconutspeak. It really gets into my Chicana mentality. I would really appreciate your comments on it. I’m thinking about writing a book.


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