Pride or prejudice?
The politics of skin tone within the African-American community is well known. But itís still taboo to talk about this problem within Latino and Asian-American communities.
Have you been the victim of or have you seen any overt prejudice concerning lighter skinned people vs. darker skinned people?
Read the story: Pride or prejudice?
About 25 years ago, I remember seeing a family of black people whose car ahad stalled in Brookline Village, and group of kids from the "whiskey point" section of Brookline who were driving by in a car yelled out "Niggers". When I was in college in 1984 at MIT, I remember one night I was walking back to my dorm and a group of black men in a car yelled racial slurs at me (I'm white). I haven't personally experienced any overt prejudice regarding skin color since then.
I certainly have. As a light skin African American I find that my skin is often lighter than some asians or spanish I meet. One time I got into a long discussion with someone because he could not understand how I could identify myself as "black" when I was lighter than him and he did not consider himself black at all. That does give one pause, doesn't it?
Yes. This problem is 10 Folds Worse in the Indian Community.
When I first moved to the states from Puerto Rico in 1981 I went to a predominantly black school in The Bronx. There was one girl in particular in my French class that would not speak to me at all. One day in a conversation with someone else she overheard me say that I am Puertorican and she said "oh, you're not white?" I told her no, I'm Puertorican and she said, well now I can talk to you. Two weeks ago I was at a restaurant talking to one of the waiters and he was telling me about his family and how my friends blouse reminded him of his sisters because of the spanish style. He told us he was of spanish descent and I said something to the effect of Latin women wear those kinds of blouses a lot. And he said oh, we're not Latin like Puertoricans, we're "from Spain". The tone that he used was like it would be horrible if they were Puertoricans. This happens to me all the time. I am very fair skinned and people will be talking to me about "oh those mexicans, or cubans or puertoricans". To which I not so politely say, I'm one of those...." Taking this topic a step further, there is definitely a very palpable distinction among people of latin descent. What I mean is that particual nationalities feel that they are better than others. For instance, I as a Puertorican will at times feel like I'm better than Cubans, or Dominican's or Mexicans, because after all I am an American by birth unlike them who have to have permission to become Americans.
Valerie, Tampa, Florida
Yes, as a white/olive tanned Italian male, I have been discriminated many times at job interviews. It is hard being a white male in this society................print that!!!
I have seen this kind of prejudice in the reverse form.....being a white female I was trusted when I shouldnt have been......I went to have my car inspected not realizing I needed to pay cash. I didnt have enough cash but was planning on using a credit card. I asked the tech if I could write a check and he took it. The address on my check is from an old apartment. I never bought new ones and the address on my license didnt match either the check or my registration but the attendant took it without question. The chek did bounce but my bank covers it for a fee but...... just more proof that prejudice is alive and well......i believe people like spike lee keep it alive by constantly shoving it in our faces. out of sight out of mind!
The bottom line is that ethnic groups cannot have it both ways. Either we're all going to call ourselves "American", or we're going to continue to segregate ourselves with terms like "Latin-American" or "African-American". If we all want to work towards a society that it truly blind to skin color, we need to ALL declare ourselves as "American". No more disclaimers, no more qualifiers. Either we're all American, or racism will continue to exist.
I'm a dark skinned Dominican woman and I have always found it very hard to live in a society where the color of your skin can determine your fate in life. I either get African Americans that are nice to me until they find out I'm hispanic, or the Latinos being mean to me until they find out I am Latino too. Its all very stupid really. Racism is just as bad in the Latino world as it is in America.. you'll never see a dark skinned or indian looking person on Spanish cable television. I don't deny my African roots, which suprises most people because they say "you're not black" and I show them my skin tone. Their reply is "yes but you're not African American" and I answer with "Oh I didn't know I could only be African American to be black." Its a confusing world, but luckily I've never let a thing like color hold me back. My spiritual beliefs have always overcome the invisible boundaries of prejudice.
Maria , Boston
I am a lighter skinned person and I have been stereotyped many times - in my "favor" and against me. What we are seeing is a cultural, not racial, ,stereotype coming into play with the Asian American and Latino community. It's sad because we are all beautiful - whether you are dark or very fair. I hope that it doesn't cause a tear in their communities as it has done for the African American community.
Kelly, Atlanta, GA
However inadvertant it may have been, Tom from Boston did bring up another interesting point: even among whites, there is a preference for the very light skin associated with being blond. Immigration policies from a hundred years ago favored immigrants from "nordic" countries over others; while you may read racial prejudice into this, it also was undeniably geared toward limiting darker-skinned Mediterranean people - e.g., Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, etc. - who undeniably belong to the so-called "white" race.