Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Myth of Latino Brown-ness

Language conspires against us. How to make ourselves understood and at the same time speak in a way that does not perpetuate crazy myths?

For example: “Black” is used as a synonym for African American in the U.S. and, more and more often African Americans and Latinos are spoken about using the language of skin color: “Blacks and Browns.”

But is brown a useful label when so many Latinos are (whether by looks or by ancestry) just as black or even “blacker” than many African Americans? Is brown a useful label to describe Latinos ranging from the milkiest skin-toned to the ebony complexioned?

(Below, a great and scary example of racial disparities and myths in Latin America, courtesy of a Colombian travel site.)

The work of photographer Luis M. Salazar, born in El Salvador in 1974, was showcased last year at the S-Files collective exhibit at El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.

The photo series is titled Spark La Música: Hip Hop en español in New York City, 2003-2005 and features artists like La Bruja, Enemigo, Don Divino, Inti and El Meswy. Considering the huge range of skin tones evident in the photos (from Don Divino and Inti’s deep brown skin to La Bruja’s and El Meswy’s cream-colored complexions) the text accompanying the photos struck me: “They come from [description of their various regional backgrounds]. And besides their color of skin and mother tongue, they all share the love of hip-hop culture.” I wondered: How can the text state these artists share a “color” while the photographic evidence right next to those words screams to the contrary?

“They are the ‘brown’ people,” states the exhibit text, curiously placing “brown” in quotation marks, but still describing their skin color as uniform.

To add yet another spin to the matter, while the above mentioned hip hop artists featured in Salazar’s photo series are from Latin America (Puerto Rico and Colombia), El Meswy is from Spain. So not only is this European artist being incorporated into the definition of Latino, but he is also endowed with the mythical brown-ness of Latinos and Latin Americans. It is a brown-ness that, though using the language of racial phenotypes (looks), stands as a synonym for a Latino pan-ethnicity that reaches across the Atlantic to Spain: to the “motherland” or “evil stepmotherland” of Latin Americans, depending on who you ask.

Some people insist that describing Latinos as brown is appropriate because we are supposedly all mixed. Yet, describing all Latinos as brown is tricky considering some of us are more mixed than others; also considering that some of us are just as mixed as African Americans, Native Americans, Asians or whites in the U.S.; also considering that some of us are not mixed at all; AND, also considering that depending on how mixed you are, you get treated differently, courtesy of Latino and Latin American-style racism and self-hatred.

Other people say that Latino brown-ness is just a convenient label that uses the language of skin color but really points beyond race. They say that brown-ness is a good symbolic way for Latinos to bridge our racial differences. But I do not buy it. This all sounds way too much like Mexican writer Jose Vasconselos’ dangerous myth of the “cosmic race” from back in the 1920s or like 1930s Puerto Rican writer Tomas Blanco playing down Latin American racism as “a kid’s game” compared to racism in the U.S.. Using the label brown to describe all Latinos sounds like a re-packaging of the old myth of “racial democracy” in Latin America.

As long as white is the color of privilege among Latinos and Latin Americans, pretending we are all brown sounds like a terrible idea to me. How can we address racial conflict, differences and inequality among Latinos if, supposedly, we are all brown?


wayne&wax said...

Nice one, Raquel. A thoughtful and provocative reflection.

I once used the phrase "blacks and blacks and browns and blacks" to describe the relationships between African-Americans and Anglo-/Latin-(Afro-)Caribbean folk in New York, though an editor thought it too vague. On one hand, it was supposed to be vague, calling attention to the labels people claim for themselves and put on others and how it is often difficult to know where people draw lines and why (or how blacks might be different from other blacks or from browns, or at least discuss and enact difference in certain ways). On the other, I agree that we want to be careful about how we perpetuate these labels even as we attempt to analyze them, reveal them in their workings, unmask their power, celebrate their power.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and one of my favorite topics. Recently their was a commercial on the Disney Channel for Hispanic Heritage month and the children of EVERY nation mentioned were light brown with straight (hanging and flowing) dark brown hair and mestizo features. What? I thought. No negros? No mulattos? Not even a curly haired child?
I mean the Cuban, the Rican and the Dominicano were all of the "Latino" phenotype,meaning they looked like what Americans imagine Latinos to be. You have to work pretty hard to find a PR, a Cuban AND a Dominican and NOT find anyone even vaguely "afro" in appearance.
And, I also mentioned that there were no "white" latinos or "asian" latinos. Just a bunch of kids that looked kinda like dark italians.

Manuel said...

Hi. I'm a white latino like Ernesto Guevara Linch, jaja. Please file under "revolucionario". Great blog. Please listen Intifada (www.myspace.com/intifadapr)


raquelzrivera said...

The responses I've gotten on the myspace version (www.myspace.com/raquelzrivera) of this blog spot have been amazing!


Blessed Truth in your Word Sound Sister. As a Sister who is Multi'Cultural' and Overstands the I completely, I apprecialove your reasoning an the recognition of the inadequacy of using these labels as descriptions of INI people. Inadequate, these labels were meant to be, and they are to this day. Blessings an Love to YOU!

Posted by Kaya on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 3:40 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


I love you for asking the critical questions... I was recently at the Border Social Forum and heard some real light-skinned latinas using the term Brown to refer to themselves, which I understood in the face of Uncle Sam, but not in the context of our own internal complexities...

Posted by ferealsdo on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 3:42 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


In the minds of many, being "brown" is at least better than being a nigger, negro, prieto, mayate, changos, monos etc. The irony is it's just as insulting to many to be considered "indio". There needs to be a radical shift in the view of the role of race in the development of consciousness raising and political change.

Terms like "criollo" are just as problematic, especially since there is nothing creole about mofongo or platanos among other things. Furthermore, our disconnect from a significant racial identity in favor of "latinidad" feeds the horrible ideas that Spain is "la madre patria" or that we are somehow "latino" or even "latin american".

Another irony is the use of the term brown by our allies in struggle, particularly in the Black community, who aren't sure what to call us and that's only complicated because we aren't sure either. The lack of pro-blackness and pro-indigenismo has neutered our movements and stagnated our growth.

Posted by David on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 3:43 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


I don't think the problem is with the "Brown" identification. As I understand it, this originates with the Chicanos out west. The problem is that Chicano/Mexican is becoming THE face for ALL Latinos in this country, and their predominantly Indigenous/mestizo racial background isn't necessarily representative of the racial complexities in other Spanish-speaking countries; this is particularly so in the Antilles. The challenge for us is not to relinquish our "Puerto Rican/Dominican/Cuban/Panamanian/Colombian/etc."-ness in exchange for a Chicano/Mexican "Latino"-ness just to feel more secure in belonging to 30 million strong. Latino brotherhood must be based on understanding and ACCEPTING our differences as well as our commonalities.

As for the artist from Spain, I'm not familiar with him, but it's possible that his origins are in Latin America. There is a large immigrant population there.

Posted by Malik on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 9:08 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


The oversimplification of Latin American identity is the primary issue here. With the respect to the use of terms, we need to first understand the historical root of terms like "brown" (which was essentially born from the Chicano/Xicano movement's use of "raza" and the anglicized "brown") and "Latino" which in its earliest usage was actually "ladino" or a term used to reference Christianized Africans in the Americas. Further we need to understand "Latino" demographics in the U.S. Despite the fact that there is in fact a strong cultural influence by Afro-Caribbean/Caribbean Latinos in the U.S. the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of Latin Americans in the U.S. ARE Mexican (Over 70%), and of those Mexicans, very few are in fact Afro-Mexican. While we all know that there are African descendants in Mexico, and the indigenous discourse has to a certain degree muted the struggle for racial justice in the Mexican nation, in the U.S. context, the vast majority of Mexicanos are in fact indigenous descendants (though we know that norther mexico and sw U.S. see plenty of self-identified "Hispanic" who claim/celebrate their Spanish/European ancestors). Here again, we see a hegemonic relationship between the "majority" and the broader discourse used to a: define Mexicaness, and b-define "Latinos" in general.

When marketers target Latinos in the U.S., they are targeting the group which they believe to have the largest purchasing power- "brown" Mexicans- and sometimes Puerto Ricans who comprise a mere 10% (the second largest Latino ethnic group in the U.S., with Cubans, Dominicans, Guatelemalans at a mere 3%).

In this sense, U.S. constructions of Latinidad are very much based on the interests of whoever is either a- paying the advertising bills or b-whoever is writing the books. In addition to race, Latino culture is also represented as one homogenous well of experience in the U.S. market and consciousness.

Now, that said, do we allow this oversimplification to define us?

Clearly, not.

Latin Americans and their descendants in the U.S. are confronted with a unique challenge that is nuanced in comparison to their experiences at home. Racial discrimination and racism in L.America (whether targeting African or Indigenous descendants- the two earliest non-European groups in the Americas, prior to the Arab and Asian migrations) EXISTS all throughout Latin America and must be challenged, just as white supremacy must continue to be challenged in the U.S. In the U.S. context, this goes a step further when in addition to doing the internal "home" work, if you will, L.Americans must also confront their own narrowly framed views of what it means to be "Latino" or "Latin Americans" in the U.S. or abroad. I would venture to say that this challenge applies to peoples of the African diaspora, as they tackle broadening definitions of "blackness" across the diaspora, to embrace the complexities and diversity which exists among African descendants as well.

Another important issue is also evaluate blanqueamiento and the connotations that "whiteness" has in Latin America, in realtionship to class. As we all know, an educated African descendant often "graduates" from blackness into whiteness (in the most extreme of circumstances) through education and economic status. Money whitens. Class, then, also determines "race" for some. While that in quite unlike race in the U.S., it does in fact parallel earlier, regional constructions of race in U.S. locations such as New Orleans and other Southern centers where parallel societies were constructed for African descendants who could either "pass" (phenotypically) or buy themselves a new place in the social order.

Latin America- and Latinos by extension- is no different. The difference is that the struggle for civil rights and racial justice is perhaps less advanced than the struggle in the U.S. BUT this movement IS happening in the Americas and across Latino communities in the U.S.

Random other thoughts:

*Let's remember which Latin American writers were published in the earlier part of the 20th century- white ones... Naturally, their racial discourse would seek to mute the deep rooted struggles of people of color in the Americas and the structural forces, institutions and economic systems that seek/sought to maintain the status quo.

*For some the "brown" discourse helps (for better or worse) to ameliorate the challenges of "explaning away" mixture. While the "one drop" rule in the U.S. may solve this for most African Americans, in certain Latin American contexts, mixture is noted and celebrated beyond the European hegemonic discourse. Many African descendant communities in the Americas, celebrate their Indigenous ancestors in places where that root is traceable and significant. Celebrating that mixture is important because rather than undermine Africanity, it speaks to the resilience and power of a shared struggle between oppressed groups who fought, loved, and built together. This is the reality in many quilombo and palenque societies (and i am not referring to romanticized, revisionist claims to Taino identity in certain parts of the Caribbean, OR nationalist rhetoric on mestizaje).

©Marinieves Alba, 2006.

Posted by Zol on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 9:11 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]



Meswy is definitely a Euro-Spaniard... but I hear you... There are sisters like la Fresca (a an afro-cuban sister residing in spain) and Ari, the Dominican sis out there as well....

On the topic of spain, this has been one of challenges as well, as I encounter Spanish folks in the U.S. who identify as "Hispanics" (not "latinos", mind you) here in the U.S. They believe strongly in their connection to Latin Americans because of our (assumed) "Hispanic" culture, without recognizing the colonial discourse inherent in that...

I have also encountered this discourse in (self-identified white) Mexican or upper class Mexican communities in the Southwest, begrudgingly called "HIGH-SPANICS" y darker skinned and/or economically less privileged Mexicans who note the relationship between "whiteness", hispanidad (not latinidad), and class in their community... I suppose this could parallel the blanquito phenomenon across the Americas, but its super interesting, because its one of the spaces in the U.S. where "Latinos" are articulating and emphatically asserting their connection to Europe and whiteness, so as to distinguish themselves from the rest of the black and brown "mutts"... they perceive themselves to be the "blue bloods" if you will.. the untarnished... making the "brown" discourse of the (mostly mexican) west, understandable to a degree, as folks struggle to assert their non-white roots (despite the fact that they may be generations removed from their indigenous roots, culturally)... now the challenge is to broaden THAT discourse to embrace our African heritage... from the antilles to buenos aires (yes, b.a.) and veracruz

Posted by Zol on Thursday, November 02, 2006 at 6:45 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]



That response was on point, but I still wrangle with the use of "Latino" as an identity that has become a racial group in the US. How do we view race in the terms of Latinidad if we aren't going to follow the "raza cosmica"-brown-mestizo rhetoric?

Posted by David on Thursday, November 02, 2006 at 6:43 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


I forgot to put all of the "Latinos" in quotes, but I ever argue for Latinos as a racial group. Latino is a broad ethnic classification which to me, says nothing about race. "Latino" is a multi-racial (and in fact, multi-ethnic) ethnic (yes, that's a double on ethnic) category used to defne Latin Americans and their descendants in "northern" locales, if you will... though, it seems to be becoming quite popular in its use around the world (U.S. hegemony, watcha gonna do?). Do they all speak Spanish? Nah... Are they all a particular color? Nah.. You get the point....

Posted by Yaya on Thursday, November 02, 2006 at 7:49 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]

Rene Gonzalez

Nothing to really add to your excellent dissection of this myth of "browness"... except...

If Latinos are brown, entonces feast your eyes on the picture to the left, and tell me what the hell I am...

<---------------------------------- Blanquito!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Rene Gonzalez on Friday, November 03, 2006 at 4:30 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


"still a white girl..." i was walking down gun hill road one day, and these teenagers in front of me were teasing each other, y jugando de mano - one light skin girl and two dark skin boys. the game was going too far and she wasn't feeling it anymore. words were exchanged and then she broke out. as she walked away, one of the boys yelled back to her, "so! you still a WHITE girl!" now anyone who grew up in the hood knows that what he said was considered a "diss," especially cuz homeboy next to him was like "ooooooh!" the venom with which he spoke those words left no doubt that being light skin, especially in the hood, is not all priveleage and power. privelage and power are relative to the neighborhood. if you in hollywood, or corporate america, or anywhere mainstream, then yes, no doubt. but these lines of privelage become a lot more blurry as you start creeping down the corporate ladder into the working classes and then down to street and cultural politics. while many families of "color," mixed in their rainbow splendor, also manifest the ugly racial prejudices of the mainstream, there are many "white" sheep in our families that are considered the ugly ones in the herd, or "not to be trusted." take it from a sister who used to come home from orchard beach, not with the sexy brown glow of my fellow homegirls, but rather with sun burned shoulders and freckles, wishing each time for a bit more melanin to make the pain go away.

peachy boricua queen

Posted by SANDRA GARCIA RIVERA on Friday, November 03, 2006 at 11:57 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


very interesting...

Posted by carlito on Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 3:11 PM
[Remove] [Reply to this]

Lavoe Revolt Magazine


I love the questions posed and the understanding expressed.
If I may offer my insights with no disrespect intended:

The reason to find a way is if it enables living the way.

A solution to this labeling confusion is only necessary if it promotes clarity in how we see and relate to each other. Being an oppressed people, we may forget that clarity is not necessary in how we, adults, perceive each other; rather it’s in how the children are taught to truthfully see themselves.

Labels are often born as oppressor's pedagogical tools and social realities as a sloppy afterthought. Terms like “Latino,” “Negroe,” “Porto Rican,” etc. are all to help the oppressor (European/Eurocentric/Western conquerors) classify us (i.e. the 1960’s studies done by New York city churches that “reveal” the docility of the Porto Rican child) while we take them and apply a reality we have yet to fulfill. We can’t unite so we say Black and Brown. We ain’t really rich, but we know we’re used for our rich port, so we can say we’re Puerto Rican. So what about a people, with comfortable labels of engrossing attachment, who generally identify their culture as their food, sex stylings and an old oppressor’s language (that espanol)? We merely are fancy animals. The pets that excel—fight first in their wars, bark when Massa tests his appliances of mass destruction and have our mothers neutered.

It is here where attachment must be irrelevant and we realize who are the greatest. A great elder taught me that the one with the least must be taught first. The babies are the greatest. Here, the other students knowing, learn how to teach while the young learn. Education, from the Greek etymological root, educare, means ‘to draw out that which is within.’ An essential principle those whites picked up from us (ancient Kemit).

Applying this pedagogy to the oppressed, we teach the child to identify only what is within. When our people identify by the shade of skin, they defend themselves socially, against the oppressor or for the oppressor, and reveal little of the depth of what we are addressing, us. Yes, the following depth revealed may be gratuitous for most of us but for the babies the world must not be flat. When we die the mind of our truth lives on and we honorably bury all of our misunderstanding.

Firstly, what is color? Color is seen through a reflection of light from the eye. The greater the reflection of light from the observed surface, the greater the color. Therefore the real color is white while Black is not, reflecting no light. Black absorbs all light and is the presence of all light. Light is a form of energy.

Applied to the physical human body, the skin’s shade is attributed to the amount of melanin. This is incorrect in its incompleteness. Melanin is created in the medulla oblongata of the brain, is unquantifiable and present in all the human organs. All the major shades, Black, Brown and Yellow are unquanitifiable, interrelated and all are crucial interdependent manifestations of melanin. Ultimately, the skin only tells a small portion of the story.

What is key is that Black becomes the proper term revealing the essence of all the Black, Brown and Yellow peoples. Only the European white has melanin that is inactive. (References are long for proper validation here and one can start with T. Owens Moore’s The Science and Myth of Melanin) I know and understand us all as Black. Our Puerto Rican/Dominican/Cuban/Haitian identities are only of our most immediate families. Physically, we are of all shades, the Black seed, the Brown seed or the Yellow seed. The unifying term of complete truth is that we are all Original people.

Our children need the truth of reality’s depth, seeing all within that is being drawn out, as opposed to helping them better perceive things. The teacher’s best lesson format is the openness present in instruction that everything taught is completely wrong. Slowly, the curriculum naturally becomes right and exact.

Paz Raquel y todo mi gente,

Posted by Lavoe Revolt Magazine on Monday, November 06, 2006 at 3:05 PM
[Remove] [Reply to this]

Poet Warrior

I've touched on this issue in so many ways on a personal level, on a scholarly level, on a social level. And I've said this in class so many times. I do not know what to call myself, and I have this conversation almost on a daily basis. Where do Puerto Ricans fit? Where do latinos fit? How do find solidarity in our shared histories without falling to the way we have been exoticised to be one thing? How do we challange the mold and stereotype and how do we understand ourselves in the schema of the world?

In the context of the U.S., I would never be racially white. I would not fit into being black either. My complexion itself is not enough to throw me in either one. And when we look at the myth of mestizo identity. For some of us, that myth is true. My grandma is a blond, grey eye fair skin woman, and my grandfather has taino and african blood. So..for me.. for my kin...we are part of that idea.. And so i struggle to define myself within the american context versus the puerto rican one versus the one that arises living where i do.

I think it is important to deal with the inter racial issues that arise in the puerto rican and latino community. And I hope that through doing my thesis, I will complicate this issue. At the same time, i think that pan latino identity can aid us in the search for solidarity.

Let us understand our differences yes, but let us not use them as a cruch to prevent unity.

It's important to know our seperate histories but we are at a moment, politically, socially, in this world, where we need to understand our shared histories in order to move forward.

Posted by Poet Warrior on Friday, November 24, 2006 at 4:18 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]

Ya Basta!

Great post Raquel....to play the devil's advocate, can brownness on the other hand, be the opposite, a transition into a bond with blackness rather than a move away from it? Some of us, whose African ancestry is less aparent to the untrained eye, would have a very difficult time, presenting ourselves as "black" to anyone, not even Africans in the States who are accustomed to a variety of colors due to the one drop rule. I'm certainly not white, but it would be a stretch to call me black, although I'm very cognizant and prideful of my cultural and physical connection to Africa. Often, using the "brown" or Puerto Rican buffer in an all black neighborhood in the most segregated city in the US (Milwaukee, WI) has given me a level of acceptance and comfort in a community that is wary of outsiders (white or non-white).

None of the terms available for marginalized groups truly satisfy me (not even black), because they all come from an oppressive discourse, but I still find "brown" to be the most truthful scientifically and the easiest starting point when building with others like me with a shared history of being terrorized and placed within a box that doesn't necessarily fit us. Boricua---Black---Brown---African---Latino they all have their pluses and minuses, this type of discourse brings them out in a critical way

Posted by Ya Basta! on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 3:06 AM
[Remove] [Reply to this]


I, too, am Black
(Inspired by the late great Langston Hughes)

Although you may find me fair
With medium brown eyes
And not too curly hair
Of mixed heritage,
Too many to name,
One thing was the same
They all shared despair
Believe it or not, in fact,
I, too am Black

I have been stabbed in the back
For being too much of this
And not enough of that
Have been compared to what exists
And been told how much I lack
You may not know it now
But it’s fact
I, too, am Black

Color lines run deep in my veins
Behind covered mouths
I’ve been called many names
Instead of hope
They taught me shame
But I chose to play another game
With ears I hear
But heart unchained
You can keep it
Or take it all back
You have eyes but are blind
To the fact
I, too, am Black

Black like the ebony tree
The deeper you carve into me
You can easily see
The beauty, the strength
Shape me and shine me
In the finest homes
You find me
While strange fruit
Still hangs inside me
With all the love I can muster
My face glows with luster
It took more than Jim Crow
To make me crack
But let me break it to you
With truth and tact
I am proud of the fact
I, too, am Black

Posted by LA BRUJA on Sunday, November 26, 2006 at 3:25 AM

wayne&wax said...

Wow, Raquel. You're right -- that's an amazing set of responses. I understand now why you double-post. That myspace blog of yours is quite well-read! Wonderful to see you cultivate such a complex conversation.

El Meswy said...

Accidentally I get to this site... very interesting. I definitely couldn't go through all the comments (sometimes it sucks to be an independent artist with your own clothing line and plus, and not to have time for some extra cultural enrichment after being exposed to supreme street ignorance 80% of ones life). Since I just finish my new album and my next winter collection let me go to it...

I agree and disagree with a lot in this blog, specially I agree with the abusive discrimination of darker skinned latinos in media and misunderstandings around the term "latino". I personally would love the idea of united humanity with no frontiers, no oppressors, where skin or personal material properties are not indicators of supremacy over others, but in a capitalist society we are gonna suck a lot of this yet.

I'd like to clarify about my ethnic background that caused that paragraph on your review of Salazar pictures. I'm born in Spain (like Julio Iglesisas, Antonio banderas, Penelope Cruz or many other latino "superstar" that all you already know), from spanish parents (like Che my mom grew up in Argentina) and I'm brown, NOT WHITE (although sometimes I would have love to pass by white in my multiple entrances through US customs).
Spanish rich ethnical background granted me with moor blood running through my veins (mainly black from X to XV century, Almohades and Almohavires ruling dynasties, mainly brown from Omeya-arabian dynasties before that) and this already factual enough to accept yourself as no white if you are spanish and your family name comes directly from muslims.
I know that in Southamerica, specially in old school Southamerica, power and consequently education was in the hands of the lighter skinned persons, generally with spanish background, and most of the time (if not always) rich spanish background. This is to the point that Dictator Trujillo in DR brought spaniards to "mejorar la raza" (improve the race), dios!! I hate that expression that is still being used among my neighbors in Brooklyn or some of my dominican friends in Spain. That is Hitler talk con~o, we are not horses!! Not only brought spaniards, he looked for the lighter skin ones from the north west region Galicia (frequently invaded by celtics in the past=blue eyes, blondes, light skin).
The same as in Southamerica, in Spain, after the finalizing the invasion of europeans troops in 1492 and taking over complete power of Spain, the lighter skin europeans (mainly coming from France, Germany, Denmark and England) took all the powerful positions. Of course, in history class, not in Spain, and much less in Southamerica, this I just wrote would have being taught EVER, since the rich people is direct descendants of this racist bastards that massacred the richest and more advance and tolerant culture of Media Age and they want to deny this important fact of our background. Not even in Spain everybody knows about this and the majority of the population consider themselves white, but they always would add a question mark at the end. In an effort to compensate this race complex spanish people is one of the most ignorant openly racist I know (second place after some cubans Fidel get rid of in the revolution), and this is my fellow countryman I'm talking about, that I verbally and physically assaulted many times when I was younger and more optimistic about making a better world.
That is one of the reasons why europeans never treated Spain as part of europe, we are different and we'll always will be and that is in the roots of almost every spaniard (not all of course, specially the ones you'll see walking around Ny as tourist would look more white than brown being usually rich).
So there it goes, the fact is that I am Latino, not latino-americano (or maybe I am, I don't know how many years I need to be in America to earn the title, or maybe since my mom grew up her whole life in Argentina I am), but in any case espan~oles are latinos and mainly brown. And another fact is that in this world the darker you are the harder it is, and this is openly a fact in anglo culture and not so open in Latino culture.
So any comments or questions I'm at meswy@meswy.com


Anonymous said...

Good discussion, too bad I'm reading this over a year later.

Before one can define what is "Brown" one must define what is "White." The definition of White in the U.S. has been a combination of racial, ethnic and political elements. To make a long story short. White meant Anglo-Saxon Protestant. If you read early U.S. literature you find strange quotes like "they aren't White" they are Swedish. Or they aren't "White they are Irish." As strange as this sounds, this was earlier in American History and these comments show Whiteness not being a exclusively a racial thing, but a ethnic and political thing. “Gangs of New York” was exaggerating of “White” attitude for the newly arriving Irish. Over time the definition of White has changed in the United States to mean anyone who is of European descent or looks European on the local level. In the elite level, White Anglo Saxons still have 300 year old clubs that not even Bill Gates can be a member of.

So if White has so many definitions then what is Brown?

Brown describes so many different unrelated races of people in the world.
Alas, Hispanic or Latino in the Americas is an ethnic description not a racial one. Basically what makes one Latino is they speak Spanish and they are Catholic. As far as people belonging to Latino "race" [one of many European peoples], the large chink of people that still belong to that category are the ruling classes of Latin America and are the same people who have historically overplayed the Mestizo Myth to maintain their position in society. Although there are large populations of peoples in Latin America of mixed European, Indigenous and or West African descent, the overwhelming majority of South and Central America peoples are Hispanized Indigenous population.

The fact that the Caribbean Island Hispanics have large mixes of races says nothing specifically about Latin American or Spanish Culture, you have racial mixtures throughout the New World, including the United States, just as old and numerous. Moreover, Islands around the globe have always been racially mixed, look at Sri Lanka, Madagascar or Indonesia.

Courtney said...

I use the term "brown" to describe a range of phenotypes. For me, brown pride means solidarity between people of color. I wouldn't say brown pride encapsulates white Americans; why would I use the term to refer to white Latin@s?

Skai Davis said...

Thanks! This blog was great! I stumbled upon it while researching Afro-Puerto Rican-ness...I am organizing a retreat/tour here in PR next year and the more I look the more I learn. Race Identity is very complex in all areas amongst folks who are (or mixed with) African heritage. It just seems to be, especially, a touchy subject among the Latino populations.

Please check out my website and please share, we are organizing an amazing tour here (in PR)!


Skai Davis