Colorism Within the Latinx Community

There are Latin people everywhere, from South America to Central America to Spain and every other country! We all come in different shapes, sizes, but more importantly, shades. Us Latin people all carry such a range of different cultures and customs, making us all so unique yet unified in our differences!

Related: Colorism: Color Coded

But, with these minor differences comes major issues. Issues like sexualization/fetishization of a skin tone, whitewashing Latin culture, and discrimination among darker Latinx people have created the colorist tendency within the Latinx community. Much like the racism towards African Americans and/or Black individuals, this problem is based solely on the interpretation others have on one’s physical appearance, but within our own community. Not only is this tendency wrong, but it has become a part of our culture to separate ourselves into categories of shades and with each shade, attributes to go along with them. It is time for the Latinx community to confront it’s colorist ways and reject the malicious ideology within our community. The excuse of calling it “cultural pride” has allowed it to not only disunite us but help perpetuate colorist and racist ideas within our community and to those outside the community. Let us explore both sides of the spectrum. 

1. The Whiter, the better

On one side of this spectrum is the hyperfocus of the “Anglo-Spaniard” or the White Hispanic (originating from Spain). As seen on TikTok, the “super White Latino check” trend has become some sort of pride to White Hispanics, emphasizing their White features. By glorifying said features, they demean other Hispanics with darker features and furthermore influence the beauty standards within the Latinx community. Here, White Latinx people indirectly show their gratitude to having White features (lighter eyes/hair and fairer skin) rather than darker features as if it is a burden to have been born with them like other Latinx people. This idea is what allows colorism to strive within the Latinx community and outside it as well. Darker Latinx people should not have to feel as though they need to modify their physical appearance to adhere or gain approval from White people/culture and even more so from other Latinx people. Another sub-point to mention is the glorification of darker features on lighter individuals and society worshipping them as “new” beauty trends. Darker features are beautiful everyday, not just when one of the Kardashians makes them so. What people, both within the Latinx community and outside it, need to understand is that Latinx people come from a variety of backgrounds (Native, Afro-Latinx, European Spanish, etc.) not all are going to be the same and that’s the beauty of our community.

Related: Colorism: A Darker Side of the Conversation

2. Not dark enough equals not Latinx enough

On the other side of the spectrum is the ‘not Latinx enough” side of the community, which is typically where the non-Spanish speakers find themselves. This side is arguably more focused on identity within the community and it overcomplicates what it means to be Hispanic/Latinx. Noteworthy to explain, Latin origin/Hispanic heritage isn’t considered a race, but rather an ethnicity; and this confuses a lot of people not only outside the community but also within the Latinx community. Because we don’t come in a one-size-fits-all idea to society, people can sometimes get lost in what makes a person Latinx. A person’s identity is their upbringing, culture, and intimate interpretation of themselves, not a simple grocery list of attitudes, attributes, or characteristics that must be proven to become a certain identity. White Latinx individuals or even mixed Latinx people are not weird outsiders to the Latinx community because they miss a few “common” characteristics, they are Latinx through their lived experience. Never tell Latinx people (or anyone for that matter) who they are/aren’t because that is not for you to decide. Life as one knows it is the only thing they can cling onto and discover personally because identity is not fixed on societal approval, it’s bred within the self. 

Colorism, for so long, has had such a hold and role in the Latinx community/culture and it never should've been that way. We must hold each other accountable, encourage one another and furthermore support one another, to unify our people once again. To simply ignore the issue at hand will never solve the problem so therefore we must address it and reconstruct it effectively to better our community as a whole.