The slightest criticism about eye or skin color can shape how we view the world. For Latinos, these comments are ingrained in our experiences from an early age.
They start with an abuela who says that only straight hair is “nice” (like in the film “Pelo Malo” above). Next thing you know, Black and Brown Latinos are erased from our identity altogether.
Comments that glorify European traits derive from centuries of racism in the Western hemisphere. The slave trade happened in Latin America as well as the U.S., leading to African-descendant Latinos facing similar discrimination as Black Americans.
Comments about “bettering the race” by marrying a lighter-skinned person run rampant in some of our families. Latinos allow these Euro-centric standards within our culture when we don’t stop them.
This leads to whitewashing. Many Latino celebrities we adore are light-skinned, and we can thank artists like Amara La Negra and Cardi B for elevating Afro-Latinos into mainstream recognition.
As non-black Latino allies, we can reframe unintended microaggressions within our family, and start by acknowledging the excessive value put on whiteness in our culture.
Abuelitas, tías, and padrinos have a lot of wisdom, but if their commentary is anti-black, it’s our duty to let them know how harmful that is.