Thursday, September 9, 2010
Is She Really Black?/De verdad es morena?
The issue of skin color has become so personal to me. It isnt just a indication of beauty. I am attracted to a diverse pool of women and I know I am attracted to one type of woman over another. However, I feel the measure of a woman always comes down to attitude and personality. When it comes to skin tone, I believe it is all connected to ancestry.
Keeping that in mind, I read this article on Clutch. I will need you to read this before you can go past this particular paragraph. I have written about skin color in the past before and I feel that this will be the perfect prelude to Latino Heritage Month that starts next week.
Let's look at the issue here. There seems to a growing need for actresses (and actors too,most likely) of color to choose if they are Black or Latino as if there was some notion that they cannot be both. I am fully aware of my color when I look into the mirror. If I were to get stopped by the cops they are not going to have a debate on whether I am Black or Latino. They will see me for the color I am. The shame in all this is that people in this country (and Latin America too) refuse to see how homogeneous we are all slowly becoming. The more we seem to merge into one color the more that there is a call for distinctiveness.
I am always amazed by the amount of ignorance that is in our culture. Now, let me me identify "our culture." For the purpose of this argument I will just assume that Latino and Black are one in both the same considering that in most places, like New York City, we all go to the same schools and live in the same neighborhoods. Couple that with the fact that both Latinos and Black come in all shades. I would like think that my readers are all familiar with the "one drop rule".
Both share many things in common and one of those is a dislike for darker complexions. I wont sugar coat this because it is true. If someone is too dark there are jokes about how hard it would be to see such a person with the lights on...and this is both cultures I am talking about here. I will just mention that my cousins called me "tarbaby" as a kid. So, how can I ignore my skin color?
On the same notion, How can any Black person seriously ask about Zoe Saldana, "Is she even Black?" Really? This type of ignorance is why I have tried my best to talk about Afro Latinos. This not about if I choose to call myself to be Black or Latino. It is about knowing your history. It is knowing about why there are dark people who speak better Spanish than any light skinned Puerto Rican you know. It is about realizing that slaves replaced the Taíno Indians as the workforce because they were slaughtered by the Spaniards, who then mated with the salve thus the birth of Afro Latinos. So do we really need to choose?
But, often times we are left to read very little about Afro Latinos and their place in the world. One would think that Afro Latinos are only suited for Baseball. I do not see anyone asking David Ortiz to choose if he is Black or Latino. At the end of the article the question was asked: In a so-called “post-racial America,” why are we still caught up in the often insignificant nuances of Blackness? Very simple answer...self hate.
We see the what America considers beautiful. The skinny Meghan Fox or Lady Gaga (just using these women as examples) grace the covers of magazines and young girls of any color want to look like them. The images we see of beauty tell many women that being light skinned is the best. It is perfect to have the complexion of a Christina Aguilera and the ass of Jennifer Lopez. Beauty and the definition of it has all been based on a color scale. Some people do not buy into it, but a lot of people don't.
Self hate also breeds haters. Let's be real, there are some real haters in this world that will think that Afro-Latinas are trying to replace African American women on this scale. It is bad enough that Black women have to deal with white women and light skinned Latinas in the competition for Black men...how do you think they will feel about Afro Latinas? Truth be told...Afro Latinas suffer from the same issues that African American women have. The pendulum of what is considered beauty in this society hardly swings their way.
I know I have made this mostly about women, but I have often said that I have had problems considering myself as a good looking man based on my dark complexion and no matter how much a women would tell me how cute I am... I simply had trouble believing it.
This it a subject that maybe tiresome to bring up and talk about but, people need to be aware that Afro Latinos should not have to make a choice between two cultures when we simply exist in both.