Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Author: Bryana Barron

Colorism

March 18th

“The woman skin lighter than yours and mine she feel she better than people on this hill” (Lovelace 21).

 

Colorism. The discrimination based on skin tone that has been formulated through the years of colonization. This sense of belonging to become involved with the higher class has driven people to associate, mate, and create new circles in order to include themselves or future generations into a “white” society. Around the world this concept various but colorism is a cultural aspect recognized in the Caribbeans and Latin America. It is something that replaces the cruel racism experienced in American society but still present within these community islands. The lighter you are the more privilege one will have. This is unfortunate belief because how light or dark a person is will depend on the broader group they are in: White or Black.

I write about this because these are topics still in need to discuss. With colonization, the foundation of colorism is part of the norm now. So as to challenge the oppressor with institutional and everyday racism, we must all call into question how the hegemonic power has used colorism to separate people. The hype about Black Panther is tremendously significant because it not only a “Black” movie but a dark-skinned cast.This is something that would have been unheard of or recognized properly ten years ago. A famous actress by Amandla Stenberg has played roles in the Hunger Games and teen flicks and she had recently shared her rejection to the hit movie by Marvel. Her rejection was considerate as it acknowledges herself as light-skinned woman wanting the right actress to portray the sentiment Black Panther stood for.

We need more Amandla Stenberg’s in the media and in society to help represent everyone and denounce this social construct. Colorism is a dangerous form of discrimination as it turns marginalized groups from within against each other. Like racism, it will not go away in a day, this will take time. But with the continuous discussion of it, there can be improvements made for in society.

 

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/03/amandla-stenberg-black-panther

 

Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance

 

Character Over Race

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King Jr.


How do you live a life of pure kindness? The answer, you cannot. The world today is built on social constructs that create boundaries between humanity. Race is a component that perpetuates these false ideas on people’s character. I read recently this week Sam Selvon’s book, A Brighter Sun, in it, the diverse characters representing the variety of Trinidad. In the text, it details the relationship of an East Indian and African descent couple that are being judged by their own people for helping each other as neighbors. It is a sad moment when kindness can be overshadowed by prejudices. Their friendship is being questioned because of the connotation of each other races and how culturally they are different. I find this to be significant within the context of marginalized communities because everyone’s struggle should be cared for by everyone else. Intersectionality is the answer towards a united people. Until we as a people realize that the hegemonic power does not have to separate us oppressed groups is when we will truly live a life. Character should be a defining factor, not race. 

 

Selvon, Sam.  A Brighter Sun . London: Heinemann, 1995.

Immigration & Ethnics

“Once you are an immigrant, you never forget that you are one.” -Jorge Ramos

 

In today’s world, the topic of immigration is one of the top priorities because there is always movement amongst humans and when there are push and pulls factors then immigration will always been relevant. Immigration is a close subject in my life because my parents are immigrants. They chose to leave their homeland to create a new home in America. With my family’s ethnic background being Mexican, we are targeted as the focused immigration group to be a burden to America. My confusion only grows as I learn more about the history and stories of immigration, because I still do not comprehend people’s mockery of them. Why is there no escaping prejudice? Immigrants are always alienated for being different. There is never a common ground of appreciation to traveling to a new country in search of a better future. My family’s label as being immigrants will always be on that I will not forget.

 

 

More Than Race

“Man is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black. Cuban is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black.” -José Martí

 

How would life be if race was not a vital component to someone’s everyday identity? I can not help but put myself in this mindset when appearance is the first impression someone perceives you as. I walk around campus with my white friends and me as a brown girl. What people do not know about us is that we are all Mexican but I am the only recognizable one. José Martí statement in his writing is powerful for humankind. Society wants to order people in a category and sometimes that makes everything unorganized than structured. My life is not a box, I wish man was more than race. I am more than race. I am Bryana.

José Martí was a leader in Cuba but his message resonated with other islands like Hispaniola. When I was learning about the Dominican Republic and Haiti’s relationship in my first-year of college, I did not know about the brutal history that island had. As a person with Mexican descent, the Caribbean were only perceived generally as a multi-mixed region that looked normal. I was unaware that there was such a thing as limpieza de sangre that meant a blood cleansing which the Dominican government wanted its people to clear any Haitian blood. This is problematic in so many ways because it represents an attempt to erase the black race and the history attached to the enslavement of a people. It ultimately leads us back to what is race and why it is important to our society? It only adds to people having to choose what they are in terms of race rather than who they are as a person.

I Will Not Be Buried, I Will Grow

“They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds” -Mexican Proverb.

 

I resonate with this quote deeply and and it ties into my class of Race, Ethnicity, and Hybridity concepts because even after all the oppression, we are still thriving as marginalized groups. I hold myself to a higher degree especially being at a predominately white institution (PWI) where the system favors the superiority of white people. I always try to reward myself however, when I have achieved a certain level of difficulty or fear of reaching a goal at college. I recognize like DuBois that the resources I have been exposed to growing up, I am not going to win the war but I will win battles. In a W.E.B DuBois piece he says, “particularly the Negro race-have not as yet given civilization the full spiritual message which they are capable of giving” (112). His recognition of what the world may never experience due to other factors of discrimination towards the black race as its full contribution to humanity. It is almost crazy to think what could have been if major and minor instances of people’s ideologies never existed?

Leopold Senghor’s writing in “What is “Negritude’?” had an impact on me in so many levels. He touches upon some of the anxieties I have had with the hegemony of white America in trying to assimilate but always preserving one’s own culture. He comes to an understanding of how one must assimilate but for the sake of their own well-being. If a person is regarding or is a erasing their culture in an effort to seek acceptance then they will never truly be successful. At this point, I must add race is part of culture. “We could assimilate mathematics or the French language, but we could never strip off our black skins nor root out our black souls” (Senghor 136). I cannot and will not hide who I truly am as a brown Chicana but even when I am feeling frightened by society, I will never lose who I am.

 

http://jhfearless.com/2014/11/they-tried-to-bury-us-they-didnt-know-we-were-seeds/

 

  1. E. Burghardt Du Bois. 1897. The Conservation of Races. The American Negro Academy

Occasional Papers, No.2. Washington, D.C.: Published by the Academy.

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