Boa Aparência (Good Appearance): How Colorism Plays Out in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-11-22 00:04Z by Steven

Boa Aparência (Good Appearance): How Colorism Plays Out in Latin America | Fueling Conversation

Dash Harris

“Go to the banks and you’ll see how racist, this country is.” This was a sentiment expressed ad nauseam in my interviews about how colorism drives societal treatment. Interviewees in every country I visited for the docu-series always cited airports, banks and TV shows as representations of the aesthetic their particular country strives for:
It was true, I only saw one tanned bank teller throughout my travels, in Honduras. For any of the others jobs that were pointed out, the standard was homogenous, light skin and straight hair. This preference is blatant even within advertisements and postings for jobs…

…White supremacy and the aspiration to be the closest you possibly can is rooted in the idea of ‘mejorando la raza’ or improving or bettering the race by marrying white, if not white then light. Almost all of my interviewees have heard this phrase from a family member or friend as advice in the dating and marrying game. One Honduran, whom her friends call her ‘negra’ because she is dark skinned said her family said she hit the jackpot when she started dating her current boyfriend, a redhead very pale skinned Honduran. On the other hand when someone who is light or pale chooses to date ‘dark,’ families insist they are ruining or damaging the race. To preserve the privilege of being light, some have even resorted to marrying within their own family, like actress Michelle Rodriguez found out about her kissing cousins. Many of my interviewees came from mixed family backgrounds where their parents different colors caused a lot of fighting, drama, discontent, and familial problems that still persist to present day. The most common, was a dark skinned father and light skinned mother…

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Hue & Phenotype: Colorism… Even More Complex

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-11-21 23:24Z by Steven

Hue & Phenotype: Colorism… Even More Complex | Fueling Conversation

Dash Harris

I have interviewed over 100 people for this docu-series and recently I’ve come across more and more interviewees who ask me about my background. I’ve had a handful of Caribbeans ask me if I were ‘dougla,’ a person of Indian or indigenous and African ancestry and when I was in Honduras I was called a mulatta, which means the same. Usually someone who identifies as a mulatto is of european and african ancestry but that’s not how it was used in Honduras among the people who described me as such. I asked the reasons for these assumptions and people pointed out that my skin wasn’t “very dark” and my hair was curly and my eyes were “different.” I found that interesting because I consider myself a chocolate brown, my hair has gone days without a comb being ran through it because of the wrangling that it calls for and I see my eyes as any other person’s eyes can be. One Garifuna young man said I wasn’t ‘black enough’ and I could remedy that by getting a ‘super black boyfriend,’ he graciously volunteered himself. All courting aside, I thought he and many others were just pointing out the phenotypes that guide perception and categorization of ancestry in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is important to note that the U.S. is the only country that followed the one drop rule of hypo-descent, where you were considered ‘Black’ no matter what other ancestry you had. This did not exist in Latin America so it gave way to many ways to describe someone based on skin tone, hair color, hair texture, size of nose, lips, eyes. These all decide what category you’ll fit into. Your desciptors may also vary just based on individual perception. In Brazil there are 134 color descriptors. In the Dominican Republic ‘javao’ describes someone who is of pale of light complexion with “African features,” the list below shows more…

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