¡Alto! To Anti-Blackness in the Latinx Communitycsudhbulletin September 26, 2018 0 COMMENTS
By Liliana Ulloa
“No te juntes con los negros.”
If you’re part of the Latinx community, then you’ve undoubtedly come across anti-black comments from your tias and tios, abuelitos, and even your parents. From avoiding black neighborhoods and holding onto our purses when a black person walks by, we’re all guilty, or at least influenced, by a kind of institutionalized racism within our own families and communities.
Though most of us in the Latinx community would deny partaking in racist behavior, using derogatory terms and entertaining stereotypes about the black community play a significant role in spreading anti-blackness from one generation to the next.
“Anti-blackness is such a prevalent issue in the Mexican community, but non-black Mexicans always want to act like it doesn’t exist and it’s just ‘beliefs’ older Mexicans have. No. Anti-blackness is taught and can be carried on through generations because of how it’s dismissed,” said Guadalupe Ortiz, 22, Chicanx studies major.
Gustavo Arellano , a Southern California-based journalist and former OC Weekly editor, who created the ¡Ask a Mexican! column, believes those seeds of anti-blackness were planted long ago.
“I can’t speak for anti-blackness among all Latinx folks,” Arellano said. “But I can offer my opinions on Mexicans. In Mexico, we’re taught that black folks are little better than children–hence, diminutives, like negritos, or caricatures in the media. We bring those prejudices into the United States, where we discover a new stereotype: The negro as criminal. Add historical enmity between minorities in the United States regardless of origin, and that leads to a toxic stew of anti-blackness from which we as Mexicans have the obligation to fight.”
The most common example of anti-blackness from Latinx families is prohibiting their kids to date blacks, just because of their color and the negative stereotypes attached to their race. Friendships with blacks are often also frowned upon by family members because they fear you will steer in the wrong direction.
I remember my father’s immense disapproval when my brother, who had just started high school, brought his new friend Markiest over for dinner. Throughout our meal, my father made tasteless comments about Markiest’s side of town and instructed me to make sure he wasn’t stealing anything. Though Markiest was in the same honor’s academy as my brother, my father judged his character based solely on the color of his skin.
It’s easy to get defensive or blame your anti-blackness on your ancestors and years of watching Eurocentric features worshipped in novelas. Just think about how often on these shows the dark-skinned people are always playing the criminals or bad guys while lighter-skinned women are always the heroines.
“Some Latinxs play delusional. Just look at our f*cking novelas, how little representation darker Mexicans get or how poorly they’re portrayed,” said Joseph Capo, 31, criminal justice major. “Anti-blackness exists everywhere, including Mexico. Even older Mexicans would be upset if their grandchildren dated someone black.”
Others might claim their perspective has been warped by law enforcement and the cops: maybe if they didn’t arrest and put so many black people in jail, you wouldn’t have the conception that black people are all criminals.
But, I would suggest you stop blaming anything else for your own opinions and use your energy to become informed on ways you can check yourself and those around you.
In order to become an ally to our fellow people of color, here are some steps we can all take to minimize anti-blackness in the Latinx community.
- Stop using the n-word:
This is by far the most important. This word is not for you to use, nor is it up to you to decide if it’s offensive or not; regardless of the context. The word roots from oppression and slavery, and using it, even in what you think is a joking fashion, just carries on that horrible legacy. Don’t say it. No matter how many black friends you have, no matter if you’re singing along to the latest fire Kendrick album, not to call someone your “homie.” The n-word is NOT to be in your vocabulary unless you’re black or Afro-Latinx. The Spanish language also carries derogatory terms for blacks such as the “m-word,” which is also immensely offensive and should not be used.
- Don’t appropriate black culture:
Everyone wants to be black, but not get treated like one. Many Latinxs are guilty of exaggerating the use of ebonics in their daily conversations and idolize black music artist by copying their style, but fail to put the same effort into standing in solidarity with black people when they experience similar struggles as our own in this country. Saying stuff like #AllLivesMatter instead of recognizing blacks are heavily targeted by police brutality is part of your unconscious anti-blackness.
- It’s not a competition:
Often, Latinxs dismiss the struggles of the black community because they seem more privileged because of their legal status in this country, which alone neglects the existence of Afro-Latinxs who also have non-legal status in this country. It’s not the underprivileged Olympics. A recent example of this was in February when Marvel’s “Black Panther” premiered in theaters, breaking records and causing an immense sense of pride in the black community. Latinxs immediately took to Twitter to cry out about the lack of Latinx representation superhero movies. For example, “When are Latinxs going to have a protagonist/hero?” Though we have the right to demand representation in all films, ask yourself why you didn’t seem to mind enough to openly complain about the lack of representation of ANY POC in movies before a major one represented black people. That there is anti-blackness.
“Latinx folks need to reflect on their anti-black upbringing more than ever,” said David Flores, 25, mathematics major. “We criticize whites, but don’t reflect on how our own family and friends perpetuate anti-blackness.”