Half-Cuban teen exposes hidden racism among Latinos with Youtube rant
Sigh...I was sort of hoping I wouldn't have to write about these bratty, obnoxious teens who went off an a ignorant, idiotically racist rant on their Youtube page and then were shocked (like a bunch of idiots) to get in trouble with their Florida school (both girls were expelled). I mean, if you want to go off an a misinformed rant about Black and poor people without anyone knowing, a public video site that gets millions and millions of hits a day is definitely the way to go, right? WRONG!
But other than the fact that the video is so immensely stupid on so many levels, it did raise a very interesting topic for me that we never really discuss in the Latino community: Racism.
One of the teens was Cuban, but her own ethnicity didn't seem to stop her from pinning all of the wrongs on the world on Black people. Though I would venture to say that the majority of Cubans, like most Caribbean Hispanics, are a mix of races: African, Spaniard, and Indigenous at the very least--meaning she's is probably part Black herself!
So, why did she find it acceptable to hate on Black people? Well, because a whole lot of Latinos do. It's a sad fact, but many Latinos look down upon their African heritage, with some even going to lengths to flat out deny it. Even though it's really hard for anyone coming from the Caribbean to claim "pure" heritage of any kind, you have no idea how many times I've heard people from Puerto Rico (wher I'm from) try to do just that. We should be proud of our mixed heritage, but unfortunately, being a darker-skinned Latina, I've been on the receiving end of some pretty racist statements.
I was once denied a drink at a dance club in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic because I am "negra" or at least that's what the bouncer told me. "Well, why the heck did you even let me in then?" I asked in Spanish, more pissed off than hurt.
"Because you brought all these gringas," he said--pointing to my three friends, one mexicana, one boricua and one actual gringa from Oregon, but all light-skinned.
Another time, I was traveling through Guatemala for an extended trip with my then boyfriend, now husband, who is also of Puerto Rican descent. His mother, Liz, came for a visit and we went to visit a local volcano. While we were on one of many lanchas necessary to travel between the tiny villages around the caldera, a guatemalteca approached my mother-in-law and asked Liz why she "allowed" her son to date me, shocked that any mom would be OK with her light-skinned son dating a "mulatta".
The funny thing is that in my family, terms like "negra" are used endearingly. In fact, the first time my father called my hubby "negro" I knew he was officially a part of the family!
It's too bad that this isn't something we talk about with more frequency, because I really think it would help ease tensions if we could just admit that there are prejudices and racism alive and well in our communities. The first step in healing a problem is to talk about it!
Until then, I guess we'll just have to wait for more stupid Youtube videos...
Image via Youtube