The Latinx community is extremely racially diverse -- within the Latinx community both whites, black and mixed peoples exist. Although society is slowing accepting the concept of people within the Latinx community being something other than brown, the majority of society has yet to accept that whiteness does not solely mean Anglo-white, and blackness does not solely mean African-American. The lack of acceptance of this concept, however, has caused for a racial bigotry with the Latinx community to become relatively under-reported and unchecked.
There’s a common misconception that racial hierarchy doesn’t not exist within the Latinx community, which it absolutely does. White Latinos and Afro-Latinos experience two different Americas, and thus cannot be placed into this box of having the same Latino-American experience. For example, The Afro-Puerto Rican actor, Juano Hernandez, took black roles as an actor because he experienced the same segregation as other black people in the United States while the white Cuban actor, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), took advantage of his white privilege while still being seen as foreign, inferior and exotic.
In the United States, this separation has manifested in a very interesting way. More often than not, white Latinos are able to keep their Latino identity and benefit from white privilege, while a sizable amount of Afro-Latinos have their Latino identity erased by our society (this is changing, but agonizingly slowly). While the cause of this is debatable, one thing is clear -- there’s a distinct separation between different racial identifications within the Latino community.
With Latino whiteness, of course, comes the concept of white supremacy -- it’s been allowed to manifest in a really interesting fashion, considering Latinos are not often checked, or do not check their own privilege because they are not Anglo-Saxon. In other words -- white privilege, black oppression and racism exists towards Afro-Latinos in the Latinx community and goes largely unchallenged.
In the past year, we’ve seen Univision TV Host Rodner Figuero compare Michelle Obama to a simian from the "Planet of the Apes," the Miss Puerto Rico winner for Miss America get suspended over Anti-Muslim tweets (many outlets reported her suspension as being due to "poor interactions with the media"), and a slew of white-Latinos attack Steve Harvey with racist remarks regarding the Miss Columbia controversy. Most of this has gone largely under-reported in mainstream media, perhaps because many people aren’t sure how to address bigotry coming from non-Anglo-Saxon peoples.
There’s even been speculation whether white Latinos have more racist tendencies than Afro-Latinos. As someone with a white mom and Latino father, you might expect I’ve experienced more anti-black rhetoric from the white side of my family when in fact, the opposite is true. I’m not alone in this observation. Often, in Latino families, anti-blackness is present in every aspect of their lives.
As a white Latina, I’ve been praised for my light skin and blue eyes, while my Afro-Latina cousins have called "pretty for a black girls." I’ve never really thought of ever changing my hair, while my Afro-Latina cousins constantly change their hair to look more like mine. A white-Latina cousin of mine has been criticized for dating a black man, while my other white-Latina cousin has been showered with compliments for dating her white-Latino boyfriend. The bigotry present in our Latinx families can be seen when we converse outside of our families, as well.
The best evidence of this is to log onto Twitter, and check the hashtag #AllLivesMatter. A lot of these tweets are full of bigotry from Latinx, repeating terms they’ve hear their own family members call black Americans. That, in itself, is extremely ironic. Being a Latinx implies a cohesion of culture -- Native, Black and European. It’s painful to watch members of my Puerto Rican family post racist things all over Facebook when so much of Latinx culture takes from black culture. Unfortunately, the denial that our own culture draws from black culture, is also part of our culture.
From certain perspectives, it might seem natural that Latinx community members would stand in solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter. In reality, we have a massive amount of silence and anti-blackness from the Latinx community. The first thing we need do to change the anti-blackness in our community is to challenge our friends and family that perpetuate anti-blackness. It start in our home, within our families, and it can start to begin to end there. It may seem daunting to call out a mother, aunt, or uncle, but isn’t it a bit more daunting to stay silent and let this cycle of hate continue?