Monday, May 16, 2005

Light Skinned privilege

A friend wrote me in a email that I shouldn't worry so much about race. It was implied that I shouldn't worry about it because I was light skinned. I should be happy. Be healthy. I know this friend thinks that because of my light skin that I am always shouting proclaiming my "Latinidad" to prove myself. That friend is partially right.

I could, if I really wanted to, not really think about skin color. I could pass just beneath that race radar. Change my last name , since that is always the dead giveaway.
I could be one of those Latino/Hispanic purists and point to my Spanish ancestry. In fact this is exactly what my dearly departed great aunt did one day. She pulled out books and traced my father's ancestors, her husband's ancestors, to one of the first Spanish conquistadors. This apparently was supposed to make me feel better about myself. It never did. It still doesn't.

My friend , in his email, made a quip about the movie Soul Man. Remember that 80's movie, where a white guy od's on tanning pills so he can get a scholarship? That movie implied that skin color was enough to get poc's scholarships. Funny thing was that when I , as a child, watched that movie I actually wondered if I could do that. Not the getting a scholarship part, but make myself look darker. I wouldn't have to choose then. It would be chosen for me. People wouldn't have to look twice at me and wonder.

I asked in another post if white people think about whiteness as much as I think of my non-whiteness. As a light skinned Rican I've always wondered if I could invoke that same privilege. Deep down I know I can't. Some say I can't pass. They say
something about me gives away the fact the African and Taino in me.

This awareness of otherness is not just a result of activist enlightenment as my own family has suggested. I've felt it for as long as I can remember feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because of my skin and what flows underneath its surface.

I think about race and skin color all the time because I have to.

3 Comments:

Blogger maaarco said...

Your friend sounds really cool!

5/16/2005 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger maaarco said...

The David Sanes Rodriguez Brigade for Peace & Justice in Vieques
(AKA the "Vieques Brigade")
will be hosting

AN EVENING FOR VIEQUES

FRIDAY, JUNE 10TH, 2005
7 P.M.

$15 advance tickets $20 at the door
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It will be an evening of live music, theater and spoken word
featuring

AURORA & ZON DEL BARRIO
THE WELFARE POETS
PAPOLETO MELENDEZ
MARIPOSA
YAYA
LA BRUJA
FRANK PEREZ
& Many more

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107 SUFFOLK ST
LOWER EAST SIDE, NY

This incredibly talented group of artists are donating their artistic expressions to a grass roots effort to establish a free clinic that will deliver education & alternative treatment for cancer (in the form of Ozone/oxygen therapy) and heavy metals contamination therapy(Kilation)

PLEASE SAVE THIS DATE, MAKE PLANS TO JOIN US ALONG WITH YOUR FRIENDS &
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5/19/2005 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Reggie Bieri said...

Not assured.

11/21/2005 01:25:00 PM  

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