There is no such thing as a White Latino.
I am a light-skinned Latino. I am not white. Whiteness isn’t just based on skin color. It’s a mindset. A thought process based on the superiority within American and Western European societies. Whiteness is not welcoming to people like me despite my looks. My last name doesn’t allow me all of the privileges White America enjoys. My appearance, however, can sometimes prevent me from being profiled by police, that is, until they run my plates and/or see my name.
I’m not here to argue that light-skinned Latinos don’t benefit from white privilege. We do more times than not as we traverse our everyday lives, but it ends there. That so-called privilege we are thought to benefit from rears its ugly head when we try to buy a car, get a mortgage, apply for a job, or interact with police. We all know what it’s like once white bosses see our names. In fact, it has been discussed at great length and some have even whitewashed their names on resumes and applications to prove that they weren’t given a chance because of their Latinidad.
This was partly represented in a poll released in 2017 conducted for National Public Radio (NPR), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The poll showed one-third of Latinos reported being discriminated against in the workplace, seeking employment, and when seeking housing.
“In the context of institutional forms of discrimination, more than three in ten Latinos report having personally experienced discrimination because they are Latino when it comes to applying for jobs (33%), being paid equally or considered for promotion (32%), or when trying to rent a room or apartment or buy a house (31%).” It was based on “a nationally representative, probability-based telephone (cell and landline) sample of 3,453 adults age 18 or older.”
The study is quite telling. It does not, however, cover every aspect of discrimination we face on a daily basis. Speaking Spanish in public, interacting with White America, oppressive policing in our barrios, the systemic issues related to paying higher interest rates on loans, paying larger down payments, and being redlined from living in certain areas. If we denounce our Latinidad and speak in code as White America does, certain Latinos are led to believe they enjoy other privileges, but again, they’re limited.
Whiteness fears the browning of society and we’re ALL part of that fear.
Then there are those mediocre Latinos who embrace whiteness in America as if taking sides with the oppressors will somehow grant them immunity from the racism that permeates society in the United States. They eventually find out that nothing could be further from the truth.
Embracing and Abandoning Your Latinidad
If you’re like me and embrace your Latinidad, you’re subjected to many different forms of discrimination. If you abandon your heritage and embrace whiteness, racists will treat you like a friend as they mock you behind your back. Hate groups might welcome you as one of their own but once they manage to maintain their superiority over all of us, you suddenly become a target.
For racists and white nationalists in America, your last name is enough to doom you to their hateful beliefs. Many of these willfully ignorant haters refer to all of us Mexicans and think we speak Mexican (not Spanish). They categorize us into the one group that most Americans will demonize in the same way Trump does. They treat you as if you’re stealing their jobs and their women, devaluing their neighborhoods and bringing crime, drugs, and murder.
If it feels like they use some of the same tropes that they use against Black folks, that’s because they do. In fact, they use many of the same comparisons to justify their xenophobia. There are subtle differences because of the perceived negative impacts they think we bring to American society. But looking past those subtle differences, the basis for their hate is one and the same.
They hate us all.
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Since the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve seen how rhetorical generalizations about the Chinese have been responsible for a rise in hate crimes against Asians. It’s largely because referring to COVID as the “China virus” has led hate groups to attack Asians because they’ve been lumped together as a single group—much like we are when we’re all referred to as Mexicans.
America’s history of generalizing Black folks as animals, thugs, murderers, drug dealers, and welfare queens with fatherless children should be a lesson in how white supremacy treats and associates minorities no matter where our families are from. The exact same tactics have been used by white nationalists all over America for more than a century and they’re using them right now by employing the power of social media to amplify their hateful generalizations.
The recent actions of white supremacists over the last decades have led us to where we are today with a much bolder, angrier, and more heavily armed neo-Nazi. These so-called militias are nothing more than white gangs of thugs terrorizing every non-white person in every city in the United States. Emboldened by a president who promotes their hate and celebrates their actions, they now believe that showing up to our neighborhoods and murdering us is justified.
If you’re one of those Latinos who takes sides with the hate America breeds, you are complicit in normalizing the oppression, murder, and cultural genocide of your own people. If you find yourself taking sides with white supremacists, I hope this piece shines a light on what you are doing so you can stop being so fucking mediocre. Because when they come for you, we may or may not be there. If we do come to your aid, we’ll be telling you we told you so and laughing at you at family functions until the day you die.
That’s what we do. We clown each other until death.
Stop Being Mediocre
You’re probably wondering what I mean when I say mediocre. Well, if you find yourself taking sides with the oppressive nature of whiteness in America, then you aren’t entitled to espouse racist views AND call yourself Latino. If you voted for that racist in the White House, you may as well stop calling yourself Latino too. Taking sides with an anti-Latino bigot disqualifies you from ever claiming to be one of us. Thinking that these people adore any of us is not just naive, but willfully ignorant and downright stupid. THAT is what makes you mediocre.
If you’re a light-skinned Latino like me, and the mentality of white supremacy circulates in your feeble mind, just refer to yourself as white. Because unlike me, you live your life with that whiteness mindset that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. You and I are not the same. I refuse and denounce that same whiteness that led to the wholesale slaughter of our people and the colonization of our lands. Latinos who side with colonialists are traitors to our respective cultures now just as you would have been when our ancestors were nearly erased from history.
If you take sides with white supremacists in the modern era, that leads me to believe you would have taken sides with the Europeans who stole our culture and heritage. I’m left to believe that you would have been the traitors that all but ensured the massacre of entire colonies for your own self-preservation. I mean, that’s why you do it now, isn’t it? Of course, it is. We see all of you.
None of us who celebrate our culture and heritage have any reason to believe that your motivations are any different. We see you regurgitating the same anti-Black sentiments that white supremacists promote. We see you ignoring our African and Indigenous roots as if your perceived whiteness makes you superior to the rest of us. My family, who is more than half Black, sees you. You don’t scare us but you do disgust every one of us for supporting the racism that has infected the United States since the very beginning.
I see you as the type of people who would have joined the Texas Rangers as they butchered Mexicans because of some false promise they granted you. I see you as taking sides with Spanish conquistadors allowing them to pillage the wealth of Indigenous tribes throughout the Caribbean and Latin America as they raped women and girls while slaughtering men and boys.
What makes you so different than what I just mentioned? Nothing. We are Latino and no matter how light-skinned you are, you aren’t white. Do your ancestors a favor and drop this white supremacist mentality. Drop the “White Latino” bullshit. Because although you think, act, and oppress like the problematic colonialist mindset that many white Americans live their lives by, you will never be white. And if you do think and act like them, it’s only a matter of time before they turn on you too. That’s the nature of the war waged against us. Again, they hate us all.
You are not white and “White Latinos” don’t exist. You can stop it or you can be a sellout for the rest of your life. I don’t really care as long as you know your place isn’t among us. Your place is with those who hate you just as you hate your own people and ancestors. Which can only mean one thing: there’s a lot of self-hate among you wannabe “White” Latinos.
The hate you breed for your own culture, heritage, and belonging is the real shame in all of this.
Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer in racism on Medium and a regular contributor to Latino Rebels. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on Twitter.
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