Influence of Colorism, Racism, or Sexism
Being Dominican is meaningful to me and has shaped the type of person that I am today. Our roots come from all over . Being Latina has made me endure both negative and positive things. Some of these things include discrimination, an internal identity conflict and gentrification.
Throughout most of my life I know that I’ve had to experience racism either directly or indirectly – Discrimination as a part of it and the constant reminder that many people believe they are superior to me simply because of my race. Not only have I had to experience racism directed towards me, but I also understand that many other Latinos have had to experience this as well. Stereotypes begin to form and dating back to the 1800’s when the United States had started to reform and reconstruct itself there has been racism against Latinos. We as a group are constantly being stereotyped and face discrimination for our ancestry and for our specific place in society. As a collective just like anyone else we seek opportunity and strive for the best life we could possibly have. Although this is never guaranteed it is something millions want, and in those millions chasing a dream will being discriminated against are Latinos. As a group we have faced so much that there have been internal and external repercussions that explicitly point out the issues in the community and how racism has influenced this to happen. “Many people have been socially conditioned to believe the stereotypes as a drain of United States services, as undeserving beneficiaries of preferences, and as lazy and ignorant people who barely speak English.” (Padilla,1). Many people have a specific stereotype in their mind when they think of Latinos. They think of only ignorant people who have nothing better to do but sit around all day abusing the government’s benefit systems and the looks of disappointment and pre-concepted disgust in the faces of many clearly shows this. So much so that if nothing is done discrimination will only keep rising and this will cause more hate on the Latino community and worse setbacks in the future and this is just one aspect of the things that I personally must endure.
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Apart from racism there is also something that affects Latinas specifically and this is sexism. As women in society we are not always seen as equal to men and sometimes have to suffer the consequence of not having equality, usually in an economic, physical or social way. Society is set up right now to be unfair and sexism plays a role in this. Many women are catcalled, verbally abused, and even physically abused nowadays and it is all because society may believe that women are weak or defenseless. In the Latino community I know that I have been influenced by Sexism because I have seen it growing up all the time. It is a very real issue that happens many times and goes overlooked all because it is influenced by Racism and the idea that Latinas are economically pinned to do whatever their male or female bosses would want because they need the money. This is just one specific example but many other circumstances exist where a Latina is stereotyped against typically just on the basis of her sex. “Given the bicultural reality of most Latinas in the U.S., a working model of sexual assault in Latinas is presented that frames the problem as occurring within both traditional Latino and modern American gender role systems.” (Low,Organista). In America today the issue still exist that Latinos are overlooked in many things in society. Some could be government benefits or a higher salary in the workplace always when the salary is well deserved and a more respected position in society but all of these things aren’t usually seen as important. This could typically be due to the fact that we are Latino and we are female and in the eyes of society and men and females of another race, this is a detrimental factor that affects us way beyond their comprehension. It roots back to hundreds of years of submission and is an issue that will take years to fix but it is something that is not as prevalent of an issue because many see women as inferior in society. This is just another recurring problem that influences my identity and has made me the person I am today.
A third factor that influences me and that is one thing that will take a lot of cooperation and fighting to change is colorism. In the Latino community, especially being Dominican, many people prefer a lighter skin tone that a darker one and people sometimes disown family members because they don’t want to be associated with those that are of a darker skin tone even though we are all Latino in that community. This is a problem that dates back hundreds of years even back to when African Americans were taken to other places and sold as slaves colorism existed. It is something that is deeply rooted in the mind of a lot of older people in the Latino community and is also overlooked or seen as something completely ordinary. “During the transatlantic slave trade, more African slaves were taken to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the islands than to South America or what would later become the United States. Add to that the fact that many enslaved Black women were raped by slave owners, and the result is a very complicated legacy of racial identity for the ethnic group that would eventually be called Latino.” (Alford). Considering that the African slaves came to the Spanish and Portuguese countries, this created a mixture in terms of ethnicities.
This is how I ended up looking the way I look. The Dominican Republic is the outcome of the offspring of colonizers and slaves. Since I’m Dominican, I defy the stereotypes of a typical latina looks like (being fair skinned). because of my skin complexion I am an exception and don’t face colorism as much. Although, I can still see with first hand experience how this is a problem for Latinos of a darker skin complexion and how they are constantly in a battle for their own rights. Having to try and be accepted by their own family of a lighter skin complexion and having to try and succeed in the world even though they have a darker skin complexion and this is mentally and physically tiring. This is a third thing that influences me and helps me have more endurance and understanding on my community and what it means for me to be a Latina.
Some could say that as a Latina I have not been influenced by Colorism, Racism, or Sexism and one thing that could support this argument is self victimization. Many people nowadays have victimized themselves to the point that they believe any little thing that happens is against them and they will use it as an opportunity to complain that the world is against them. In reality no one is against them but themselves and this is something that many people don’t understand. It is also something that could make people immediately be offended by any brief statement given by a friend or family member and because of this are very easily annoyable making them closer to becoming self victims. Russell Bishop presents an interesting argument to support this. “If nothing else, these recent columns on complaining your way through life, our increasingly intolerant behaviors toward one another, and the growing penchant toward becoming a nation of victims have underscored how deeply divided we are on basic levels of compassion as well as how entrenched our mindset has become that any argument of any kind must be couched in terms of political persuasions” (Bishop). Here the idea is presented that due to tensions in today’s society any little thing that is said against another person is an immediate invitation to conflict and in essence we are all people that play the role of the victim even when we are not at times. Although the argument stated above is logical, it has a flaw in the idea that we all play the self victim role. I personally believe that the role of a self victim is something that people who are easily offended choose but the simple fact that many of us including myself have actually been influenced by the things that have happened to us making us stronger people than we were before. Self victims only complain but don’t try to make a change. In reality many that do endure and gain something from these hardships aren’t self victims but they are fighters.
My identity as a Latina has mostly been influenced by racism, sexism, and colorism. I believe that my endurance is solely due to what I have faced no matter what anyone else might say. My neighborhood as well has influenced me a great amount and has shown me to be resilient and mindful of everything especially in the world filled with violence we live in. Apart from violence there is a lot of hate and discrimination and the constant idea of superiority and inferiority and because of these things it tries to make Latinos think that they cannot amount to anything in this world. That specific Idea is wrong, and although we do have to face a lot of difficulties my story and the stories of millions of others clearly demonstrates that we are not victims but we are strong, resilient, fighters and will do anything to succeed no matter what happens. Although I have been influenced by Sexism, Racism, and even Colorism it has not made me weaker but has made me a lot stronger than ever before.