I met a white, blond blue-eyed Puerto Rican woman in Cuba who instantly disliked me because she said I was the 'epitome of Puerto Ricanhood' and she added 'when people think Puerto Rican, they think of someone who looks like you -- brown, dark eyes and black hair.'
She appeared to hate her whiteness and worked hard at what I call the Latina Olympics -- she fought hard to prove her identity as a Puerto Rican woman and her identity as an 'other.'
I mentioned her allegiance to Latinos of color was nice but might border on paternalism and she exoticized us in the same way non-Latino whites did. And I also mentioned her race had probably helped her get the job she had gotten. Double-edged sword I said. There was silence.
Racism exists in Latino cultures, but we don't like to talk about it. If you doubt racism exists in Latino cultures, turn on Spanish-language television. Spanish-language shows demonstrate the blatant racism that exists in our countries. The news anchors are white, blond, blue eyed and there is rarely a TV personality who has curly or kinky hair or features considered less European.
The racism competes with the embarrassing sexism -- where women run around in skin-tight shirts and miniskirts making inane comments as if they were thirteen-year-olds. On Latino television, women of color wear tons of pancake makeup to lighten up.
AfroLatinas are descended from the same Africa as African-Americans and we are the same mixtures: African, European, Indigenous.
Someday, when the ignorance dies down, people will not say, "She can't be Latino; she's Black!"
Latino refers to ethnicity
Black refers to race
Donate to Negritas, a documentary on AfroLatinas: http://negritadocumentary.wordpress.com/donate/
Love When You Say Love, Poetry by Odilia RIvera-Santos