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Colorism in the Latino Community: The Blaxican Experience

Authors: Melissa Tolosa*,
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Social Theory
Keywords: Critical Race Theory, colorism, Latino racial/ethnic hierarchy, Blaxican
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Racial inequality has identified the many disparities that affects different minority groups in the United States. There has been minimal discussion on how these disparities affect individuals with a mixed-race background. As such, through a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework, I contextualize the concept of colorism in the Latino community. Colorism is used to create and sustain a racial/ethnic hierarchy among Latinos, where those with lighter skin complexion are ascribed a privileged status and those with darker skin complexion are ascribed a subordinate status. As such, one’s status along the Latino racial/ethnic hierarchy impacts one’s social location and life opportunities. In this paper, I disentangle the complexities of colorism within the Latino community, focusing on those who identify as Blaxican. I provide historical, theoretical, social, and cultural context to demonstrate how the racial/ethnic hierarchy in the Latino community is not only relevant at the individual level, but also at the interactional level. This topic is of importance given that we live in an era of globalization and mass expulsions where brown bodies are being marginalized and criminalized. Literature on colorism among Latinos has argued that a hegemonized Eurocentric favoritism is ideal. While this is true for individuals who have skin-color privilege, there is a limited understanding of how this impacts multiracial/multiethnic Latinos. As such, the theory of Critical Race will not only add to the literature on colorism and multiracial/multiethnic identity but will also demonstrate how this ascribed and socially constructed status impacts the individuals at a young age.

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