Author Topic: Psychological decolonization  (Read 4782 times)


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Re: Psychological decolonization
« Reply #105 on: October 12, 2022, 12:23:33 am »
Further discussion:

City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, caught on a leaked audio, says she sees a lot of short, dark people in Koreatown. Martinez says she doesn’t know what “village” they are from and referred to them as “tan feos” — “so ugly.”
Oaxacans, who come from seven regions of Oaxaca, make up a large portion of those who speak Indigenous languages in California. It is estimated that there are at least 150,000 Oaxacans in Los Angeles — the largest Oaxacan population outside Mexico.
It is stunning to hear a leader of the L.A. City Council make such hateful remarks about a vibrant community whose members help keep this city running. But in some ways, it’s not shocking. For far too long Oaxacans and other Indigenous groups have faced racism and colorism based on their skin color and Indigenous roots. This kind of bigotry has come not only from white people but also from light-skinned Mexicans who view darker, Indigenous Mexicans as inferior.

It's not just that they view darker Mexicans as inferior, but that they view "whites" as superior. You cannot end the former without first ending the latter.

I know this kind of colorism very well. When I was younger, there was a lot of stigma attached to being Oaxacan and specifically being a darker Mexican. These identities were associated with being Indigenous, which was subject to ridicule and contempt. Growing up, I would often hear darker-skinned Mexicans get called indio or india, meaning “Indian” — words used as derogatory terms for people with Indigenous roots.

The real problem is that those called indio do not take pride in being so called. Why not? Because they themselves are ashamed of its connotations!

one day, after I started my first job in the U.S. as a financial analyst for a film company, I attended a business meeting. At this meeting, my boss, a successful Latino film producer, was physically describing an actor — and he used my appearance as reference.

“He has Indigenous features, very much like Julio,” he said. I felt deeply offended. I thought, “How dare he say in public that I look Indigenous! Me? That’s outrageous!”

For a Mexican, you see, one of the most offensive insults is to be called “indio,” which translates in English as Indigenous. “Indio” is used as synonymous with stupid, lazy, uneducated, disgraceful, ugly, and pretty much every negative sterotype imaginable.

See what I mean? If anything, it should be the ones who look like the conquisators who have negative stereotypes associated with their looks, given what the conquistadors did to the indigenous (which is surely common knowledge). So why is it the wrong way round? And why is no one except me even saying it is the wrong way round?

Racism in Mexico is the cornerstone of economic and social differences among people there. In essence, a small minority of the population monopolizes access to education, capital, and resources — and to belong to this privileged elite group, there is an unspoken requirement that has to be met: whiteness.

If we do not solve this problem promptly, this is how it will be in the future US too!

During my first year here, I was afraid of being discriminated against by gringos, so I looked for other college-educated, first-generation Mexicans my own age living in the U.S. to whom I could bond with and feel “safe.”

I reached out to the L.A. chapter alumni association of the university I attended back in Mexico. At one of our first social gatherings, I invited the members to participate in a project that focused on increasing the presence of Latino executives in U.S. Fortune 1000 companies.

One of the attendees, a light-skinned man who at the time was an MBA student at UCLA, replied: “I am not Latino — I’m Mexican.” I told him that by U.S. definition, yes, he was Mexican, hence, Latino.

He refuted again, this time raising his voice and emphasizing, “No! I am Mexican, not Latino!” I then asked him to explain the difference between both, to which he replied, “Mexicans are white, nice people who have visas and travel to the U.S. by plane, like me. Latinos, on the other hand, are indios prietos (dark-skinned Indigenous) who cross the border illegally and work in kitchens”.

The rest of the attendees listening, most of them other white Mexicans like him, openly laughed and nodded, celebrating his comeback and agreeing with him. One might expect that kind of outrageous racist statement from a white supremacist, but from a Mexican, referring to other Mexicans? How is that even conceivable?

“Aren’t we all Mexican?” I thought.

You are all Eurocentrists.

To be honest, many white Mexicans take pride in not looking Indigenous, and secretly enjoy being told by a foreigner that they “don’t look Mexican,” that they could be Spanish, or even better, French or Italian.

This is how psychologically colonized they are. (You can be sure these types do not consider Andalus to be the best period in Spanish history either.)

The distinction between “Mexican” and “Latino” as depicted by this MBA student in my meeting reflects a severe, deep, embedded, yet denied and overlooked problem in Mexico and Latin America: racism.

Not ethnotribalism, but Eurocentrism.

Unfortunately, even mentioning the word “racism” is taboo for us. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. There is no acknowledgement of the issue, and when you try to bring it up, you are shut down immediately and accused of being over-sensitive, because after all, “we are all Mexicans,” “we are all one race,” “we are all mestizos,” and all mestizos are the same, the conversation goes. Except that light-skinned mestizos have big advantages over dark-skinned mestizos in what is called pigmentocracy.

It is not pigmentocracy. As I have repeatedly pointed out, plenty of "whites" are more pigmented than plenty of "non-whites", but still get the full advantages of "whiteness":

Whereas even the most unpigmented "non-whites" are still bullied for being "non-white". Call it what it is: Eurocentrism.

Mexicans have been trained to define ourselves as one race: mestizos. During and after Mexico’s independence from Spain, the dominant elite, mostly white Europeans of Spanish descent, embraced this idea to help strengthen and consolidate the newborn nation. Let’s give them some credit, race-blindness within national boundaries sounds like a good idea — given the assumption that everybody gets treated equally, and no special privileges are granted to anyone based on physical appearance.

But when that condition is not met, and the reality is not acknowledged, racial injustices against dark-skinned Mexicans of Indigenous or African descent — the latter group counted for the first time last year in the country's census — are systematically made invisible. This is exactly what happens in Mexico today, and in most Latin American countries that share the same Spanish colonial heritage.

Over the centuries, dark-skinned Mexicans have been taught to embrace and replicate a racialized system, becoming unconscious supporters of their own oppression and living in a constant state of self-hatred, taught to wish deep inside they were white, like young Pecola Breedlove in “The Bluest Eye.”

Which is why the only way to end Eurocentrism is to assert a different standard of superiority. Physical appearance influencing impressions of individuals is inevitable. But which aspects of physical appearance are considered important can be changed. We should not be trying to get people to ignore physical appearance, but trying to get people to attach importance to aspects of physical appearance related to our racial ideal (which is not Eurocentric and might in some aspects (e.g. neoteny, low sexual dimorphism, gracility/ectomorphy) even be anti-Eurocentric).

white is seen as “aspirational” and “beautiful.” This practice is so embedded and normalized in Mexican media that nobody questions it.

We are here to question it.