In November last year, one month after the now disclosed racist rant from three Hispanics on the Los Angeles City Council was actually spewed, the Pew Research Center released a study that found that 62% of Hispanic adults thought having a darker skin color hurt their ability to get ahead in the United States today.
At the same time, the same study, “Majority of Latinos Say Skin Color Impacts Opportunity in America and Shapes Daily Life,” found that 48% of Hispanic adults said they had often or sometimes heard a Hispanic friend or family member make comments or jokes about other Hispanics that might be considered racist or racially insensitive.
Similar shares of Hispanics who identify with a lighter skin color, (48%), or darker skin color, (52%), said they had heard these types of comments or jokes from friends or family at least sometimes, according to the study.
Hispanic by the way, refers to people who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations, while Latino refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America which is taken to mean the original people of Latin America.
In May 2022, another Pew study found that skin color was linked to greater Latino-on-Latino discrimination. “About four-in-ten Latinos with darker skin (41%) say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment by another Latino,” the report said.
Fast forward to the stunning disclosure nearly a year later, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in National Hispanic Heritage Month, via a leaked audio tape published by the Los Angeles Times.
In it, three U.S. born Hispanic American Los Angeles City Council members—identified as Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León—are heard engaging in shocking racist and crude remarks about Black, Jewish, Indigenous, Armenians and gay people with Ron Herrera, head of the L.A. County Federation of Labor.
The hour-long secretly recorded conversation captured the Democratic politicians and the labor leader discussing how to maximize Latino political power in the city as part of the redistricting process that was underway last fall; and also on how to take influence away from Black political leaders.
It featured the Council’s first Latino woman president, Martinez, who resigned on Wednesday, Sept. 13, after fallout from the tape, saying among other things that fellow gay Councilmember Mike Bonnin was a “diva” and his adopted Black son “looks like a little monkey” or “parece ch****to.”
Martinez, de León, Cedillo, and Herrera also discussed Black political power in Los Angeles and what de León terms “the Wizard of Oz effect.” She also used the “F” word to deride L.A.’s progressive top prosecutor because he is, in her words, with “The Blacks,” and dismisses indigenous Oaxaca Mexicans as “little, short dark people” who are “ugly.”
The Indigenous people of Oaxaca, by the way, are descendants of the inhabitants of what is now the state of Oaxaca, Mexico and were present before the Spanish invasion.
The leak has now forced the little-talked about issue of Hispanic anti-Blackness, including in their own Latino community, into the public arena.
Axios’ Race and Justice Reporter Russell Contreras told Axios Today: “There is colorism if you’re indigenous and there’s colorism, if you are of African origin. … It’s something that has deeply divided Latino communities across the United States, but it’s rarely discussed.”
And Raúl Pérez, professor of sociology at the University of La Verne, disclosed that it’s the kind of thing he’s heard his whole life. “If you’re Latino, you know this happens because we’ve witnessed it. We notice it at family gatherings, we notice it in everyday life with family and friends and communities,” he told Axios.
Experts say the far-right extremism among some Latino residents stems from those identifying as white and as having anti-Black sentiment. It is why so many in the Latino community attacked the Black Lives Matter movement and voted for Donald Trump despite his widely disparaging remarks on Latin America, Latin American immigrants and his push to build a wall to keep them out.
Ironically, also quoting a Pew Research poll, “Latino people are the second most discriminated against ethnic group after African Americans.”
So, what’s missing from this picture in the minds of ‘white Latinos’? In a country where the white, right-wing majority view the growing brown and Black majority as a threat, it is unfortunate that the mental slavery of the so-called ‘white Hispanics’ has led them to also believe that they too are “superior” to Black and dark-skinned people.
Yet, at the end of the day, in the eyes of white supremacists, we are all seen as “mud people.” So-called white Latinos, blinded by the inherited skin color of their former colonizers, would do well to remember that.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News