Tackling Race and Racism in the Latino Community

Melissa M. Valle asks important--and recurring--questions

By Aura Bogado Oct 20, 2014

In a terrific post over at NACLA, Melissa M. Valle breaks down the perennial problem of non-black Latinos’ refusal to acknowledge race–both in Latin America as well as in the U.S.:

Bring up racism amongst those from Latin America and you’ll often get an exasperated groan, followed by something about how class is the predominate stratifying principle in Latin America, and a plea to stop applying your U.S.-based take on race to those in Latin America and the Caribbean. They may even throw in a "we’re all mixed" or "what is race?" rejoinder for good measure.

Valle, a doctoral student at Colombia University, highlights the upcoming afrolatin@ forum taking place in New York next week, where panels will tackle everything from media to immigration and more. The program also includes a book presentation of Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, described as "a richly revealing analysis of contemporary attitudes toward ethnicity and race in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four of Latin America’s most populous nations." The presentation takes place the evening of Tuesday, October 21. 

In her essay, Valle wonders about what disproportionate discrimination also means for black Latinos here in the states:

In the United States, less than 3% of all Latin@s identify as racially Black. What does this mean for access to resources determined by numerical representations for millions of Latinos and Latinas of African descent?

You can read Valle’s full post over at NACLA