Brown Is The New Black

One of the greatest beauties of the Hispanic culture, and something I personally admire about this ethnic group, is its diversity. Within the umbrella category that is Hispanic is a wide range of skin colors, hair textures and facial features. Indeed to many unknowing people, Hispanics are only brown-skinned people. But a quick trip to Cuba, South America, or even Mexico would shatter that notion. I have seen Mexicans who are far darker than me, as well as Mexicans who to anyone looking at them, could only be described as white. And these are not Mexicans of African or European descent per se. Just the varying degrees of skin tone found in the general population of that country, more often than not due to the level of native blood in their veins as well as the socio-economic levels from which they and their families come from. Which is not to say that there aren’t Mexicans of African or European descent because there most certainly are.

Cuba, Puerto Rico and many South American countries are more readily known for their large populations of black Hispanics. That was one of the great things about living in New York City, running into so many Blacks who were Spanish-speaking and who were proud of their interesting mix of cultures. Texas, the Southwest and California are more dominated by the Mexican culture and having grown up in this part of the world, you realize that for most Mexicans, being black and Mexican (or Hispanic) was not part of the generally known or accepted worldview. Whereas Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Cubans accept the mixture, for example, most Mexicans don’t. I am not sure why this is, particularly considering, as I have learned from two of my favorite historians out of Austin, Texas, that Mexico has a proud history of siding with Black Americans during the Civil War and on the slavery issue.

All of this is to say that as the father of two Black Mexican-American kids, I think they have much to be proud of, from both cultures. And considering that both cultures, at least the Hispanic one, if not the Mexican one, cast a large shadow under the umbrella that defines them, I don’t think our kids will have any problem accepting that they are both, because when you look at images of just who is Hispanic and who is considered Black, it is not at all unusual to see many people who fit in both categories.

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