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The conversation about erasure in the Latinx community cannot be centered on white Latinx voices.

By Mariana Viera Latina magazine recently published an article titled “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Question My Latina Culture.” The piece details the frustrations of Alexis, a U.S. born-Latina woman who feels that her light skin robs her of Latinx authenticity in the eyes of the Latinx community. She claims that white Americans exoticize and tokenize her, while other Latinxs see her as “just una blanca.” In a world where white Latinxs are already overrepresented in Latinx media and white Latinx voices are magnified at the cost of black and brown Latinxs, Alexis feels it is critical that her “struggles” as a white Latina woman be given a major platform. She begins, “What you don’t understand about being a light-skinned Latina is that my ‘legitimacy’ is always being questioned by both sides.” In some ways, white Latinxs’ frustrations with having their identity “denied” do speak to an important issue. There is such a thing as white Latinxs. Latin America is not a racial monolith, and there needs to be discussion around that. It is not the racially homogenous, post-race society that people like to imagine it as (nobody knows this better than black and indigenous Latinxs). But if there is a proper way to discuss this issue from the perspective of a white Latinx, this isn’t it. For reasons beyond the scope of this piece, mixing between black, indigenous, and white groups did occur in Latin American countries more than in the United States. But by no means did this result in the expiration of a racial hierarchy that continues to place white Latinxs like Alexis at the very top and black and indigenous Latinxs at the very bottom. “Latinx” is not a race, and Latinxs are not a unified group. White Latinxs exist. Indigenous Latinxs exist. Black Latinxs exist. The racial makeup of countries like Brazil, which has one of the largest afro-descendant populations in the world, and Argentina, a 90% white country, speak to this reality. At one point, the article boldly remonstrates, “When people give me a skeptical look when I say ‘person of color’ or puertorriqueña in reference to myself I want to be able to hand them a pre-made list of all the things I know and do that ensure my acceptance into this culture — my culture.” Alexis can claim Latinxness, but she is gravely mistaken in her claim to a “person of color” identity. To equate being Latinx with being a person of color is to erase the centuries-long, unabated violent oppression experienced by black and indigenous people at the hands of white Latinxs in Latin America.
Related: THE UNBEARABLE WHITENESS OF TELENOVELAS

Allies shouldn’t need a reason to be allies; they should be cognizant of the injustices rampant in the world and want to change the world for the better.

By Sarah Khan Recently, Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh was heckled by a white woman while he was conducting a meet-and-greet in Brampton, Ontario. Singh, who is Sikh, faced against a woman who has since been identified and tied to local white supremacist groups in Toronto; he endured her ignorant claims that he was going to bring about sharia law--an Islamic ideology, very much different from Sikhism--to which Singh responded with impressive patience and compassion. Claiming that he and the attendees didn’t want to be “intimidated by hate” and that no one wanted “hatred to ruin a positive event,” Singh began calming talking over the woman with phrases like “We welcome you. We love you. We support you” and  “We believe in your rights.” Putting aside the problematic idea of welcoming or supporting yet alone loving someone who believes in a racial hierarchy, Singh’s level-headed handling of his heckler is being touted as the ideal way to deal with those with whom you disagree. It goes back to the fact that people don’t seem to realise that anti-Islamic or racist or sexist beliefs are not just something with which to disagree. A difference of opinion is over something that doesn’t negatively affect the lives of millions of people and doesn’t continue to uphold a system of oppression for pretty much anyone who isn’t a rich, white cis male. Whether apple or pumpkin pie is better is a difference of opinion; believing that every brown person is Muslim and thus an misogynistic fanatic or terrorist is a human rights issue. Pumpkin pie will be okay if people hate it — people of color will not.
Related: NO, YOU CAN’T BE FRIENDS WITH A WHITE SUPREMACIST AND NOT BE ONE YOURSELF.

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