Disclaimer: The following subject matter is centered on a specific term. It is sensitive in nature mainly because it contains generalizations regarding race, religion and culture amongst a diverse group of people that span from Spain to North and South America. It was written to give thought-provoking critical perspective (with poor attempts of levity of course).
White Hispanic – While most interpret this controversial term as a category defined by description and heritage, I equate it with a deep rooted psyche.
I’ve been saying the term for years but now it’s littered throughout popular media with varied meanings. For some, it’s merely a phenotype. For others it’s a classification for Hispanics who identify with Whites more than their Latino communities. The paradigm shift occurs with complexion, origin and self-identity as it relates to members of their own race. This is where it becomes confusing for most people to comprehend the multi-dimensions of the White Hispanic psyche.
I believe White Hispanics see themselves as descendants of Queen Isabella of Castille (Spain) while they see dark-skin Hispanics as products of the Triangle Trade. Though they may embrace the traditions of their Post-Columbus culture, there’s a disregard for their Indian and African Diaspora ancestry.
They don’t identify with just White Americans, they see themselves as original Europeans so perhaps Anglo-Hispanic is a more fitting term. I believe sub-consciously, White Hispanics want credit for their ancestor’s role in colonialism as if their cultural currency should be converted to Euros. This false sense of self tends to reflect a strong discrimination for those of darker skin who are of the same race and from the same country. There is a divided pride consistent amongst Spanish flags. Dark skin Hispanics and White Hispanics are treated totally different by each other. The contention spills over in the United States where the playing field is more level since they are lumped together in the same minority group.
It would be a misconception to assume White Hispanics shy from speaking Spanish. They are quite proud of their romance language. Keep in mind, some discern the labels Hispanic versus Latino by language and geography as oppose to the old methods of choosing between Team Estevez and Team Sheen. I would say another trait of White Hispanics is being fluent in turning their accents on and off like news anchors. If you’re lucky enough to have a non-Spanish name (e.g. Zimmerman) than this can further your own sense of blending-in status.
Sadly, the monetization of the Spanish language is used to justify advertising and media revenue while reinforcing a skin color caste system. When it comes to employment, the ambition of dark skinned Hispanics are stifled, making them marginalized in their own land, by their own people. If you’re an outstanding Hispanic actor, who happens to be dark-skinned, your chances of getting a leading role are lottery odds.
Turn on any Spanish television network and you can count the number of dark skin Hispanics you see on one hand. Even when I saw a commercial that had a mother and daughter with mocha glazed skin, they made sure the mystery love interest who briefly appeared in the kitchen was a White or White Hispanic. This subliminally reinforces the message to mejorar la raza.
I’ve spent many hours sitting on a plastic couch watching “El Gordo y la Flaca” trying to win over abuela’s approval while she spoke Spanish and I replied in English. Though she couldn’t help but to fall victim to my charm, I’m sure she prayed to hey-zeus that I didn’t get her granddaughter pregnant. My coffee bean skin, sphinx nose and nappy, I mean wooly hair would set back la familia for generations.
Desi Arnez and Rita Moreno were old models of White Hispanics because of their mainstream appeal and “acceptance” but I’m not sure if they fall into today’s (my) definition. To further understand the vast complexity of heritage and psyche, let’s name some of Hollywood’s contemporary Hispanics: Jessica Alba, Marc Anthony, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Garcia, Selma Hayek, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendes, Rosie Perez, Sophia Vergara and I Olmos forgot Ugly Betty. Everyone listed isn’t necessarily a White Hispanic because they share a similar complexion. Plus, each has very different backgrounds. Remove the likeability that comes with celebrity and the question is, do they embrace the color spectrum of their people? The deeper question is will they allow themselves to fall in love with someone darker than a brown paper bag? These are just two of the questions I use to evaluate my definition of White/Anglo Hispanic.
George Lopez is definitely NOT a White Hispanic. However, many who look like him often buy into the mentality of White Hispanics with more fervor than actual White Hispanics. Still, there are plenty of white-skinned Hispanics who don’t buy in to it either. I blame the source of this “mentality” on centuries of Christian missionary occupation. If you think my logic is blasphemous then you’re probably proving my point.
This codification is so political in nature that I can’t believe the Republicans won’t take a page from the Catholic playbook to turn up the Grand Ole Party with a little Salsa. Illegal nationals currently suffer from abnormal rapid-eye movement as their Dream Act comes in the form of a broken escalator. Thirteen years is not a path to citizenship, it’s an Appalachian Trail that Lewis & Clark wouldn’t take in a Ford Expedition. It’s the easiest common denominator amongst a confusing census check box. The political ideology of a Cuban is so vastly different from that of an Argentinean, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican or a Brazilian (who speaks Portuguese). What about Dominicans? If it wasn’t for baseball, they’d probably be treated like Haitian refugees by everybody. If the Immigration bill doesn’t pass, will there be a Mexican standoff between Texas and Florida Hispanic leaders? I think it’s safe to say that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz don’t represent the diverse interest of most of the aforementioned Latinos.
While Rubio and Cruz seem to exemplify the poster boys for the term White Hispanic, I think they’re only runner-ups to the WH man of the year Jorge Zimmerman a/k/a Roy Bryant (and Jorge’s brother Roberto a/k/a J.W. Milam). Look at who and what they all associate themselves with. Look at their comfort zone and what they embody. Most importantly, they all have the burning desire to be favored as if they were NOT Hispanic. Jorge would probably accept an honorary police dog award way before making an appearance at the ALMA. He finally got treated like the cop he wanted to be, proving to be a patriotic protector of thug niggas who act like America owes them 40 acres and some Skittles. Latin lovers of this country are hard workers and have a better appreciation than lazy niggas. Trayvon’s inner ape over powered him, but somehow, he found the MMA strength to draw, aim, at the heart, shoot and kill (not wound knowing police are on the way) like he was protecting the border. Jorge’s excuse for his steel courage pursuit was basically he don’t need no stinkin’ badges. While his excuse for murder was basically, the nigger should have known his place so he had to DIE. Hence, Jorge Zimmerman, a classified Hispanic, gets the status symbol award of Emmett Till’s killers and any White cop that got away with murdering an unarmed black (or brown) person.
Finally, on a lighter note (Pun intended & truly missed), picture these shared thoughts like an overheard conversation between Donald Faison and Judy Reyes. These are not just MY opinions, yet, those of many Hispanic/Latinos I’ve known throughout my life. Maybe it should be kept private, but as a moreno from Nueva York and primo of any bodega, I consider you siblings in culture and struggle. That’s why I can use “you” and “we” interchangeably. It’s like both races are trying to get back to the way we were, but don’t know exactly where we’re from. Like the evolved hyphenated terms Afro to African, we have many identity issues in common when it comes to our homeland, hair and color complexes; pero, the internal divide of elitism seems to oddly unite you. Just be mindful, that the lineage many view as improving the race is also a celebration of love, foolish pride and rape.
T. Better Baldwin
T. Better Baldwin is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist who was born, raised and resides in New York City.