This is an oft touched on subject, particularly with those who spend more than just a weeks holiday in Mexico. The subject of race, and racism in particular. I remember one of my earliest conversations, with a student. I mentioned that I hadn’t in the months I’d been in the city, once felt that my skin colour had been a disadvantage. She looked up, and with no look of surprise on her face, simply stated that ‘there is no racism’ in Mexico.
Actually there is, and I’ve mentioned it before, more than once. I am often discriminated against because of my skin colour. All the time. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for millions of Mexicans, it is usually a form of positive discrimination. Although there are occasions, in touristy areas, where the opposite is true, and a street vendor will think he can charge me more than the going rate for a cigarro suelto or whatever.
You need only look at the political hierarchy of Mexico. The top echelons of businesses in Mexico. Even when I walk into a blue chip firm to give classes I am confronted by them. White faces. Sometimes, exclusively. Particularly with females I’ve noticed. So it’s easy to declare, without fear of contradiction, that racism is at play. In its near two hundred years of existence, there has only once been an indigenous looking president. The next one won’t be the second. The likely suspects are in the image at the bottom of the post.
And yet. And yet. White Mexicans look down on light brown Mexicans. Light brown Mexicans look down on dark brown Mexicans. But US Mexicans of all shades look down on all Mexico Mexicans. These are generalisations, I know, but it occurs often enough to have some validity. How does it all work? Go figure. Perhaps all this has more to do with being percieved as being as ‘non Mexican’ as possible, which is not dependent on skin colour, but can obviously be influenced by what skin colour ‘represents’.
I could be here another five years and still not really have a full grasp on the Mexican psyche. But anyway. Here’s another point of view or three. A segment of a BBC Thinking Aloud podcast, which deals with the subject, with main focus on Mexico and Brazil.