GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 21:36Z by Steven

GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2014-09-13

Larry Clayton, Professor of History Emeritus
University of Alabama

I had a friend from the Dominican Republic who came to the University of Alabama and Stillman College on a joint Fulbright appointment years ago. He was a well-known and respected poet and writer in his own land and, after a few months, he remarked to me, “Larry, I didn’t realize I was a black until I came to this country!”

The question of race, such a painful and rancorous illness in American society, has not played out the same in other countries with similar historical backgrounds.

A few years ago, Carl Degler wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning study titled “Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States.” His theme was summarized in the phrase the “mulatto escape hatch.” Degler compared the role of race in the histories of Brazil and the U.S.

Degler was curious: Why was Brazil thought to be a “racial democracy” of sorts, while the United States was fighting its way out of segregation? Both countries had had large African slave populations — Brazil’s much larger than America’s — both had emancipated the slaves in the 19th century, both were functioning republics and both were colonized by European settlers. So, why such different racial trajectories?

The difference was the “mulatto escape hatch,” or the ability of people of mixed races in Brazil to rise up and integrate across Brazilian society without their color or background being held against them…

Read the entire article here.

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Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Women on 2014-09-17 17:52Z by Steven

Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

The New York Times
2014-09-15

Simon Romero, Brazil Bureau Chief

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva were both cabinet ministers, they clashed on everything from building nuclear power plants to licensing huge dams in the Amazon.

Ms. Rousseff came out on top, emerging as the political heir to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and ultimately succeeding him as president. But she now finds herself locked in a heated race with Ms. Silva, an environmental icon who is jockeying for the lead in polling ahead of the Oct. 5 election as an insurgent candidate repudiating the power structure she helped assemble.

Ms. Silva’s upending of the presidential race is a symbol of the antiestablishment sentiment that has roiled Brazil, including anxiety over a sluggish economy and fatigue with political corruption. Her rising popularity also taps into shifts in society like the rising clout of evangelical Christian voters and a growing disquiet with policies that have raised incomes while doing little to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities.

“Marina differs from other politicians” in this election “in that she came almost from nothing,” said Sonia Regina Gonçalo, 34, a janitor, referring to Ms. Silva, who was born into extreme poverty in the far reaches of the Amazon. “She’s the ideal candidate for this time in Brazil.”

Thrust to the fore after her running mate, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash in August, Ms. Silva, 56, has a background with few parallels at the highest levels of Brazilian politics, allowing her to resonate with voters across the country.

If elected, she would be Brazil’s first black president, a milestone in a country where most people now identify themselves as black or mixed race, but where political power is still concentrated in the hands of whites…

Read the entire article here.

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From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-16 21:29Z by Steven

From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

The Wall Street Journal
2014-09-02

Debra Bruno

Growing up in New York’s Harlem, Paula Williams Madison knew she had a Chinese grandfather, even though she had never met him.

When people found out, she says, most of them would make comments such as “Really? You don’t look Chinese.” Others would laugh. Even so, she always intended to track down her mother’s father and learn the full story of her multi-ethnic Jamaican-Chinese family.

By the time she found them, her tiny American family had expanded to about 400 living members and a family tree that goes back 3,000 years. A new documentary tells the story of that journey and the discovery of a family that today extends from Shenzhen, China, to Kingston, Jamaica, and Los Angeles, California.

Ms. Madison, 62, spent much of her career at NBC, and retired a few years ago as an executive at NBC Universal, one of the first black women to achieve that rank. She says she waited until retiring to pursue her dream of reconnecting with her Chinese family.

Before, “I did know a handful of my cousins,” she says. “Now there are about 40.”

Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China,” directed by Jeanette Kong of Toronto, a fellow Chinese-Jamaican, tells the story of Ms. Madison’s quest. After slavery ended in Jamaica in 1838, the country sought immigrants to do the work slaves had performed on sugar plantations. By 1920, 4,000 of those immigrants were Chinese. Ms. Madison’s grandfather—a Hakka Chinese man from Guangdong province originally named Lowe Ding Chiu—was one of them, moving there in 1905 at age 15…

Read the entire article here.

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Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2014-09-15 01:47Z by Steven

Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

The New York Times
2014-09-12

Michael T. Luongo

The chapel in the small lakeside resort community of Chascomús is at best underwhelming. Its whitewashed brick exterior is partly obstructed by a tangle of vines and bushes, and its dim, one-room interior is no more majestic than its facade. Wooden pews and an uneven dirt floor are scarcely illuminated by sunlight from a single window. The gray, cracked, dusty walls are adorned with crosses, photos, icons — things people leave to mark their pilgrimage. A low front altar is layered with thick candle wax, flowers and a pantheon of black saints, Madonnas and African deities like the sea goddess Yemanja of the Yoruba religion.

Despite its unkempt state, this chapel, the Capilla de los Negros, attracts a little over 11,000 tourists each year who come to see a church named for the freed slaves who built it in 1861.

The chapel is “where we can locate ourselves and point out the truth that we are here,” said Soledad Luis, an Afro-Argentine from the tourism office who led me through the space. She knows it well. It sits on a plot her great-grandfather helped secure, and her family still gathers there weekly for a meal.

Capilla de los Negros feels off the beaten path, but it is part of a list of slave sites in Argentina created in 2009 by Unesco. Its inclusion signals the growing consciousness of African heritage in Argentina, seemingly the most Europeanized country in South America.

Argentina at one time had a robust African presence because of the slaves who were brought there, but its black population was decimated by myriad factors including heavy casualties on the front lines in the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay in the 1860s; a yellow fever epidemic that rich, white Argentines largely escaped; and interracial offspring who, after successive generations, shed their African culture along with their features. And European immigration swelled the white population — 2.27 million Italians came between 1861 and 1914.

The demographic shift has been sharp. In 1800, on the eve of revolution with Spain, blacks made up more than a third of the country, 69,000 of a total population of 187,000, according to George Reid Andrews’s 2004 book “Afro-Latin America.” In 2010, 150,000 identified themselves as Afro-Argentine, or a mere 0.365 percent of a population of 41 million people, according to the census, the first in the country’s history that counted race.

But the culture the slaves brought with them remained. And in recent years, Argentina has gone from underselling its African roots to rediscovering them, as academics, archaeologists, immigrants and a nascent civil rights movement have challenged the idea that African and Argentine are mutually exclusive terms…

Read the entire article here.

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Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-08 20:57Z by Steven

Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2014-09-05

Marina Silva: a pioneer in politics

By Primeiros Negros, José Eustáquio Diniz Alves, and Luciana Lima

The first black woman candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, Maria Osmarina Silva, known as Marina Silva, comes from an unusual trajectory that began in February 8, 1958, in a place called Breu Velho in the seringais (rubber plantations) of the state of Acre, seventy miles from downtown Rio Branco, the capital of Acre. She remained there until at age 16, still illiterate, to earning international recognition in defense of the environment, becoming minister and postulated becoming president of Brazil.

Her parents Pedro Augusto and Maria Augusta had eleven children, of whom only eight survived. She hunted, fished, worked as a maid and became literate only after 16 years of age. She graduated in History from the Federal University of Acre. She is married to Fábio Vaz de Lima and has four children, Shalom, Danilo, Moara and Mayara.

In four years, Marina went from illiteracy to the vestibular (college entrance exam). She graduated with a degree in History and postgraduate in Psychoanalysis…

…Marina Silva is a mestiça (person of mixed race) and brings in her blood the three colors/”races” that form the Brazilian people: índios (Indians), brancos (whites) and pretos (blacks). By definition of the IBGE, Marina can be classified as a person of parda (brown) color. The grouping of parda and preta color is defined as the população negra (black population), according to the methodology adopted by most Brazilian researchers. The negro is the sum of people who self-declare themselves “pardas” and “pretas”. So in terms of “race”, the “indiazinha” (little Indian) Marina can be defined as cabocla (of mixed indigenous decent), mulata or negra

Read the entire article here.

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Will Brazil elect Marina Silva as the world’s first Green president?

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Women on 2014-09-05 19:17Z by Steven

Will Brazil elect Marina Silva as the world’s first Green president?

The Guardian/The Observer
2014-08-30

Jonathan Watts, Latin America Correspondent

Born into a poor, mixed-race Amazon family, Marina Silva is on the verge of a stunning election win after taking over her party

It started with the national anthem and ended with a rap. In between came a poignant minute’s silence, politicised football chants and a call to action by the woman tipped to become the first Green national leader on the planet.

The unveiling in São Paulo of Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva’s platform for government on Friday was a sometimes bizarre mix of tradition and modernity, conservatism and radicalism, doubt and hope: but for many of those present, it highlighted the very real prospect of an environmentalist taking the reins of a major country.

In a dramatic election that has at times seemed scripted by a telenovela writer, Silva has tripled her coalition’s poll ratings in the two weeks since she took over from her predecessor and running mate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash. Following a strong performance in the first TV debate between candidates, polls suggest she will come second in the first-round vote on 5 October and then beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in the runoff three weeks later.

This is a spectacular turnaround for a candidate who did not even have a party a year ago, when the electoral court ruled that she had failed to collect enough signatures to mount a campaign. It was also the latest in a series of remarkable steps for a mixed-race woman who grew up in a poor family in the Amazon, and went on to become her country’s most prominent advocate of sustainable development.

The distance Silva – known as Marina – has come from her remote forest home was evident at the launch of her programme for government in the affluent Pinheiros district of São Paulo. About 250 people – mostly from her Sustainability Network party and its allies in Campos’s Brazilian Socialist party (PSB) and other groups – gathered under the chandeliers of the swanky Rosa Rosarum venue, where waiters in white gloves served canapes, while they waited for their leader…

…Women are hugely under-represented in Brazilian politics, but it is not because of her gender that Silva could break the mould. That has more to do with the colour of her skin and ideas.

Silva is a mix of Brazil’s three main ethnic groups. Among her ancestors are native Indians, Portuguese settlers and African slaves. While she is usually described as predominantly “indigenous”, friends say Silva categorises herself as “black” in the national census. In Brazil’s white-dominated political world, this is exceptional.

“It will be super-important for Brazil to have a black president, as it was in the US with Obama. It would signify a big advance for our country against discrimination,” said Alessandro Alvares, a member of the PSB and one of the few non-white faces in the room.

Silva’s political colours could prove still more controversial. For more than a decade, she has been known as the country’s most prominent Green campaigner, having first worked on sustainability at the grassroots with the Amazon activist Chico Mendes, who was later murdered. She later served as environment minister in Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration from 2003 to 2008, when she put in place effective measures to slow the deforestation of the Amazon. In her address to Friday’s meeting she stressed that Brazil could double its output of crops and meat without further clearing of the rainforest.

“If elected, Marina will be the greenest president in history, the first black president in Brazil and the first to be born in the Amazon,” said Altino Machado, a journalist based in Acre state, who first met Silva more than 30 years ago when they both attended a theatrical group. “She has proved her credentials as an environmentalist and protector of the Amazon. She also has a very strong ethical code and is totally free from any taint of corruption, which is extremely rare in politics in Brazil, where scandals happen all the time.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Market-style reforms widen racial divide in Cuba

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Economics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-05 15:32Z by Steven

Market-style reforms widen racial divide in Cuba

Reuters
2014-09-02

(Reuters) – Cuba’s experiment with free-market reforms has unintentionally widened the communist-led island’s racial divide and allowed white Cubans to regain some of the economic advantages built up over centuries.

Under President Raúl Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008, Cuba has expanded its non-state workforce, loosened travel restrictions and promoted private cooperatives and small businesses.

As the communist government relinquishes its once near-total control of the economy, inequality has widened, undoing some of the progress seen since the 1959 revolution.

Much of the funding for new businesses such as restaurants, transportation services and bed-and-breakfast inns – targeted at tourists, diplomats and dollar-earners – comes from family members who emigrated to the United States over the last 50 years, especially Miami.

They sent almost $3 billion to relatives back in Cuba last year and, as they are mainly white, their investments put black and mixed-race Cubans at a disadvantage as they try to set up their own businesses…

…Before Castro’s revolution, education was largely off limits to blacks and mestizos and they were shut out of universities and jobs that involved interacting with customers. Whites had their own social clubs, beaches and private parties.

As soon as he assumed power, Castro eliminated segregation and attempted to abolish inequality by giving all Cubans access to free education and health care. The government hails those as among the revolution’s greatest accomplishments.

Today Cuba is largely a mixed-race society, though one in which lighter skinned Cubans still enjoy advantages in all but sports and entertainment.

Many Cubans are of ambiguous racial heritage, and a panoply of names exist to people of various hues. The terms are more descriptive and not considered offensive.

Some Afro-Cubans say they have not experienced racism under the revolution, advancing in education and careers without impediment.

Echevarria, the sandwich shop co-owner, said he was content with his humble business and not too bothered by inequality. “Racism exists. Not like before, but it exists.”

But other black and mixed-race Cubans say they feel racism, and experts say whites still have better access to good jobs and higher education…

Read the entire article here.

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Mothly Guest Author: Araújo, Emanoel

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-09-03 20:56Z by Steven

Mothly Guest Author: Araújo, Emanoel

GAM – Global Art and the Museum
Karlsruhe, Germany
March 2009

This month it is a great pleasure for us to present as our fifth guest author Emanoel Araújo, founder of the Museu AfroBrasil, who was interviewed by Hans Belting on the occasion of the first GAM Platform in São Paulo in 2008. In this interview Araújo not only discusses the role of contemporary art in today’s Brazil, but also provides us a deep insight into the creation of this unique institution throughout the world.

The Museu AfroBrasil in São Paulo. A New Museum Concept

The Museu AfroBrasil was created by municipal decree on November 20, 2003—Black Awareness Day—in a ceremony attended by state representatives and the Afro-Brazilian community of São Paulo. On this occasion, the Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkmin, donated the Manoel da Nóbrega Pavilion, designed by the Architect Oscar Niemeyer, and located in the beautiful Ibirapuere Park, the city’s central park, to house the Museu AfroBrasil.

The museum opened on October 23, 2004 with Museu AfroBrasil: um Conceito em Perspectiva [Afro-Brazil Museum: a Concept in Perspective]. On November 20 of the same year, the exhibition Brasileiro, Brasileiros [Brazilian, Brazilians] was dedicated to the presence of the three races in Brazil. “Some people may not accept the idea of racial mixture that Brazil represents,” said Araújo, current director of the museum. The Museu AfroBrasil, as the visitor’s guide explains, “aims to tell an alternative Brazilian history. This means it has the complex task of deconstructing an image of the black population constructed from a historically inferior perspective, and of transforming it into a prestigious image founded on equality and belonging, so re-confirming a sense of respect for one of the founding populations of Brazil. [...] In the 20th century the artistic division created by [... ] academic art widened. On [the other hand] there were distinguished Black artists who, because they were outside the canon of [...] art, were considered merely talented craftsmen or, at most, ‘popular artists’– [...] By putting these artists side-by-side the Museum would like to highlight the historical and ultimately arbitrary nature of this separation, and emphasize the intrinsic value of the works by Black artists for which these distinctions lose all meaning.”

Interview with Hans Belting

Hans Belting (H.B.): What is the role of contemporary art in Brazil today?

Emanoel Araújo (E.A.): I think it was important to create the Bienal de São Paulo to pull Brazil out of her cultural isolation faced by the hegemony of other countries. It was also important for Brazilian art to invite the Swiss artist Max Bill, and his Unidade Tri–Partida [Tripartite Unity] to the biennial in 1951, as his presence consolidated the Concretism movement. Currently, globalization meets with a certain commitment of the galleries and art fairs throughout the world; however, contemporary art in Brazil is marked by a discourse that is not necessarily comprehensible abroad, where the regime of international curators pursues other interests. Usually, artists in Brazil looked beyond borders and identified with the ‘established’, or the ‘civilized’, without paying tribute to their roots and to the fact that they mixed with others to become Brazilian. This type of anthropophagia led to a certain mystique without which all artistic expression on this side of the Atlantic would look like second class art…

…H.B.: How would you describe the relationship between the museum that you have founded and the community museums of the United States?

E.A.: I do not care for the community museums of the United States, and I am not even sure whether they exist. However, I should add that we are worlds apart from their racial problems. Our ethnic composition is rooted in Portuguese colonialism, and we are Catholic. The Portuguese, a people born out of many races, where ethnic mixing comes with enforced rule, are very different from the Calvinist protestant formation of the United States. Our colors, and there are many, were perversely created to allow for a system of racial democracy, where the white established a pact in the definition of race according to color. Brazil was not only a slave- driven society, but also the last country in the Americas to free its slaves on whose labor wealth was based. This labor was used to grow sugarcane, tobacco, coffee and to mine for gold and precious stones, and today Brazil has still not come to terms with the question of this slave-driven society. In the nineteenth century, when slavery was flourishing, some blacks were more important than they are today. There were Negro poets, journalists, jurists, physicians, editors, writers and engineers. Negroes were forgotten after slavery was abolished in 1888, with the military coup of the republic carried out by the land-owning elites, the oligarchies of Brazil. The exodus to the periphery of major towns and cities, and the lack of any formal education for the people made, and continues to make a very big difference between Brazil and the United States…

Read the entire interview here.

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How the slave trade shaped the Baroque

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2014-09-03 18:35Z by Steven

How the slave trade shaped the Baroque

The Art Newspaper
Focus, Issue 260, September 2014

Emanoel Araujo, Founder, Head Curator and Director
Museu AfroBrasil, São Paulo, Brazil

As Catholicism spread across the colonies, slaves and freedmen created a uniquely Brazilian style

The Baroque movement that spread across the Portuguese and Spanish colonies has been important to the Catholic hegemony of the New World since 1500. The image of the cross was used as a powerful symbol of evangelisation so that the work of the Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans and other religious brotherhoods and third orders could add European men and women, Indians and Africans to the Christian faith that developed as the glue binding a new era during the 17th and 18th centuries in Brazil.

Wild and tropical Brazil was the ideal environment for a new aesthetic, which was made a reality through the force of the colonisers and through slaves from West and Central Africa, who overflowed from the country’s sugar mills to the gold and diamond mines of Minas Gerais state.

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

Black and mixed-race slaves and freedmen were fundamental in the building of one of the richest periods in Brazilian art. In the midst of many disgraces, their vision shows the impact of miscegenation in the culture of the national Baroque.

The Baroque ideal meant the transformation in curves of the tenets of Classical art. It was the great spectacle of the forms of nature mixed with a strongly angled geometry in gold and white marble. Dark wood was put together with large panels of Portuguese blue tiles; ceilings were painted with illusionist paintings against a sensory backdrop of frankincense, myrrh and organ music.

Brazilian gold reached Portugal in tonnes, while the few bars remaining adorned the carvings of the altars of hundreds of churches, cathedrals and monasteries across the country. Artists, gilders, sculptors, woodcarvers, goldsmiths and silversmiths, cabinetmakers, carpenters and masons transformed humble chapels of rammed earth (taipa), made of wattle and daub (pau-a-pique), into monumental churches, convents and cathedrals with interiors covered in pure gold and sterling-silver devotions.

Much of this work was done by black and mixed-race slaves and freedmen, despite restrictions such as a decree banning African and African-Brazilian goldsmiths in 1621. This culminated in goldsmiths’ stalls being smashed in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia in 1766, although there are some examples of these decrees being dismissed…

Read the entire article here.

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Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-08-28 20:37Z by Steven

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1989-1991
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.920094

Andrés Villarreal, Professor of Sociology
University of Maryland, College Park

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue, New York, Oxford University Press, 2013, xi + 234 pp., £15.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-992550-6

A powerful official ideology promoted by the Mexican Government since the early twentieth century glorifies the mestizo, defined as the descendant of both indigenous and Spanish peoples, as a symbol of national identity. This same ideology holds racism to be inexistent in contemporary Mexico, and negates the contribution of individuals of African descent to Mexican history and to the racial make-up of the nation. Despite the importation of many thousands of slaves during the colonial period, blacks have been essentially erased from the national consciousness. Christina Sue’s outstanding ethnographic study uncovers how Mexican men and women work to reconcile this official national ideology which they vehemently espouse, with their own lived experiences in which individuals with a darker skin tone are routinely discriminated in everyday life, and in which African ancestry is clearly evident in some regions of the country.

Research on racial attitudes in Indo-Latin American countries such as Mexico has focused mostly on the mestizo–indigenous dichotomy. However, Sue convincingly argues that distinctions along a colour continuum within the mestizo population have an important effect on individuals’ life chances. Framing discussions in terms of colour rather than race allows many Mexicans to make comparisons without violating the national ideology according to which racial classifications are no longer relevant.

In contrast to the official ideology of non-racism, Sue finds evidence of tremendous racial prejudice among her subjects in the coastal city of Veracruz. Veracruzanos with a lighter skin tone enjoy preferential treatment socially and in work settings. Employers often code their preference for workers with lighter skin tones by soliciting candidates with ‘good presentation’, a term whose meaning is fully known by job applicants. Racial prejudice is also evident within family units. Family members use a variety of gatekeeping techniques to prevent the entry of dark-skinned individuals into their families through marriage. A woman interviewed by Sue reports that her mother-in-law refuses to speak to her because she is darker than her husband (94). Veracruzanos also agonize over children inheriting the phenotype of a darker parent. Reflecting the disappointment that his daughter inherited his darker skin tone, one father notes: ‘I wouldn’t have cared if she was ugly like me, but I wanted her to have green eyes … like her mother or be light like her mother. But she came out ugly like me’ (74). As in other parts of Latin America, Sue finds that Veracruzanos systematically equate whiteness with beauty and higher social standing. Darker family members are routinely insulted and devalued, while lighter members receive more resources and attention…

Read the entire review here.

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