Sad, but true:

Latinos have a history of racial discrimination and prejudice dating hundreds of years.  Both against Latinos of African descent and against indigenous communities in Central and South America.  That, compounded with a near universal denial of racism in Latin America, or denial of it as being a problem, and it is not surprising that as we carry nuestros muertos, their attitudes shine through.

The interesting and ironic thing is that, compared with Latin America, the U.S. has been extremely progressive in how it deals with racial discrimination.  For example, when they conducted the census in Puerto Rico, well over 75% of the people identified themselves in terms of color as “white.”  We’re not talking Argentina here, which is recognized as the most European of the Latin American nations.  We’re talking about Puerto Rico, home of salsa music and reggaetón.

And, why do people call themselves “white” when most Puertoricans are mulatto?  Because nobody wants to be black.  But because there are so many people of color – either black or brown – Puertoricans came up with two interesting conventions: first was “el que no tiene dinga, tiene mandinga” or “he who does not have dinga (ancestors from the African dinga tribe), has mandigo (ancestors from the African mandigo tribe).”  Or, “everybody’s black.”  The second one was that if you have a single blood relative who was white – no matter how far removed – then you’re white.  Those two conventions managed to remove race from the everyday debate in P.R.

What it hasn’t removed is the fact that most of the statewide elected officers are white.  Puerto Rico has never had a dark-skinned governor.  Or resident commissioner.  And one of our all-time greatest musical export, Menudo, was always an all-white boy band.

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