Trapped in our skin

By: Mariella Batista-Hidalgo

Fenwick High School-DMSF

211 years later. 211 years later and Mexico still faces the side effects of colonization, believing that those with darker skins are less than others, believing that being comfortable in their skin makes them inferior. The colonizers’ beliefs are still plagued in our minds, like gum on a sidewalk, too difficult to take out.

Colorism is the preference for lighter skin than darker skin, a preference that is rooted in racism. A preference so unbelievable, but why is it still around? Media. Media opens the world to many different kinds of people. Ever since I was a kid, my brother and I spent time in front of a screen, it allowed us to connect and see different stories, we would even watch my mom’s telenovelas, showing us that crooks, maids, poverty-stricken people as those with darker skins, skin that my family was ashamed to have. While the rich, popular main characters in these shows had pale skin, skin that my grandma wished she had. Seeing as they advertised those with pale skin as good. I try to ignore it, there couldn’t be a chance that it’s like that, but as Yalitza Aparicio got the starring role in Roma playing as Cleo many Mexican fans got mad that she was the main character just because she had darker skin and was of indigenous origin. You can’t help but ignore the truth, that colorism is an issue that we have to face and discuss. 

As many Mexicans and many other Hispanic people immigrate here, we have to face xenophobia, which is the dislike or prejudice of people who come from other countries, and racism. My family had to witness and suffer through many instances of that, such as being accused of “snooping around” a store, when we just wanted to get ready for the new school year. We try to connect with others just to be too dark. How are we supposed to help each other if we’re divided? There is no such thing as a “too dark” Hispanic, without unity there is no peace. We can start with deconstructing the ideals of colorism by first supporting and watching movies with afro Hispanic/dark-skinned Hispanics, without doing that the media industry will not see that we want to be representation for every shade, not just those with lighter skin. The usage of media is also growing more and more as technology gets more advanced, which is why it is the perfect time to introduce more diverse characters, characters that reflect how the world is. Recently the trailer for Encanto came out, just seeing the main character made me overjoyed. Being able to see a character that looked like me caused so much excitement and other kids should feel that joy too. This movie will be a good step in the right direction, one that more companies need to make.