I never knew my skin color could be altered to better benefit me.
Skin color continues to play a role in the U.S to determining who gets to ride the elevator and at what time.
I hear that being white is the right thing to do, but the fact that I can be white in some places and certain times amazes me even more. For centuries skin color continues to allow those of the dominant skin color be portrayed as successful and superior. Simply looking our current president can demonstrate a clear example of where whiteness can take you.
A couple years ago I decided to take a quick trip to Mexico to visit my uncles and other family members who resided in my uncles household. It was a small city with dirt roads, pale houses, and trash all over the city, it was more like an old village in a rural part of the country. The last time I visited was sometime in my elementary years and for the most part I had no idea what was occurring in the world around me after all I was still a kid, everywhere was a happy place to me. As I grew up I became aware that the world was not indeed a happy place rather a place where some individuals are privileged and others are not. My arrival to the small city in Mexico was no secret to the community, everyone knew the exact minute I would land since it was very common for everyone to know everything about each other. Something about me coming over from the US was special everyone in the neighborhood and my skin color to them seem lighter. To be completely honest I have dark skin. I am no where near light skin but to the people in Mexico I had light skin. My arrival in Mexico gave people access to label me as güero when I really was not. I was confused how people attached this “whiteness” label to me when in reality I was no where near white. I ask my uncle about this and his response blew my mind.
“Usually if someone comes from the US it signifies they have money and are rich and we associated that with white people so therefore they call you a güero”
Clearly in my head I did not fit any of that mentioned. This label attached to me reminded me of Sarah Ahmed’s definition of “whiteness” and by using their past experiences they placed me in a category of superiority when in reality I should have not.
“Institutions involve the accumulation of past decisions about how to allocate resources, as well as ‘who’ to recruit. Recruitment functions as a technology for the reproduction of whiteness.”
By people classifying me into a category of whiteness as Ahmed claims, they are further strengthening the fact that anyone who comes from a distinct place is “white.” We need to instead look past skin color and location and recognize that it instead it is a type of living. Going into another city here, I would still look the same as if I were back home, but going into a city in Mexico where poverty is associated specifically with only the people who live there, it becomes an issue where labeling anyone is acceptable even if our living conditions are closely similar. In a time like today we should look to incorporate and interact with everyone around us rather than isolate ourselves and place each other in distinctive “categories.”