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What's in a Skin Tone?

From Audio: Episode 36: Hispanic Heritage Month / Disconnected from My Heritage

station description A unique, flavorful blend of conversation and self expression. Support this podcas... read more
‎The Motivation Burrito
Duration: 03:43
Are you Mexican? Dominican? Puerto Rican? If your skin tone is anything other than white, some people might take it upon themselves and make it a guessing game. A Hispanic woman talks about her struggles with her skin tone and these questions.
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If you're a person of color, you're probably somewhat used to people guessing your ethnicity. Sometimes, it can be a little fun, but for others it can get tiring. A Hispanic woman tries to make sense of her skin tone and how it connects to her heritage.
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it was one of those things where it was like, it was almost expected. Like when people ask me like, oh, like you're hispanic, your last name is Rodriguez. Are you Puerto Rican? I'm like, why is that the thing that people assume the most frequent? Like, do I look or do I sound Puerto Rican? Or is there something in particular that makes it like, Oh, she's definitely Puerto Rican and I couldn't figure it out for a long time. Um I am lighter skinned. I have, I have like a more beige complexion. Um, at least in terms of makeup, like if you were to choose my color on the makeup scale, I am a medium beige complexion. Um, with I think some like yellow under terms or whatever. Um, but I'm not completely, you know, on, on the darker side. And that's the thing about, you know, Hispanics as well is depending on the region where we're from. Our skin complexion varies too. Like you could have lighter skin and you can have darker skin and we're tan skin. Um, Some people have like that gorgeous olive complexion that just looks like you've been in the sun all day long and you have that amazing glow. I don't have that. Um you know, like my family has a tendency to be lighter in the winter, but we also tan nicely in the summer. Sometimes I burn, but we have, you know, like a little bit darker than pale skin tone. So like I said, I would be considered in the makeup world a medium beige, but it still didn't help me understand why people just automatically assumed I was Puerto Rican. And then it kind of got annoying because it was just like, well, what are you trying to say? Like, are you trying to say that I act a certain way or that there's something about me that automatically stereotypes me as a Puerto Rican. Like it was just one of those things where it became something where I just wasn't proud of it anymore. I was like, all right. Like everybody is just assuming that in Puerto Rican, what if I wasn't like, what if I was something else? And you just offended me because you made an assumption. So there was just a lot of things that I struggled with in terms of being Puerto Rican. And then on top of that there are some people who are like, oh, but Puerto Ricans aren't real Hispanics because technically it's owned by the United States. So you're still american and I'm like, all right, but that's not true because Puerto Ricans have roots that are based in hispanic culture. Um, you know, from the indigenous people that were here before the americans came. Like there's history there that makes us worthy of that hispanic heritage heritage. So it almost felt like people were trying to minimize Puerto Ricans and they were like basically trying to say, well you're not worthy of being called hispanic or you're not worthy of, you know, like celebrating this, that and that like come on people like and gotten this is my personal experience, um which is ironic because I live in new york. So you would think that with new york being one of the largest melting pots in the United States, that we'd be a little bit more um accepting and a lot less judgmental.
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