Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chicanonautica: New Whiteness, Brown Shift and Other Absurdities

A strange phenomenon has been popping up. Hispanics -- as the U.S. Census Bureau calls them -- have been changing color. Talk about unexpected mutations.

Slate used George Zimmerman as an example of the New Whiteness.

According the New York Times:

An estimated 1.2 million Americans of the 35 million Americans identified in 2000 as “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin,” as the census form puts it, changed their race from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 and 2010 censuses . . .

It reminds me of what I call the Brown Shift in Mexican comic books, which is especially noticeable in westerns (or should they be called norteños?): Mestizos become white, Indians become light brown, and whites look like they should glow in the dark. 

Note these Mexicanas confronting gringos in Frontera Violenta, No. 1114:

And blue-eyed Solitario, killing a classic bandido in El Solitario, Jinete Sin Fronteras, No. 50:

It also gets me flashing back to when I was going to college back in the Seventies. I hated filling out forms (and still do) because my reality never fit their spaces and boxes. There was always a nice box for Hispanic but the word was always followed by (Spanish surname only). The only other choices were White, Black, Asian and Other. It pissed me off. So depending on my mood, I’d put myself down as Black, Asian and even Other.

I never put myself down as White. I’d been called a nigger enough times to know that would be pushing things a little too far.

Though people often think I’m white, and complement me on my tan. One said, “I thought you were Jewish -- you’re so smart!”

Whether I’m light- or dark-skinned depends on who’s looking at me.

But do we now have a choice? Can we become legally white?

I imagine a gun-totting Arizona vigilante approaching someone who fits the profile of an illegal alien:

“Do have any I.D.?”

“Sorry, but I consider myself to be white.”

Can Afrolatinos become white? The diverse mestizo gene pool often has people from güero to negrito in the same immediate family. Would a parent or sibling declaring New Whiteness make you white, too?

When La Raza Cosmica meets the New Whiteness, Chicano truly becomes a sci-fi state of being. Or what Chester Himes called the “absurdity of racism.” Or in the words of Ishmael Reed: “it’s not a ghetto -- it’s a galaxy.”

And I’m reminded of Joseph Goebbles once said to Fritz Lang: “We decide who is Jewish or not.”

Ernest Hogan trying to get things done as it gets hotter in Phoenix.


Anonymous said...

Figure this one out. I'm from Venezuela born to Spanish parents. Am I Latino, Spaniard, Venezuelan, White or what? I'm a naturalized U.S. Citizen. When I have to fill one of those stupid boxes shold I fill two: Hispanic and white? Or just one, either one? Other? I have been told by some Chicanos that I'm too white to be Latino, and Anglos think I'm from Quebec because I have an accent. Just like you, I fill those boxes depending on my mood that day. Somtimes I fill the Samoan box.


Maybe Hunter Thomson was right, and we're all really Samoans.

This comment has been removed by the author.

This just in: