“Whitexicans”: a new form of racism in Mexico against the white and wealthy?


By Brianda Almanza

“Prieto”, “indio”, “naco”, “gato”, are some of the words in the Mexican vocabulary with which people with dark skin are discriminated against.

There are others that serve to label those who enjoy a high economic status: “fresas”, “pipirisnais” and “fifí”.

The latter have recently been joined by whitexicans, derived from the contraction of the English words white and Mexicans, white and Mexican.

Although according to experts it is less widespread than other terms and its impact is less, there are those who feel alluded to and denounce that they are being victims of racism and discrimination for displaying their ostentatious lifestyle on social networks.

Collecting this way of living with photos and comments is what the Twitter account @LosWhitexicans does, and although it does so in a humorous way, one of its creators says it seeks to “demonstrate classism and racism” in Mexico.

The whitexicans represent “that privileged sector of society that does not know the reality of the country, who live in a sphere and believes that all Mexicans have the same opportunities,” the BBC tells one of the account administrators, who prefers to remain anonymous.

He himself is included in that category, and ensures that he has a good economic status and that is why he created the account, to parody the attitudes of his own social circle and “to demonstrate the daily attitudes with which racism is normalized in Mexico.”

According to the administrator, they are people who “presume their privileges, be they economic, professional or educational, as well as discriminate against those who do not belong to the circle”.

But what is really behind the new label? Discrimination and racism, or a change in class thinking in Mexico?

The weight of words

The neologism whitexicans is therefore used to refer to the light-skinned Mexicans, who make up only 4.7% of the country’s population according to the Ethnicity and Race in Latin America Project (Perla, for its acronym in English), sponsored by Princeton University and in which researchers from Brazil, Colombia, the United States, Mexico and Peru participate.

However, for the experts consulted the term does not classify as discriminatory, since according to these it does not reach the offensive level of, for example, the words “indio” or “naco” in Mexico.

Women with hat

“When you’re dark and hear the word ‘Naco’, it hurts. I do not know if the reverse is happening that when white people hear the word whitexica . It is not an offense , ” said Carl Jones, a professor at the School of Media and Communication from the University of Westminster, in the United Kingdom, and who investigates racism in advertising in Mexico.

“I think some people take this word positively,” he explains. “It’s a way to strengthen your status.”

For the administrator of the account @TheWhitexicans the denomination “does not have the same impact as saying naco or indio to someone”.

The humor that has dark-skinned or poor people as protagonists has always existed, and with that Twitter account what its creators aim to do is humor with the lifestyle of the other sector of the population, the privileged whites, he says.

Not just a matter of appearance

For the administrator of @TheWhitexicans it is not necessary to have clear skin to be one of them, “it is enough to adopt their attitudes, such as believing themselves superior to others, discriminating and presuming their way of life”.

4.7% of the Mexican population has white skin, according to Inegi.

The doctor in Social Anthropology Areli Ramírez explains it by making the difference between two concepts: “whiteness” and “whiteness”.

“The color of the skin can be called whiteness, but whiteness has to do with a series of attitudes, ideas, imaginary,” Ramírez explains to BBC Mundo.

A person of dark or dark complexion can adopt characteristics and attitudes of a white person, because it perceives itself as such, due to its language, consumption habits and lifestyle, he adds.

Poverty in Mexico is always portrayed with people with darker skin.

“Aspirational whiteness”

Jones, the professor at the University of Westminster, believes that Mexicans aspire to the position and privileges of those who have the clearest skin has to do in part with the publicity that is disseminated in the country.

“Mexican sellers believe that if a consumer buys an” aspirational “product -which his pocket would not allow but that he craves- and that it is used by a person with lighter skin, that consumer will think that he is participating in a lifestyle” “desirable” white, he explains.

People with dark skin are rarely used by advertisers to represent a desirable lifestyle or to aspire to, says the professor at the University of Westminster.

“We are all the same”

Mexican handmade dolls
Image captionMiscegenation in Mexico is the national identity, however it contains a type of racism, experts say.

One of the criticisms that is made of the whitexican concept refers to the polarization it generates in society.

The @ TheWhitexicans account constantly receives responses from users who say that due to miscegenation there is no race distinction and that all Mexicans are equal.

But to use miscegenation as a justification is “a way to minimize racism,” says Monica Moreno, MD in sociology.

“In Mexico, miscegenation is the ideal subject of the nation, but with miscegenation we want to eliminate certain things and emphasize others,” said the Mexican academic from the University of Cambridge. .

“Although the idea is that we are all mestizos, there are some better than others,” he stresses.

Racism and discrimination in various sectors

Mexican white woman
Image captionAlthough advertising sometimes seeks to highlight indigenous culture, sociologist Moreno says it is done through European features.

And yes, in Mexico, job, academic and social opportunities will depend on skin tone, he says.

“Skin color is very important in Mexico, it makes many distinctions, it serves to modulate many social interactions”, says the academic.

Mexican artisan man
Image captionIn Mexico, skin color determines the professional sector in which Mexicans can develop.

The @ TheWhitexicans account posts messages that highlight the inequality of opportunities for pigmentocracy – an academic term that defends that social hierarchies depend on the color of the skin – and these coincide with official data in Mexico.

“(In Mexico) People with lighter skin are directors, bosses or professionals, those with darker skin are artisans, operators or support,” wrote on Twitter Julio Santaella, the director of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) .

That was one of the conclusions of the National Survey on Discrimination (Enadis) of 2017 and together with other data caused controversy in the country.

According to Santaella, the survey showed the professional levels that some people can not reach due to their skin tone.

Racism in reverse?

However, among those who are labeled as whitexicans there are those who claim that they are being discriminated against because of their skin color rather than their attitudes.

“Warning: anyone who uses the term whitexican with me or anyone else, dies digitally for me, the last thing we lacked as a country was to generate hatred and resentment with a stupid concept, based on the color of the skin.” the journalist Max Kaiser tweeted in April.

The sociologists consulted by BBC Mundo differ that this label is a racism in reverse, because the aforementioned enjoy privileges and status that place them “in a sphere” different from the victims of racism.

“Society is not organized so that (white people) are systematically denied opportunities to live in. Society is organized so that white people can flourish,” says Moreno sociologist.

Man throwing money
Image captionIn order to talk about racism, white people should lose all their privileges, including money, status and profession, sociologists clarify.

“(Using the word whitexican against someone) can be discrimination or an offense, but it is not racism, because whitexicans still have servants and they still have money,” he adds.

What the experts consulted do recognize is that it pays more attention to the tensions and frictions between classes.

“It’s wrong to offend anyone, it’s a waste of time, it’s not productive,” says Moreno.

The academic from the Universidad Iberoamericana agrees that the creation of new insults does not favor the social tension that exists in Mexico.

Be that as it may, “this type of new categories such as whitexicans does not contribute to national reconciliation, any term of this kind does not contribute to our being better”.

Source: bbc mundo

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