All you need to know about Iberian America

The Many Shades of Latinos

Published November 12, 2021 in Personal Stories & Opinions - 2 Comments

So about a week ago, some survey made by Pew Research Center went viral on Twitter.

You can find the survey here titled “the distribution of skin color among U.S. Hispanics.”

The survey was self-reported in which “Hispanic adults” had to choose which skin color on the survey “most closely matches their own skin color.”

The results?

Well, about 80% of respondents were put into the “lighter skin” category while 15% were put into the “darker skin” category.

What color is the remaining 5%?

I have no idea but I guess blue or some shit.

Who knows!

At any rate, you had a shit ton of people respond to the survey as you can see here when Pew Research rarely gets this much of a response on Twitter to their other postings.

As I wrote this, there’s about 3,182 quote tweets and numerous comments.

Some of the people in defense of the survey and many others accusing it of being racist (among other criticisms).

First, we’ll bring up the response Pew Research Center provided in regards to the controversy surrounding their post before dividing into some of the more popular arguments made about this viral post afterwards.

Let’s begin!

The Response of Pew Research Center

To get their perspective on it perfectly, I’ll just copy and paste their response on Twitter to the controversy surrounding the post.

You can find the Tweet here.

“Some people on Twitter are wondering why we sent this tweet. Here’s some context.

This chart depicts how Hispanics in our American Trends Panel self-described their skin color. We asked as part of this report.

Why would we ask Latinos to describe their skin color? Why would we study experiences based on skin color at all? Because discrimination based on skin color has deep historical roots.

Also, as part of our commitment to generating a foundation of facts that enriches the public dialogue, we continuously look for ways to study the complexity of identity and self-identification.

In this study, we wanted to understand if and how Hispanics in the U.S. are experiencing discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism.

Our study did in fact find that Hispanics overall say skin color has a broad impact on their life experiences.

And individuals self-reported having darker skin color were more likely than those who self-reported having lighter skin color to say they had experienced discriminatory incidents.

If we had not asked Hispanics to describe their skin color and tell us more about how they see themselves, we would not have been able to identify the connection between skin color and the experiences with discrimination Latinos told us they have had.

Would we send this particular tweet again? No. Outside of our written report, it lacks context, including the context of how this information was used in our broader analysis.

Our goal is to add context to important questions about real-life experiences and the diversity of the nation’s Latino population. We stand by the methods we employed to study colorism among U.S. Latinos.

The chart tweeted previously depicts a version of the Yadon-Ostfeld 10-point skin color scale, an established method used by scholars in many fields for assessing skin color among Latinos and other groups.

It is one of four self-assessment measures of racial identity we offered the respondents in our survey. You can learn about the others here.

So what have people said in response to the controversial tweet?

Let’s break it down point by point.

Are They Nazis?

This is the most common argument made by people online as you can see in these screenshots here.

Personally, I think the argument is a bit dumb.

I don't see how it's racist or "nazi" to understand the racial demographics of an ethnic group.

As we saw in the explanation and subsequent material from Pew Research, they used the information to help them clarify differences in life experiences in relation to racism between each racial group.

Obviously, if you are going to do social research, it's important to keep these things in account.

We are all human but we all have considerable differences between each other that bring about different life experiences.

And those claiming "racism" never really brought forth any solid arguments as to why.

Seemed like a low IQ argument really to cover up their anger stemming from other reasons.

Let's dig deeper.

Recognizing Latino Diversity

Next, you have this argument made by some that it helps promote awareness about racial diversity of Latinos as you can see here.

The arguments made by both the black Cuban lady and the white Latino are fairly similar.

In that both feel like many don't recognize them as being Latino due to not fitting a stereotype about what "Latinos look like."

I guess, in a way, this research does highlight that.

Though I would argue it seems to overemphasize how many white Latinos there are in relation to all Latinos in general.

That's a point of discussion we'll get to soon but let's discuss the topic of white Latinos first.

The Whitest Latinos U' Know

The topic of white Latinos is something I wrote on a year ago in this article here.

While the survey may or may not accurately depict how many Latinos are white, it does at least bring light to the fact that not every Latino is medium brown skin like some believe.

Here's a map that helps us better understand "whiteness" among Latinos in Latin America at the very least.

And, when it comes to this topic, here's some more screenshots of people discussing this aspect of the survey here.

There isn't really more to be said on this topic.

I guess it's an interesting thing to consider though -- will the Latino population continue to "whiten up" in the coming decades?

More interracial marriages leading to children that don't speak Spanish and are whiter than their ancestors?

I'd guess so?

And plenty of Latinos are already white passing.

Which leads us to a more interesting topic proposed by some in regards to this survey.

Political Positioning to Classify Latinos as White Supremacists?

Outside of accusing this survey of being racist, this was one of the more other popular ideas thrown out there.

The basic idea that, given that Latinos have been showing more support for Republicans relative to previous elections, that the mainstream media is preparing to label Latinos as "white" basically.

Some evidence of Latinos relatively leaning a little more Republican in recent years can be seen in the following.

Therefore, they claim that the portrayal of Latinos will be similar to how white folks are portrayed in the media.

That they have privilege, can be racist, etc.

The argument has been made that this happens to Asians as you can see here.

You have other people claiming as such here also in these screenshots but making the connection between how Italians used to be seen as non-white but are today and how they predict Latinos will be seen in the coming decades. 


I don't think it's that crazy of an idea.

You already have a decent percentage of US Latinos who are white or white passing to begin with.

I always saw it weird as to how white looking Latinos are somehow seen as "not white" when they clearly are white.

On top of that, I can definitely see the media doing this to keep up the divisions for political and financial benefits.

With the media playing up situations like what happened with Nick Sandman, Jussie Smollett and others for the ratings.

You even have articles like this one that are interesting.

"Racism will likely be just as entrenched in a browner America as it is now. It will still be White supremacy, with a tan.

"The census suggests that White Americans will be a minority by 2045, but as several commentators have already noted, that date can easily be postponed. Whiteness isn't a fixed identity; it's like taffy -- it expands to accommodate new members, if they have the right look.

In books like "How The Irish Became White" and "Working Toward Whiteness," scholars have argued that the definition of Whiteness has expanded to include Irish, Italian and Jewish people -- groups that once weren't considered fully White in the US.

"The data also call into question whether America is destined to become a so-called minority-majority nation, where whites represent a minority of the nation's population," said the The New York Times. "Those projections assume that Hispanics aren't white, but if Hispanics ultimately identify as white Americans, then whites will remain the majority for the foreseeable future."

That number, however, plunged in the 2020 census. It revealed a drastic drop in the number of Latinos or Hispanics who identify as White. That drop may be due to Black Lives Matter protests and former President Trump's well-documented hostility to non-White immigrants and his administration's unsuccessful attempt to reduce the count of Latinos by manipulating the 2020 Census.

It could go either way. A study suggests that Latino identity fades across successive generations as immigrant connections fade away. If large numbers of Latino people identify as White in the future, Whiteness will expand. The enhanced status and socio-economic benefits that come from identifying as White will be too tempting for many to ignore.

The article then goes onto describe racism commonly found in Latin American countries like you can see here.

"In places like Brazil and Cuba, mixed-race people and interracial marriages are common. Latin Americans tend to think of themselves not in terms of race, but nationality. 

Yet discrimination against darker-skinned and indigenous people is common there and many other Latin American countries. There's still a widespread belief that the Whiter a person looks, the better it is for them."

While these are not quotes I necessarily disagree with (as there is racism in Latin America), I do think it's a good example of the media at large potentially re-evaluating its definition of white supremacy.

And, as I mentioned briefly before, the media often focuses on race issues because, in part, it drives up ratings for the media companies and gets voters angrier and more likely to vote.

Racial politics is something you see on both sides of the aisle to be fair that can be used to divide the voters also. 

At any rate, I don't have any evidence that the Pew Research survey was done for this purpose (I do doubt that) but I get the argument those are making in the screenshots above.

It's not entirely ridiculous.

Still, to be fair, not everyone agrees that their intention was to be divisive as you can see here (and I'd agree actually when it comes to this specific survey).

Is This Representative of Latinos?

At any rate, it does need to be asked if this poll is truly representative of Latinos in the US.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure but I do have my doubts.

Thinking on my time living in the US, I can only remember, as of right now, three Brazilian dudes in college who were white.

But just about every single other Latino I have met in the Midwest of the US was not white or white passing.

Of course, Iowa and Ohio do not have most of the country's Latinos and so I can't comment as to how representative this survey was of US Latinos.

While I do recognize that white Latinos exist, I just doubt that 80% of them are "light skinned."

Could be wrong though!

The Self-Reporting Latinos Not as White as They Claim

I'm not the only one who has found the results of the survey to be a little bit off.

Some in the replies to the survey have their own theories as to why it doesn't seem to correlate with reality very well.

One of those theories being that, given that this was a self-reported survey, some Latinos chose to classify themselves as having a whiter skin color than what they actually have.

Here's some screenshots discussing the idea.

Honestly, I could see that being the case!

It is a self-reported survey after all.

It's not like Pew took the arms of each survey participant and compared the skin color to their options themselves.

And, as we know in videos like this one, you do have Latinos who prefer to come across as "whiter" than they are.

Be it the stereotypical Argentine who insists that he came from a boat while every other Latino "came from the jungle."

To the Dominican who refuses to accept his African ancestry.

And anyone else among Latino folks.

So it's definitely a possibility.

Latinos Getting Whiter in the Winter?

Next, we have another theory that I never heard before.

Given that I'm not Latino nor non-white, this was news to me.

But apparently Latinos can appear whiter in the winter than in the summer?

Had no idea this was the case ever but some make the claim here in these screenshots as you can see.

And, to be fair, someone even mentioned how this survey was supposedly done in March and not the summer.

I suppose that, if it's true that Latinos look whiter in or close to the winter, then the results might look different in the summer.

Something to consider, I suppose.

“Not Racism, it’s Classism!”

Next, we have this argument you can see here against the survey.

The argument basically being "in Latin America, we don't focus on race so much and we aren't divided by race. Race isn't an issue for us!"

Still, let's look at some tweets supporting this idea.

At any rate, I don't really agree with the ideas above.

Which, just because people don't talk about it openly, doesn't mean that it isn't an issue in how people relate to each other.

While I do agree though that people in the US do make way more things about race than is necessary or appropriate, I also disagree with the idea that never talking about race is a sign that racism doesn't exist.

The "silence" could be for numerous reasons.

Perhaps the people saying that don't experience racism themselves very much but aren't in the shoes of others who do.

Maybe they feel insecure or uncomfortable on discussing problems within their own community?

Whatever the cause might be!

This next tweet anyhow, in my opinion, summarizes well enough the point to be made here.

And this next tweet bringing up an important topic...


Does that exist?


In Latin America, it does anyway.

Here's one good example in which an ex-President of Bolivia, known as Jeanine Añez, wrote the following tweet here.

"“Que año nuevo aymara ni lucero del alba!! satánicos, a Dios nadie lo reemplaza!!”

Or this classic example here of an Argentine gal in CDMX saying some mean stuff to some indigenous chick.

For those curious, here's more articles I wrote on race in Latin America here.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Latin America can and does have racists against any skin color.

I just hear too often this idea of "in Latin America, we are classist  and not racist."

An idea I wrote and disagreed with here.

While Latinos are not as hyper-obsessed with race like Americans are, it still does impact how they are treated and how they treat others.

I've seen plenty examples of it and have written about it elsewhere on my blog.

Not to mention all of the information you can find online (including in some of the sources cited above recently). 

At the end of the day, I just feel that a lot of Latinos say this because either they are comparing the issue to how it is treated in the US or they are insecure about facing any criticism of their own respective culture or country.

Stripping Away Latino Identity?

This is part of my theory as to where some of the ire is coming from in the responses among some US Latinos towards this survey.

That is that, by classifying so many Latinos are "white passing" basically, you somehow strip them of their "Latino identity" in their eyes.

The logic being that we all know so many white Latinos are not seen as "Latino enough" anyhow in the US due to ignorance.

On top of that, I would argue it's somewhat cool even to be seen as a minority among some crowds in the US (especially non-rural areas).

Being white isn't seen as being part of a minority obviously.

I would also wonder, if I was just to toss around ideas, if this has any relation with the type of Latino who gets irritated at the idea of children of immigrants not knowing Spanish.

Or those few younger male Latinos who get angry at Latinas dating non-Latino men?

The idea being similar in that it relates to some sense of "erasure" of the culture or people who make up the group.

And that by classifying so many people are "light skinned," it somehow touches a nerve related to those who get upset in the scenarios above?

Because we all know people in any racial or ethnic group can be sensitive to the existence of "their group."

I imagine anyway that some of the ire comes from both types of people.

Those Latinos who are fairly white looking and are insecure about being seen as non-Latino (though you would think that they would approve of this survey given that it would validate that white Latinos exist).

To those who see a "whiter Latino" population being a threat to their idea of what being Latino means (like how they get irritated at Latinos not being able to speak Spanish).

This tweet anyhow reminded me of this topic.

Useless Info?

Outside of the racism accusation, this was another complaint by many in the responses like this one here.

In which it is argued that this information is useless or basically doesn't have any practical use to it.

I would disagree as I said way earlier in the article.

As I said, racial groups do carry with them their own unique experiences in relation to other groups and, to better understand the differences in life experiences, it'd be necessary to break down the responses by racial group.

Which is what Pew ultimately did to understand how different racial groups report experiences of racism for example.

Among other social research topics that could be explored. 

No Community likes Being Under Microscope

Next, it should be said that probably some of the ire coming out in the responses likely has to do with annoyance of having their community put under a microscope.

People in any community can feel insecure or defensive when observations are made about their group.

The effect can be even worse when said group (Latinos) are part of a minority that are more likely to be judged.

In this case, I only suspect that some of the ire might be coming from a place like that.

Anyway, let's wrap this up.

Final Thoughts

On the surface, the post published really shouldn’t have driven all of the conversation that it did.

Like is it really that much of a shock that Latinos can be racist towards each other based on skin color and that people of different skin colors have different life experiences?

Initially, I was doubtful that I would have much to say on the topic because it seems a bit obvious the points the above.

However, the conversation on the post left me with plenty of material to fuck around with.

If you have anything to add on the points above or add any of your own points to the conversation, then drop a comment below in the comment section.

And follow my Twitter here.

Enjoy this music here that I was listening to as I wrote this.

You're at a ball in The Gold Room (1921 Overlook Hotel ambience, oldies, people chatter 3 HOURS ASMR

And thanks for reading.

Best regards,



Dazza - November 12, 2021 Reply

I am checking my skin colour against the chart – I am between a 2 and a 3 – mum is probably between 4 and 5. My little sister is a 1 my brother is probably 4 and my other sister the same as me. So this is where we are with it – in most mixed race families in that part of the world – the family comes in all shades, me and my siblings have a white European father but still, we have all come out slightly differently.

The ‘Hispanics are becoming white’ is happening now with Kyle Rittenhouse and his ‘brother from another mother’ George Zimmerman who proclaimed their Hispanic parentage to show the world that they’re not racists but the pair of them have a Hispanic parent. I am sure no-one would look at either of them twice as anything other than white in the United States.

An American friend and colleague told me once ‘but in America you wouldn’t be seen as anything other than white’ when I told him I was mixed race – he was utterly shocked that I used that to describe myself – that I was basically a white man but in the shithole I was brought up in England and not the US – I wasn’t white and was reminded of this on a constant basis back in the 1980’s – it hasn’t really changed that much – so this comes to the actual point I am making – some Hispanics are obviously white and some are not but if we recognise Hispanic/Latino as a cultural identity rather than a racial one then we won’t go far wrong which is why the skin tone chart is somewhat redundant in trying to decipher what is ‘Latino/Hispanic’ on skin tone – because you can’t.

I have read the argument between Hispanic/Latinos who can’t speak Spanish against the ones who can – can they call themselves Hispanic if they can’t speak Spanish all that well/not at all? But the whitening of Hispanics in the US is happening now and well into the future – with the Venezuelans and Cubans of Doral who live in homes with a price tag that would make Rockefeller cough – they have the trappings of ‘white privilege’ that’s for sure.

    Matt - November 12, 2021 Reply

    Thanks Dazza for the response. I wrote an article in relation to what you said here.

    “I have read the argument between Hispanic/Latinos who can’t speak Spanish against the ones who can – can they call themselves Hispanic if they can’t speak Spanish all that well/not at all?”

    Since I’m on the topic of U.S. Latinos, I’ll probably take a stab at this topic soon enough later tonight before going to bed.

    Thanks again for the comments!

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