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Nearly 60% of Latinos surveyed say having a lighter skin color helps Hispanics get ahead in work and in life, and about half say discrimination based on race or skin color is a “very big problem,” a Pew report shows.
Skin color is seen by Latinos as an important factor affecting their lives and life chances, according to a report by The Pew Research Center. This includes getting ahead in the workforce and in shaping their daily life experiences and dealing with discrimination.
Darker-skin Latinos face more discrimination than ones with lighter skin is a form of colorism, a practice of discrimination by which those with lighter skin are treated more favorably, according to the National Conference for Community and Justice. While colorism can be tied to racism, it is not the same because racism is prejudice directed at members of a racial or ethnic group because of their origin, Pew says in its report.
Research has linked colorism to smaller incomes, lower marriage rates, longer prison terms and fewer job prospects for darker-skinned people, according to Jennifer L. Hochschild, a professor of government and African American studies at Harvard University. Colorism is closely related to racial prejudice and is closely linked with the urge to obtain and keep power over others, according to Hochschild.
Pew’s National Survey of Latinos, a bilingual, national survey of 3,375 Hispanic adults conducted in March, found that 62% of Hispanic adults surveyed say having a darker skin color hurts their ability to "get ahead" in the U.S., even by a little.
Nearly 60% surveyed said having a lighter skin color helps Hispanics get ahead and 57% said skin color shapes their daily life experiences, with about half noting discrimination based on race or skin color is a “very big problem,” according to the report.
Eight discrimination incidents were tested in the survey, with respondents asked if they experienced any of them in the 12 months before March 2021, according to the report. The eight incidents tested were:
- Called offensive names because you are Hispanic.
- Criticized for speaking Spanish in public.
- Someone made a remark that you should go back to your home country.
- Personally experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly by someone who is also Hispanic.
- Personally experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly because of your Hispanic background by someone who is not Hispanic.
- Been unfairly stopped by police.
- Had people act as if they thought you were not smart.
- Feared for your personal safety.
Latinos' views on topics related to race or skin color differ by their experiences with discrimination. According to the report, those who reported at least one of eight forms of discrimination asked about in the survey (about 66%) were more likely than those who did not report one (about 51%) to say having a lighter skin color helps at least a little in the ability of Hispanics to get ahead.
For more information from The Pew Research Center report click here.
Andre Claudio is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.