Why Brown Is Still Hung Up on Black

Latinos, eying both whites and blacks warily, lean toward lighter hues
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2008 4:54 PM CDT
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., eats a tortilla during a campaign stop at Sombrero Festival following a prayer meeting with Hispanic Evangelical ministers.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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(Newser) – The US Latino community is made up of 20 nationalities and 44 million people, but it is largely in agreement on one thing—suspicion of, and often condescension toward, blacks, Ernesto Quiñonez writes in Esquire. Quiñonez remembers growing up in East Harlem, recalling “pecking orders and historic beefs and a belief that light skin was somehow preferable to dark.”

The 2000 census tells the story behind the story: Half of Hispanics described themselves as white, a half that “can’t shake the idea that we’d be better off” in that hue. It’s a wariness of dark skin imported from Hispanic homelands, and it’s alive and well. No wonder, he concludes, “that some Obama staffers can’t sleep at night.”