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Latinos Are Split on Coverage of Race Issues As New Study Finds 62 Percent of Hispanics Face Colorism Discrimination In the U.S.

A new study finds that Latinos view skin tone as having an impact on their social mobility in the United States. The study released by Pew Research Center underscores the not-often highlighted race related conversations among a non-Black ethnic group.

Pew said the focus of the study was to determine in what way Latinos experience discrimination based on their skin tone, as well as the attitudes they have toward race relations as it relates to colorism. 

Afro-Latino grandparents with family at Supermarket (Credit: Getty)

Respondents identified their skin tone using a Yadon-Ostfeld scale — which depicted 10 skin tones from fair to dark.

Pew stated, “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.”

Eighty percent of those surveyed chose a skin tone between one and four, which are all labeled as “lighter skin.” 

As stated in the study, “Colorism is a form of discrimination based on skin color, usually, though not always, favoring lighter skin color over darker skin color within a racial or ethnic group. While it can be tied to racism, it is not necessarily the same.” A total of 3,375 individuals who live in the U.S. and self-identify as Latino were surveyed. 

Key findings included:

  • 62 percent believe having a darker skin tone limited their chances of upward social mobility ;
  • 59 percent believed having a lighter skin tone was favorable and helped them achieve better jobs and social status;
  • 57 percent said their skin tone impacted their everyday life; and
  • 48 percent believed race/skin tone to currently be a big problem in the U.S.

“Among the discrimination experiences included in the survey, being treated as if they were not smart is the most reported,” Pew stated. “Some 42 percent of Latinos with darker skin say this happened to them, as do 34 percent of Latinos with lighter skin.”

Considering the complicated U.S. history of the civil rights movement and Black people’s fight to be recognized at minimum as human — let alone equal to their white counterparts — some (37 percent) surveyed Latinos felt there is often too little attention on their racial issues.

Others may argue that in recent years there was plenty divisive and racially laced rhetoric that made Hispanics a popular talking point. Still, 36 percent said there was too much attention focused on racial issues, and 27 percent believe just enough attention was dedicated to the issue. 

The study also examined some of the acts of discrimination experienced by those surveyed, included being told to go back to their country, being called offensive names, and being “unfairly” stopped by police. Sixty-eight percent responded to having at least a single incident in the past year. 

“Those who had at least one discrimination experience in the past year were more likely than those who did not have such experiences to say discrimination based on race or skin color,” said Pew. While the hyper focused study highlighted the experience of one racial group, there were comments shared online expressing issues with the study’s premise.

“Isn’t it like that for all people of color?” questioned one person on Twitter. That social media user continued, “There’s a reason it’s called ‘white supremacy’ and it has infected the entire country. Even people who want to get ahead in the world are under the thumb of American Imperialism.”

Another wrote, “As a proud Latino I find this has got to be one of the most insulting and racist implications about skin color politics. I’m amazed given the great reputation of PEW – that they would embark on a study that may imply political beliefs or ideology based on shades of skin.

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