Webster Bernell Brooks, III
June 18, 2018
2044 was to be America’s year of racial reckoning. White people would become a racial minority succumbing to majority rule by Black, Brown, and Yellow people, intellectually and culturally hostile to Western Civilization. American Empire would sink inexorably into the abyss of a multi-cultural banana republic, so the apocalyptic narrative goes.
But according to the corporate media, the glide path to the “Browning of America” has hit a speedbump. Hispanics and Latinos are taking flight to “whiteness,” thereby scrambling the Cathedral’s (America) racial map. In the 2010 Census, when presented with six choices to identify their racial preference, 53% of Hispanics and Latinos checked the “white race” box.
(As “Hispanic” is generally used to reference persons with origins from Spanish speaking countries, and “Latinos” as persons of Central and South American origins, this article respectfully uses the gender-neutral term “Latinx” inclusive of both demographics and the Caribbean.)
Should so-called Latinx identification with whiteness continue, the “Browning of America” could theoretically turn into its opposite, white racial enlargement. Whether Latinx become permanent “New Whites” like the Irish, Italians, and Jews with all the accoutrements and privileges of “whiteness” or “Census-form whites” shunned by the “traditional” Caucasian tribes is not the issue. This “heads” I win, “tails” I win debate is what happens when the Fountainhead (ruling class) defines the terms of the debate.
What path Latinx takes to forge its identity and racial/ethnic classification is the seminal question. The 2020 Census lies just over the horizon. Against a backdrop of intensifying mass deportations and the Zero Immigration Policy of separating children from their parents at the border, this debate is destined to heat up.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) created the racial and ethnic definitions the Census Bureau follows. Hispanics and Latinos, they proclaimed are an “ethnic” group, not a race. Why then, has the Census Bureau since 2000, continued to ask Latinx to also declare a racial preference? Is it merely coincidence that the corporate media has conjured a vision and rationale for the “bleaching” of the Latinx community? More is involved here than a sinister plots to cook the numbers to maintain whites as the majority race.
Alt-Black.com’s theory posits that the “Fountainhead” (U.S ruling class) is probing the social register to re-engineer Latinx as a “pro-soft white” buffer group between whites and the Darker Nation. Expanding the “traditional white” population base with a layer of “provisional white Latinx” blunts perceptions that “traditional whites” are a captive racial island, surrounded by hostile seas of Black, Brown, and Yellow people. More importantly, fabricating a strategic Latinx buffer group serves to further isolate the Darker Nation politically and socially.
From instituting slavery to distributing green cards, defining race and its social and legal boundaries in America has always been a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant prerogative. The definition of the “white race” by the Census Bureau is a case in point. Whites are described as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.”
Except for Israel, the Middle East and North Africa are overwhelmingly Arab nations. The Arabs don’t share ancestral homelands, language, customs, history, religion, or culture with White Europeans. Nevertheless, they are counted in the Census as whites. So why not Latinx?
Arabs’ “honorary white” card was tarnished after 911 and Trump’s Muslim ban branded them as “enemies of the state.” Arguably, the Fountainhead has cultivated Latinx as a new proxy for “alternative whiteness.” Their analytics suggests the prospects of Latinx “bleaching” has a big upside and long-term sustainability. Thus, a valid question arises; what are they gleaning in the data vault that’s giving rise to their Machiavellian optimism.
One of the sub-groups most likely to “bleach” are second and third generation Latinx. The longer Latinx families live in America, the more likely they are to check the "white race" box. Conceptually, this suggests that "upward mobility,” especially for immigrants is still linked to "becoming white."
Similarly, Latinx with higher incomes and education levels tend to identify more as racially white. Not surprisingly, many Latinx with higher income and education levels are also second and third generation Americans. The transfer of wealth, businesses passed on to family members, home ownership and the acquisition of English-speaking skills have solidified a Latinx middle-class in the American mainstream. Some call it assimilation, while others like economists Brian Duncan and Stephen Trejo called the phenomenon “ethnic attrition.”
Inter-marriage appears to be another Latinx gateway to whiteness, with Hispinos marrying “out” racially. If the 2012 Pew Research Center study by Wendy Wang is to be believed, 26 percent of Latinx newlyweds married “non-Hispanics.” Like Asian-Americans, many Latinx “out marriages” were with whites. The study also reported that 80 percent of third-generation Hispanics are the offspring of mixed marriages with one white parent.
Arguably then, generational succession, growing incomes, higher education, English language acquisition and cross-racial marriage constitutes the foundation of the ruling classes “Latinx bleaching” enterprise.
As the Latinx diaspora is extraordinarily diverse with a geographic footprint spanning Central and South America and the Caribbean, the vagaries of racial classification manifest itself in interesting ways. Take Puerto Rico for example. In a 2012 Census’s American Community Survey, Puerto Ricans in New York City choosing the ‘White’ identity category was 44.7 percent, with almost as many recording “other” and 12 percent Black. On the island, however, 82.3 percent identified as white.
The difference may be explained by Puerto Rico’s own version of the “one-drop rule.” In an article Christina Saenz-Alcántara explains that Puerto Rico's ‘one-drop rule’ considers you as white if you have a white ancestor in the previous four generations (known as the Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar laws). At one time, Puerto Rico attempted to market itself to tourists as the only “white island” in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico's wrestling match with race opens another window to view race as many people do: phenotypically, that is by skin color, hair, eye color and other physical attributes. Although the Census Bureau doesn’t capture information about a person’s physical appearance, a 2005 survey devoted exclusively to Latinx yielded some intriguing results.
In 2008, William Darity Jr., Jason Dietrich, and Darrick Hamilton released the results of a survey called “Bleach in the Rainbow: Latin Ethnicity and Preference for Whiteness.” The survey coded respondents on a skin tone continuum of Very Light, Light, Medium, Dark, and Very Dark. The clear majority of Latinx coded as Medium to Very Dark said their race is white. Among the Dark and Very Dark respondents less than 5 percent said they are black. The findings roughly track with the 2010 Census Report in which 2.5 percent of Latinx racially identified as Black.
The Darker Nation is all too familiar with the psychology and politics of the “melanin zone.” The Census Bureau’s “one-drop” of Black blood rule in the 1930’s, and “the brown paper bag test” for Blacks tempted to “pass” for white are but two examples. Griffes, mulattos and octoroons are all mixed-race terms conferred on Blacks during the slavery period, as were Coloreds, Negros and “New Negros” (during the Harlem-Renaissance) afterwards.
“Black” is the only self-identifying name that achieved credibility and consensus on Beale Street (the Black Street) in the sixties, popularized through the slogan “Black Power.” By the 1990’s we discovered we were hyphenated and patriotic “African-Americans” – an appellation with limited colloquial currency on “Beale Street,” but a term of art amongst intellectuals, professionals, journalists and government bureaucrats.
Having entered the Cathedral’s racial Hall of Mirrors, Latinx, are fighting to define their racial/ethnic identity. The combination of the Census Bureau forcing them to designate racial preference and the media’s campaign to bestow “Whiteness” on Latinx has pushed them against the ropes, by framing the debate about their identity.
You Tube activist Kat Lazo, described how Latinx got boxed into a corner this way:
"The US and Latin American media has done a great job at constructing an
image of what Latinx (gender-neutral for Latino) look like, and that image is
rarely black or fully Indigenous. "We, like the rest of the world, have internalized
these messages of white supremacy through the media and our education.
So, it’s no wonder that when Latinx in the US are confronted with deciding their
race based on the Census, in a predominantly black and white binary society,
many of us default to white."
Latinx have also felt the severity of media floggings that occur when racial/ethnic identity is ambiguous. In 2013, George Zimmerman, the rent-a-cop who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida was labelled as a “white Hispanic” by the media. Zimmerman’s father is white, and his mother is Hispanic. Similarly, Esteban Santiago, 26, the shooter in the Fort Lauderdale International Airport killing of five people was also labeled a “white Hispanic.” The media tagging of these two mass-murderers as “White Hispanics” caught the Latinx community off guard. The tagging ignited outrage and debate.
In her fascinating piece "Who and What the Hell Is a White Hispanic?" Christina Saenz-Alcántara said “This is not a discussion of Afro-Latinos against white Latinos or the white Spanish against the indigenous. It is more about how Latinos are making sense of the confusing label of the “white Hispanic.”
Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela characterized the confusion about Latinx’s role in promoting “whiteness” in fairly stark language when he stated “If we aren't bombarded with Univision and Telemundo shows with White, more light-skinned actors living the lap of luxury, all we need to do is look at popular culture: Latinos promote whiteness more than ever. They sell a world of whiteness and have done so for decades. And that is wrong."
Looking at the divergent views within the Latinx community, Saenz-Alcantara list some of the typologies concerning “White Hispanics”:
- Dismissing the “White Hispanic Label as a “Nothing Burger”: Lighter-skin Latinos are “part of the community” and embrace their culture like all Latinos. “White Hispanic” is simply a meaningless term to divide the Latinx community and culture.
- “White Hispanics” as Brokers to and for Whites: As articulated by César Vargas “White Hispanics do not experience racism or have the same outcomes as darker Latinos, yet they are not perceived as a threat to the whites in control. Hence, their Latino identity, coupled with their lighter skin, allows them to be brokers to the darker Latino community for the white-controlled society.
- “White Hispanic” as a Product of Social Confusion - Sociologist Hector Cordero-Guzmán asserts “white Hispanics” is a result of social confusion of Latinos inhabiting the border of two different cultures. In one culture, Latinos may see themselves as one identity, yet in another culture, they may take on a different identity. For example, in the U.S., a Latino historically is not white since Latinos are a mixture of Spanish, indigenous, African, and Asian blood. Yet in Puerto Rico, a Latino is white if they have just one white ancestor. Thus, “White Hispanics” are a negotiation of sorts between two conflicting racial classifications.
Reading Cordero-Guzman’s remarks about Latinx straddling the border of two cultures and identities haunts us like W.E.B. DuBois wrenching words in The Souls of Black Folks:
"One ever feels his twoness…an American, a Negro: two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone
keeps it from being torn asunder."
Saenz-Alcántara’s conclusion about the “White Hispanic” controversy is an important one. She says "We as Latinos many not know what a “white Hispanic” is, but we want to control its meaning to the world. We want to define the term, instead of letting some government bureaucracy or armchair ivory tower theoreticians or misinformed journalists define it. Alt-Black shares Ms. Saenz-Alcántara’s perspective, especially as it applies to the Latinx diaspora’s efforts to define their own racial, ethnic, and cultural realities.
Returning to the global implications of the Latinx “bleaching” controversy raised earlier,
Professor Victor M. Rodriguez of California State Long Beach drafted an important article "The Political Consequences of the Whitening of Latinos Myth.” The article contains the following passage:
“Recent data on home ownership, academic achievement, school expulsions,
children in foster care, racial profiling have African Americans in the bottom
experiencing the most intense discrimination and Latinos somewhere in the
middle between whites and some Asians groups. Because of this intermediate
position in the racial hierarchy, for years, especially during the 20th century, the
first major Latino (mostly Mexican) advocacy organizations, like the League of
United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), rather than joining with African-Americans
in challenging the entire racial structure chose to try to collectively wiggle their way
into whiteness. One individual informal way of doing this was by identifying as
“Spanish” rather than Mexican, which was a strongly racialized term.”
The author notes that “Rodriguez warned assimilation tends to divide and disempower Latinos and pointed to the results of Proposition 187 as a warning that assimilated
Hispanics could start moving away from supporting new immigrants and the undocumented.
The 1994 California ballot initiative Proposition 187 was nicknamed the “Save Our State Initiative.” It would have instituted citizenship screening for any person suspected of being in the country illegally by police and barred state services, such as non-emergency health care and public education, to illegal immigrants. In the Proposition 187 vote, 31 percent of Latinx voted in favor of the proposition’s restrictions which passed.
The Proposition 187 experience encapsulates a critical point. The paradox here is that the Fountainhead is attacking Latinx with a vicious anti-immigration offensive while simultaneously attempting to woo them to “whiteness.” Ironically, it’s not a political contradiction for the ruling elites because they welcome the kind of political split that Proposition 187 demonstrated. They are wiling to accept stable assimilated, loyal, and patriotic Latinx but not “illegal immigrants.” Disassociating themselves from "illegal immigrants" is the price that must be paid to gain entry into “white society.”
Finally, in 2004, Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s thesis articulated in “From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification” is also noteworthy of review. His tri-racial theory advances the following racial configuration:
“A new reconfiguration of our racial architecture suggests a move away from the
binary system (white and non-white) that now prevails in the USA.” A tri-racial
system exists with whites at the top, Latinos as a “buffer” between whites and
African Americans at the bottom. This buffer would be made up of Latinos who
could “pass” as whites while darker skinned Latinos would join the lower stage
with African Americans. This also depends on a robust process of upward mobility
for Latinx which remains to be seen.”
Bonilla-Silva’s argument correctly assesses a tri-racial/ethnic layering of society in the Cathedral (America). But his reference to the buffer zone implies an economic hierarchal model layered between whites, Latinx and Blacks, who are the bottom of the rankings in both Median Household Income and the highest poverty rates.
Viewed from this perspective, Bonilla-Silva’s hierarchal model should have Asia-Americans at the top, as they have the highest Median Household Income, and are the most well educated. (See the table below) It's not a coincidence that there has been no campaign to publicly incorporate Asian-American into the racial estate of whiteness, because they are not viewed as a threat to the status quo.
Median household income (2018 US$)
1. Asian $80,720
2. White $61,349
3. All households $57,617
4. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander $57,112
5. Hispanic or Latino (of any race) $46,882
6. Some other race $44,798
7. American Indian and Alaska Native $39,719
8. Black or African American $38,555
What Bonilla-Silva's analysis lacks is a political interpretation of Latinx as a buffer group between Blacks and whites, or what social role a Latinx would play. As we stated earlier "The 'Fountainhead' (U.S ruling class) is probing the social register to re-engineer Latinx as a “pro-soft white” buffer group between whites and the Darker Nation. More importantly, fabricating a strategic Latinx buffer group serves to further isolate the Darker Nation politically and socially."
Alt-Black.com rejects the notion that Latinx are voluntarily embracing "Whiteness." There is clearly a social base for "Latinx Whiteness" and a light-skinned Latinx business and cultural elite that have promoted racial whiteness. The Census Bureau's manipulation of racial preference reporting and the media campaign to persuade Latinx that they are white or can be white will intensify as we inch toward the 2020 Census.
Until there is broad and undisputed social rejection of the Fountainhead's attempts to bleach Latinx "white" these insidious efforts will continue.