Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Reflection on “Becoming White”

with 3 comments

After reading “Becoming White,” I began to reflect on my own personal experiences and those of friends to think about how relevant the issue is today. One of my best friends is Pakistani and I had never heard of skin bleaching creams until I went to India Bazaar with her and saw them. To my surprise, she informed me that yes, it was a rather common thing. This same friend is rather light-skinned compared to her family and she wears sweaters and hats while outside, even during summer, to prevent any tan. Many Asians are known to use umbrellas in the sun, probably for this very reason. To me, this is a very strange phenomenon because it is rather unheard of in the Hispanic population (I am Cuban and Puerto Rican) and additionally, most people I know as well as popular celebrities are always tanning and even “fake-baking” at the risk of their own health, to obtain these “golden glows.” It seems that dark people want to be lighter and light people want to be darker!

Drawing on more personal experiences, I have a mixed background, so sometimes is is difficult for people to tell where I am from. I also happen to be light-skinned. Apparently, to some, it is a contradiction to be both a minority AND white. In fact, when I met someone at Preview and told her I was Hispanic, her only response was “…but you’re white.” I was rather surprised and pretty much responded “um yeah, what, do you want me to go get a tan?” Another strange occurrence was that someone told me I looked Indian while we were in a  poorly lit area. I thought that was interesting, but apparently it was a bad thing because he told me “don’t get a tan” …to avoid being confused for an Indian, I guess!  I thought this was ridiculous and I didn’t understand why it would be a bad thing to look Indian. I guess he thinks that people who are white are better off, proving many minorities in America desire to “become white” in an effort to rise above their communities and especially to distance themselves from immigrants.


Written by sgaviria

September 11, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. you bring up a good point. I know that sometimes within black communities parents tell there children to stay out of the sun so that they won’t get any darker. I don’t understand why the lighter skin is preferred. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge others based on appearance and make assumptions (in your case, that person at preview should feel really dumb for saying that). Throughout communities, whitening creams are targeted towards darker skin individuals and tanning towards lighter and pale individuals. What upsets me is tanning is a fashion thing like being dark skin is in for a certain season which means for a season we dark skin individuals are in but soon we’ll be out.


    September 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm

  2. I know I commented already but I really like this topic. I also wanna share an experience. I recently saw one of my high school teachers when I was home at Walmart. I didn’t even recognize her at first She is Caucasian and her skin used to be very pale but when I saw her at Walmart she was very dark. I mean really dark. If you’ve ever met some dark skin Dominicans you can kinda picture what I mean. I was happy to see her but of course in the back of mind I was like OMG. Well it seems like she had been reading my mind because she told me how she wanted to be as dark as a one of her Dominican colleagues but wouldn’t mind getting a little darker. She compared her “new” skin color to mine and said she wouldn’t mind being closer to my skin color (I’m black). Of course I was being very respectful and very polite so I didn’t make any comments that would seem rude but that experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I was like “Lord, Thank you!” I love that God gave me self-confidence not to listen to what people have told me about being dark skin or what the media has to show about that. Thank you Lord


    September 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm

  3. I can relate heavily to a lot of points in this post. Being asian american, I have also been told by various people that i look native american, hispanic, or indian. And similar to your experiences, have been told not to get a tan to avoid looking hispanic. I always found it strange what values people associate to varying skin tones and how they can consider one better than any other.


    September 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm

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