The darker a person’s skin, the more difficult it is to get ahead in Mexico.
A new study has determined that skin color has an influence on the level of education that people reach as well as the employment opportunities available to them.
The study carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) has reignited a debate about levels of racism and discrimination in Mexico.
Previous studies have also shown that there is significant discrimination based on people’s skin color and culture.
One example is the latest National Discrimination Survey, conducted by the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred), which found that 20% of people in Mexico don’t feel comfortable with the color of their skin.
One out of every four respondents said felt they had been discriminated against because of their physical appearance and 5.5% thought that it was negative factor that society was made up of people of different ethnicities and cultures.
Furthermore, 23% of those polled said they would not be willing to live with someone of a different “race” or culture and 55% recognized that there is discrimination based on skin color.
“Discrimination against people of brown complexion has been normalized for a very long time,” said Evelia Reyes, a social and cultural history educator at the College of Mexico.
“A very clear example is to say that the race needs to be improved. This phrase [shows] there is a tendency to disparage a brown appearance. It’s seen as something bad and not something to be aspired to.”
Another study carried out last year by the National Autonomous University (UNAM) asked whether skin color influenced the way people are treated.
Fifty-one per cent of respondents answered yes with a further 33.4% replying yes, in part, while 72% agreed that racism does exist in Mexico and 47% said people of indigenous backgrounds don’t have the same employment opportunities as other Mexicans.
The problem also extends to Mexicans of African descent known as Afro-Mexicans, who make up around 1.2% of the total population and are especially concentrated in coastal communities in Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz.
A 2016 study by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) found that just over 40% of Afro-Mexicans in employment were not receiving the benefits they should be.
Prejudice is not just confined to the behavior of adults, either.
Six years ago, Conapred ran a campaign to educate and raise awareness about racism in Mexico.
As part of the campaign, a filmed experiment (video below) was conducted where young Mexican boys and girls expressed their opinions about two dolls: one black and one white.
All of the children that participated indicated that they preferred the white doll because they considered white people to be more trustworthy, attractive or nice among other reasons.
The conclusion reached was that the foundations of racism seem to be ingrained from a young age.
Reyes believes that the Inegi study is reflective of problems related to race in the country but is hopeful it will serve as a tool to help diminish racism rather than promote it, but it is clear that there is still a long way to go.
Inegi president Julio Santaella fired up a debate about the issue when he commented about the study results on Twitter late last week.
“People with lighter skin are directors, bosses and professionals. Those with darker skin are artisans, operators or auxiliary staff,” he wrote.
He later added that the situation reflected the “sad reality of our country.”
The challenges of eliminating prejudice and discrimination based on race are many as it is so prevalent in society and in some cases goes to the core of people’s belief systems.
A 2012 document published by Conapred stated that there was an ingrained, unfounded sense of superiority of some social groups over others and also raised the point that racism can also manifest in a more “casual” way.
“Racism is expressed above all in jokes, comments and expressions that ridicule, disparage and put people down because of the color of their skin, their history, their culture, their traditions of their social condition.”
Source: Animal Político (sp)