As a person who grew up in the Philippines, a relatively “homogenous” population, you would think that discrimination based on skin color would be unknown to me. Yet I have seen it even in my home country. By sheer virtue of my lighter skin complexion, I was given more and better opportunities, and I am sure it allowed me to get away with some mistakes unscathed. It is a very real thing that power and privilege had, and it still has a specific “look” in the Philippines and many other countries, a look that is merely based on the color of your skin, the shape of your nose, or your natural hair.
If you have followed me in the past years, then you know that I married a white South African, someone who witnessed and experienced racism from the day he was born. He is from a country where racism was not only legal in its apartheid system but incestuously embedded in all aspects of life. As a “white” South African, he got all the “white” privileges. Why “white” you may ask…. simply put even within “white” there was a caste system too – The Afrikaans (Dutch descendants) on top, followed by the British… Northern Europeans (Germans, French, Scandanavians), then the Mediterranean Europeans (Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Greeks); my husband being from the last caste as his parents were Portuguese immigrants. Thanks to spending most of his school life in private “Catholic” schools, which legally could be attended by people of color, apartheid didn’t stop him from having friends of color growing up (although it did implement another form of discrimination … religion; Cape Town is home to a large Muslim community, and Muslim students were forced to participate in Christian activities). Read More