Black, Brown, and Yellow in New Orleans

By Lucas Díaz-Medina on May 10, 2016

I’m an immigrant of color who speaks Spanish and happens to be rather light-skinned, as far as people of color go. When I think about it, I suppose being light-skinned has afforded me a small amount of benefit in the U.S. Then again, maybe not, but that depends on who’s interpreting my life and my place in the world. Let me explain.

Saying that being identified as both immigrant and ‘of color’ has shaped my life in the suburbs and inner neighborhoods of New Orleans would be an understatement. My entire existence has revolved around determining if I am Black, not Black, something else, maybe brown, possibly a little white. And the question that has always bugged me remains today—why should this have mattered at all? Why does it still matter? And why should it ever matter tomorrow? Unfortunately, it does matter, and it matters too much.

New Orleans isn’t any different than other cities when it comes to race relations. It has its significant share of bigots, racists, and institutionalized racism across every aspect of society. Just take a look at the latest news about Lee Circle and the other beloved local confederate monuments and you’ll see what I’m talking about (regardless of how you lean). But I’m not interested in talking about the not-so hidden Black-white race issues playing out on Facebook or Twitter feeds.

No, I’m interested in sharing something slightly different, somewhat troubling, but potentially hopeful in New Orleans about other race relations. The other I’m referring to is the remaining lump sum of people of color who aren’t African Americans or white Americans [...]

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