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An Analysis of Colorism in the Mexican Immigrant Community


My research poses the following question: how does colorism affect the Mexican immigrant community in Yakima, Washington? Colorism is the allocation of privilege or disadvantage based on one’s skin color. In Yakima, Mexican immigrants suffer marginalization not only based upon their class and citizenship, but also their skin color. This latter form of discrimination rarely appears in the scholarly literature or in public discussions of immigrant rights. To learn how colorism as a form of racism and discrimination impacts the lives of Mexican immigrants, I conducted two focus groups in Yakima, Washington in partnership with a non-profit organization called La Casa Hogar which provides educational services to the Latino population in the area. The results of my research show that participants connected colorism to different forms of discrimination that intersect with age, gender, language, and [dis]ability, etc. Additionally, themes emerged from participants’ experiences about how discrimination exists in the work place, within the family and the Mexican culture, and how racist rhetoric is communicated. All these themes turned into a discussion of how discrimination effects Mexicans physiologically, mentally and emotionally. This research deepens our understanding of this important issue and to remind professionals such as policy makers, planners, and educators that social constructs around skin color continue to negatively affect marginalized communities of color.