“There Is No Racism Here”: Understanding Latinos’ Perceptions of Color Discrimination Through Sending-Receiving Society Comparison


Studies showing that lighter phenotypes are associated with better socioeconomic outcomes among Latinos attribute this pattern to color discrimination. Yet surveys consistently find low levels of Latinos reporting discrimination experiences. Drawing on 120 qualitative interviews and participant observation in New York, San Juan, and Santo Domingo, I explore this paradox by examining how Dominicans and Puerto Ricans subjectively understand discrimination. Cultural narratives in the sending societies create obstacles to recognizing discrimination by: (a) limiting the definition to its overt, institutional forms; and (b) portraying the victims of discrimination as culpable for their failure to have “improved their race.” Although migrants bring these narratives to the U.S., these views are challenged by exposure to American perspectives, both before and after migration. Transnational contact serves a potential means for those in the sending nations to perceive colorism in their own societies.


Skin Color Racial Discrimination Dominican Republic Color Discrimination Dark Skin 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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