Racialized Xenophobia vs. Racism

Ok, so,

Xenophobia: Fear, hatred, or mistrust of people perceived as foreign, from different countries/cultures.

Racism: Fear, hatred and systemic/institutional oppression towards non-white people in a white supremacist society.

Racialized Xenophobia: Fear, hatred and systemic/institutional oppression towards a particular foreign group that is perceived to be non-white in a white supremacist society.

Anti-Latinx Sentiment and Islamophobia, for example, are “racialized xenophobia”. That means, it is assumed that all Latinxs/Muslims are “foreign” and “don’t belong”, and it is also assumed that all Latinxs/Muslims are non-white. That doesn’t make white Latinxs/Muslims “non-white”, because, as white people, they still have privilege over non-white people in a white supremacist society.

Because Anti-Latinx Sentiment is racialized, many people who are perceived as “brown” or “Latinx” (due to a last name, a tan, an accent, etc.) might receive racist Anti-Latinx attacks despite not being Latinx or not being brown.

We all agree (I hope) that Olive Skinned White Italians™ being the target of Anti-Latinx hatred doesn’t magically make them brown Latinxs, so we should all agree that white Latinxs or even white Spaniards being the targets of racialized Anti-Latinx hatred doesn’t magically make them non-white.

Now, if someone calls a straight woman with short hair a lesbophobic slur, she isn’t suddenly a lesbian or oppressed by lesbophobia. A straight woman is straight, even if other straight people hate her . That’s clear, right? So what’s so confusing about the statement “white latinxs are white, even if white gringxs hate them”?

Anti-Latinx Sentiment is always a product of racism, because it works under the assumption that all Latinxs are non-white (which is a false assumption, but it justifies white gringxs in their othering of Latinxs). Why do Spaniards/French/Italians not face as much hatred? Because it is assumed that all Europeans are white (which is also false).

The reason it is important to recognize that white latinxs are white (and the reason why this “we’re all mixed” discourse is harmful) is that, even if white Latinxs are targeted by racialized xenophobia in the US/Canada/Europe; they are still white and they benefit from white supremacy in Latin America.

“We’re all mixed, we’re all Latinx!” is a tool of white supremacy created by the Criollxs/Spaniards to avoid discussions of anti-Indigenous racism and anti-blackness in Latin America. Acting like all Latin Americans were equally oppressed under European rule and no Latin American had the power to oppress another because “we’re all the same” allowed Criollxs to skirt actual discussions of their privilege, and that same discourse is still being used today.

Until we are able to acknowledge that white latinxs are just as complicit in white supremacy and just as privileged by their race as white non-Latinxs, a true healing of the wounds of colonization and white supremacy in Latin America cannot begin.

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