Every other week CGEE and Augsburg students have an exchange where they come together and talk about life and history in the United States and Mexico. One of the most valuable things about the exchange is getting to know other students who are the same age but live in a different country and whose lives may be much different (but also very similar). Students sometimes hang out together after classes and have gotten to know each other fairly well. Something I look forward to sharing when I go back to the United States is knowledge about social issues in Mexico and how similar they are to those in the U.S.
A topic for the I-House/ CGEE exchange this past week was racism, privilege and colorism in Mexico and the United States. Racism is a belief that a race is better or worse than another. Colorism is thinking that a shade of skin is better or worse than another. Privilege is the advantages you were born into that you are unable to change. Students from I-House and CGEE discussed the ways the three topics affect them and their lives.
Both groups gave examples of how colorism and racism have affected what we see in the media. The media seems to given better opportunities to people of a lighter skin tone. Less opportunities are given to people of African descent and Mexicans, and more A-Listers tend to be of European descent. This made me consider the shows/movies I watch and how diverse they are. The shows I am currently watching, The Office and Big Little Lies, are both mainly white casts. One student shared about how she feels that a majority of black actors are either killed off within the first half of the film or are depicted as “help” or slaves. Hearing this, I thought about including more diverse voices in film.
Colorism is something that affects Mexicans. A student presenting mentioned that certain features are viewed as less trustful in a person for example, “dark skin, big lips, big nose.” People with paler skin are preferred and are given more value in society. As a future social worker (and a person) this was sad to hear. I was surprised to hear how many similarities the United States and Mexico have in terms of discrimination and treatment solely based on the ways someone looks. Colorism and racism not only affect the ways others perceive us but employment and day-to-day life. It is interesting and disheartening to hear about the ways that our systems are flawed, but pushes me to act on hate and prejudice.