When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words -- and Then Some

Might Be Difficult to Create One Hispanic Voice

By Published on .

Not exactly enlightened
Not exactly enlightened
It is always nice and comforting to read about the need to find a "Hispanic voice" and a genuine identity that defines the so-called Hispanic market, an issue raised recently by fellow Big Tent blogger Catarino Lopez. Alas, more often than not, I keep bumping into disturbing images like this one, which make me rethink the whole "we are all one happy bunch" concept.

Obviously, there is not a lot to say about this image. Suffice to say, it has been making the rounds in Puerto Rico via blogs, viral campaigns and e-mail messages in anticipation of the Puerto Rican primaries to be held June 1, according to New York-based political bloggers and journalists at PolĂ­tica Pop.

An image featuring a dark-skinned Barack Obama sporting -- what else? -- a stereotypical guayabera illustrates beautifully what happens when racism and class issues play a dominant role in political campaigns. (Something that is in no way exclusive to the U.S. or Latin America.) But it also sheds a light on the uncomfortable "Dominican" issue that angers many Puerto Rican voters, and transcends borders to reach voters as far as Florida or New York. (UPDATE: As a reader points out, the image was initially created by humor website 23/6. But as other readers have pointed out, the "joke" seems to have taken on a different life in Puerto Rico and in inboxes.)

It is not a secret that illegal immigration from Dominican Republic into Puerto Rico has increased dramatically over the past few decades, making Dominicans easy targets of prejudice and racism, as a majority of them are of darker skin than most Puerto Ricans.

But don't rush to judge your compadres in la Isla del Encanto. The unfortunate fate of unskilled, low-paid, dark-skinned service workers can be found among Mexicans in the U.S.; Guatemalans in Mexico; Algerians in France; Moroccans in Spain, etc. etc.

Aren't we perpetuating a global stereotype here?
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