Heaven forbid you should have dark skin and claim to be Latina. Heaven forbid your hair has the slightest kink and dare to claim “Mexicana” even if you were born there. Lupita Nyongo got herself in a bit of hot water because she claimed Latina but she has dark skin, kinky hair and Kenyan parents.

There is always a need for us to identify, categorize ourselves based on ethnicity, race or creed. Some of us have attempted to avoid the boxes by saying we claim no labels which never works.. clearly! – In addition to that if you have dark skin and kinky hair you are just plain black with no heritage, origination or claims except for the color of your skin.

Here are the facts, Latin America is made up of over 20 sovereign countries and if you were born in one of those countries you are Latin American. If you are born specifically in Mexico, you are Mexican and Latin. If you are born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, you are Jamaican.

With that said, Latin America and the Caribbean has many ethnic groups and races including, black people, European people, indigenous people and Asian people. Lupita’s parents are from Kenya which makes her heritage a mix of Mexican and Kenyan. She was raised in Kenya and only spent one year or her life in Mexico.

“I’m Mexican and Kenyan at the same time,” she said, according to El Mañana. “I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.

All of this came into question again because she was doing an interview which seemed pretty light about being a part of the Star Wars movie The Force Awakens with Latin co-star Oscar Isaac. The fact that they are both Latin American made for a great interview. 

It is crazy because even though Oscar’s heritage is Cuban and French he is ‘allowed’ to claim his Latin American roots without the uproar. Lupita however received this:


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“Lupita N’yongo no es Latina! Es una actriz increíble, una mujer hermosa, pero de Latina no tiene nada. Nació en México mientras su padre estaba allí de negocio y solo vivió allí unos meses. Sus papás son de Kenya.”

Facebook app translation: “Lupita N ‘ YONGO IS NOT Latina! It’s an incredible actress, a beautiful woman, but of Latina has nothing. She was born in Mexico while her father was there for business and only lived there a few months. Her parents are from Kenya.”

And this:

“Lupita es Mexicana por accidente no por que tenga Origen Latino como Lo dice el señor Jorge Ramos. Ella es Africana. Oscar si es de Origen Latino.” 

Facebook translation: “Lupita is mexicana by accident not because I have latin origin as it says Mr Jorge Ramos. She is African. Oscar if it is of Latin origin.”

Yup you read right, Lupita is Mexicana by accident! – How do you even write that much less formulate that in your mind? This is a clear case of racism and gross color-ism which is not new to the Latin American countries even today where Afro-Latin Americans have a hard time as being recognized as Latin regardless of where they were born.

Not everyone agreed with Lupita’s treatment in the thread however, there were a few sensible commentors on the video, for instance this one that called everyone out for there racism and colorism:

Si Lupita fuera Rubia y de ojos azules ahi estubieran reclamandola como Mexicana! Como es posible que sea el 2015 y tengamos la mente tan cerrada? Y la verdad no me sorprende en lo absoluto, nuestro hermoso continente Americano es un gran arco iris de colores pero lamentablemente lo unico que casi se ve en la tele es blanco, claro! Eso tambien se debe a que nuestras razas de color casi estan marginalizadas y no tienen las mismas oportunidades.

Facebook translation:

If Lupita She was blonde and blue eyes there were reclamandola like Mexican! How is it possible that it is 2015 and we have the mind so closed? And the truth I am not surprised at all, our beautiful American continent is a big rainbow of colors but unfortunately the only thing that you can almost see on tv is white, of course! That also is due to the fact that our races of color almost are marginalized and do not have the same opportunities.

Well said! One things for sure we still have work to do!


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