NewsHispanic Heritage


Milwaukee women fighting against Colorism: 'I've always felt very, very othered'

Pew Research defines colorism as a type of discrimination based on skin color, where having lighter skin is considered best.
Posted at 8:38 AM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 09:38:12-04

MILWAUKEE — In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re dedicated to exploring the issues that affect the population at large, like colorism.

Pew Research defines colorism as a type of discrimination based on skin color, where having lighter skin is considered best.

Rozalia Hernandez-Singh is an artist who identifies as Afro-Latina and for her, colorism is something that she may not have always had a name for, but it was never too far from her mind.

“That was a new word for me, and probably within the last 10 years or so. But I knew all about it,” said Hernandez-Singh.

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Growing up in Milwaukee as a person with Puerto Rican, Black and Mexican heritage, Hernandez-Singh says she and her siblings dealt with being misunderstood all the time, because of the darkness of their skin and their features, compared to other members of their family.

“We looked a bit different. And we felt like, kind of, we felt excluded, we felt uncomfortable being there,” said Hernandez-Singh.

On the other side of the spectrum, Katie Avila Loughmiller grew up adopted into a white family in Boston.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Avila Loughmiller says she didn’t always have the community or words to articulate how different she felt.

“Depending on where I am in the world, I have been considered white passing and sometimes I'm not. But, it's always been sort of a thing where I've always felt very, very othered,” said Avila Loughmiller.

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Both women say the diversity of the Hispanic/Latino community can make it harder for people to recognize the ingrained struggle to feel fully accepted.

“I think it's really hard for people to admit those complexities and the hard truths about the racism that happens within the community,” said Avila Loughmiller.

One way both women say they try to navigate those feelings is through their art.

Avila Loughmiller is the co-founder and director of LUNA, Latinas Unidas en las Artes, a collective that supports Latinx artists.

Rozalia created “I am me because of them — My journey of self-discovery through my ancestors,” an exhibit being showcased at the Urban Ecology Center.

She says the exhibit shares the stories of her ancestors with the viewer, in the hopes of giving others the courage to see the beauty in themselves.

“I have all these different parts of who I am,” said Hernandez-Singh. “And I thought that they was a story that should be celebrated.”

For more information on the exhibit, head to their website.

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