The Mestizaje Ideology In Latin America

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Latin America, just like the United States, has racially and ethnically diverse societies due to the legacy of European colonialism, slavery of Africans and indigenous people, and consequent racial mixing. Besides structural racial and ethnic inequality—measured by individuals’ identities—studies have also found the apparent pigmentocracies—discrimination and marginalization based on skin color—in Latin America. In their investigations of pigmentocracies in four Latin American countries—Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil—Telles and the scholars of the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA) found that skin color rather than racial self-identity measures inequality more accurately. They also found that while pigmentocracies thrive…show more content…
Although the mestizaje ideology is prevalent in all four countries, the way they are shaped and developed differ in each country. While all four tried to “whiten” their race as a way of modernization and justify this adherence to white supremacy through the mestizaje identity and ideology, only Brazil was somewhat successful. Only in Mexico, the mestizaje discourse evolved beyond simply admiring whiteness and established mestizo as a nationally recognized and privileged identity—even more privileged so than whiteness. The mestizaje ideology and discourse were supposed to establish national racial consciousness and bring people together, but it largely failed in incorporating indigenous and black populations in all four countries. Moreover, while the mestizaje ideology supposedly created “racial democracy,” Telles and the PERLA scholars found that pigmentocracies are prevailing in Latin America with black and darker-skinned indigenous as well as mixed-race individuals experiencing the most socioeconomic hardships. Furthermore, racial democracy is not instilled in the general consciousness and these countries are now turning to multiculturalism and starting to tackle the issues of racial inequality, however inadequate these efforts may be. However, the data collection on all racial and ethnicity categories that people identify with as well as their skin color and hair texture must happen to adequately capture the extent of racial inequality in these countries—this issue of measurement and data collection might hinder potential racial progresses from
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