Colorism Confusion


“One of my theories is that the hearts of men are about alike, no matter what their skin color.” ~ Mark Twain

IMG_3973I noticed our taxi driver’s arm protector on our way to Ojo de Agua the other day. “How cool is that!” I thought. It’s all the rage with the taxi drivers. Lost in my weird wonderings, I thought I could buy a pair to use on my upper arms. Not only would it hold together my upper arm fat wings, kind of like a girdle for my arm flaps, but my arms would look awesome with the stamped tattoos.

HB used one arm protector to cover her elastic support band over her leg.
IMG_5623Although they are quite the fashion statement, I was curious about why the taxi drivers wore the hot arm protectors, only on the arm that is hanging out the window. “It must have something to do with the colorism theory,” I deduced. Basically, colorism refers to discrimination based on skin color. Research indicates that colorism disadvantages dark-skinned people, while privileging those with lighter skin.

So, being the curious person I am, I asked the taxi drivers, my neighbor, and other Hispanic friends, “Why do taxi drivers wear the arm protectors?”  Their responses were varied. Marina said, “It is for blood pressure to regulate the heart.” Our taxi driver said, “Because they are tan tuany ( so cool ).”  But, the most honest response was, “Because we don’t want our skin to get darker in the sun.”

Why is that? When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Nicaragua, they became the ruling class. They had lighter complexions than the peasant classes. While the peasant class worked outside in the brutal sun, their skin darkened, however; the Spanish ruling class didn’t have to work in the sun for hours daily. Thus, a lighter complexion became associated with the élite, and the darker-skinned complexion became associated with the lower class.

This makes sense to me!  But, I still have some colorism confusion.
If the dark-skinned want to become lighter-skinned, why do the lighter-skinned want to become darker-skinned?

We’re headed to the Corn Islands in the Caribbean tomorrow. I’ll be offline for a week…working on my tan! I may stop along the way and buy a pair of the arm protectors with the tattoos for my arm flaps. I know I’ll look tan tuany!

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4 thoughts on “Colorism Confusion

  1. The skin cancer theory is what we hear around here. In SE Asia, all the workers were covered and all the women on their scooters are covered, even gloves. Light skin is preferred for your above reasons. Debbie. Have a wonderful trip and don’t worry about the arm flaps.:) Ron & I leave for India in a couple of weeks and I will be off-line for a month.

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