The Puerto Rican Day Parade May Be Cancelled, but Here Are 8 Books on Colorism and Racism You Can Read Instead

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As the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, several events and parades have been canceled to prevent the spread of the virus. In April, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that permits for events in June, including the Puerto Rican Day Parade, would be canceled.

The Pride March and and the Salute to Israel parade were also canceled this year, with promises from de Blasio that the events will be rescheduled at a later date, WCBS-TV reported.

Sunday, June 14, would have been the day Puerto Ricans gathered in New York City to celebrate their culture and heritage. It’s the first time in 62 years since the parade started that it’s been canceled.

“The Parade is more than a celebration of pride and culture. It’s a platform for preserving our heritage while advancing our community by informing on important issues and promoting educational achievement,” said Louis Maldonado, board chair for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) Board of Directors, said in a statement.

“Given the profound impact COVID-19 has had on New York and communities across the nation, and with Puerto Rico still grappling with incessant earthquakes and its own COVID19-related pause, the Parade Board agrees it’s critically important to continue the Parade’s legacy while celebrating our resilience.”

Although the parade will not be held this year, many people will still be celebrating Puerto Rican Day parade weekend. While celebrating with families and friends, now is also a good time to discuss racism and colorism in the Latinx community.

Acknowledging colorism and racism in the Latinx community

In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald, dozens of prominent Latinx leaders and organizations said it was time to acknowledge colorism and racism in the Latinx community. The letter, which was also published on the website, comes on the heels of national protests for George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by former Minneapolis police officers. Floyd’s death, along with the unjust killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, has sparked conversations on racism and caused institutions to examine their own racial bias.

“We have been raised in families who refer to Blackness in the diminutive (morenita, negrita, prietita). We have remained silent when our tias have encouraged us to partner with people who have lighter skin than we do so we can mejorar la raza,” the letter stated. “We have hated ourselves for our skin color, hair texture, our curves and our accents. Our faith traditions, the schools we attend, the families we love, the music we listen to are anchored in Blackness and our indigenous roots, but we obscure that with whiteness.”

Colorism is the prejudice or discrimination of someone who has a dark skin tone. One quarter of Latinx people living in the U.S. identify themselves as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean or African descent with roots in Latin America, according to Pew Research Center.

“Many in our community benefit from the privilege or illusion of proximity to whiteness, without acknowledging the depth of our own African diaspora,” the letter said.

Denise Collazo, the senior adviser for the advocacy group Faith in Action and a co-author of the letter, told CNN that it is time to call out racism and colorism in the Latinx community.

"It gets talked about in public as this either/or. You're Latino or you're black. That's not how it is," Collazo told the news station.

"A lot of times, especially for Latinos like me...who present as light-skinned, there's a certain amount of privilege that comes with that," she continued. "And it doesn't always get named."

The letter noted that the leaders and organizations who signed off on the letter believe that Black lives matter and they will continue to dedicate resources "to raise consciousness and disrupt anti-blackness within our own organizations."

Books to read on colorism and racism

Here are some books that discuss colorism, racism and how to actively become anti-racist:

  1. “Down These Mean Streets,” by Piri Thomas

  2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison

  3. “Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg,” by Vanessa Valdes

  4. “Genesis Begins Again,” by Alicia D. Williams

  5. “White Fragility,” by Robin DiAngelo

  6. “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi

  7. “Me and White Supremacy,” by Layla F. Saad

  8. “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo