In an attempt to map some of the gendered and racialized aspects of Afro-Boricua diasporic experiences in the United States, Yomaira Figueroa argues that “for Afro-Latinas coming of age in homelands, islands, and in the diaspora […] the kitchen table is a place of politics, poetics, kinship, and sustenance. Likewise, we know that this hallowed quotidian space is also a site of violence, revelation, and revolt.”
Figueroa invites us to acknowledge and combat the impacts of anti-Black racism that exist within our spaces. “This means that we must interrogate and contest the living legacies of mestizaje and its failure to eradicate racial interpersonal and structural oppression and inequality. This also means actively subverting the forms of anti-Blackness endemic to Latinx and Latin American communities.” (Page 4)
Pick ONE of these assignment options and answer in the comment section below.
Using the quote above, discuss how the story “Your Lips” (pages 6-9) illustrates colorism and Anti-Blackness within Boricua and Latinx families.
Write a short poem or anecdote in which you incorporate and reflect on the ideas of the following quote:
“What hit you then was the blackness. Everyone in the room was soft and honey and even las trigueñas eran claras. But you were small and brusk and brown and black and all curls and no beauty. You knew it then. At four or five. Your papi was the black one. He’s the one that made you black and you did not belong to the table. Even though you were all from the same island. The same saltwaters. The same hard rivers. The same blood. It was then that the anger came.” (Page 8)
29 thoughts on “Asynchronous Assignment on “Your Lips” by Yomaira Figueroa”
One way the story “Your Lips” discusses colorism within Boricua and Latinx families as when they talk about Titi Lola. The story mentions that her “straight hair skipped Africa.” In a lot of Latinx families it is desirable to have straight hair because straight hair is considered good hair. Curly hair is seen as unkept and ugly because a lot of people allude it to having bad hair. In this quote from the story we see how this family considers straight hair as skipping Africa. This is quite a racist statement since it infers that African people can’t have straight hair but also marks hair that isn’t straight as coming from Africa and being undesirable. There’s also another instance in the story in which the topic of colorism is discussed. The story says, “Everyone in the room was soft and honey and even las trigueñas eran claras. But you were small and brusk and brown and black and all curls and no beauty.” The family didn’t let Palmita use the same lipstick because she wasn’t light enough like the rest of them. Often times in a lot of latinx households the lighter family members are always seen as more beautiful and the darker family members always need to work a lot harder to look beautiful and desirable in their family’s eyes. I think “Your Lips” does a good job at portraying the colorism that is often experienced in latinx households.
“Your Lips” illustrates colorism and anti-blackness through the discussion the women have at the dinner table about the color of their skin, hair textures, and facial features . In the Boricua and Latinx communities it is often said that the lighter the skin tone is, the prettier/ handsome someone is. Figueroa does an amazing job exposing that through “Your Lips”, as she mentions that in these communities being black, having “pelo malo”, and strong features all determine the beauty of one. As I mentioned in class, we are very used to seeing people of lighter complexions viewed superior to those of darker complexions and we typically see this in the media as they often times associate people of darker complexions with low standards or of lower race. As children we grow up seeing people of lighter complexions in telenovelas portray the roles of the wealthy, rich, or the mean individual and typically see those of darker skins acting as the gardeners, maids, or the poor. I’m from Mexico where colorism is heard of every single day, where people of my complexion are seen as “dirty”, poor, “indios” or associated to being from the pueblo or campo. These days colorism definitely exists in the Latinx community however, it’s great knowing that the new generations are correcting the parents, grandparents, and older generations on their negative views on blacks within and outside the Latinx community.
Querida Palmita, and my daughter, and yours,
Be proud of the black that has hugged your skin with its melanin protection.
The nocturnal thrives in darkness where senses are heightened, you are empowered.
The moon and ancestors guide your steps.
The white does not make you any clearer,
it does not add nor take from your beauty.
Some will say that a man named Columbus made things better for everyone.
But simple is for the simpleton and that, you are not.
The lion does not bother with the meek,
it savors the reward of a challenging hunt.
your heart beats naturally to the percussion of the unknown.
Society will quiet it with the songs of Disney princesses that don’t look like you.
They sing “wait for your prince charming and kiss the frogs as you do”.
But those are not coqui’s and life is no fairytale.
You have the right to believe what you choose.
If condemning religious codependency’s do not sit right with your soul…
Question them, question everything.
You are supreme and bold,
and you will never fit in at the table of bochincheras with cackling crows in plastic crowns.
Thrones await you atop the highest mountains,
disregard the discouragers and continue your climb.
Option number 1:
The story “Your Lips” is a great example that points out the colorism and anti blackness in the Boricua and latinx communities. A quote which mentions how much literature written by feminist states that, “Many feminist frame works ‘have their limits or empty spaces where as AfroLatina women, we cannot locate ourselves.” Essentially meaning that a lot of literature written by latina feminist do not speak about AfroLatinas and thus leaving that group lost and even more excluded than they felt before. The text then explains the Afro Latina life experience which included, “having out Latinidad and Blackness questioned, to dealing with the white Latinx standards of beauty that exclude us, to being invisibilized, to being designated as incapable of occupying our places as professors, intellectuals, and knowledge producers.” Here you continue to see the exclusion that these women have to endure, even when it comes to beauty standards there is no place for them. They are invisible to many people and even themselves, it’s hard for these women to search for their roots because text always focuses on the white latin women. This leads to people misunderstanding things and creating as well as supporting stereotypes that have to do with black latina women. These two quotes focus on anti-blackness and colorism within the boricua and Latinx community because there’s a misunderstanding and misleading information about them. Text that supports all Latinx women does not mention Afro Latina women, not understanding their background leads to people creating stereotypes and believing that’s the truth. The exclusion of black beauty in the Latinx is something else that connects to colorism and Anti-Blackness. Women of color struggle to find the right shade for their skin because many companies do not create that many dark shades or no dark shades at all. Makeup being made is marketed more to the white women because their skin color is considered beauty.
“Your Lips” illustrates colorism and Anti-Blackness within Boricua and Latinx families. Figueroa hones down on this experience on the character Palmita and at the dinner table. In Latin culture, colorism and suppression of black people is common. It is rooted in our culture from hundreds of years of colonization and white supremacy. Palmita starts pointing out eurocentric features on Nelly, she had “pale skin and long copper hair “ (Figueroa 2 ). Her family glorifies Nelly for these features. Pale skin and long curly hair is a trait adored for in Latinx communities and the opposite being dark skin and having kinky and textured hair is frowned upon and when someone has those traits, they battle a lifelong fight of colorism. Its interesting to see the words Palmita uses to describe herself compared to her cousins. Shes “ brusk …with no beauty” words that are rugged and harsh. They have a negative connotation on them as they are associated with black features. With her cousin they are described as “soft and honey and even las triguenas eran claras”. She used words that are light and that have a positive connotation illustrating how ingrained Latinxcolorist views are in Pamitas head. They affect her word choice towards herself, worsening her self image as she and everyone around her pushes the narrative that black features are not beautiful.
The quote made me reflect on how people nowadays avoid embracing their heritage, and instead try to look like someone they truly aren’t. To make matters worse, they’ll shun anyone who doesn’t fit their criteria, even among family members or people from the same country. In this case, the blacker you were, the less appealing you were. The author claims how everyone was soft and honey and mostly clear skinned, but the protagonist wasn’t, being curly and black, just like his/her father. The protagonist blames his characteristics on his father, and making him inferior to the rest on the table, despite all of them belonging to the same island, same saltwater, same hard rivers, same blood, which understandably ignites a lot of anger. This reminds me of when I used to study in Peru, and how almost everyone in school tried to avoid having dark-colored skin with makeup and whatnot. Students who embraced their heritage without any shame, were later be called names such as “Cholita” or “Cholito”, or “Monsefuanita” (The student would come from the town of Monsefu), instead of calling him/her by their name and it would really cause a lot of fighting among students. It’s sad to see that people think that being a lighter skin tone is the best outcome, and don’t accept what they really are.
By telling Palmita’s story, Yomaira Figueroa is able to illustrate colorism and Anti-Blackness within Boricua and Latinx families. In Latinx families, it is common for relatives to find the lighter-skinned people as the ones possessing the more desirable features. As Denise mentioned earlier in her comment, colorism is a big issue because this is something that also happens often in Ecuador, where I am from. Having darker skin color is often associated with being from el campo, and even the Ecuadorian national soccer team players receive racist insults because many of the players are black. In Palmita’s story, she describes that everyone in the room was soft and honey and even las triguenas eran claras, but then she described herself as small, black and brown and with all curls and no beauty. Palmita was at home with her family; however, she felt that she did not belong there because she was darker than the other girls. This is an unfortunate issue that has been going on for many years, and “Your Lips” allows us to understand how common these problems are within Boricua and Latinx families.
“Your Lips” by Yomaira C Figueroa, examines the relationship that Latinas have with their race and sense of belonging in the latinx community and within their own family. Nelly is described as “the most beautiful” in the family by her aunts. Nelly is described as having white skin complimented by long copper curls that she dyed religiously. Lola, who is the youngest of the aunts in the family and only five years older than Nelly is described as having coarse black hair that “betrays” her and therefore she tames it daily with an iron. Tia Lola’s cherry dark skin and straight dark hair are said to have “skipped” Africa. Unlike the other women in the family, she did not have to work in factories because her husband owned a bodega. Palmita, is told she could not have the same result from a red lipstick as her cousin, because of the color of her skin. Regardless of her attempts to show that she has the same beauty and emotions, her attempts go unnoticed. She feels sadness, anger, and hurt instead. Sadly, this is a situation that is still prevalent in Latin families, colorism is so deeply rooted in our belief system that affects the way we see ourselves and our own family members.
The story “Your Lips” illustrates colorism, racism, and anti-blackness by discussing women’s skin color, hair textures, and facial features. The story mentions that her “straight hair skipped Africa.” This article partially discusses Latinx families has straight hair because, in their world, it is good hair. Curly hair is seen as sinful and vulgar because many people believed it is bad hair. To me, it is a racist belief that Afro-descendants cannot have curly or nappy hair when God devoted them with a gorgeous gift. I found another quote: “Everyone in the room was soft and honey and even las trigueñas eran claras. But you were small and brusk and brown and black and all curls and no beauty.” Unfortunately, colorism is a disease in our belief system that affects how we see ourselves and our own family members even today. Often times, many Latinx families have to work extra hard to make themselves “look more beautiful” because apparently, natural beauty is a myth to them. Overall, “Your Lips” was empowering. It portrays a good message that we may have skin tone, but we all urinate the same color and that is a damn fact.
Born and raised in the Caribbean
Once upon a time called Indian
Dark skin and kinky hair
I was told my looks were rare
Big lips and big nose
Never found the right pose
White mother and black father
Mother’s side I seemed to alter
A little girl usando derrizado
Her hair and life estaba cambiando
This short poem is about women from a very young age straightening their hair and disliking their Black looks. They are taught that the more white they look the better. White is seen as the true definition of beauty.
The story “Your Lips” helps to illustrate colorism and Anti-Blackness within Boricua and Latinx families. An example of this is when it talks about how it just hit you the blackness, “Everyone in the room was soft and honey and even las trigueñas eran claras. But you were small and brusk and brown and black and all curls and no beauty. You knew it then.” It also shows how she tried so hard to gain approval or acceptance into her own family for example “But no one paid much attention to that mo- ment. Even when you pouted and cried, No! I am the same! You made tight little fists under the table and you imagined smashing the lipstick and breaking the compact mirror.” It goes as far not even the mother showing any kind of sorrow or remorse for the child. The final sentence really culminated the feeling and illustration of anti-blackness in lantix families as she says that you claw and scrape for a sense of belonging but in the end the inevitable happens that you aren’t and something inside breaks, I guess that something inside is left up to interpretation.
Laying down on the beach soaking up the sun,
Feeling the warmth as the sun is accepting me just as I am,
Quickly my arms feel tingly as the peroxide is taking its course,
Penetrating my undesirable skin and hair,
Changing the darkness to the light pureness,
Beauty must be achieved with pain,
Why must I be the only one to endure the pain,
The sun turns on me like night and day.
This is in reference to black Brazilian women on how they do everything to turn their dark features to blonde/light features. How they will endure the pain of bleaching their skin just to seem more desirable while their white family and friends do need to endure the pain of transformation. Their natural looks are accepted by all while she must change to be accepted.
“Your Lips” expresses how the color of the skin, hair, texture and different other features. It shows how all this is perceived and some differences are drawn, for example, the lighter the skin tone is the more pretty someone is. Figueroa tries to expose this pretty successfully in my opinion as it portrays the reality of everyday people from the Latinx communities. Light skinned, straight hair, sharp facial features are usually accompanied with success in the minds of people while the opposite of those features tends to make people think of these people as less successful and pretty. People that tend to have more lighter skin and these sharp features are more liked in the eyes of their families while it seem that the opposite need to work harder on their image to become more beautiful and desirable in their eyes.
“Your Lip” does a good job to give a clear image on how beauty is perceived and the differences that have been implemented to peoples mind in the latinx households and the rest of the different races through years of white washing.
The story “Your Lips” demonstrates colorism and anti-blackness in the Boricua and Latinx community. In Latinx families, not many of them embrace their heritage and their beautiful appearance. In this story, Nelly is being described as the most beautiful in the family by her aunts. Nelly’s pale skin made is what makes her look beautiful, while the other nieces are being described differently. The aunt’s praise Nelly’s features. The aunt’s praising her appearance is what is wrong with the Latinx community. They make feel the other girl who is dark skin and having different texture as if it was bad. They don’t even let Palmita use the same lipstick because she wasn’t light enough to use that color. This type of behavior is not new. It’s very common in the Latinx community. They see the light skin family members as beautiful. I’ve heard this phrase when someone is light skin is “Estas mejorando la Raza, which basically is a person who is light skin is making the race better. They make it seem that dark skin and different hair texture is not beautiful. This is why many girls don’t feel proud of their skin color. They feel ashamed of who they are. Many girls don’t feel pretty with their hair texture and try to find many ways to change it. Luckily, many people are changing these negative views within the Latinx community.
In “Your Lips” the narrator’s skin color is what separates her from her family, she is darker than her cousins and aunts and is treated differently. Despite being of the same blood, family, and the same country of origin, she is treated as different, as not the same. There is a disconnect between older women and Palmita and how their different skin tones affect them. This will harm her thoughts on her own worthiness and affect how she views herself and her afro latinidad. Because of the negative ways her darker skin was treated, she will not only be left out of her American culture, that she mentioned is historically racist and her Puerto Rican identity as she deals with colorism. Parts of the story that really make this clear are “He’s the one that made you black and you did not belong to the table. Even though you were all from the same island. The same saltwaters. The same hard rivers. The same blood.” What happens very often in Latin American and Caribbean countries is their influence of colonialism, and the eurocentric beauty standards it brought, negatively affecting the people afro latinx people. This combined with the history of mestizaje and the variety of skin tones and features that can happen in one family has caused young afro Latinx to feel separated from a young age from their paler family members.
Each weekend the family would take a train from Hoboken to Manhattan and then to Brooklyn to be at the kitchen table and interact. The families usually walked so fast to the trains, making one feel left behind literally in life. Titi Lola’s nickname La India was betrayed by her coarse black hair, but she fought it every day with an iron. As far as the family was concerned, La India’s pin-straight hair and dark cherry skin skipped Africa and identified your collective Taino ancestry. Palmita was always reminded that her lips’ color was different from the rest of the family members at the kitchen table since her father was black. This observation ever created a barrier between her and the rest of the women at the kitchen table.
Palmita would always notice that while everyone at the kitchen table was honey and soft, she all curls, black, and no beauty. She didn’t feel like she belonged to the table even though they were from the same island, same stony rivers, and the same saltwater. Palmita would always try at all costs to fit in by showing Lola that her kiss was like everyone and perfect (Figueroa). Palmita did not belong at the table for being black. Palmita’s cousin, Tony, was called Negrito because he has dark curls. His nickname was a result of his color and physical appearance. Palmita’s father was treated as an outcast, and she was always reminded that it was because he made her black
Papi has always been called Moreno
An endearing family term
But sometimes it hurts when..
They joke that you look like carbon.
Family doesn’t mean to hurt you,
That’s what they say.
But words seep in and now
When going back home I fear.
The sun will kiss my skin
And the jokes will begin.
In the story Your lips pages 8 and 9, illustrated how unconscious people discriminates their own family’s members by bringing up their looks, social or economic status by creating colorism and anti-blackness.
The story describes how titis point the looks of the girls comparing them with their parents “Palmita, you lips are like your fathers’ sounds like, nothing but all these comments make person part of a group. The quote indicates a table as been the place where all these comments happen.
The table is a center for good and bad comments within the family, concluding that people judge their own families with stereotypes that were probably learned from the outside. Anti-blackness is seen where titi Lola is pointed for having cherry dark skin (page 9). I think this is very typical on Hispanic families, it all starts with babies, oh que blanquito salio or que morenito, holidays gathering are great for all the judging (chimes) topics. I lived in the Bronx and I seen and shared with baricuas families and they do have different skin color members, un primo was very light blue eyes and other dark, but I was not aware of how making these comments contribute to the stereotype within our own people, Figueroa surely helped by inviting everyone to take acknowledge on this.
On an island where you are
related by blood
by your skin color…
On the inside the same,
to call a darker man
or the nappy-haired
perhaps we don’t
share the same
have straight hair
to be considered
You judged her before
she could open her lips.
you call her family,
but your actions
are out of sync.
She isn’t better because
her skin is more pale,
Our lips are different
but not the air we inhale.
This red lipstick doesn’t
change color from person
they use their words to
does her dark skin
make them nervous?
You cannot phase Queens with
She will use
her own lips to uplift
and create purpose.
In this article, I think it is more like a racism within one or more ethnic groups. I have been united states for 8 years, I have always heard that people trying to find someone whose skin color is lighter than themselves. Some of the job even have a requirement for the hairstyles. Although I am not from Puerto Rico, but when I searched for relevant videos, I realized that colorism is not just a simple word. Many people will be influenced by this awareness when they are young, and then discrimination and prejudice will spread with this generation. In the article, “In your Lips”, Yomaira C. Figueroa made a lot example in the context. For example: “But you were small and brusk and brown and black and all curls and no beauty. You knew it then. At four or five. Your papi was the black one. He s the one that made you black and you did not belong to the table.”
I think a lot of people realize how important this is actually because, as they become adults, race is limited in every way. For example, some of the jobs requires a standard hairstyles. Now we see all kinds of articles and videos and parades about race and color. However, the formation of consciousness needs to be influenced by many aspects, not only education, but also government and economy.
Colorism and Anti-Blackness within the Boricua and Latinx community are practices of the way some of our families view their blackness as an inferiority, a bad thing to have within the family. Many of these beliefs and Anti-Blackness sentiment starts in the homes of Boricua families, specifically focusing on the Afro-Latinx women, tia’s, cousins, sisters and mothers. They sit at the kitchen table cooking, talking and judging their own kids and related family with racist ideologies of that reinforce black inferiority within their own kin folk. “Ay pero Palmita, your lips are like your father’s. Tu ves? They aren’t like ours. And that was it. A cement wall that locked you out of the women” (Figueroa 8). This part of the dialogue of the Boricua family expresses one of many ways in which anti-blackness and colorism is expressed, where your own mother would find parts of you that are not “white” enough, to judge and exclude you through making you feel as though your appearance is inferior. Specifically, Boricua fathers were darker, and to say that you resemble your father, meant an exclusion from the “standard of beauty” that your other family resembles. Another specific part is, the straightening of their curly, textured and thick hair that is a form of Colorism and Anti-Blackness that is prevalent throughout the diaspora. It is a way of try to hide you mixed race heritage, a sense of shame and judgment is amplified through the practices of our mothers and tias’ that emphasize their colorism. It is a struggle to find ones cultural and racial identity especially when Anti-Blackness and Colorism are so prevalent in our communities, we must find ways to educate and re-discover our respect and love for our roots.
“Your Lips” by Yomaira Figueroa illustrates colorism and Anti-Blackness within Boricua and Latinx families through the primas and tias on their discussion about skin color and hair textures. The stereotype is lighter skin toned women with straight hair is the superior beauty standard in Latin culture. Latinx with darker complexions with curly-haired are associated as low standards that cannot be changed for the better. Things said like this is what affects young Latinx people to not express and love themselves for who they are or look like. Because of certain standards for years, it involves families to judge and comment on other family members’ appearances whether it is a joke or not. From the story, they mentioned a quote of how it was considered straight hair skipped Africa, inferring that African American are inferior and dealt with colorism. In many Latinx families, having straight hair is considered good and clean hair. Majority of African Americans have curly hair which requires a lot of hair care and maintenance however that does not exclude them from being beautiful. The amount of work and effort they put into hair care amazes me because personally I have straight hair so after a shower all I do is air dry. Lately in society, there is so much appreciation and respect to all types of hair so generations have been getting better with more positive views.
In “Your lips” it illustrates colorism and anti-blackness within Latinx families through aunts and cousins on their thoughts about hair type and skin color. Women who are more light skin and have straight hair is considered to be the image of how Latina women should look like in Latin culture. For women who are dark skin with kinky curls or curly hair are viewed as not being an image for Latina women, meaning that women who are light skin with straight hair are superior in beauty to Latina women who are dark skin and have curly hair. This impacts a lot of women because of the image people are putting as what a Latina or black woman should look like and it’s not fair. Why can’t we all be ourselves? What does an image have to do with the beauty inside of that human? It questions a lot of women if they reach that certain image and it questions their self-love, confidence, etc.
Option 1- colorism is illustrated through the tias considering Nelly the pretty cousin in “Your Lips”. As many have mentioned, it is common in many caribbean and latino families to consider european feature dinner, better and superior. Colorism and anti blackness like into the conversations and perception of the tias, she even mentions that the pretty nelly does not need to go to church or follow the rules to be praised by them by the simple fact that she is whiter. However, this self hate is a learned behaviour that has been passed through generation, the demonization of blackness takes its own form of each country , yet the common qualification for discrimination is blackness. Pelo malo, being called Haitian or piti, to discriminate black feature, or on the other hand, call someone neegro fino, or negro lavadito when they have white like feauture while being black, are some examples of colorism that I grew up with. My darker skin cousin was called Negra Pola while I was just called by my name. Colorism is more than just a phenomenon that is there because colonialism is everyday reinforced by media representation and beauty standards.
A woman named Valentina was sitting at her favorite Diner, Restaurante la Familia. She sat there just daydreaming. Thinking about all the mornings that she had spent in this Diner, and wondered for how many more years she would come and sit on the same stool and order the same Tamales. All of a sudden she heard a commotion coming from the kitchen. The manager screamed, “Next time wear a damn hair net!!”She then heard a young woman reply with “I was wearing one, I am sorry!” and then the girl stormed out of the Diner. Although Valentina had experienced many times prejudice for her curly hair but she never thought she would that she would hear it in her favorite Diner. She decided she had to act. She spoke with the manager for some time, and after a small chat, it was agreed upon that the young woman had just made a simple mistake and the manager had behaved incorrectly. Valentina then went out through the same back door that the young woman had. She was the girl, still crying, and Valentina walked up to her. Valentina asked her what was wrong. The young woman responded in a stressed tone, “It’s all my fault! I’m going to be fired all because of my damn hair!!” “You’re not going to be fired,” said Valentina. The woman looked at her with a surprised face but didn’t say anything.
“It’s alright, accidents happen. But don’t be defeated by your nature. Your hair is beautiful, don’t ever forget that. I know because my whole life I was told that it wasn’t, but I had people who supported me, so now it’s a symbol of strength for me. It is the mane that you’re born with, so wear it like armor.” The girl now looked even more surprised for a moment, and then relieved. She quickly hugged Valentina. After a moment of silence, she whispered into her ear, “Thank you.”
Figueroa makes the point that although all of the family and extended community members who sit in the kitchen together, struggle together and exist closely together are from the same places and share similar cultures, their preferences for appearance and the way they judge beauty and intelligence within that area is, from an outside perspective, surprisingly prejudicial. The preference for lighter over darker colored skin, for certain genetically carried types of hair, facial structures and color preferences are based on racial biases that represent colorism and anti-Blackness within these communities. Presenting black latinx people in a negative light, or neglecting to represent them at all as a part of the latin communities causes a divide which is ultimately counterproductive to the communities’ goals of promoting positivity and eliminating discrimination in those communities.
Colorism and anti-blackness are very prevalent in the story “Your Lips.” Straight from the beginning the author describes the most beautiful of the family. Nelly is a pale skinned female with copper curls, the tias of the family say she is the most beautiful. The family gives her the benefit of the doubt for her pale looks, even though she is a cold person. Another example is when the family describes Tita Lola. They say, “Tita Lola’s cherry dark skin and pin-straight hair skipped Africa.” She has coarse black hair and cherry dark skin, but the family continues to ridicule her because of her blackness. Even though they are all from similar areas. The lipstick scene is another example of anti-blackness. Palmita wanted to try on the lipstick but her cousins described her lips like her fathers, insinuating that they are too big for lipstick. This killed her , why couldn’t she do the same as her cousins, because of the way she looks? She even tried to show her family that her lip mark from the lipstick is the same as any other person, even better looking. No one came to her assistance, not even her mother.
The story “Your Lips” by Yomaria Figueroa uses her writing to bring awareness to colorism and anti-blackness in the Boricua following other Latinx communities. A quote where I was able to see colorism break apart this family was when she wrote “against her pale skin and long copper curls which she dyed religiously …. the tias agreed that she was the most beautiful of the nieces.” This sentence shows readers how favoritism is shown in colorist families along with how we play into these favoritism roles. Pale is the word used to describe her complexion and being anything close to pale was deemed as acceptable, beautiful and worthy of anyone’s time and attention. Her aunts play into the role of enforcing beauty standards amongst the women in her family to which they all agreed Nelly being pale and her light hair without describing anything else about her made her beautiful. Following this idea, we see how even Nelly subconsciously plays into this role. Nelly most likely has naturally dark hair but is noted that she dyes her hair religiously to uphold the European beauty standard look which is how she wants to be perceived by others. Although it is not described the colorist things her tias say probably flatter her showing anti-blackness because in order for her to feel good about herself other darker women are being put down to build up her ego.
Figeroa invites us to view the racism that is active in each of our own families. This racism is passed down through generations by encouraging the lighting of families and children. “Para mejorar la Raza” or to better the race is an idea where families hope for a better future for their offspring by choosing lighter skinned partners. In the story of “Your Lips” she analyzes the anti blackness that is expressed by a Boricue family to their own family member. The women and girls in the family pass around a red lipstick and each admire the way it looks on each other. At last the narrator asks for the lipstick, but they deny it to her and tell her that it would not look good on her because she looks different from the other cousins, referring to her skin tone.
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