Racism. African-Americans and “Whites”, African-Americans and Hispanics, Asian Americans and “Whites”, Asian Americans and Hispanics. Think of racism, and thoughts of clashes and conflicts between one of these ethnic groups and another predominate. The idea of racism is seldom associated with two groups of the same ethnicity.
However, another type of racism exists, one not necessarily rooted in ethnic differences, but rather on cultural and demographic differences, as well as location and economic status. It is expressed between communities or sectors within a racial group, and works to further partition them. Intraracial racism fragments communities already struggling with interracial racism. Being internal to an ethnic group, this notion is rarely considered by outsiders to the group.
In recent years, I have experienced two examples of internal racism within a racial group. The first one deals directly with my identity as a Puerto Rican. Puerto Ricans living in the Island have a general view of those who have migrated and now live in the United States. In most cases, individuals have moved to the US searching for wider economic opportunities, mainly during the first half of the 20th century, when the Island was shifting from a mainly agricultural to a predominantly industrial economy. Emigrants were looked at as inferior, as they represented the lower end of the economic spectrum. Additionally, most of them did not have a high level of education. Similar to
many immigrant groups nowadays, they were financially hard-hit and could only obtain the lowest jobs when moving to the United States, which in turn led to the formation of a specific type of community. They were constrained to housing in poor sectors, both socially and economically. This housing segregation resulted in the formation of poor, homogeneous communities in New York.
The discrimination from those living on the Island towards those now living in the US is a situation seldom discussed but nevertheless concrete. A possible cause for this attitude might lie in the North American stereotypical branding of all Puerto Ricans based on their views of such immigrants. Moreover, the overall change of environment over several decades generated key cultural differences that distanced the two groups. Additionally, immigrants in New York slowly experienced the process of acculturation, as they were inevitably exposed to different cultures in their everyday lives. This contrasts to the situation experiences by Islanders, who remained mostly isolated and “protected” by their shores. For them, inter-cultural interactions were infrequent by comparison.
The idea was explored in the creation of the popular musical West Side Story, which introduced the vibrant, colorful, and often explosive world of the Puerto Rican immigrant community in New York. One of the side plots of West Side Story was focused on the discontent of the Puerto Rican men. Disillusioned by...