I’m so confused.
So I’m seeing all these articles trending about Sasha Calle, who has recently been cast as Supergirl to appear in the upcoming Flash movie.
And here we see the gorgeous Sasha Calle courtesy of Getty Images.
Like OMG… she is beautiful. And they can keep her brunette and make a great change to the character, not as great as calling her Superwoman, but still worthwhile…but that’s not what I’m writing about today. I keep seeing it written that she’s the first Latina Supergirl and that confuses the fuck out of me because to my eyes, she’s white.
But I am a white South African. I’ve heard and read others arguing about race before… white South Africans who call themselves “African”, and that upsets some native African, i.e. black people. Hence my confusion: Sometimes race refers to colour and sometimes it refers to culture, or maybe sometimes it means both. But when does it mean what?
Am I insulting Latina women if I call them white, or is the label itself used to prejudice against them, treating them as less than equal to white North Americans simply because it allows them to be treated as something other than white? I have a feeling a little of the latter is true, or at least, it may be. But how much?
Likewise, I will not refer to myself as African, ever, because black people born here can and do take offense to that. And this is even though I was born here and this is the only place I know or have ever been. (I have heard some people say we must go back to our countries, but I ignore those because I am fourth or fifth generation here from a mixture of Portuguese, Irish, English and French people. I have no country to “go back to”. This is my country.) So I’ll stick with saying I am South African. It doesn’t help that I’m named Jerome, and people who only know me through writing or other online medium sometimes assume I’m not white… apparently there was some sort of naming convention memo that my mother never read.
But I’m still confused about one thing: When does race refer to colour and when does it refer to culture? Or is that assumption a false dichotomy and is there something else I’m missing. It certainly does refer to social class and standing, always, and as much as some white people like to deny it and pretend that white privilege doesn’t exist, it is always white people at the top of this order. Because of hundreds of years of oppression and persecution, and social pressure.
And this brings me back to someone like Sasha Calle. Why is it important to bring up her being Latina? Why do I, on the other side of the planet in the Southern Hemisphere, have the impression that Latino people are often regarded as being inferior to white people, especially considering that they are often white and the only thing making them not white is a social construct?
I’m going to leave this open and not attempt to answer the questions I’ve raised here, but I do think it is important to use our privilege and teach our children to be aware of it. As long as any of us are more privileged than others because of this grossly unfair social construct, we can not afford to be colour blind. But I hope that we can teach future generations to put this behind them. Let the mistakes of the past be in the past.