For me, Chicanisma is a state of mind . . . one is not born Chicana . . . it emerges over time as a relational identity within the United States. This page will be dedicated to my musings on identity, place, memory, and culture.
What better way to start off than with Princess of Ancient Mexico Barbie (no lie).
Hijole, who knew? “Aztec Barbie” was released in 2004 . . . I might have to get me one! Pero, check it out, she is totally guerrita! It looks like Mattel just dressed up Spanish Barbie in traje. After checking, I also found Cinco de Mayo Barbie . . .
Hey, que honda? Cinco de Mayo Barbie is also creamy skinned with European features!
Just a reminder of the casta system implemented in colonial Latin America, here are some terms for racial mixture:
Blanco (Penisulares and Criollos)
Castizo (3/4 Blanco, 1/4 Indio)
Mestizo (1/2 Blanco, 1/2 Indio)
Albino (7/8 Blanco, 1/8 Negro)
Morisco (3/4 Blanco, 1/4 Negro)
Mulatto (1/2 Blanco, 1/2 Negro)
Although most of these terms are no longer in use, the skin color grading system is still in place. Mattel has done a much better job at showing the variation in skin tone of African American Barbies. But, in terms of its portrayal of Mexicanidad — the company reifies Latin American (and US) privileging of whiteness.
The Importance of Origins
Culture is often influenced by place, especially so for under-represented peoples of the United States (African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans). For those of us that involuntarily became part of the United States through the violence of genocide, slavery, and conquest, connections to our ancestors and places of origin are often fragmentary, ephemeral, undocumented (there’s a pun in there), and discounted. For my people, we have experienced 160 years of racism, segregation, and disregard. I remember some time ago visiting the county museum where my family is from. There was not a single mention of the Mejicanos that had settled the region. I am pleased to note that since that time, work has been done (albeit insufficient) to document our presence and inflluence in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.
Follow this link to read about archaeological excavations of a Hispano community founded in 1859 by 14 families from Santa Fe, NM.