Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures




caribbean, skin, afro, people, race


This thesis focuses on the literary representation of racism and racial identity crises that exist in Latin America. The social hierarchal system based on race that was created during the days of slavery still affects the lives of many Caribbean people. The idea that Afro-Caribbeans and people of darker skin color would be worth more and reach greater socioeconomic achievements if they had lighter skin is a widespread belief. This racist idea that whites are inherently better than blacks is so deeply rooted in the culture and minds of the Caribbean people that whitening of the race is a common practice for many. From one generation to the next, parents are often encouraging their children to marry those with lighter skin and straighter hair to ensure that their children will have whiter features. Understandably, the racism and marginality that occurs as a result of this mindset causes many to feel ashamed of their heritage and to deny their Afro-Caribbean roots. In addition, it is common for those of a lighter skin pigment to try to pass as white, claiming that they are from a pure blood line of Europeans. During the Black Movement of the Caribbean, authors such as Nicolás Guillén and Fortunato Vizcarrondo wrote about the racism and self denial that took place in Latin America. They criticized white Carribeans for being foolish enough to think that they, too, did not have Afro-Caribbean ancestry. Both writers also disapproved of Afro-Caribbean people who were not proud of their skin color and culture. Francisco Arriví and José Triana expand upon the ideas and messages of Guillén and Vizcarrondo with Vejigantes (1958) and Medea en el espejo (1960) respectively. These two plays demonstrate the ways in which race and identity affect the lives of Caribbeans of all skin colors, are a reflection of the Caribbean social structure, and provide further evidence that the social hierarchal system based on race that was created during the days of slavery remains and will not cease until skin color is no longer an issue.