Former UTRGV educator pushes for conversations on discrimination experiences


CAMERON COUNTY, Texas – Origins of skin color discrimination dates back more than 500 years ago when Spanish settlers moved west to what is known today as Mexico and parts of the United States.

“The Spanish who came to Mexico in 1519 brought with them a system of class differentiation based on genetics. The highest level was a full Spaniard born in Spain, but as you go down the levels you come to people of mixed blood who were called mestizos,” retired UTRGV Anthropology professor, Dr. Tony Zavaleta said.

Dr. Zavaleta explained that the old skin color system is now a result of modern-day discrimination issues within Hispanic communities and many others including the black community.

With the recent uproar of protests in response to the death of George Floyd, conversions of racial inequality are trending online in Valley communities. “There’s not any animosity or hostility that exists in my opinion between Mexican Americans and African Americans in the Valley,” said Dr. Zavaleta who also mentioned that the growing population of Black-Hispanics and interracial marriages are a few ways to determine low hostility between the two ethnic groups.

But, despite the increasing numbers under his research, Dr. Zavaleta said conversations regarding discrimination needs to continue.

“I think there needs to be ongoing conversations possibly lead by the colleges and universities in the Valley. The thing that would be the best, in my opinion is have the students, the young students who are the future of our community, lead a seminar in which they talk about those kinds of things and their experiences,” said Dr. Zavaleta.

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