Is Spanish white? Here’s why the question is misleading

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Is Spanish white? There is some confusion about the topic. Let’s try to explain why.

Is Spanish white?

The question “Are Spanish white?” crops up whenever news outlets or social media users discuss race, ethnicity, and national identity.

The underlying assumption is that if you can identify with a country, it must also include people of different backgrounds.

After all, aren’t Spain and Spain synonymous? This is where things get tricky.

As trendy as this Spanish whiteness nonsense might seem to some observers, it’s very misleading and has little basis.

Why? Because as we’ll see below, it implies that the Spanish nation is monolithic when its history is anything but.

Spanish whiteness stems from the belief that Spaniards are an ethnic group with a common culture and a similar genetic makeup.

While these are all true, they don’t mean that Spaniards are monolithic – the opposite is true.

Below we look at what makes up the diversity of Spain and why calling yourself “white” isn’t always such a great thing after all.

A brief history of Spain’s changing identities

Spain has always been a country with a lot of motion. Throughout its history, it has been a centralized kingdom, a united country and an empire.

It has been Christian, Muslim, Jewish and pagan in its identity—there’s a reason the country’s name has changed so many times.

The Spanish monarchy was abolished in the 19th century and restored in the 20th but lived under very different names.

During the reign of Alfonso XIII, for example, the country became known as “Spain” while its monarch was known as “King of the Spains.”

Spain’s transition from a centralized kingdom to a federal republic was messy and convoluted, but the final result was a diverse country now home to a wide range of ethnic groups.

Spaniards are a diverse bunch.

There’s a common assumption that if you live in a country, you automatically belong to its dominant ethnicity.

After all, many people in countries like the United States, India, Pakistan and Peru belong to the majority ethnic group there, so why shouldn’t Spaniards be part of the white majority?

The truth is that not only is being Spanish not synonymous with being white, but it’s also not even a majority group.

Around 42% of the Spanish population is of African descent, and 17% identify as black.

It’s important to note that although the Spanish constitution identifies the country as “Spanish,” it also guarantees “the right to self-determination” of “nationalities and regions” in Spain.

This means that any person with a “Spanish nationality” has the right to be part of the Spanish nation.

What’s so whitewashed about being Spanish?

Whitewashed is a buzzword that has been making the rounds recently, and it’s been used to describe various things.

In one example, a UK radio station discussed the launch of a new food delivery app and wondered if it was “whitewashed” or “politely white” because it was being launched in the UK.

Similarly, a US writer wondered if a Spanish sports commentator was “whitewashed” when asked to comment on a Spanish-American football game.

The common thread here is that all of these uses of “whitewashed” stem from an assumption that if you live in a country, you automatically belong to its dominant ethnicity.

After all, many people in countries like the United States, India, Pakistan and Peru belong to the majority ethnic group there, so why shouldn’t Spaniards be part of the white majority?

There’s no consensus on what makes up “Spanish whiteness.”

Spanish whiteness is a very broad concept that encompasses many different things. At its core, it’s a belief that Spanish culture and genetics are so similar that they form a homogeneous whole.

This is the whitewashed part. The idea of whiteness is fraught with complex and sometimes-contested definitions, but whiteness in this context can be seen as a common culture.

This is why some people have compared whiteness to Anglo-Saxonism: both attempt to define a group by establishing a common set of shared traits. However, a lot is fuzzy and subjective about “whiteness”.

Some people might think that someone who is Spanish is white based on their skin color alone.

However, many people would instead consider someone to be white if they happen to have a certain set of cultural traits.

The problem with calling yourself white

People don’t usually choose to identify as a specific ethnicity; they identify with a nation or a culture. The problem with calling yourself white is that it implies that you are solely or predominantly of a certain race.

This may sound shocking, but people who claim to be 100% white are almost always mixed (with a white parent, grandparent, or both). The term “white” has been used differently over time and across cultures.

For example, many cultures have used “white” to refer to people, not their culture. Suppose you belong to a group that does not have a racial identity and has been historically discriminated against. In that case, feeling welcome in the white community may not be easy.

Summing it up

Calling Spanish white is not helpful and could make you feel unwelcome.

We’ve seen both the idea that Spaniards are all white and monolithic in culture are myths. There are no statistics to support the idea that Spaniards are a homogeneous racial group, and there is great diversity within the Spanish population.

While whiteness has been used as a tool of oppression in many countries, including Spain, it’s not a useful concept to define the Spanish nation. It could be harmful and lead to discrimination.

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