Yeah it's just weird - I never knew what "red" meant until I got down here for undergrad (yeah i felt dumb b/c it's not that hard to figure out). I bring up the Caribbean thing because it's pretty standard down here. Almost everyone is from somewhere else. A lot of Caribbean folks and I remember being in the Bahamas and there it seemed to be a big deal. Like folks from Haiti were hated on for being dark. But in Miami, it's not just the fellas that are guilty of this. It's moreso "hoodish" women.
So is it like Japan's fascination w/ blonde hair blue eyed white girls - a novelty? exotic?
Oh, agreed def annoying
Yeahhhh definitely...everyone is from SOMEWHERE lol! (Representin' V.I. Massive myself!) In my experiences, I find that those who were actually raised over here seem to use the distinction more often then those who weren't raised over here. At my undergraduate school (in Miami), there were big groups of Chinese Jamaicans, Trinidadians of Indian descent, etc. as well as those who were "Afro Caribbean" and many seem to have trouble with our "ethnic" distinctions on forms. For example, my roommate was Guyanese but raised in the Turks and Caicos Islands and never felt quite comfortable checking the "Black/African-American" box. However, if it were the only option she would choose either it or "Other". Perhaps, this could be due to the fact that in many Caribbean nations the majority of people are of African descent and overall, many have "mixed" heritage anyway....despite the hues of their skin.
For instance, many of my Jamaican friends (of different ethnic backgrounds) will identify with being "Jamaican" if you ask them "What are you"? I can only imagine how they would respond if we asked them to fit themselves into even more "sophisticated" classifications such as "red" "light skin" "dark skin" etc. lol
However, I do recognize that Caribbean nations do have their own racial/ethnic issues...what country doesn't?? But when it comes to actually being defined by the pigmentation in one's skin...no one, in this hemisphere, seems to have us beat lol!
I personally think our usage of the terms "red" "clear" "dark skinned" "light skinned" etc. stem from some warped form of slavery's impact on our own self identification as a people. I think this is different from what the Japanese do with the blonde hair/blue eyed thing (Good question by the way!!) The Japanese also prefer being "lighter" than "darker" but their fascination does seem to be due to the fact that is "different" since the Japanese, as a people are soooooooooooooooo homogenous physically. (Dark hair, small people) The "Blond hair/Blue eyed" like phenomenon also occurs with other groups...such as those that like hip hop (will dress how they think Black people would "dress"), dancehall/reggae, rock, punk...everything!