Work Abroad but earn in USD

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Race(ism) in Argentina

Che, Negro

One of the first people to come visit me in Argentina was my friend Paul. Paul is about 6 foot 4 (193cm), 240 pounds (110kg), has Nigerian black skin and at that time sported an afro. Now I am the one who is used to getting all the attention when I walk around because I am 197cm with curly blond hair and I too sport an afro at times. But when I took Paul to calle Florida to people watch, they ended up watching him. I have never seen so many heads turn and stare. Thankfully, Paul is very easy going and has a great sense of humor. We discussed it afterward.

The conclusion we arrived at, was that there was not the slightest hint of racism or prejudice conveyed by the Argentines. What we witnessed, was novelty. Paul said, “It’s like the first time you go to the zoo and see a giraffe—you stare—not because you hate the giraffe, not because you wish it ill will or think it’s going to steal from you but because it’s very different than any other animal you have ever seen before.” And Paul is right, with less than 4% of the population of African ancestry, and most of those living toward the north of the country, it is not surprising that this country of mostly Italian and Spanish immigrants is surprised when they see an African face.

I took Paul to several parties where mainly locals were gathered at people’s homes, drinking, playing cards, etc. He was welcomed and kissed just like any other person and nobody gave it much thought. There were some comments made, like “Che, ese negro es un negro de verdad, “ and the like, but these were simply observations/ jokes/comments that meant nothing more than calling the guy with the big nose “pipa” (like pipe) or calling me “grandote” (giant). It is a real assessment of the physical nature of the person and says nothing about stereotype, prejudice or bigotry. This tends to be the way of things in Argentina in general. Here, they call a spade a spade.

Interestingly, the word “negro” in Argentina can often be used like we use the word “dude” in English. Often, the person in a group who has the darkest features will be called “El Negro.” But the interesting thing is that I find that Americans in particular, myself included, will be ultra sensitive to race issues as we have been conditioned to think this way. Many Americans, even though we are not racist or bigoted in the slightest, will look at a Black person or Hispanic (in the U.S.) and think (within a split second) “Oh, there is a (person of color) and I shouldn’t stare. But I also shouldn’t look like I’m trying not to stare so I won’t look away too quickly. And I’m not supposed to assume that they are going to rob me, because they aren’t, they are just normal people. Why would I assume something about a person (of color) I don’t know? Oh, shit I’ve thought about this too long, maybe I am a racist. I’m such a horrible person for even thinking that it would be ok to not stare at a person of color. I’m still thinking about it….” An Argentine would never over-think, let alone even think about this type of situation in that fashion. When it comes to physical appearance, they are direct: a fat guy they call “el gordo” and that is how he is designated in place of his name, a skinny guy is “el flaco”, a redhead “el Colorado”, a bald guy, “el pelado,” etc. This is not out of malice, this is the way things are. Es así.

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44 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been reading the blog for quite a while and enjoying it. My wife is from BA and we've discussed this issue exact at length. The nearest we can determine is that since African slaves were not imported into Argentina and Rosas killed all the Indians, the bulk of the population from the early 1900's immmigration is (> 90) white. Without that existing class/race structure, the racism in Argentina never really took hold. Considering that the villas are about 90% Bolivian, Paraguayan and Ecuadorian, I think the days of the vaunted un-racist Argentines is coming to a close.

On a side note, the last time I was there I saw these two African-american girls from Baltimore being treated like absolute royalty by a couple of local guys. If I was black, I'd definitely live there.

5/02/2008 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriel said...

Actually, it is out of malice to a great extent. Compared to the US there is a lotof 'petty malice' among adults in Argentina, like a high school that never ends.

As for racism, let's see what reactions your friend gets if he decides to marry a local girl. Argentines are very racist but, in their defense, so are most Latin Americans. The whole politically correct world view thing simply hasn't arrived in BA.

5/02/2008 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Without that existing class/race structure, the racism in Argentina never really took hold."

-Um, not exactly. In about 1850, 30% of the Buenos Aires population was Black. In the latter part of that century all of the blacks were killed or driven out of town. I learned this from an Argentine who gives city tours and knows the history of this country.

Last year I was casual friends with a black female university student from the States. (I'm older than University age.) She would make comments about the stares and treatment that she would get. She was DEFINITELY defensive and I think that she was probably very annoyed at the difference between being black in D.C. and in BsAs. People always thought that she was Brazilian.

I don't think that it is horrible for black people here, but it definitely an issue. I've discussed this with a woman who works with people trying to find jobs Teaching English. She has seen many black teachers have difficulty finding work here.

Just reporting what I've learned, witnessed, and discussed.

5/05/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of any black/african communities in BA today?

5/06/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Argentine Rocket said...

I grew up in BA. Most of the racism is directed towards other Latin-Americans living in the country and "stealing jobs" like Peruvians and Paraguayans, and in terrible ways. Your comments that blacks are seen as "different" in a good way and mostly treated well and gaining lots of attention seem right. I also agree with your comments about the non-malicious ways to "criticize" each other, and disagree with Gabriel's comments, though I found them very interesting.
Being an Argentinean living in Utah and Wyoming was probably comparable to that. I didn't feel discriminated, but definitely got people's attention.

5/07/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only speak about a friend's experience in BA. He is Colombian and Lebanese- trigeño, not black and we spent an evening talking about this. The treatment varies, of course, but he has experienced both ignorance and hostility there. It is a wonderful place and I love BA as well but to say that there is no or very little racism, seems disingenous. There are plenty of Peruvians and Bolivians that would disagree.

5/07/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger pericles said...

To be frank I get tired of these posts that seem to justify the inherest rascism of Argentine society. I live and work in Buenos Aires and I hear and encounter terrible comments about foreigners living here especially their nearest neighbours.

The comments about Peruvians and other Indian countries comes across as plain arrogance . The attitude of the people here is that they are like a lost tribe of Europe floating in a island surrounded by savages.

The funny thing about the Portenos is that most have indian blood . Tests have proven close to 50 percent have indian genes something they try so hard to deny

5/07/2008 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Don Gonzalito said...

Pericles,

If Argentines are so terrible towards their neighbors, what Argentine politician would be the equivalent of Tancredo, for example?
Against which of our neighbors are we building ramparts?
What Argentine provinces are "Klan provinces"?
Right Argentina's government is offering a regularization plan (called "Patria Grande"), making possible to millions of citizens from neighboring countries to get their situation regularized, with minimum requisites. What kind of program has the American government implemented in that regard, in the last 3 decades?
What Argentinian populist-conservative commentator would be the equivalent of Lou Dobbs?
What native or foreign languages are Argentines afraid of, running scared and scrambling to promulgate all kinds of petty laws and ordinances declaring Spanish the "official" language of Argentina?
Are Argentine police training to have immigration enforcement powers? Is a Paraguayan stopped for crossing a red light liable to be deported?
Do Argentine immigration enforcement agents customarily raid chicken plants and other menial job places, and pry hard-working parents from their children who would be most likely Argentine citizens? Or in the raids that do occur on sweatshops, who do they go after, the exploited Bolivians or the unscrupulous employer? What about the US?
Would Argentines (so cruel and imaginative towards deriding their neighbors) coin a term for those children such as "niños ancla" (anchor babies), implying that their are not true Argentines but just a device for their parents to milk welfare?
The list would go on an on, but I would be satisfied if you educated me in any of these points.

5/09/2008 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Don Gonzalito... your comment is very interesting and speaks lots of both governments but nothing about racism in Argentina society... which is as real as the mate...

Your african negro friend is well treated because its american (this would be the case in some evironment and the opposite in others)... but if your friend was a bolita, chino, paragua, peruca, chilote, etc... you name it... it would be different...

5/09/2008 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What native or foreign languages are Argentines afraid of, running scared and scrambling to promulgate all kinds of petty laws and ordinances declaring Spanish the "official" language of Argentina?"

You obviously don't know what you're talking about...
Argentines ALREADY have petty laws that display their intolerance of other languages. What about the law 18248? Have you heard of it? http://www.defensor-alejo.com.ar/legis_web/nac/nombre.htm
This law explicitly prohibits parents from giving their kids foreign names. Oh and appart from this, when foreigners get DNI's in Argentina the "Registro Civil" changes their names to the Spanish form (if there is one), like for example if your name is John they change it to Juan. At least in the US parents are allowed to name their children what they want and foreigner's names are respected.
Also, you seem unaware that most argentines don't even want to learn English because of their deep hatred for anglo-saxons. Some argentines even say that english music should be banned, so go figure... Personally, i think americans in general are much more tolerant of ethnic diversity and I'm not even American. I'm Argentine.

5/09/2008 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous paul said...

Argentines may complain about racism in the US but the truth is they are profoundly xenophobic themselves. I hear derogatory remarks about other ethnicities much more often in Argentina than I've never heard in the US. Besides, argentines have a deep resentment of everything Anglo. They won't hesitate to make disgusting comments about your country of origin, especially if you are from English-speaking countries. Many of them are also profoundly anti-semitic. I think this is something that is worth mentioning as well. Peron was a known nazi supporter. At least I can't think of any american president who was a nazi supporter (can you, Don Gonzalito?) ;-)
I think argentines should look in the mirror before they criticize others... Their constant bashing of the US makes them look extremely hypocritical.

5/10/2008 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I can say something, since I am an African-American (from Atlanta) who is living and working here as an English teacher. I have visited BA several times over the years...I really like Argentina. However, what was once cute is no longer so when they ask you "How much?" as if you are there just for their pleasure. That would be my only complaint if I had one. To say that there are no racists here would be a lie. It's impossible. Especially not with the neo-nazi community here. But, Argentines discriminate against anything different, like say, someone who does not dress fashionably, for example. Or as one commentor said, "chinos" and paraguayos, as another example. Hay gente y hay gente. However, it is also quite irresponsible to bring our own definitions of discrimination and racism and thrust them on the Argentine people. I'm having a great time. Yes, I'm more conscious of my skin color and sometimes it freaks me out when people stare, but I've also learned that it's ok to stare back.

5/11/2008 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Don Gonzalito said...

Paul,

Yes, former Argentine president Perón established and promoted ratlines for defeated Germany's scientist and Nazi hierarchy. He declared war to Germany only under international pressure and as a mere formality (I believe 2 days before Germany's surrender), and sympathized with the fascist, totalitarian views of Hitler and Mussolini. At the same time, he was an unprincipled pragmatic who expected to exact profit from Nazi Germany's hidden assets and nuclear physics knowledge. As did Brazil. And Paraguay. And Chile. And the USA.

No, I cannot think of any US president who had been an active Nazi supporter. The closest I can think of, was Woodrow Wilson, who promoted KKK parades in Washington DC. But, at the same time, he was careful to tolerate beatings and persecution of people of German origin (you know, the "liberty cabbage" and all that good stuff). So no, he was not a Nazi.

You are right, some few people in Argentina talk trash about the Jews, as part of what I think is some sort of stupid intellectual snobism, rather than inherent racism (someone in this forum described it, very accurately I think, as some kind of petty, perpetual high-school immaturity). At the same time, economic crises in between and all, Argentina has the largest, most assimilated Jewish community in the world outside of Israel. Jews are very loved and an integral part of our society.
Let me remind you that we were bombed twice by terrorists targeting Jewish civic centers in Buenos Aires, and whatever the terrorist wanted to achieve, failed, since the Argentine society as a whole closed ranks around Argentine Jewry.

And yes, you are right again. A low-key US-bashing is some sort of intellectual pastime in Argentina, as in pretty much every other country in the world. Wonder why.
I lost the part where that constitutes "racism" or turns Argentines into hypocrites, but indubitably you can explain that to me.

Anonymous Atlantan girl,

If a man on the street shouts you "how much", Argentine or otherwise, what you do is slap him so hard that he thinks twice next time.
That is not a matter of nationalities, racism, sexism. It is just common decency and common sense.
You lost me when you tried to establish a connection between that particular act of male rudeness and neo-nazism, though.


Argentino anónimo,

Law 18248 was, in my opinion, a superfluous and unnecessary restrictive law about names, in order to make sure they were pronounceable in Spanish, and that they were not ridiculous or derogatory to the kids. As far as I know, it is currently still in the books but rarely enforced, and the civil service registrars are given wide discretionary powers on when to override it.
To me, calling your son "Washington González" is ridiculous, but I defend the right of parents to call a child as they please, and most of Argentina society seems to be perfectly happy with the hundreds of thousands of names already at their disposal. Please explain to me how this constitutes a xenophobic approach towards language.

As I said before: idiots producing ehtnocentric attitudes, there are in every society. So far, the postings here fail to convince me that Argentines are generally and inherently racist.

5/14/2008 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Don Gonzalito said...

For what is worth, I just finished doing some little research on the current Argentine president (Cristina Kirchner), and no, unfortunately none of her grandparents were called "Prescott", and none of her grandparents were Nazi facilitators.

5/14/2008 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some information to refute myths about blacks in Argentina:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/04/AR2005050402125.html
Cheers!

5/21/2008 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger Don Gonzalito said...

Interesting article from the Washington Post.
It says that there were no catastrophic events, and that the indigenous black population basically intermingled with the rest of the general population, which caused black traits to be harder to find nowadays.
But then, ... oh no!
According to the one-drop rule, we are all black in Argentina!

5/23/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Giorgio said...

Race(ism) is just the result of Ignorance...It's a kind of Proctecionism. Argentina is a wonderful country and people there are very nice...but they don't trust in themselves....Racism is one of the consequence...everything will change but they need time...Consider that in USA and in many other countries in the world racism didn't stop completelly yet.

6/02/2008 07:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giorgio: YOU HAVE NO CLUE. Nothing will ever change and you are hearing this from an Argentine. Things are much, much worse now than 10 or 20 years ago. Discrimination is rampid and division between classes is very well marked.
Just walk down the streets of any city in Argentina and tell me that it isn't so.

6/02/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

I'm from Argentina, and I'm not at all sure there is racism here. There is certainly snobbism, and classism. But asians, for instance, have succeeded in the professions and in academia. And they intermarry freely. But then, they were able, thru their abilities, to reach very soon middle class status. Not having european facial features, doesn't seem to have affected them in the least. Immigrants from neighbouring countries, who have native ancestry, tend to stay in the lower classes of society, and that, class, not race, is the reason for what discrimination there might be (not that it is good. But argentinians are extremely sensitive to social status -how you dress, talk, etc-). When they do succeed economically, and get to upper class status, discrimination vanishes.
No one ever in Argentina stopped germans, jews, koreans, chinese, japanese or even paraguayans (Carlos Avila from TyC Sports, and Anibal Ibarra -former mayor of Buenos Aires- are of paraguayan descent) from succeeding. But then, those groups were usually equipped with the cultural tools to perform succesfully.
It is your cultural attitude (towards study, work, effort, money, family), not your race, that will determine where in the income ladder you will end.

6/04/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger runnerfrog said...

Right on, Giant! :-D
Well, after reading the comments I guess that we argentinians are very good exaggerating our own defects.
I'm sorry to take the contrary of the ones who knows the most, ahem, but there's no racism here. You must be calling racism to something else, as Javier pointed out clearly.

6/09/2008 03:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although it has been noted by many that the stares experienced by Blacks in BA are not of hatred, but rather of curiosity, I have a very strong sense of right and wrong and regardless of the reasons WHY Argentines in BA would choose to stare at another human being simply because that human being is of a dark complexion or different race, it is appalling, cruel (whether intentional or not) and wrong on every level. Regardless of an individual’s race or ethnicity, we are all, above all else, human beings. As human beings, we have the right to certain basic dignities. Regardless of our race and ethnicity, we are not oddities, freaks of nature, circus creatures or zoo animals, on display for people en masse to stare at and have others defend with the excuses such as “Oh, it’s innocent… they haven’t seen many Blacks.” While it is understandable that people in BA may not have seen many Blacks, the staring, vulgar language and circus-like treatment directed toward non-whites in BA is not acceptable. Furthermore, it debases human beings, and reduces them to mere entertainment and objects of curiosity… And on a very basic level, it violates their rights as human beings to simply be… BA is full of educated, intelligent people who consider themselves worldly, sophisticated and superior to many. Such widespread, culturally acceptable ignorance therefore is questionable, and unacceptable, particularly in 2008… if the BA population is so sophisticated and educated, they should know basics such as the fact that not every Black in BA is from Brazil and not every Asian is Chinese… they should therefore be free from the ignorance that allows them to stare so unabashedly at and spew vulgar generalities at those who are non-whites. There is no excuse, in my opinion, for this horrible behavior (which I will NOT categorize as racist, classist or otherwise), just pathetic and lacking in regard for their fellow human beings… I personally believe that this behavior is fueled to a wide extent by an inferiority-driven arrogance, which then, is not really arrogance, but masked insecurity. Ignorance is NOT the culprit-- such behavior by the ‘worldly’ and educated is caused by CHOICE, NOT by a lack of knowledge…

6/16/2008 02:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been several references to Asians in this thread. Javier says they have the same status, but from some of the other comments, I infer that they are treated differently. Could someone comment on this?

6/24/2008 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I participated in a study abroad in Brazil when I was in college and a guy in our group was of very light complexion with bright red hair. Everywhere we went people stared and even at times giggled when they saw him. These people were of dark complexion but I can tell you they meant no harm to him. This is something the classmate in question would attest to.

I think it is the same for people of dark complexion in Argentina. Whenever you stand out physically something like this is going to happen, its human nature. It does not mean there is malice behind it.

7/27/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I´d love to answer lot of things been said here, but it would make this too long.
Well, actually, i´d like to invite to never come here to Argentina to that person who said that "politically correct" hasnt come here. The politically correct talking thinking etc. is the most hipocrita, poisonous and fake thing there is in the world. Please, we like to say it like it is.
And another thing, i feel like many critics of "racism" here actually bring here and see things with they own mental structures, but not knowing how it really is here.
It´s kind of chauvinist to think that everybody sees or must see things they way you see them.
What´s the problem with call someone boli, peruca etc.?
The next time someone from usa, uk, etc, says "argie" i have to punch him on the face? I know it´s just a nickname sometimes, but lot of expats and tourists use that word as derogatory, as it was it´s original meaning.
To finish, this made me laugh "Also, you seem unaware that most argentines don't even want to learn English because of their deep hatred for anglo-saxons. Some argentines even say that english music should be banned, so go figure... Personally, i think americans in general are much more tolerant of ethnic diversity and I'm not even American. I'm Argentine." Hilarious, go check icana to see how empty that english school is (not to mention that english is a language you study at school).
Sorry, most americans (i know this first hand) are "politically correct" but deeply despise any other people of the world, call them mexicans, argentinians or french, no hablemos de los negros the "afro americans"; they just dont say fucking niggers, but they would never share a drink with someone with a dark skin or foreigner.
Well, if you want to bring to Argentina issues that belongs to USA, just stay at your home please, we never had KKK and dont want it either.

7/31/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sorry, most americans (i know this first hand) are "politically correct" but deeply despise any other people of the world, call them mexicans, argentinians or french, no hablemos de los negros the "afro americans"; they just dont say fucking niggers, but they would never share a drink with someone with a dark skin or foreigner."

I totally disagree. I've met many Americans and I can assure you that the majority don't despise foreigners. Perhaps all the Americans you've come across have been rednecks. In that case, I understand... But the general population of the US is not like that at all, especially in big cities like New York, Chicago, etc... I can assure you the average New Yorker is much more multi-cultural than your average Argentine. In fact, most Argentines are rarely exposed to other cultures and this makes them quite narrow-minded. The fact that the majority never travel abroad doesn't help, either. The lack of exposure to foreign cultures can only lead to intolerance and narrow-mindedness... This is an obvious fact.
Besides, most Argentines tend to develop a provincial mentality from a very early age, which is often encouraged by their parents and teachers. They call it "nacionalismo", but it is bigotry plain and simple... They tend to develop this attitude of superiority, always thinking that they are right and that it is the foreigners who are wrong... I think before they criticize Americans they might want to take a closer look at themselves.
On a side note, I've never seen an Argentine sharing drinks with a Chinese or a Bolivian immigrant...

"Well, if you want to bring to Argentina issues that belongs to USA, just stay at your home please, we never had KKK and dont want it either".

Ohhh This is so moving.... I love it when Argentines get so hypocritical.... Maybe if they were not they would be able to see their own racism. Yes, they didn't have the KKK, but then again, they didn't have a significant black population in their country. Nevertheless, they DID have Peron and they DID welcome and help harbor nazi war criminals after WW2. Interesting huh? Especially if you take into account that Argentina is a very anti-semitic country. The things I've heard Argentines say about Jews I'd rather not repeat... I've never heard anything like that in any other country, at least not in the US...

"To finish, this made me laugh "Also, you seem unaware that most argentines don't even want to learn English because of their deep hatred for anglo-saxons. Some argentines even say that english music should be banned, so go figure... Personally, i think americans in general are much more tolerant of ethnic diversity and I'm not even American. I'm Argentine." Hilarious, go check icana to see how empty that english school is (not to mention that english is a language you study at school)."

Sir... Many Argentines study English not because they like it but because it is widely used and it is required for many jobs and to do business. There is a big difference between studying something for pleasure and studying it out of necessity... Were you aware of this fact?

"Well, actually, i´d like to invite to never come here to Argentina to that person who said that "politically correct" hasnt come here. The politically correct talking thinking etc. is the most hipocrita, poisonous and fake thing there is in the world. Please, we like to say it like it is."

I think that even more hypocritical, poisonous and fake than that is how Argentines try to hide their own racism and make it look like it only exists in the US and not in their country. Perhaps they hate political correctness because they prefer to have the freedom to display outright racism as they please and make us believe it is normal...

8/12/2008 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

Americans,

we may be racist or we maybe not. It depends a lot on context and definition. We did have a syrian President, and you didn't. We did have a President whose mother was a native american (Peron), and you didn't. We abolish slavery without resorting to a horrible civil war. Peron welcomed nazi refugees, and so did the USA, to have them do work for NASA and for defense related projects.
But, above all, you are in a foreign country, and you are not the measure of all things. So, please, show some manners, and keep your opinions to yourselves.

8/20/2008 01:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a response to Javier's post dated 8/20/02 at 1:03am:
A country may have pockets of ignorant, racist people, however that in and of itself does not make the country itself a racist country.
A country is considered racist when it's social, political, educational and other institutions facilitate and enable a culture of discriminatory behavior towards peoples who are considered inferior or 'less than'... When the majority of the institutions support a culture of superiority and insensitivity towards others who are racially, nationally or ethnically different, that, my friend is a racist country.

For instance, the United States of America may have pockets of racist people, but it is not a racist country (anymore) as its laws and institutions do not support a culture of discrimination (as it once did)... Hate crimes and institutionalized discrimination are punishable by law... We have non-Whites of all races, including a number of African-Americans in positions of power... America has a long history of race-related issues, particularly with African-Americans, but America as a nation has made strides to correct its ways through legal and social actions, and has come a long, long way… and although there are pockets of ignorant, racist people, America as a nation has made great progress, leaving much of its institutionalized racist practices in the past…
Five proof points come to mind: Barack Obama, product of a Black father from Kenya and a White American mother - American Senator and 2008 Presidential candidate; Dr. Benjamin Carson, born to poor Black parents in the inner city of Detroit, named Director of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital - the WORLD's premier hospital for Neurosurgery, at the age of 33, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, In 1987 became the first doctor world-wide to successfully separate Siamese twins; Condolezza Rice, Black woman from Birmingham, Alabama, the deep US South became United States National Security Advisor and is currently Secretary of State; Colin Powell, product of Black Caribbean Immigrant parents became a US Army general & American statesman-- former Secretary of State, National security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ; Oprah Winfrey, Black woman born and raised dirt poor in the deep South, now worth well over $1Billion US dollars, Media Mogul and reigning daytime talk show host... I could continue to list others, but will leave it at that... As a nation, America has come a long way... we are no longer a racist nation, but a nation making headway against it's racist past, with laws to protect it's citizens and residents of all races, ethnicity and nationalities against the ignorant, racist pockets that remain in our country... that my friend, is the difference between a racist country, and a country with pockets of ignorant, racist people…

8/30/2008 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

Anonymous,

I most deeply commend the advances the USA has made from the Alabama of Wallace in the sixties, to where you are standing now.
Still, the sheer lenght of time it took you to begin solving this issues should prompt you americans to be more prudent and humble in approaching the problems (real or imaginary) you perceive in a foreing country.
In short, keep the calvinist preacher inside you in check.

Regards,

Javier

9/06/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Javier: in LESS than 40 years - which is less than a generation, the US has gone from the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960's to the democratic nomination of a Black man as president candidate...30+ years, less than a generation in the great stream of human history is definitely NOT a long time.. and a long time or not, at least we HAVE dealt with our race-related issues, so instead of being disingenuous and defensive, perhaps you should simply take a lesson from your friendly neighbors in the North and help your country better its views towards others whom it perceives to be 'less than'...

We're all human beings, we're all the same under the varying pigments of our skin... we're all worthy of opportunities, equality and respect... If Calvin was correct, he was correct, and right NEVER needs to kept in check, ignorant racists do... :-)

9/06/2008 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

Anonymous:

the fact of calling Barak Obama "black", being himself the son of a white woman and an african man, is conventional, an instance of the "one drop rule", and self defeating. It denotes a race obsessed society.
Of course pigmentation doesn't make us any different. At a DNA level the difference is negligible.
My point is: we argentinians do not feel entitled to give you americans advice on what to do with your society. So, please, do not give us your advice when it is not requested.
I'm pretty proud of our own record of intermarriage and assimilation.
When I went to the states, in the plane, I had to fill some weird form stating if I was caucasian, latino, pacific islander, etc.. That was really weird, and denotes a race obsessed society.
So we do not need american advice in that particular field.

And we do take advice from our friendly neighbour in the North. Brazil, that is.

Regards,

Javier

9/07/2008 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We did have a syrian President, and you didn't."

Menem was born in Argentina, so he isn't actually 'syrian'. He comes from a syrian background, which is a very different thing. Besides, in Argentina people of Middle Eastern ancestry are considered to be white, and therefore not a minority.
On another note, I find it funny that you even mention this, considering that we had a hispanic Attorney General and currently have a black Secretary of State and a black presidential candidate. Also, we've had minority representation in our Congress for a long time... What can you say about YOUR country? Are there any minorities represented in Argentine politics? Mmmm I don't think so.

"We did have a President whose mother was a native american (Peron), and you didn't."

You're wrong. For your information, we've had many American presidents with at least some degree of Native American blood. Clinton himself once admitted having a Native American ancestor...

"We abolish slavery without resorting to a horrible civil war."

The American Civil War was not just about the abolishment of slavery. It was a clash between two different modes of production, to decide which one would prevail over the other. It is a known fact that the main cause of the war was not slavery in itself but rather the disparity between the Northern industrial economy and the Southern slave-based agricultural economy. History is much more complex than you imagine...
On the other hand, I think you forgot to mention the horrible civil wars that took place in your own country, such as the war between 'federales' and 'unitarios' or the ones between 'caudillos' from different provinces...

"Peron welcomed nazi refugees, and so did the USA, to have them do work for NASA and for defense related projects."

The US welcomed Jewish scientists who fled the Nazi regime... Unlike Argentina, it NEVER welcomed nazi war criminals. Get your facts straight, dude...

"But, above all, you are in a foreign country, and you are not the measure of all things. So, please, show some manners, and keep your opinions to yourselves."

In case you didn't notice, this is a public forum where people are allowed to voice their opinions. If it bothers you so much, maybe you should start looking somewhere else for your reading pleasure...

9/07/2008 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Javier,
I don't call Barack Obama Black - I believe that's how, for the most part, he sees himself in the reality of things, as it is also the way the world sees him - if anyone saw him walking down the street, not knowing who he is, they wouldn't think ‘oh, there's the son of a White woman and a Black African, or there’s a mixed man’ they'd think, oh, he's BLACK! Because guess what, that HOW he looks, like a Black man, so that’s how the world perceives him, as a Black man… Acknowledging differences is not a bad thing, as long as that difference is treated with equality and respect. There is nothing wrong with being cognizant of another's or one's own race, just like there is nothing wrong with acknowledging differences in gender or nationality or ethnicity -as long as those differences are accorded EQUALITY and RESPECT... so I really don’t understand your point about the form…

And I’m stating an opinion, not giving advice - it is merely what it is, an opinion - and opinions will persist until the end of time ( unless you live in a land where repression of the freedom of speech is the law of the land)... and apparently, there must be some truth in the many posts about the racial state of affairs in your country, otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to so vehemently protest... to borrow a quote from the Queen in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet "Methinks [you] doth protest too much," If there were no truth in the comments posted, they would’ve merely been nothing more than sticks and stones to you...

And so far as I can tell, the Argentines don't really care for the Brazilians either, believing their Black women to be whores, and such—not much respect there… so, my friend, I know not of what you speak when you say you take a lesson from the Brazilians…Not to mention the perception of the Bolivians and Peruvians... another topic altogether…

And if your country is so greatly assimilated and has such rampant intermarriage – why is it 99.99% White – where are the mixed people and the people of color??? And can you please explain why my beautiful Black female friend was made to feel so very, very, very uncomfortable when she visited Buenos Aries - she was STARED at and made to feel like an animal on display in a zoo for the pleasure of the progressive, wonderfully assimilated and rampantly intermarried Argentines...Same thing applied for an Asian acquaintance of mine visiting Buenos Aries - where's the respect and equality of treatment? Did anyone dehumanize or marginalize your humanity and right to freely exist in the world or make you feel like you were less than equal and unworthy of respect when you were in the US merely because of your race??? I seriously doubt it - face facts, my friend, things are what they are... my comments are not advice, they are commentary, nothing more than an editorial based on fact... do with it as you like... but remember, or become acquainted with a wise saying: "Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing oneself is enlightenment."

BTW- I happen love your country, and am practically engaged to one of your countrymen... so this comes from place of honesty and love toward the better... I know what it’s like to have a visiting friend be subjected to dehumanizing conduct… it is not a wonderful thing… and it would be wonderful to never have another human being be made to feel like they were less than on such a rampant, wide-spread basis in such a beautiful city such as BA… That’s all there is behind my comments… a yearning for the better and nothing more… I've said my peace. Take care, my friend…

9/07/2008 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

Anonymous,

I can't comment on Shakespare really. I never read him.

But, well, as for the facts, my country, Argentina, is not white. Genetical analisys carried out by the University of Buenos Aires has shown that 56% of us have "at least" one native argentinian ancestor (an it may not show in our facial features. I guess that is how genetics work). Of that 56%, 10% are pure native argentinians.
On the other hand, similar studies have shown that 10% of the population of the city of Buenos Aires has at least one african ancestor.
There is the intermarriage I'm proud of.
I'd like to hear what are the figures for, say, the US.
As for asians being discriminated, that is plain nonsense. I have asian coworkers. Nobody ever thinks of them as different to anybody else.
Chinese immigrants control most of the small supermarkets in Buenos Aires.
Discrimination to asians does not exist. I'm sorry, but that is an invention. Your acquaintance must be over sensitive, or something.
We call a spade a spade. I'm bald, and people call me "che pelado" in my face, and that is right and they way it must be, fat people are called "gordo" in their face, and asians are called "chino". That is the way we are, and it is not discrimination.
As for brazilians. Most argentinians love brazil and are very fond of their people, and how warm and welcoming they are. I don't know what kind of psycho you happened upon who told you we think of black brazilian women as whores. That is plain insulting.
As for your black friend being stared at. Maybe she was. So what. That is not racism. That is curiosity. A friend of mind kept being stared at while in Japan. People was not used to western features. It is unusual for us to see people of african features, so some of us stare. I don't see how that is racist. It may not be the pinnacle of good manners, but it does not make it racist. Wouldn't people in Somalia stare at a latvian?. Would that be racist?.
Let me give an example: I'm of european stock. Several times a year I go into different coffee stores for a coffee and the waiters ignore me. Because our customer service is lousy. If I were black, couldn't I construe that as an instance of racism?.

When all due respect, I think americans wear some sort of sociological lenses that amplify anything remotely asociated with race.

Lots of us are of spanish stock. Still, sometimes, we refer to a spaniard as "este gallego de mierda". Is that racist?.

As for Barak Obama, it is you americans who can perceive him only as black. It is not a universal thing. Fernando Henrique Cardoso is of mixed black and white ancestry, and nobody called him the black president of Brazil. He was just a President of Brazil (a very good one, by the way).
How would people in the Republic of Congo perceive Obama?. As black?, as half white?, as mulatto?.

Regards,

Javier

9/08/2008 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Javier - denial is a very sad place to live... genetic studies aside, in your own census Most Argentines consider themselves White - so what is that? Is there so much shame in having African or Native American roots that everyone pretends to be 100% White-- something they are not so they can 'fit' in??? What's wrong with acknowledging all of one's heritage??? Isn't it the same as acknowledging one's nationalitly and gender???? What's wrong with saying my great grandmother ws Black - how well would that go over in your country???? If the genetic facts are true, which according to articles I've read, they are- why does no one in your country claim their non-White heritage? why does everyone strive so very hard to be White while looking down their noses at other races? Why is there no category marked 'Black' on the country's census - Black people DO live in Argentina, small a percentage though it may be - I suppose it's easier to marganilize them by pretending they do not exist... perhaps hope they'll simply all just disappear or slink away??? And why are racist, disparaging jokes allowed in your National media? Please see for example and there are tons more: http://www.theargentinepost.com/2007/10/racism-in-argentina.html

To your point about no discrimination agains Asians simply because you "have Asian coworkers" there is a social tension/racist undercurrent against Asians in Argentina - and there have been raids and boycotts of Chinese supermarkets - not to mention the popular culture of disparaging the Chinese supermarkets as unclean, targeting the Chinese as dishonest - in fact aren't the word for Chinese and dishonest interchangeable in Argentina??? Don't say no - I have proof...
To your point about the Brazilian Black women being considered whores, isn't it racist when various men continually verbally assulat a Black female tourist who's just trying to enjoy her trip assuming she's Brazilian just because she is Black, and if she's Brazilian & Black, well of course she MUST be a whore and asking her "How much???" And it isn't the stares in and of themeselves that make the staring bad, as obnoxious as the stares may be, it's the INTENT and the the air of I'm so very much better than, oh so very superior to you because my skin is White, that's behind it - it's the sense of malvolence that you don't get in other countries... that is the difference that makes one feel so very uncomfortable in BA... I'm very good friends with a number of your contrymen who are enlightned enough to admit this- that Argentines generally speaking (there are individuals who think differently) feel superior to others simply because of their European descent, that is, the Whiteness of their skin.. you may want to step into the light because belive me, NOONE belives your garbage... and most deeply, I imagine, not even you believe your own garbage...

Oh, btw - to your incorrect point about how no discrimination aganist Asians or other peoples exist in Argentina - Thought I'd share the following CURRENT files - I can send you MUCH more and MUCH worse if you like: http://www.discoshawn.com/2007/07/there-is-no-racism-in-argentina.html

http://mcleaninargentina.blogspot.com/2007/12/chino-nigger-chino-chino-nigger-nigger.html

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/abroadlondon/archives/2006/05/argentinas_sad_secret_racism.html

http://www.utalkmarketing.com/pages/Article.aspx?ArticleID=11440&Title=Argentina%20footballers%20enter%20Olympics%20racism%20row

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_Argentina

9/08/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Javier said...

Anonymous.

there is one reason why nobody says he is black in our census: we don't ask what race one is. So, go and do your homework.

Then, racism is denying someone access to some good, on the sole basis of his perceived race.
You have not shown one thread of evidence pointing to that. Only the deep hatred you guess is inside argentinians heads. The deep and unconfessed sense of pride in having european blood. That is no racism. That is just guess work. Maybe the argie you are engaged to thinks that way. Then, I'm so deeply sorry for both of you.

And then, for no particular reason, you called my opinions garbage, gratuitouisly insulting me.

Maybe it is just the remorse because your father belonged to the KKK and went about burning crosses. I could understand that.

Do yourself a favor, and get some medical help.

Keep posting if you will. I won't be reading any of your "garbage" again, redneck.

And I'm so damn happy I'm not an iraqi. I'm beginning to understand what they might be going thru.

Javier

9/08/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Javier - don't take it personally - it's simply an opinion, not a personal attack... use of the word garbage was simply an idiom for 'argument lacking in merit' which, btw, I meant in reference to your argument, not about you personally, so don't take it personally, it certainly wasn't intended that way... and you shouldn't resort to the personal attacks you threw my way, it's not necessary - let's exercise the freedom to trade ideas without degenerating to personal attacks... Let's keep it civil... this thread is ended... Lets you and I call it quits... Take care, my friend...

9/08/2008 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Agustin said...

I think the original post is very accurate...

Argentinians don't mind skin colour that much...

I'd say Argentinians in general are not racist, but there is unfortunately a lot of xenophobia directed especially at bolivians, peruvians, paraguayans...

And, regrettably, anti-semitism is also present...

That being said, race per se is never an issue there. People call themselves 'chino', 'negro', 'gordo','flaco', 'ponja' in a friendly way, believe it or not.

So when talking about Argentina, the difference between racism and xenophobia is really significant. You'll be bugged if you're an American, black or white. It's sad, but it's true. However, you won't be bugged if you're a native, white, mestizo or asian. This is really positive. Foreigners could be surprised that an asian-argentinian is openly being addressed as 'chino' and he doesn't care. Its actually a friendly term. This is because Argentinias don't attach race to their Argentinian identity. It is more about language and customs.

10/12/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That being said, race per se is never an issue there. People call themselves 'chino', 'negro', 'gordo','flaco', 'ponja' in a friendly way, believe it or not.

It's incredibly funny that there are people in the world who would take something that is so blatently dehumanizing, and inhumane and try to make it seem, well ok and normal.. people often accept things that are wrong for numerous reasons, acceptance doesn't equal appropriate, respectful or humane. It's interesting that all the descriptive terms people chose to lovingly call themseleves have a negative conntation - i.e. flaco, which is translated weak in English; gordo, which means fat; chino - slang for Chinese (btw all Asians are NOT Chinese so this lvoing term of endearment in and of itself is evil); Negro which means black- It's like using words whith a negative connotation to belittle others under the guise of a friendly joke that is culturally acceptable... I'm curious, does anyone run around calling themselves White, Anglo, beautiful, sexy, hot in 'a friendly way' or are those words and the associated connations too worthy of use for daily dersion, albeit under the guise of 'friendliness'?

10/19/2008 05:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agustin:

You don't make the slightest bit of sense, and I'll prove it.

You said:
"You'll be bugged if you're an American, black or white. It's sad, but it's true. However, you won't be bugged if you're a native, white, mestizo or asian". You said that whites will and will not be bugged... so will us Caucasians be bugged in Argentina or not? I'm not trying to be rude, so if that's what it sounds like, I'm sorry, but that's not my point of this. My point is that I'm confused that you would say that whites would be bugged, and then you go and say that whites wouldn't be bugged... just saying :)

10/22/2008 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that Argentines are the major bigots in the States and Latin America. I finally had to drop all of them and their friends. I just could not stand one more dinner party where I had to hear about the virtues of being Argentine. Followed by American, Jew, Black and yes, subtle Mexican bashing. I am Mexican. I once told one of them that I hoped that when he died he'd come back as a Paraguayian. No offense to the lovely Paraguayan people. Indeed, as expected, the Argentine was offended.

But, they are such pet-lovers --they'll tell you and remind you that they have inpeccable table manners. Then, more about Argentiness, and never a night without someone bringing up their educational degrees. Even though most Mexicans present were better educated. Honestly, anyone with an ounce of ettiquette would never dream of comporting themselves in this manner!

I hear that in Argentina, there are more people in therapy than in any other country and it is the anorexia and bulimia capital of the world. This makes me a tad more compassionate, until I remember some of the vile comments I heard towards the end of my friendship.

1/01/2009 06:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's more like the BA I know and love, jajaja. She is right, sorta. It is like that with the portenos and portenas, of corse not all of them, but a lot. Portenos and portenas for those of you who don't know, the ones who were born in BA. The people of the prov., couldn't be nicer. I found in my years living there, like the previous writer, they are way more racist towards other Latins, rather than blacks, jews, americans. It it is in all classes of people, mainly more on the upper class. But all in all you just take with a grain of salt, because hey, they are are Argies ;-)

2/22/2009 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous claudio said...

im argentinian , son of italians....all i want to say is that ive seen like 3 or 4 people of color in my hole life (in argentina) and thats way when i see a person of color here it drives my attention....its justs something new...

what i want to say is that altough it could be annoying there is not a bit of racism in that...

really...

i only wanted to say so...because is sad that somebody feels discriminated when he is not..
i think that the guy who wrote the blog understood it perfectly...

excuse my crappy english

chiao...

7/22/2009 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An Anonymous writer said:

"It's incredibly funny that there are people in the world who would take something that is so blatently dehumanizing, and inhumane and try to make it seem, well ok and normal.. people often accept things that are wrong for numerous reasons, acceptance doesn't equal appropriate, respectful or humane. It's interesting that all the descriptive terms people chose to lovingly call themseleves have a negative conntation - i.e. flaco, which is translated weak in English; gordo, which means fat; chino - slang for Chinese (btw all Asians are NOT Chinese so this lvoing term of endearment in and of itself is evil); Negro which means black- It's like using words whith a negative connotation to belittle others under the guise of a friendly joke that is culturally acceptable... I'm curious, does anyone run around calling themselves White, Anglo, beautiful, sexy, hot in 'a friendly way' or are those words and the associated connations too worthy of use for daily dersion, albeit under the guise of 'friendliness'?"

I would like to make a couple of corrections here. I'm an Argentine myself and you have many things wrong. First of all "flaco" means skinny or slim, the word you may be looking for is "fraco" which is portuguese for weak and is not used in argentina under any context. Chino is not slang for Chinese. It literally means Chinese. And although it do agree than many argentines may be ignorants about eastern asians, we do not have an equivalent word for "chink", there is one for Japanese: ponja. though contrary to claims of racism, most Japaneses have intermarried to locals to the extent of not being distinguishable in appearence from other argentines.

It's also funny that a person accusing us of being racist would describe the spanish word for "black" as having a negative connotation.

At least in our country, it does not. Even thought the majority of our population is of european ancestry most of it does not come from northern european countries but from mediterranean europe where swarthy people are not uncommon. And the word negro is used to refer fraternally to those with that swarthy skin color. It's how my mom refers to me (as "negrito", the diminutive form) and she would be the last person to mean me any harm.

Although, I acknowledge the word can be derogative if used as a noun it's not when used as an adjective.

There are also many other misconceptions in other messages. Argentina is by no means a racially homogeneous country. We may appear as such to some due to a couple of reasons: 1.how common is intermarriage between people of european origin and of native american origin, 2.the sometimes small skin color differences between a swarthy european and a light mixed person, 3.the racist american view that all latin american and spanish people belong to a single race, 4.and people believing that having a substantial black population is the only form of racial diversity (and the absence of it, a sign of blatant of racism)

Still, RACISM DOES EXIST HERE, though is mostly directed to immigrants from nearby countries (except Uruguayans who are not discriminated for being perciebed as similar to us), and it's intrinsically related to class. In a way that a person from middle or high class or with attitudes or behaviour similar to one of those classes would be discriminated less frequently than another one that appears to posses caracteristics associated with lower class.

8/12/2010 08:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see east asians have been menationed here. This topic is specifically meaningful for me, since I'm a bit of a sinophilic, study mandarin and date a chinese born woman. I would say that even though racism towards east asians does exist, it's a lot less than towards people of nearby countries. East Asians come with a culture that favours them since it heavily values hard work and knowledge and because of that they have rapidly obtained middle class status and as in argentina race and class are very intertwined discrimation towards them is lower and decreasing faster than towards other races.

Regarding people of african origin, It's true that many people do associate black people with Brazilian and Colombians, though the average Argentine doesn't think badly of either of those countries so I don't think it's a motive for hostility (it does show ignorance, but argentines as the average population of any country are ignorant about a vast amount of things, which is a matter not easily resolved). Curiosity is the norm. Hostily can exist among the most conservative people and the older the person the worse, but I don't think most people feel superior to them.

I think the general tone towards our country is far too negative. Targeting us as an specially racist country is unfair. We never stablished laws that either denied civil rights to an specific racial group or granted them special privileges. We abolished slavery 12 years before USA (52 years before is you count black people born in Argentina), we haven't fenced off immigrants or stablished draconian laws that treat them as criminals. We don't harbour and tolerate religious organizations that despict white or european people as inherently better than the rest and try to either kill or segregate them.

And it's not as some people have put it, that it's becuase we did dont have a noticeable black population. Racism can exist and does exist wether there are or not black people. They are not the only recipient of that form of discrimination and not only their precense conforms a racially diverse society.

I apologize for my english. I realize that i don't speak very well. I urge you not to cling to my gramatical mistakes to avoid discussion.

8/12/2010 08:41:00 PM  

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