2010-11-15

Racism in Argentina Part I

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In Argentina, as in many other parts of the World, “racismo” exists. Not only is there racism towards different groups of ethnicities and skin color, but also of socioeconomic and political groups too. The most common term used is “negro”...

This article was written by Andrew Kahan, a 24 year old student from Philadelphia, United States. In Argentina, as in many other parts of the World, “racismo” exists.  Not only is there racism towards different groups of ethnicities and skin color, but also of socioeconomic and political groups too.  The most common term used is “negro”, which is difficult to describe with clarity, but includes many portions of the population such as the working class, lower class, the poor, as well as criminals.  Also, attitudes of racism developed, along with xenophobia, as a result of a wave of immigrations during the 1940s.  Anti-Semitism also grew after the immigration of many World War 2 survivors to Buenos Aires as Argentina was one of the only countries in the world who opened their doors to war refugees, and consequently, to the perpetrators of the war crimes as well.  In 1995, Law 24515 was created, National Law Against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism to make an official, and coordinated attempt to eradicate racism throughout Argentina.  Some racist terms include “Negro” or “Negra”, which are used by the upper and middle classes to refer to the lower class, independent of their racial identities.  This problem is primarily generational as many of the older generations of Argentineans have not experienced the diversified Argentina their children and grandchildren are growing up in.  However, “negro” or “negra” can also be used as a term of endearment amongst friends and family.  For example, a famous singer, Mercedes Sosa, is referred to in admiration as “La Negra”. “Grone” is also used, not to refer to a black person or a dark skinned person, but as a degradation of social conditions, for example, a worker or son of a worker found in the lower class.  “Groncho” is also used, with racial connotation, referring to a despicable act or something ridiculous or grotesque.  Finally, “Cabecita Negra” is used by the people of the north and central of the country to refer to the rest of the population of dark skin and lower classes found in the southern region as well as immigrant populations.  Although racism in Argentina is not more or less than other countries in the world, it is important to recognize the existence of it as well as identify certain terms that are used so that they can be placed into context, both socially and historically. In the future weeks, I will post more information that I will discover through research and interviews with Argentineans.

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