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Racism In Argentina

October 9th, 2007 | Categoría: Culture


TV Show: Duro de Domar
Channel 13


Host: How are you doing, Old Cat?
Cat: Good. How are you?

Cat: I'm going to tell you the first joke. Do you know who would drown first?
A white guy or a black buy?

Host: No, I've never thought about that.

Cat: The white guy would. Because shit floats.


Cat: Do you know how many times it takes to run over a black guy?

Host: No

Cat: It's very strange. You have to run over him three times.
The first time is an accident. The second is when you backup
to see what you've run over. The third is when you realize
it was just a black guy (so you run over him again).

Argentina's racial makeup is remarkably homogeneous. This is visibly manifest in Buenos Aires, which for a city of 3 million people has very little diversity. There is almost no sign of the city's more diverse, African-influenced past. This contrasts sharply with other major cities in the Americas and Western Europe.

It wasn't always so. Researchers say that in the early 1800s Afro-Argentines made up as much as one-third of the population of Buenos Aires. What caused them to disappear? Some cite a devastating Yellow Fever epidemic in 1871. Others say the government sent a disproportionately high number of blacks to fight in 19th century wars, including the War of the Triple Alliance. Others point to low birthrates and high mortality. Some say the black population gradually blended into to the broader Caucasian one, which grew dynamically thanks to European immigration. Paulina Alberto, an Argentine professor of Afro-Brazilian history at the University of Michigan, thinks it was likely all of the above.

Another observer had this to say when reviewing a book on the topic:

“In 1838…black people still made up approximately one quarter of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires. Yet within half a century the number of Afro-Argentines was said to have dropped to less than 2 percent of the population – a startling decline which apparently continued into the twentieth century, earning Argentina the designation: 'Land of the Vanishing Blacks.'”(1)

In 2005 Washington Post reporter (and friend) Monte Reel addressed the subject in a story. He noted that based on recent DNA samples some researchers believe “as many as 10 percent of Buenos Aires residents are partly des

cended from black Argentines but have no idea.”

As a white male, I can offer no comments about the role of race in Argentina from the perspective of a minority. Friends of different racial backgrounds have reported mixed experiences here, though most have been positive. I have heard many locals say, “Argentina is not a racist country. We don't even have black people. How could we be racist?” Apart from the odd nature of that statement, how should one think about race in Argentina?

What exactly would it take for a country to be “racist” in nature? Is the US a racist nation? How about the UK or Brazil? Clearly, racism exists in these countries. What percentage of a country's population needs to be bigoted for the country to be racist? Every nation has bigots and probably every human heart has at least some discriminatory tendencies. Is it fair to generalize how an entire country feels about anything at all, let alone race?

These questions are worth pondering when reflecting on this video. The segment I've clipped and subtitled comes from Duro de Domar, one of the more popular shows on Argentine TV. It brings to mind Michael Richards (“Kramer” of Seinfeld) and his tirade against black people during a stand-up performance last November.

It is not often that I hear racial pejoratives spoken in Argentina. But my impression is that such rhetoric seems to be voiced more openly here than in the US. This is not to say that Argentines are more racist than are people in the US or any other country. It does mean that racial pejoratives (which almost always relate not to blacks but to Bolivians, Paraguayans or Jews) are voiced with a nonchalance that seems less common in the US. If this is true, can anything be concluded from it?

At the very least, it indicates that many people here feel free to use racial epithets publicly. Undoubtedly, racism exists in the US, but it seems to be accompanied by a degree of opprobrium that does not prevail in Argentina. Earlier this year, US radio legend Don Imus called a team of black female basketball players “nappy-headed hos.” He was fired almost immediately and his $40 million contract with CBS terminated. Mel Gibson encountered a massive backlash after making disparaging comments about Jews.

Duro de Domar (or Hard to Tame) is a comedy show that some consider to be one of the funniest on television. Comedians often live on the edge of what is acceptable discourse. They frequently walk a fine line when trying to make people laugh. Many get as close to that line as possible to maximize the punch of their jokes.

It is to be expected that comedians will sometimes cross the line. This usually results in tasteless or simply unfunny jokes. But sometimes the line in crossed in a way that does more than offend the senses. That is what happened in this case. Not only is there nothing funny about these jokes, but there is something grotesque about them.

They are pure invective. Moreover, the reaction from the audience in this video is noticeably different from that in Richards' auditorium. Here, despite some apparently uncomfortable reactions, many people laugh and continue to enjoy the show as the jokes are told. Of course, Richards was on a tirade; he wasn't joking when he spewed his vile epithets, so this is not a perfect analogy. But there is something else to consider: Here there hasn't been a national reaction to Duro de Matar that parallels the outcry over Richards' comments in the US.

Richards' outburst made news around the world. Of course, this was largely because of his worldwide fame. But word of his act also spread because the US tends to air its dirty laundry in public, for the whole world to see. To whit, many people around the world know about Jena, Louisiana. Two taxi drivers here have asked me about it.

This episode of Duro de Domar seems to have come and gone without much notice. Perhaps that says more about racism in Argentina than anything that happened on the show itself.

Then again, consider what happened at Colombia University in New York yesterday. There a hangman's noose was placed on a black professor's office door. I can't say I've heard of anything like this happening in Argentina recently.

1) See Leo Spitzer's review of The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900 by George Reid Andrews, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4 (1982), pp. 781-783

Reel interviewed Professor Andrews for the Post article, which can be seen here.
Times story on the Colombia University Incident

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hinduyanqui says:

hey dude. good post and explanation. a topic that always opens the floodgates. as a morrocho,i think that argys are among the least racist in latam, certainly on an individual level. but on a societal level,there are problems, which occassionally filter donw to the indiv level. its interesting that leftists in latin america always love to criticize the US for its racism, but have a virtually impossibe time engaging in any self-criticism. another post you may want to consider is the self-esteem issue of those black argentines. that’s one of the biggest differences with the US I find. there, African-Americans have to deal with some problems, but fortunately self-esteem is not one of them, particularly on the coasts. Here and throughout latam there, there is so much shame and denial among people who have african roots. that’s arguably the biggest problem. and perhaps that is evidence that “____(insert ethnic group)pride” that is much more prevalent in the us can be a useful tool.
and oh by the way, being a blanco does not render your comments on this theme or observations irrelevant, not at all. you dont need to be a farmer to write about commodities.

Fernando says:

A decir verdad, en mi opinion, el episodio que retratas del programa de Pettinato no es gran cosa y creo que no representa el “sentir” generalizado del argentino. Por otro lado, no creo que este programa sea actualmente uno de los mas famosos, y menos en la actualidad en que lo han bajado a una franja de menor audiencia. De todos modos, si uno se remite a esos segundos que vos publicas, es cierto que los chistes tienen un enorme tinte racista, (y ademas son muuuy viejos!!! jejeje). Pero creo que es una vision muy sesgada de la realidad.

Creo tambien que el indice mas marcado de racismo en este pais, se produce contra la religion judia, mas que con los inmigrantes de paises limitrofes o chinos inclusive. Con los bolivianos/peruanos/paraguayos pasa lo mismo que en US con los mexicanos/ecuatorianos/portoriqueños/etc. Es decir, son considerados en su gran mayoria, mano de obra barata. Aunque me parece que en US esto es muchisimo mas marcado, ya que en las tareas que realizan los “chicanos”, los “gringos” no meten la nariz. En cambio aqui, podes observar por ej. en una obra en construccion desde paraguayos hasta chaqueños, pasando por porteños, misioneros, bolivianos, etc. Es decir , un crisol de razas en cada obra!!!! Lo mismo, pasa con la gente del servicio de limpieza, hay tanto argentinos como extranjeros.

Ahora bien, los enfrentamientos entre judios y no judios, creo que es la expresion mas marcada de racismo en Argentina. Podes comprobarlo, por ejemplo, en cualquier partido de Atlanta, equipo de la “B” oriundo de Villa Crespo, y caracterizado por incluir una gran proporcion de hinchas judios. Es muy comun que el equipo adversario, lleve banderas, cante canciones y todo tipo de manifestaciones raciales, sin ningun tipo de sancion o multa por estas acciones….

Pero en definitiva, sin perder el espectro de todos los problemas que tenemos en este bendito pais, considero que el racismo puede ser que exista en ciertos ambitos, pero ni por asomo en el grado manifesto que se da tanto en US como en muchos paises de Europa.

pablo says:

A ver si entendí… Primero decis que hay anti-semitismo en Argentina y citas un caso de discriminación racial contra los judíos. Es más, decis que se demuestra abiertamente, y sin esperar ningún tipo de sanción. Y después, afirmas que “el racismo acá no se da ni por asomo en el grado manifiesto que se da en USA o Europa” ¿No te parece un poco contradictorio? O sea que en Argentina se acepta la discriminación abierta hacia ciertos grupos, no existe ninguna sanción que reprima esa conducta, y aún así, según tu lógica el racismo se da en forma más manifiesta en USA o en Europa!? La verdad que no me cierra…
Por otro lado, ¿qué tiene que ver que se utilice a los hispanos como mano de obra barata en USA? Que los gringos no quieran realizar trabajos manuales no es cuestión de discriminación sino de conveniencia. Los americanos prefieren tener una carrera universitaria y conseguir otro tipo de empleos simplemente porque son mejor pagos. Nada que ver con el racismo.

Anonymous says:

Yes, there is racism in Argentina and in my opinion the average Argentine is more racist than the average American. I have lived in Argentina for 25 years and in USA for 8 years. The big difference in my opinion is that the U.S. has dealt with its discrimination problem through the judicial system and the educational system. I personally have taken college classes where the issue of racism is discussed. No such thing exists in Argentina. For the most part, Argentineans don’t thing that they have a problem of racism. However, the opposite is observed when one watches television. I have been to Argentina with an American-Korean friend and have seen how Argentineans are not used to dealing with ethnic minorities.

Anonymous says:

Im argentinean, I am racist, I hate every race in the world, especially Argentineans.

I choose americans to organize a country, but I chooze brasilians for a carnival (Americans dont even know how to dance, and brasilean have lees food than people).
Every race is the best for something, same as every person is the best in something.

I love america and liberty, parades and mcdonalds, I love Olmedo and Maradona, I love italian and black women, I love english organization and respect, love black music, I never been in Asia, but I love japanese tecnology. Love ice cream, dulce de leche, ferrari, mercedes benz, el chavo.

When Argentina had good money, work opportunities and others had lots of inmigration. Mexicans dont go to the states for mcdonalds believe me, they go because you have a WHITE GOOD ECONOMY… we have friends and we live in the same city our whole life.

Pablo Flores says:

IMHO you can’t generalize about Argentinians, just us you can’t generalize about (say) Americans. Discrimination towards Bolivians and Paraguayans is considerably more noticeable in the large cities of the littoral than it is in the north of the country, where the population is more mixed.

Argentina is not primarily racist – it’s unsophisticated and relies on crude caricatures of things beyond the typical “Catholic white-brown Western European-descended” Argentine citizen. Not only Jews but all major nationalities and ethnic groups are subject to all sorts of unwarranted generalizations, and there are neither laws nor political correctness to keep people from voicing them. As a result, when one of these people actually meets somebody from that nationality or ethnic group, s/he’s usually shocked to discover an ordinary human being. I think 50% of the Argentine racism problem could be solved by… more international travel.

leandro_tami says:

I feel that I can’t honestly talk about racism in a national level because I lack of information, but my general feelings are that Argentines do not seem to be seriously racist or segregatory. What I mean is that, for example, “hate crimes” do not seem to occur very often, in fact, I’d say that in general you won’t be killed in Argentina merely because you’re black/jewish/etc but that doesn’t mean, of course, that some madman may think differently.
In my particular case I do realize that it is possible that I sometimes make people uncomfortable because I usually act with a mixture of amazement and curiosity (not at all racism) when I see people with obvious different physical characteristics (like black or chinese people) but that is mainly because I almost haven’t seen people like them.

Maria en Staines says:

I’m an Argentinian living in the UK and I have always been amazed at how well people hide their obvious racism here. It’s so PC that it makes me want to scream. At least in Argentina you know where you’re standing and you know what to expect and as people are allowed to express themselves they don’t bottle it up and there aren’t any serious racial problems. I don’t know whether I’m a racist or not but at least I’m not a hypocrit. Well, actually I am, if I ever had anything to say about any race I wouldn’t dare say anything in case the PC police are listening!!!! Now after saying all of the above, I must add that I don’t find the racist jokes in Duro de Domar very funny, and that I do find them little bit shocking.

PMG says:

Racism in Argentina is by no way as high as in the US. The very fact of having institutions dealing with it in their terms (affirmative action, for instance) instead of erradicating it reinforces racism, creates resentment and new injustices. What the first comment says about “ethnic group pride” is what shouldn´t exist, and thankfully it does not exist in Argentina; that pride is the reflex of an auto-denigration. Any racial identity, whether positive or negative, is in the end hard to conceive for any Argentinean, since almost everyone has Indian ancestors (and black ancestors are mostly unknown), so labels like “negro” or “indio” are more likely to describe social classes, groups, and, mainly, cultural attitudes. That´s why they are interchangeable with, for instance, “grasa”, “mersa”, “punga”, etc. They all mean “uneducated, non-sophisticated, kitsch lovers”.
Having said that, of course there is a certain amount of true racism in Argentina, and I think mestizo population is the one that gets the worst deal. Jewish population tends to be middle/upper class, well educated, urban people with good jobs, and lots of position in the government (i. e., former Secretary of Education, two Chief Justices in the Supreme Court, etc.), and any attack against them (which exists) is immediately censored. I doesn´t happen the same with other minorities.
One last thing: the character of “el gato de Verdaguer” is well known for telling old and bad jokes, ridiculously simple and denigratory; Verdaguer is an old comedian, who wears a tuppé (“gato”, in Argentine slang).

Anonymous says:

Well researched, excellent article. I’ve studied this topic extensively and it was one of the best overviews that I’ve read. In response to PMG’s comments, racism is far worse for blacks in Argentina than in the US. This is coming from a black person who has lived in both countries. At least in the US, you can blend in and there are enforceable laws to protect you from discrimination. In Argentina, it was impossible for me to go anywhere and NOT be the only black person. Adults would stare, children would point, and I was sexually accosted almost every single day for the entire time I lived there because if I was black, then had to be Brazilian, and if I was Brazilian than I had to be a whore. I even got in an argument with a random guy on the street because he swore that all black people originated in Brazil (not in Africa as I tried to point out). In the end, just because Argentines ignore their racism and don’t feel it’s worth dedicating time or energy to addressing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Don’t confuse not caring with racial equality!

marcos says:

very racist country with little or no opportunityfor black people , the truth is that country is actually morethan 70% mestizo , but all claim white and from europe and believe they there to defend the white race and everything white without any knowlegde of black culture , history , nada

SofiaNo Gravatar says:

are there any cases of ethnic cleansing due to racism or any other reasons within the country?

CharlyRNo Gravatar says:

I’m sad to read your comment. Many of the looks you get, are more curious than racism.
You said: “In Argentina, It was impossible for me NOT to go anywhere and be the only black person.” .
That is not the fault of the people currently living in Argentina, and the fact you’re the only black person is not because we are not racist. It is a reflection of the people who were repopulating the Argentine national territory. Argentina had large waves of immigration in 1875 – 1890 (European), after the First World War (European) and after World War II (European).
Ethnic flow of people emigrated to Argentina was limited to Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and England (the latter with the boom of railroads). The following major immigration were from Asian countries like South Korea, Japan and now China.
25 years ago, thre wasnt a lot of Asian people in Argentina, and is very likely that if they had to feel like you feel in Argentina. Currently I know several people from South Korea, they have their own businesses, friends and even family.
Youi may not understand what I am trying to explain, but I tell you that if you were the ONLY black person, it was not because the Argentines are racist, but the fact that Argentina, in the last 100 years had no immigration of ethnic African countries.
I wonder how would you feel if you travel to Ukraine, where almost the entire population of the same race or ethnicity. It is a historical, not racial.
If anything I’ve written is offensive, is largely in my inability to write well in English (I have no trouble reading)

Argentine Rocket says:

In general, and sadly, I have to say I agree that Argentineans are very racist. Our problems are different than in the U.S., but they’re still there, big time. We may not have a hate crime problem, but there definitely exist discrimination against people with some native blood, like people from the Northern provinces, Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay, and also against people who are fat or don’t wear trendy clothes! Thankfully, I think the trend is changing…

Anonymous says:

wow, now I’m a bit concerned. I’m a college student of Indian heritage (as in from India) and I’ll be visiting Argentina on a short study abroad program to learn Spanish and Argentine culture.

I’ve done a study abroad program in France before and I havent really had much issues with racism. I had a person stare at me while riding the train but thats about it. He didnt say anything but I ignored him and walked away.
Most people thought I was Indian but then surprised that I have an American accent.

Now, I’m curious to know how I’d be viewed.

Matthew Barbot says:

What always gets me is that A) people here think that Buenos Aires is diverse, and that we from the States or the UK are talking crazy when we say it’s homogeneous and B) they say that racism doesn’t exist here.

I tend to think there’s just no one to tell them when they’re being racist, so they don’t know.


yes, I’m from Argentina !!! now living in USA.
And yes, Argentina is Racist, everybody is in some point. For example Mexico is Racist against White looking people… unlike Argentina against Dark looking people. but at the same time Mexico exports actors from Argentina and Europe to have good looking people on TV.
and if you are just a tourist… you’ll might be ok. and won’t realize racism, but living there is totally diferent. especially if you come from “other countries” like Bolibia, Paraguay, Peru… El Chaco, Jujuy, La Tablada…
Someone said Argentina is a rainbow of race… yeah of course… a rainbow without dark colors.
What’s wrong “being diferent” ???


Anonymous says:

I’m argentinian by nationality i was born in the caribbean i’m half negro or mestizo, argentina is very racist, there are ppl here that have never seen negros before, most jobs underpay you and its not necesarily based on the fact that you are from another country. I didnt come here because i needed to go somewhere better, i came here cuz my dad is originally from here and i wanted to get to know the culture and travel a bit, i also study here. In history there are alot of political issues that have alot to do with racism, like the exodus that occured here before Julio Roca became president, the marched indians from all parts of the country and brought them to buenos aires and placed them in large concentrations in areas like avellaneda and quilmes. These indians have undergone the same treatment as the african americans in the US but here the people look at it as the way of organising the country, not as a racial matter, i compare this to situation to the same acts of Hitler where he attempted to eliminate Jews. Now i’ll tell you something there is discrimination and racism here, the descriminate nationality and colour, some ppl accept your colour but when they hear where your from its a different story, what can i say its just the way the world is. I think the coloured ppl of argentina, the working class are not aware of the racism that exists because they are accustomed to being called “Negros”, but when you realise that they know everyone else’s name and then, they call you negro you tend to realise there is something wrong here. But what argentinians fail to realise is that they too are latinos who in some cases will also be descriminated and we have all come too far from the days of colonialization and slavery to continue with this ignorance. Once i saw the front page of a newspaper say “Go Home Negros de Mierda!” that was blunt enough for me to realize what’s going on. The lower class darkskin ppl of the country side are not even allowed to appear on television. NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT.

taosNo Gravatar says:


I’ve can’t imagine a serious newspaper headline every saying anything remotely close to what you described. I’m highly skeptical. Meanwhile, one of C5N’s top hosts is dark-skinned. There is a good deal of discrimination in Argentina – about that there is no doubt. But I don’t think you’ve captured the essence of its accurately in your anonymous comment.


Anonymous says:

United States they called themselves “whites”… only because they speak english, but they’re full of “negros”.
Argentinians are white but speak spanish… that’s another proof of the shelfish ignorance, and poor information, in U.S.A culture.

TerminalV says:

Huh?! Anonymous, nothing you said made sense.

This is a very interesting topic. I am a female South African, black law student going to Buenos Aires for a little over two months to do a law internship from next month. I am from South Africa which was previously the global racism pariah state because of the now redundant apartheid policies. I must also add that I am proudly South African and proudly black and there is nothing wrong with having pride in one’s heritage. If anything I find it really sad that Afro- Argentines, for the most part, are plagued with shame for their dark skins. I invite them to come to Africa to see what beauty lies in the different hues of our skin colour. I live in South Africa and have lived in the US for about 5 years so I can give you a whole long list of comparisons between US and SA racism. For example, the first time I have ever experienced overt (as in to my face) racism was in high school in Minnesota, USA. I had lived in SA for 16 years before I lived in the US. Being a black person in South Africa and being an African foreigner in the US made me realise that being black and racism are as inextricably linked as Yin and Yang.

My beautiful country is also infamous for the xenophobic attacks of 2008 on foreign African immigrants known here as “makwerekwere.” This is synonymous to the Argentine “negro” and “morocho” etc. in reference to Latin American immigrants. It is racism. South Africa has a majority black population which was subjected to some of the worst forms of racial discrimination and these Xenophobic attacks last year happened in my own backyard by black people towards other black people; the so-called “black on black crime.” These attacks were shown to the whole world. South Africa is only 15 years into its democratic regime and although things have improved drastically and a lot has been done via the legislature and various social initiatives, racism still exists. Because my like the US, South Africa recognises its existences, when incidents of racism play themselves out, there is a huge furore and every news media agency publicises it because it is a big deal.

I disagree with those that said that the government (any government) should eliminate racism (pray tell, how?) instead of instituting policies such as Affirmative Action. For many American minorities (whether they admit it or know it or not), that was the only way they could have a fighting chance of having a decent life and for South Africans like myself, affirmative action has opened doors that would be padlocked shut otherwise. It’s just like saying that poverty should just be eliminated and no social grants, free basic social services and development programmes for the poor should be in place. The rich will just wake up and give up all their riches for the poor. We all know that it is only true for a few like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. I don’t see any racist society magnanimously holding the door open as a people who are considered to be inferior walk in to get a piece of the bounty. Let us not depend on people’s altruism because, in some instances, it just does not exist. So Argentines should recognise that there is a race problem in Argentina and stop trying to sweep it under the rug. In my opinion, in any healthy society that rejects discrimination on any level, “politically correct” (as Maria in the UK referred to it) there would’ve been a public outcry to the show.

In the apartheid days black people in South Africa were called “kaffirs” which is equivalent to the American “nigga” which unlike “nigga” is not used in South Africa, not even as a term of endearment amongst black people because it was NEVER used affectionately and will never mean “sweetheart” in the future. So the whole deal of using “negro” and “morocho” towards dark-skinned friends as a term of endearment is wrong as it stems from racism and it just means: “although we are friends, you are different from me and we will never be the same.” I also do not think that using it to call another dark-skinned person is empowering or turns the joke around because it was not funny to begin with. Are there any widely used terms that refer to white Argentines like the word “gringo” is used for white Americans? If there isn’t then there is a problem isn’t it? I refuse to be called “negrita” by my Hispanic friends because I don’t call them “brownie” and although some people do not see it as being offensive, it stems from a very ugly place.

So, let’s not be ignorant. Racism is racism and the lack of diversity in a country does not preclude it from being racist; if anything that’s when extreme forms of racism can be found because people are not accustomed to anything different.

I am going to Argentina with an open mind because that’s the type of person that I am- after all, we are all global citizens. And in a few centuries we are all going to be “mestizos” in varying degrees anyways so I really don’t know what the fuss is about. I know that I am going to enjoy myself and make a lot of new friends BUT if I am refused entry in a club because of the colour of my skin, I will ensure that that club never opens its door to anyone else again…just like I would in any country anywhere in the world including my own.

JamesNo Gravatar says:

No te preocupes tanto,
Im sure you will have a wonderful time here, good luck and enjoy your stay in argentina

JPNo Gravatar says:

I am a white-skinned (or more accurately, “blotchy pink” skinned) male, and I greatly enjoyed Kholofelo’s post. I do disagree, however, with the implication of her statement that “being black and racism are as inextricably linked as Yin and Yang”. Racism is far from exclusively the prerogative of white against black, even though I can understand how a black African or Afro American might feel that it was. I was once told by a man from Bougainville (extremely dark-skinned islanders from New Guinea) that “whites are OK and blacks are OK, but these brown people cause all the problems”. I was also told by a Vietnamese woman that she regarded races with a lot of body hair (meaning me!) as being closer to the monkeys in evolutionary terms than the smooth. Some of the most directly stated, disparaging remarks I have ever heard directed against blacks generally came from a Japanese mouth. And I doubt that the Jews in Europe 70 years ago would agree that blacks are the only targets of racism.
The good news is that racism does seem to disappear when people of different races gain experience of each other in a liberal and civil environment that encourages mixing. At least, that seems to be the case here in Australia. The more people mix together, the more obvious it becomes that these small differences in physical characteristics are entirely trivial compared with our common humanity.

CamtuNo Gravatar says:

I appreciate your comment. You are truly an open-minded individual. I wish you luck on your trip. I will be Argentina as well in January. I was searching about racism in Argentina because I am a minority in US and am facing subtle racism on daily basis. It’s something that is unavoidable. We just need to come with an open mind, enjoy the journey, and learn from experience.

Anonymous says:

Hi Kholofelo,

I dont think you will have any problem with rascism such as not been alowed to have access to a place in Argentina or anything like that as long as you pay what you consume. A black person with money is always welcome.

I think rascism here is mostly linked to poor people that on top of it is black or from a neighboring country or african. We have many africans here but they came with refugee status. I have only met one black person from Africa that has a decent job ( I mean he makes some money) and he is representative of soccer players… but that is an excemption.

But do not expect to marry a Mitre a Constantini a Perez Companc a Macri or a Rodriguez Larreta, or anyone that has attended a private univerity here and has Private Health Care. That kind of people with education, tradition and strong conservative values who like to consider themselves as liberals, will never marry a black person or a poor morocho/a.

All the above may sound funny but it is not.

Cavalli-GNo Gravatar says:

Hi Anonymous,

In regards to your post, since a black individual with money is accepted, and it seems as if an individual is poor, they aren’t accepted… Is it the same with other races, particularly whites? I do agree however that education is a key factor in creating differences among groups, so do groups marry with in groups not because of race, but because of economical factors and education? Just curious and wanting some clarification. (I’m trying to learn Spanish, particularly Rioplatense Spanish.. so excuse the errors.)
Gracias (right?)

Anonymous says:

Also, here we do not have all that politically correct way of speaking as in the USA.

We do not call an African American “un Afroamericano” or “Africano”, we say “es un negro del Africa” or ” es un negro peruano” or “es un negro uruguayo” but on their back. Although the word negro is common use.

Although I am white it would not be strange for me to hear once in a while “che negra, ¿querés un mate?

RicardoNo Gravatar says:

I am a 19 year old Argentine-American of Mestizo blood,and I live in California,and all I got to say is who cares,if the blacks do not like it then leave Argentina! It is not their land,it is Amerindian land not African land.They are racist and no one ever says anything about that,they have called me an “immigrant” (even though I was born here) I was called a “spick” excuse me but that is extremely offensive to a Latinamerican.It is like if I call them the N word.

RicardoNo Gravatar says:

Do not get me wrong I am not afraid of them,I have fought them and have gone to jail for it,and if blacks want to fight again,we can fight again lets make it Latinamericans vs Africans,like it was in Los Angeles in the 80′s and 90′s when Mexican and Salvadoran gangs were destroying African gangs.

RicardoNo Gravatar says:

And one more thing, to be Latinamerican you have to have Amerindian blood,there is no such thing as a black or white Latinamerican.I am tired of my race getting misrepresented.That is not racist that is just standing up and protecting my race.If you do not like it leave MY land! That is why I am leaving the US because it is not Latin America.

-J says:


The new world, the Americas, North and South America collectively is a land that was originally inhabited by Amerindian peoples. If you are of Amerindian descent, then you are at home in either continent, South/North America. Why do you feel like you need to leave the U.S.? Chances are, no matter where you go, you will always continue to experience discrimination in one way or another.

I too have been discriminated against but who in this world has not? “Taking it to the streets” is not the answer. You can’t hate an entire race because of a few individuals, it’s just not practical

Anonymous says:

The Argentininan culture is very different from what you see in the US or other Latin American countries. Don’t take what Argentininans say very seriously, it’s just a cultural thing, we are graphic, bold people who like to stare. It is not bigotry. Argentinians use words very freely, and many people may take offense, but most of the times it’s not meant to harm and/or offend. Yes, there is a level of racism….which I’d call discrimination rather, and it can be hyperbolized because of the way the Argentinian person talks. Racism per se….I don’t know….I don’t think hate crimes are very common. Like I said, I’d call the “problem” discrimination. Yes, there is a tendency to point out people’s physical remarks, but I wouldn’t limit that solely to race. If you have a big nose, if you are fat, if you have some kind of physical impairment, you will be pointed out as well. It is a cultural thing, and I think people who are not used to the culture are greatly shocked. In reality, Argentinians have a a very open minded, yet extremely critical attitude. We put ourselves down all the time. If this was said about any other country, people would come here and deny everything you say. Instead, watch how us Argentinians accept the facts and even trash our country a bit. I was born and raised in Argentina, lived in the US for half my life. I don’t know what I consider myself, but I can tell you that the US has REAL racism. I don’t remember ever filling out a form in Arg where I have to say what race I am. So I have a white background, yet I was born in Argentina, which makes me Latin American… should I check that box? Is the “white” category reserved for Europeans and “Americans”? In the US, you have NYC, FL, CA, DC which are pretty cosmopolitan cities. Go to the ‘other’ states, and you’ll find the most bigoted people you can find. I don’t want to generalize, but when I went to TN, people were staring A LOT. And if they hear you speak Spanish…..oh dear. You are a Mexican. I’ve heard so many people here discriminate against other races, African-American included, those “Mexicans”, because you speak Spanish, “those Chinese” because you look Asian, “those Taliban” because you look Middle-Eastern. Please. Argentinians are no different, they just tell it to you in your face, they don’t talk behind your back. That’s why so many people hate us, we are a blunt bunch. And about the staring…..Argentinians STARE! I think it’s an Italian thing. They don’t just stare at people of different races, they stare at everybody, and they pick everyone appart, from their physical characteristics to the clothes they are wearing. Don’t take Argentinians too seriously, it’s a complex, ridiculous culture, try to understand it. And I agree with others here, that mainly the discrimination comes from a social thing, more than a racial thing. And yes, you can be white for all you want, and yet may be called “black”, or “negro/a” it’s just the loose way Argentinians use words.
Moreover, if a person from Bolivia, Peru, Chile, etc is born in Argentina, they may be called “cabeza” but they are still Argentinian.It is not the same for people in the US, and various European countries. In Italy, if you are not of Italian descent, you may get a “resident” status, but are not considered Italian (or even a citizen). In the US, you may be born here, but you are always categorized as Hispanic-American, African-American, Asian-American and what not. Unless you are white, you are not really “American”. Keep that in mind ;-)

charlyNo Gravatar says:

The president of Argentina does’nt want us to be whites any more.
they want indians here because they say we are (no latinos enough)
this government is destroying this country
they hate people with european background
whats going on here is crazy
white people is not wanted any more .indians from bolivia are robbing our houses and parks .
this the truth.
Please somebody do SOMETHING!
look this is true;

michaelNo Gravatar says:

I was in Buenos Aires last April and I experienced their racism firsthand. I have light skin and blond hair so I don’t look hispanic, and I got nasty stares from people everywhere. I was treated very rudely in stores, restaurants, and nightclubs. The Argentines are known for their racism; especially against whites and Asians, but they sure don’t mind taking our money. They rely heavily on those tourist dollars.

MikeNo Gravatar says:

I was in Buenos Aires last year, too. I have light skin and blond hair and I experienced a great deal of rudeness as well. I’ve always heard that in Argentina nearly all the people are full- blooded European which is nonsense. The Argentine people are nearly all mestizos, and they look no different from Mexicans, Guatamalans, Puerto Ricans or other Latin Americans. The travel book I prchased said that in Argentina 97% of the people are of European heritage which is rubbish. I’ve always heard these rediculous stories about Argentina having a large German population! The truth is in Argentina they despise white and Asian people. In most of Buenos Aires it’s not safe for a white person to walk around. They’ll kill you for being white (or Asian). I was also appaulled at how dishonest people are there. They were always trying to rip me off. I was in Japan two years ago and people are sure nicer over there.



FeydakinNo Gravatar says:

I’m a Nicaraguan mestizo, same race as Ricardo and a few of the others who have posted great comments here. I was a little wary of going to Argentina cos I thought it was almost exclusively 100% White and I am a medium-skinned Arab looking mestizo but now after reading all these comments I think I’ll fit right in over there, plus I already speak ” vosotro ” and I’m a right-wing Somocista like all the Peronistas over there. I feel really sorry for anybody who doesn’t seem to get the fact that Latin America IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE RACIST, I FIND IT REALLY FUNNY TO SEE ALL THE AFRICANS, ASIANS, AND ARABS OVER HER WHO THINK JUST BECAUSE ALL THE ILLEGAL BROWN-SKINNED LATIN AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS ARE DOING MENIAL JOBS IN THE STATES THAT’S HOW IT’S LIKE OVER THERE, BUT NO WAY IT’S NOT. I was born into an aristocratic Nicaraguan family, in my country I am treated like a Prince and in every Latin American country I go I am as well. Here in the U.S. people respect me cos I have money, education, and I carry myself like a person with class and distinction and I think they can sense that I’m not an ” ordinary ” Latino, and yes I have been called ” beaner ” , ” wetback ” and ” Spic ” but those comments roll off my back like bulletproof Kevlar. I think it’s a fact that I was exposed to education and money that afforded me the luxury to believe in myself and my true worth as a person, because when it comes down to it as one of the great commentaters here said, it all comes down to how much money you have in your wallet/purse, how much you spend, and if you give back as much as you take cos people never LOVE YOU FOR YOU, BUT THEY LOVE YOU FOR YOUR POCKETBOOK. So I will have great fun with the Argentine girls on my 2-week vacation, I’m sure I’ll find willing girls everywhere even though I’m darker than most Argentine men, I’ll enjoy my Argentine churrasco ( and compare it to my fine Nicaraguan ones ) and I’ll enjoy making new friends in the Silver Land. VIVA ARGENTINA, VIVA EVITA, VIVA PERON!!!

Cavalli-GNo Gravatar says:

I was interested in this post because it hits home, being Caucasian (I was born in Italy) and having parents who are white, I was the odd ball of the family and got my Grandfather’s and mothers genetics and am darker tan. My birthmother and father passed away, so I am living with my mother who married my father after my mother left him, despite his career as a doctor etc :/ … anyways, after “dating” an individual who comes from Argentina, it caused a whole riot within the family… They didn’t like darker colored skin, more the father, but nonetheless, they want white…. I still don’t understand. I’m not uneducated, I lived up north for the majority of my life, was educated in a well known private school (WT), top of the class, and have the potential… I care about this other individual so much, but it’s unfortunate that they hate for no reason… I know Italian, although it wouldn’t help much… Is there anyway a darker skinned individual can break the race barrier in a culture like this? It also is interesting, because his family is working class… so I find it ironic that the judge my family, who is white collar professionals, and whom went to college… I don’t know, it just saddens me that people have prejudices and racist ideals that have no substance other than in the mind. My cousin did an MBA program in B.A. and she said it was a beautiful city and capitol. Is there a way to connect and show people you’re a good person, despite being darker skinned? I’ve met his mother, and she seems very kind. His father however has hatred or contempt towards me. I mean no harm.

[...] BTW, on Argentina’s African roots and popular prejudice against blacks, seehere and here, for [...]

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