In the week before Obama won his presidency, this guy on a Mexico City roof, above, thought up a great costume for a Day of the Dead party. There were only a handful of people who gave this get-up any pause.

There are a lot of complicated reasons, which I hope to explore throughout various blog posts, why many intelligent people in this country don’t see anything wrong with blackface, or deny racism exists here. As a person whose mother is from South America, and father from Prince Street in Newark, I’m always interested in how Black Latinos view themselves in the context of Spanish-speaking culture, and how those cultures in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Spain, view people who are Black.

This 2005 piece from the Boston Review, raises the race issue, starting with the Vicente Fox speech that said Mexicans grind doing the types of work not even Black folks want to do. That, along with the federal government nearly making a postal stamp with this character’s mug on it, brought international attention to Mexico’s apparent culture of racism (which really isn’t that different from what still exists in the U.S., we just hide it way better).

“Criticism of race relations and racism in Brazil, Mexico, the Andes, the Caribbean, and Central America has developed as a natural extension of multiculturalism and identity politics in the United States, and many studies describe persistent racial inequalities masked by the idea of racial democracy.

This criticism and research has, in turn, fed discussions of race in Latin America, albeit in an attenuated manner: Brazil has had its own proponents of “black power,” and racism against Indians has become a theme in Mexican social movements.

Because these challenges are difficult to reconcile with Mexico’s 80-year-old ideology of national integration, they are often downplayed in public debate—as if Mexican racism had long been taken care of, and as if whatever remains of it were somehow less harmful because things are worse in the United States.”

Check out more on the topic, here.


And I’m not trying to say that there’s no love for Black people South of the border. This is still the place where many, many people of African decent can cake up and make a name for themselves. Just ask Johnny Laboriel.

Advertisements