Post-race in the Americas III

This is the first time the World Cup has been staged in Africa.  Historically, there´ve been so many raw and degrading images of Africa and people of African-descent.  What are some images of Africa that have been popping up in media during the mundial?

I know, not as many people trip off skin color as we in the United States, or so I´m told. But I´m always happy we´re uptight enough to mostly dismiss these kinds of images. I think that if those types of graphics didn´t signify such dislike for dark skin color, that I would be cool with it.  Laugh along with the joke. But normally, I can´t. Too much going on underneath.

I flipped on the program halfway through and didn´t catch this guy´s name, but I heard the cast members refer to him as ¨Negro¨. Of course.  This is normal programming for the Televisa Saturday morning gab fest,  Hoy Sábado.  It´s the type of morning show that´s so bad, it makes Jillian Barberie´s work look excellent and useful.

I figured the character, who handed out yellow cards to certain announcers during the telecast, was making fun of World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly from Mali.  He made a series of iffy calls during the recent U.S. game. Here´s the Telegraph´s story on calls I think cost the squad a goal.





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Ad sequence: Benicio, the Ice Cream Man

benicio del toro advertising


Benicio Del Toro´s Magnum campaign kicked off earlier this year. It´s been Mexican bus stop signage since at least April. I kept seeing this ad, and wondering to myself what this means when an actor does these kinds of moves. I can´t imagine an Oscar winner doing this for the U.S. market (Eva Longoria was the Magnum spokesperson just before).

Reminds me that huge stars do ads in Japan for the types of products you´ll never see them shill for in their home market.  What´s the public reaction in Mexico to this ad? I guess the goal is to get people to eat more overly sweet dairy bars. I just hope Benicio knows that Mexico is already one of the countries (along with the U.S.)  where diabetes and obesity are increasing.

basketball ads in mexico

Basketball and football have a lot of fans in Mexico City. Doesn´t compare with soccer or wrestling, however, that´s slowly changing.

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San Judas and Reggaeton



What started out as just wanting to share a mini documentary called “San Juditas…Power!” (2008),  above, turned into an encounter with fan sites, and forums, focused on big-time hate for reggaeton.

*add (5/20): According to the video, the San Judas “cult” is a transnational phenomenon that started in Chicago,  and later made its way to Mexico. As the director tells me, “Es el santo para los ladrones.” He’s the thief’s saint.

I haven’t paid too much attention to the San Judas followers, since moving to Mexico City. But it’s obvious that most of the young people you see on the train, toting their horned Jude statues, and heading for Templo de San Hipólito every 28th day of month, are from the outskirts, and some of the roughest areas of the D.F. metro area.

According to, San Judas Tadeo, or Saint Jude Thaddeus

…is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and his feast day is October 28.

The anti-reggaeton sentiment, I think, is more classist than anything. The reggaetoneros are viewed as thugs and neardowells, when in fact, most are just young kids among the desperate and needy whom San Judas is supposed to protect. Albeit with airbrushed and rhinestone caps.

One Facebook fan site, is filled with pictures tagged with racist and mean captions and comments.  Odiamos a todos los reggaetoneros ke van a la iglesia de San Judas los 28’s (We hate the reggaeton fans who go to the San Judas church on the 28ths) has over 4,000 fans.

You can see a few of its mocking portraits below, and after the jump. There tends to be special distaste for reggaeton’s doggy dance or perreo that the kids do.


There’s a group called “Anti-Reggaeton”.

Below, an undated, partial newspaper clip about the subgroup that makes up so many San Judas followers.

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Post-race in the Americas II


My mission in these posts is not to say that Mexico is a bad place for Black folks. To the contrary, there’s a thriving population here from the Caribbean, Africa and Haiti, among other places.  The presence of these  cultures makes the city a much richer place to be.

But the fetishization of antiquated images of negritude, seems to flourish here. And it leads one to think that certain aspects of Mexican society are resisting progression towards a more inclusive country. Maybe that´s an exaggeration.

Still, that´s just my point of view. Which is obvious, given my background, growing up Black and Latino, code switching in a suburb of Newark, NJ.

And to be fair, those images are similar to these images, which we were nurtured on, while sitting in front of the T.V. in the U.S.  So, the representation of images of Africa and Africans here isn´t too different from our depiction of Native Americans at sporting events.

Above is a picture from Africam Safari (the “m” designating it as a Safari in (M)exico), in Puebla.

It´s been around since 1972.

Although that ¨African¨ mascot and other similarly disturbing (and hilarious) images dominate the park, it´s interesting that little of it is represented in park ads, or on the park´s Web site. Maybe because these images aren´t appropriate in 2010?

Photo gallery after the jump….

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Post-race in the Americas

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.

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¡ Ask a Jeweler !

I’ve been clearing out photos from an old laptop and came across this 2008 snapshot. Many southern rap fans probably know TV Johnny Dang from his appearances in Slim Thug or Paul Wall videos. I talked to him for this piece I did back in ’07.

Looking at this photo again, though, TV reminds me a lot of an acquaintance, OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano. Not sure this qualifies as a “separated at birth” post. You decide.

Gustavo, as you can tell from his column and complete grip on  the OC immigration debate, is a Mexican journalist. TV Johnny is Vietnamese jeweler to southern rap stars. The thing they both share, other than having parents who were born in other countries, is being very successful in what they do.

Weezy on Mexico City Bus Stops

lil wayne rappers prison
FROM HOLLYGROVE TO D.F.: Lil Wayne fronts Rolling Stone, here in the Mexican version. This is a bus stop billboard on the corner of Moneterrey and Alvaro Obregon in Roma


Hip-hop isn´t as noticeable on the streets in Mexico City as it is in North America´s other major cities, NY, L.A., Atlanta, Toronto. That´s why this Rolling Stone (Mexico) billboard, above, caught me off-guard. You can find it throughout the city, on bus stops.
Does everybody know what Wayne represents, in the sense of representando? ¨A Milli¨ was played out a while ago. The only American rap cut I hear on Pop 40 Mexican radio is “Empire State of Mind.” Jay-Z is just mainstreaming himself like that I guess. That song Wayne did with Shakira, I hardly ever hear. It hurts my ears anyway.

The RS cover is a duplicate of the US version. Wayne going to jail, etc, etc. AP had a trite piece today on rappers going to jail

In the history of hip-hop, other popular rappers such as Slick Rick, Shakur, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Remy Ma, Beanie Sigel, Shyne, Mystikal and C-Murder have spent a few months to several years in prison. Snoop Dogg was acquitted of murder; Diddy faced jail time but he was acquitted in 2001 on bribery and weapons charges stemming from a club shooting. His protege, Shyne, wasn’t as lucky and was convicted in the same case and sentenced to 10 years; he was recently deported after his release from prison.

They talk to Shaka Zulu alot, Ludacris´manager and get the big jailhouse chat with Gucci.

Gucci Mane warns others to avoid his fate.

“Don’t keep bumping your head against the wall,” he says. “It’s a serious situation. It’s so many things that happen behind these walls. Think about how to avoid situations so you won’t have to come in here.”

The story is somewhat pointless, just a repeat trend piece some bored editor said to roll with, following RS´ lead this week.
The truth is, on the streets, going to jail is cred—a right of passage for Black/Latino men in America. Going to jail, as in the case of Tupac, and following that up with platinum success doesn´t happen to everyone.
I can´t name another rapper after, who had a publicized jail stint, then ran to the top of the sales charts when he became free again. What Wayne has working for him is that he´s still young. And, like Annette Funicello, Cubby or any Mouskateer, he´s been training for the music life since he was a pup.
But it´s not about that, going to jail for thuggery lends your rhymes credibility. I think if a rapper goes to jail for unpaid taxes or speeding tickets, it doesn´t work the same.

Of course, many of the faces referenced in the AP story bring the trouble on themselves.

Mainstream media and critics generally don´t have a clue when it comes to the particulars of these guys. It gets me.

Take for instance all the tatto-age on Wayne? Other than the ¨B¨ he´s holding up with his right hand, the rag in his back pocket and the ¨DAMU¨ scrawled on his chest—outright gang affiliation—what other reason does the ¨greatest rapper alive,¨ have to be going to jail? Thuggin(g), of course.

bloods gang Lil Wayne rollinstone magazine

AfroMexicana: Ms. Epifanía

To mark Black History Month, we’re celebrating Afro-Mexican History Month here at I Know Huh?.
In late October, I met Epifanía, a cigarette-smoking senior citizen in her 80s from the Costa Chica town of Cuajinicuilapa (“Cuaji”).

Oct. 28, 2009

She came to Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropologia, along with a larger group of elders and children invited to celebrate Dia de Muertos with a traditional danza de los diablos.

More resources ….

And just for good measure, here’s a 2005 piece talking about two documentary films focusing on Black Mexicans: “The Forgotten Roots” and “African Blood”.

Tony Gleaton’s photos were my introduction to Black Mexicans. No.
I’m wrong. It was Kemo.

Moyenei x Baby Bump x Roco at Foro Alicia

Moyenei shows that it's not only M.I.A who can rock a crowd with a baby bump.

That’s Roco’s baby in Moyenei’s stomach. As a musician, he’s about as famous as you can get in Mexican protest-pop. It should help Moyenei’s career down the line as well. She came to fame in Chile as a singer in the all-girl crew Mamma Soul. You can check one of their video’s here. There’s also a good page of information, here.
Moyenei tried to bring that all-girl formula to Mexico a few years ago, and well, if you read her interview in my last blog post, you know how that ended up.

The Alicia was packed last Thursday night (Oct. 22) for the presentation of Fermin Muguruza’s Checkpoint Rock: Songs from Palestine
, which was followed by music performances. The crowd grew restless with Moyenei’s singing and started to chant FERMIN! FERMIN! You could tell the mix of Spaniards in the crowd of mostly Mexicans. Muguruza’s brand of ska/punk and dub is much in appreciation in these parts. What’s mind boggling is that he sings in Euskara, or Basque language, and none of what he was saying seemed lost to anyone who was there. The power of music with a message.

The doc, for what it was worth, had its obvious political leanings. It was a 100% Palestinian p.o.v. You can read La Jornada’s take on it. One of the gems of the movie was a short piece on Palestinian femcee, Safaa Arapiyat. I have no idea what she’s saying, but her swagger is kind of tough on the mic. Take a listen and watch her ham it up in a recording session.

Rocking with his soon to be baby mama. Roco and Moyenei at Foro Alicia Thursday, Oct. 22
Heavy Reading: It was the type of event at the Alicia where book in Spanish by Chomsky were being sold near the ticket counter.

It was the kind of event where anti-establishment reading materials and books in Spanish by Chomsky were being sold.

Cuernavaca Flow Of Eva.Eme

EVA.EME: Not a backpack-underground-rapper. She reps Cuernavaca.

I didn’t want to edit this video too much, I wanted you to see the off-the-cuff Eva.Eme (pronounced Eva Punto Eme).

In Mexico, these days, it seems like everyone raps.
Over the summer I had a chance to meet 21-year-old MC Eva.Eme in her home town of Cuernavaca, Morelos. That of course is a written rhyme in the video above, but what I’m impressed with more about her is her love for the music and its energy. She sacrifices a lot, and given shady biz in the industry, people who rap on stage almost always do it for the love and not the bread, because you just don’t cake like that. Check out her group.

At this point in her career, she’s working a day job, trying to play clubs on weekends, and to my surprise has to suffer abuse from her mother just to go rock a mic. Eva showed me a scar on her wrist from her mother wilding out on her for coming home too late after a show. Drama. But that’s the life of an early 20s Mexican girl/rapper.
I’ll have a more thorough profile written for you later. I just wanted to get this video online for people to see. And yes, fans, hip-hop is alive and well in Mexico…but like anything, it needs a little work. If Eva keeps working on her bars, no telling where she might take her rhyming skills.

Listen to Eva:

Go here, and scroll down to stream 2 tracks by Eva.Eme.

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