Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) — It wasn’t until Julia Cohen Ribeiro moved to Argentina that she realized she was black.
Her hair was curly, but her skin was thin. She had never been identified as non-Brazilian in the country of birth. Then 11, she was shocked when people on the streets and schools in Buenos Aires claimed she was black.
Ribeiro, a 25-year-old film student at the University of Buenos Aires, said: A daughter of a white mother and a black father, she has since embraced that identity, eliminating the permanent myth that there are no blacks in the country, and aiming to combat discrimination against them in a fast-growing Africa. I participated in the Argentinean movement.
The 2010 census recorded about 150,000 Africans in Argentina, a country of 45 million people, but activists say the actual number will approach 2 million after a surge in immigrants. I’m estimating. This is because many Argentines forget or ignore their African ancestors.
“It’s a very contested person,” said Nicholas Fernandez Bravo, a professor of anthropology at the University of Buenos Aires, part of the Afloratin American Studies Group, and a government policy adviser. “The state doesn’t think about that number at all because it’s difficult to measure race and the state doesn’t take it seriously.”
President Alberto Fernandez stumbled upon the issue in June, citing an old local saying that when he spoke with the Prime Minister of Spain, he offended many at home and abroad. boat. By boat from Europe. “
Due to the backlash, Fernandez announced a kind of apology on Twitter.
“Our diversity is a source of pride,” he writes. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone, but in any case, everyone feels offended or invisible. Of course, I apologize.”
Argentina’s diversity was once clear. In the early 1800s, the slave trade (if not yet slavery itself) was abolished, so about one-third of the population consisted of African slaves or their liberated descendants. Even tango (a dance closely related to the country) has a strong influence in Africa.
However, national leaders welcome millions of white migrants, making collaborative and long-term efforts to Europeanize Argentina, downplaying and overwhelming the country’s indigenous peoples and African heritage. Did.
Many Afro-Argentines died in the mid-19th century war and were used as infantry victims of the first battle, but other historians say it is the main change in the racial composition of the country. Claims to be the cause.
Ribeiro has completed a documentary about Maria Remedios del Valle, a black woman who fought the British invasion of the Spanish colony during the War of Independence in the early 1800s.
After that, she was poor until her military comrades called her “Mother of Argentina” and gathered in her defense.
“Hopefully this will help change the way Argentina thinks, make it more diverse and culturally rich, and fight racism,” said a tour focused on the history of Afro-Argentines. Said Ribeiro, who leads.
This November’s celebration of African culture in Argentina is dedicated to the memorial of Maria Magdalena Lamadrid — “La Pocha”, an Afro-Argentine activist who died in September. In 2002, a fifth-generation Afro-Argentine was blocked from leaving the country by a customs officer who claimed that there were no black Argentines and that her passport was fake.
The composition of the country has recently changed again due to the surge in new entrants from Africa and other countries.
Angeles Martinelli, a white Argentine, married a Senegalese immigrant and soon faced racism head-on. She remembered those who asked, “What is the beautiful woman doing with the monkey?”
Martinelli, who works as a housekeeper, divorced her husband, who later returned to Senegal, but not before her daughter Ammi was born. Local folklore says that a black baby brings good luck, so people try to touch her. I just made Ammi cry.
Ammi is now 12 years old and very shy. Her mother is partly due to the curse from her classmates who often said, “You’re black, so you don’t want to play with them.”
In the northern provinces of Santiago del Estero, Emmanuelntaka grew up as the son of an Argentine mother and a South African father, and heard stories of racism and violence rampant in his father’s hometown. Currently, Ntaka is a musician and director of the social and cultural program of the Ministry of Culture of the country.
“That’s where I was born. I have to face the injustices from what happened in South Africa,” Ntaka said. But he said he was louder after being beaten by a skinhead in Argentina. It wasn’t as much a beating as the warning “Go back to your country” that influenced him.
He couldn’t get it out of his head. “But this is my country,” he told himself. “I’m an Argentine.”
Ntaka has helped host this month’s event to celebrate Afro culture and is optimistic about the future, if realistic. He said his 10-year-old daughter also faced racist abuse at school.
Bravo said many upper-class Argentines remain ignorant of racial issues. “It’s changing,” he said, “but not long ago, we’ll hear people say we’re not racists because we don’t have blacks. What’s the difference between you and the Ku Klux Klan? “
Elesha Mavrommatis, a black communications and development consultant in Decatur, Georgia, has lived in Buenos Aires for six years. She said she did not feel the same level of discrimination she had heard from other black women. This is mainly because in Argentina, Mabromatis is considered an American before becoming black.
“It’s good for Argentina and Argentina to look at their history and see all the varieties that make up that history,” Mabromatis said.
Bravo, who helped create the African Latino American Studies Group in 2010, said improvements were seen.
“It has gone from zero to one in the last decade. It’s better to be one … what’s your goal? Maybe 1,000, I don’t know,” Bravo added. “Argentina’s peculiarity is that we don’t know how to be racists.”
Ribeiro wants to debut a documentary about Maria Remedios del Valle in December. The government is sponsoring this work as part of a “historical restoration” to the black community.
“This film also sheds light on the lives of black women, sheds light on all black women and pays homage to them,” Ribeiro said. “Making this documentary believes that a black woman can one day become President of Argentina, because we always have this ability and this story is a testimony.”