Back when I was spending some time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I remember I went out to get some beer with some folks I knew.
At the time, I was basically living in Argentina with a group of other Americans and one Canadian dude that were part of our little group of foreigners in this country.
At any rate, there was one black chick in the group and one chick of Indian heritage.
The rest were white.
Before I went out for beers, I remember meeting up with another American in the group named Matt.
Same name as me!
We went out for a quick beer and snack at some bar he recommended.
At any rate, I might’ve had too many beers at that specific bar because I ended up finding myself doing a little dance somehow and accidently bumped shoulders with some Argentine dude sitting down who was trying to impress a girl.
“Lo siento lo siento” I mumble as I realize my dancing skills could use some work.
The other Matt found the dance funny enough.
I don’t remember perfectly but, looking back at it, I think I was making fun of how I find Argentines to dance actually.
That’s another topic all together but, from my experience, you’ll generally find that Argentines are not as good of dancers as say Colombians for example.
At least that was my impression.
Which, to be fair, I can’t really talk shit about that because I literally have no skills dancing whatsoever.
I’ve been told before that I move like a robot from another planet when dancing.
Though, in my defence, I did learn how to dance a little bit of merengue – a type of Latin music – months afterwards from my later girlfriend named Marcela in Colombia.
But that’s not much of a defence because, in my experience, merengue is very basic and easy to get the basics down.
Still, I can dance something damn it!
Not really impressive though to most of American readers who don’t know what the fuck merengue is though…
Here’s a video of some random merengue songs though to help you get the idea.
To be honest, I actually don't know if this is real merengue because I'm honestly terrible at differentiating between music and I haven't danced to merengue in years since I was in Colombia.
But the video says it is merengue so I guess we're good.
Anyway, we finished our time at the bar and it was time to meet up later for a few drinks with the broader group in the night.
“Hey Monkey! Can You Speak Spanish!?”
So when it was time to get some more beer, I remember meeting up with some random black American chick.
I forgot her name but she was another American in our group.
So we met up close to where I was living and stopped by some corner shop to buy a bunch of beer that we would get reimbursed from other foreigners in our group later.
It was some small shop that wasn’t too fancy or nothing.
One of those corner shops you see around Latin America that don’t have much aside from chips and drinks basically.
And whatever other small items to purchase.
Anyway, I remember I went to the beer section myself to pick the beer for the group while the black chick went for the food to bring to our little party later.
Just a few large bags of chips actually.
She went up to the counter before I did because I can be pretty picky when it comes to beer to purchase.
Nobody in the group wanted liquor or nothing..
Which makes more sense to me than beer but whatever…
So, not being from Argentina, I’m checking out the different local beers they have to see which ones have the highest concentration of alcohol at the lowest cost.
“Hmmm….no, that’s 3.9%....”
“4.5%....but at 1.80 dollars….”
“This is 5.5% but at 2.40 dollars….hmmmm which is better…..”
So while I’m doing intense mathematical calculations in my head regarding which beer would be best to buy while looking for any promotions they have…
I hear some laughing behind me.
With a beer in hand checking its alcohol content, I look behind me.
In which I see some skinny ass white dude seemingly shooting the shit with some other guy who might’ve been an employee or a customer but I don’t remember.
At any rate, being honest, I don’t believe that I understood what they were saying in the moment as my Spanish was a tiny bit weaker in those days as this happened about 6 or 7 years ago more or less.
Regardless, I do remember finding something off as one of the dudes was basically imitating a monkey with his hands under the armpit thing.
From there, the chick I was with left the chips on the counter and said to me that we are leaving.
Off to Find Beer Elsewhere
Walking away, I was curious as to what happened.
Though, in hindsight, I guess it was pretty obvious by the body language.
But basically, from what she told me, the dude behind the counter was making sexual comments towards her calling her “muchacha linda” and whatever else.
Meanwhile, from there, it spiraled into some racist shit thrown her way where, though I didn’t understand them perfectly, I guess they were implying that she is a monkey and all.
She seemed a bit pissed about it but honestly we moved on.
Quickly enough, we found another corner shop to buy beer and chips from and that was it.
What happened was all that described and left behind in memory as we carried on our day.
Honestly, I forgot this story completely until about 2 days ago when I got talking with my sister over the phone about life in Latin America.
During our conversation, I mentioned how, from my observations, Argentina isn’t the most favorable country to live in for black people.
On top of my head, I can’t remember any black person I knew who liked Argentina.
Though every black person I have known who has visited Argentina has expressed the same sentiment about encountering more racial hostility.
When we went to the topic of Argentina, I started it by mentioning this chick named Tami that I fucked around with who was sometimes more openly racist.
Something you can read more about here.
In our conversation, my sister asked “well, because some of the nazis escaped to Argentina, could that be why they are like that in Argentina?”
Which, being fair, I didn’t think that made any sense because Argentina really didn’t take in that many former nazis relative to their broader population numbers.
But I get where she is coming from.
My personal take on it is this…
Generally speaking, you have racism everywhere in Latin America to be fair.
No racial group or nationality is immune to it.
At the same time, not everyone in Argentina is that openly racist to be fair.
At times, I do feel it’s a bit of a stereotype to bitch about Argentines in that way but I do see the fire behind the smoke with that country.
Having said that, I really think it’s a matter of racial diversity.
For example, as a white person, I genuinely find areas of Latin America that have the most racists towards white people to be areas where white people basically don’t exist in any real numbers.
Though, to be fair, I do think the experience of a white person is going to be different because you do have folks who, even in those areas, will treat you more nicely than a local because of the assumptions they carry about you due to your skin color and foreign nationality.
Meaning that, as a white foreigner, I must have more money or be better educated.
Or, in areas where white people are much rarer, you have maybe a higher percentage of local women who are down to fuck you because you are so much more different physically speaking than the local population.
She wants white dick and you one of the few to offer it.
Or, in other cases, they want money from you or perceive to be better educated as I said before.
At any rate, these areas that I am referring to are places like Guatemala or Bolivia where, in my experience, you just don’t have anywhere near the amount of white folks you get in other areas of Latin America like Colombia.
Though, having said that, both of those countries do have some white locals.
Bolivia, for example, has more around Santa Cruz area from what I know.
But that’s a side point.
Either way, enough of the rambling because you get the idea, right?
Which is that areas that generally don’t have much racial diversity in which you stick out like a sore thumb are areas that I believe you’ll encounter more open racism.
So, for that black chick (and other black folks I know), Argentina hasn’t been the most favorable place.
In part because you have more ignorant locals who don’t have any experience with your racial group and also because there’s not enough locals of that racial group to push back against your behavior.
Therefore, the guy at that corner shop felt more liberty to act more openly racist.
Same thing if I were to go to some small city in Guatemala and some local wants to behave badly against me somehow because of how obviously a foreigner that I am.
Like gringo pricing, mugging me or whatever else.
How many of the brown locals will stand up for me when they don’t know what it’s like to be white in their country?
Though, to be fair, that isn’t to say that most Guatemalans are dickheads in the same way most Argentines are not either.
And some will stand up for you if they are brave enough and see a really obvious example of local fuckery.
But many won’t for various reasons.
Be it the feeling of standing up with their own “tribe,” xenophobic tendencies, lack of bravery to stand up against local fuckery and whatever else.
Either way, that’s the main point of this article…
Not so much to shit on Argentina (even though there is fire behind the smoke with the stereotype they carry of being more openly racist in my opinion)…
But more that places where you are not racially represented very well are places where you might more likely encounter racist or xenophobic behavior.
And given the diversity of Latin America from one region to the next, your experience will likely vary quite heavily depending on where you are.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
On a positive note, the party went well after we got our beer and chips.
So there we go!
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And thanks for reading.