- Health & Safety>
- The Brown First Worlder Exaggerating Their Safety in Latin America
If you come to Latin America, prepared to be attacked, robbed, raped, murdered and RAPED AGAIN if you are white.
As I wrote here, Latin America is no place for white people.
In fact, as you can read here, even some Mexicans have their concerns about bringing their very white looking European girlfriend to Mexico City.
"Tengo una novia del norte de Europa y planeamos visitar la ciudad de México varias semanas. Yo soy de la ciudad, pero no tengo riqueza ni vivo en una colonia rica, y sí sé que hay muchos peligros en México pero que si sabes cómo comportarte el riesgo es mucho menor. No obstante, es innegable el hecho de que ella luce mucho como extranjera, por su ropa, sus maneras, y por su físico. A pesar de que la ropa se cambia, es difícil o imposible disimular el físico (alta, muy pálida, ojos verdes, etcétera) , que sé que puede llamar mucho la atención.
"Lo que me preocupa es su seguridad, no si alguien la mira o alguien comenta o alguien le chifla, me da igual, lo que me preocupa es que alguien crea que por ser extranjera es rica y la quieran asaltar o secuestrar, o que alguien la quiera acosar o hasta violar."
But, on the flip side, if you are brown then everything will be OK.
Nobody will assault, rob, rape or murder you.
You can stroll into the most dangerous hoods and, if you are brown, nothing bad will happen.
Or at least so some foreigners think.
On a Boat in Xochimilco
Some odd weeks ago, I was on a boat in Xochimilco.
I had taken a boat ride through the place at least 3 times now and have grown to like it more and more each time I go.
On the last trip, I happened to have two Mexicans and some American chick who was new to Mexico.
She was curious about my time in the city and wanted to know more about "the story" of how I got around to traveling and all that.
Why I chose Mexico.
So on and so on.
And she got talking herself about all the people back home who were scared for her safety.
For one that she is a woman and worried someone will kidnap her and rape her.
Sell her into sex trafficking.
Maybe the ghost of Pablo Escobar will murder her.
Shit like that.
And her attitude seemed quite dismissive of the dangers that come with going to Mexico.
Though I do generally agree that, if you stick to safe areas don't get involved in shit you shouldn't be, then you'll probably be OK unless you have bad luck.
Though not always the case as you can see here...
At any rate, she had a typical attitude that you see among those coming to Mexico that almost seems the exact opposite of those concerns she heard where it almost felt like she completely dismissed any danger whatsoever to Mexico.
Which I don't necessarily agree with either.
At any rate, she made one comment that I thought was interesting and is something you hear occasionally.
Mostly from non-white Americans though.
Which is that, by being brown, she is at basically no risk of anything bad happening to her.
She won't stick out.
Of course, my first thought was "well, try riding out in the combis of Iztapalapa every day for a month and see if being brown protects you."
Because, as we all know, basically most people who get killed in Mexico are obviously Mexican and, in case you didn't know this, most of them tend to be pretty brown.
Being brown didn't save them from being targeted for police extortion, kidnapping, rape, murder, etc.
It does feel weird when brown Americans (and it seems to be mostly Americans who say this) claim that being brown will make their risk basically 0.
I feel the main reason brown Americans are more likely to think this way is because, in the US social and political scene, all brown people sometimes get lumped together as one collective group.
Though, as you can see here, that's not always the case even up there in real life.
Tensions Latino Black community
Still, it's a quick question one has to wonder: do brown people in Mexico and broader Latin America face less risk of having a bad time down here?
That's obviously a very loaded and broad question.
Given how diverse and big Latin America is, it can depend wildly depending on where you are and the local you are interacting with specifically.
Outside of crime, you do have locals who have a bias against white people and you have many others who have a bias in favor of white people due to the assumptions they make about us (being more educated, having more money, etc).
But that bias you see in favor of white people is not always something you really see in favor of brown people here because they don't always get the same positive stereotypes about them (though, for carrying American nationality, some might view them as such).
However, I have heard of Latin Americans being more openly racist towards darker skinned people like I wrote here.
When it comes to crime though, that's another story.
I'd argue that, broadly speaking, being "too white" can make you obviously more noticeable in various areas of the region.
Though you do have white locals and there are many parts of Latin America where white locals are not a novelty.
However, in many of those parts, having blonde hair isn't always the norm and so, if you are that white, then you might attract more attention (excluding certain places like Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil, etc).
Though I think it's worse for women.
As I wrote here, cat calling is more common here.
I think a white dude wouldn't get any harassment really but a white woman with blonde hair would in some parts.
However, having said all that, keep in mind I am white.
And keep in mind that I spend most of my time these days in "rougher" neighborhoods like Iztapalapa or Pedregal de Santo Domingo.
Nobody says shit to me.
Nobody fucks with me.
And it's not like I'm some 6 foot tall giant.
I'm normal sized.
So when it comes to the whole "if you're white, they're more likely to fuck with you," well I don't see it.
On top of that, I don't think being brown makes you as less noticeable as you'd think.
Go ask the average Mexican if he can tell the difference between a Mexican and someone born in the US with Mexican parents.
The latter might believe he is Mexican but few in Mexico see him as such.
And he has mannerisms that scream "AMERICAN" and not "MEXICAN."
So, even for a brown dude with literal Mexican ancestry, his body language, how he speaks, mannerisms and everything else will make it obvious he isn't from here to anyone paying attention.
The motherfucker might even be wearing shorts outside (like that chick was).
So it's a little bit funny to me when brown Americans especially think that being brown will give them extra bonus points to not getting robbed.
When compared to the Scandinavian dude with blonde hair and blue eyes and is standing at 6.5 feet tall, then maybe it helps.
Though, even in that case, I'd imagine being that tall would help intimidate your local 5'6 Mexican vato looking to rob someone.
Either way -- mostly because plenty of brown people get fucked up down here also, that your mannerisms give you away and that most of these folks are, just like white tourists, most likely to hang in touristy spots where huslters and corrupt cops hang -- I have my doubts about how much being brown helps their situation.
But, like I said, it's all relative.
Compared to the very white looking dude, I could see it but I wouldn't advise you to go to the extent of that one chick I saw in Xochimilco who, among others, seems to think that being brown gives you a protective shield against crime.
Your chances aren't as low as you think due to your skin color.
At least if all the stories I see on Facebook expat groups where the occasional brown expat complains of being robbed or whatever are any indication.
Doesn't seem like being brown made the robbers think they were Mexican or didn't have money.
Among the many other examples you can find online.
Though, as you can see here, being Mexican as I said isn't very helpful either as many get fucked over by other locals also.
Above all, it's just a minor topic that you notice among some expats who, while they are right to some degree, will exaggerate greatly the extent to which they think their skin color abroad will protect them from crime and somehow make the locals blind to all their other mannerisms that scream "FOREIGNER."
You know -- like speaking in English or in Spanish with a gringo accent, hanging with other foreigners, wearing shorts, how you walk, the fact that you are in a touristy area where it is assumed most people have money by the hustlers, etc.
And that is assuming said hustlers, scammers and corrupt cops haven't seen a brown foreigner before from "the first world" and think all brown people only come from Mexico.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
They are right that it can help a little bit in this circumstance (and depending on the details like how so many other things can give away your foreignness) but they exaggerate it to the point of being naive.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
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And thanks for reading.