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Thu Oct 22, 2015, 09:16 PM

Guatemala election puts Latin America's affinity for racist caricatures in spotlight

Guatemala election puts Latin America's affinity for racist caricatures in spotlight

Political rise of former blackface comedian Jimmy Morales has again prompted concern about prevalence of offensive characters in Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere

Nina Lakhani
Wednesday 21 October 2015 09.43 EDT

Latin America’s enduring fondness for grotesque racist caricatures has returned to the spotlight with the political rise of Guatemalan performer Jimmy Morales.

Morales, currently the frontrunner in the country’s presidential election, was until recently best known as a comedian who performed in blackface portraying a hapless character called “Black Pitaya”, or Black Dragonfruit. Morales no longer plays the character, which he has defended as a harmless joke enjoyed by Guatemalans of all ethnicities. But his image is still used in the country to sell hair products and soap.

Racial caricatures have been used as brands across the region. In Colombia, Mimo’s ice cream flavours were depicted by race: a black man for chocolate, a white girl for vanilla.

Peru perhaps has some of the continent’s most racist characters. Negro Mama is a popular blackface television personality who wears a prosthetic nose, lips and black hairy gloves on his hands. His motto is: “I might be a blacky, but I have my little brain” (Podré ser negrito, pero tengo mi cerebrito).

. . .

Omar Ali, associate professor of Comparative African Diaspora History at the University of North Carolina, said: “In some ways Latin America is 25 or 30 years behind the US and England in terms of awareness of racism and the Africa diaspora. There hasn’t been a Black cultural revolution.”


We ALL know this racism isn't coming from the indigenous Latin Americans. What a filthy shame.

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