celebrating diversity with blackface?

As Buenos Aires geared up to celebrate the Bicentinario (200 years of independence), we were excited to see some street productions. We heard some kids were going to do a song and dance about the country’s history, and were shocked to see about a quarter of all the children donning blackface and dressed in plantation rags. ¿Que pasó?

Aside from tourists and recent immigration from Africa, Porteños have had little or no experience with actual black people. So I guess no one told them that blackface might be more than a little insensitive. This explanation isn’t exactly satisfying, but I think it’s plausible. So what happened to the Africans who were here initially? Slavery was abolished in 1840, and the freed black men were enlisted to fight a 15-year-war with Paraguay in 1865. These men were in the front lines, and killed in battle. Also, there was a yellow fever epidemic in 1871 that wiped out the rest of the population. The rich upper class left the area, but the poorer Italian, Spanish and African people stayed put and died. After all that, there were still Afro-Argentine women and children left. They inter-married with the Europeans, so there might be Argentines with African blood who don’t even know it.

A complicated history for sure. But I don’t think they were in costume to mock or deride. It seemed like this generation genuinely wanted to pay homage to the people who were here before, but their cultural sensitivity is low from having a relatively monolithic population. Clueless and well-meaning? That’s probably it.

lucy smells meat and cheese

This doggie is lovely and she knows it. She uses sad eyes on Kristin, Piper, Davidson and I while we all have great grub at Las Cabras—which might be my favourite restaurant in Buenos Aires. Lucy gets all kindsa scraps with that face, including my juicy bife de chorizo (sirloin steak). She can’t get her paws on the provoleta though, it’s too good and I have to have every morsel. In fact, I insist everyone should eat provoleta immediately upon arrival in Buenos Aires.

recovery finally picks up in buenos aires

Things go south post Inca Trail. I don’t stop feeling awful and spewing green things for a at least a week. A pickpocket has his way with us on the way back to Cusco. We were really lucky that Dave and Ross palmed us some cash to get us through. Also, the emergency money transfer from America Express was a lifesaver.

We go from Aguas Calientes to Cusco to Lima to Buenos Aires, where I seriously consider kissing the ground upon arrival. We stay in our apartment for a few days, going out only for food and ear drops. I am almost human again.