Posted by: | February 9, 2009 | Comments Off on Mestizaje

Mestizaje in my opinion is one of those things that most people refuse to talk about because they are afraid that they may offend someone. For the most part, these people are right, race in Latin America is still a very sensitive issue and racism is very much alive. Going trough some responses, for the most part everyone seems to thing that Vasconcelos is completely inappropriate. I must say I agree with this notion. However, it seems to me that people forget that inequality in Latin America is reality, and discrimination based on skin colors is very much alive. So why do we act all surprise or offended? In my opinion Vasconcelos read was an eye-opener, racism and discrimination in Latin America go beyond this century. It started with the Spaniards, but it certainly didn’t end there.

Now, please do not misunderstand me, Vasconcelos view of the native “red” populations is completely unacceptable. To say that our native populations do not deserve to enjoy the prestige of the great ancient civilizations is at best insulting. However, it is important to ask whether he created that notion, as opposed to simply mirror society? In the end he was a politician, so it was in his best interest to please the masses – not that this absolves him from his repsonsiblity – Yet, if this was the case, and I believe it was, the problem goes beyond a wild essay written by this guy. The problem in fact lies within the most basic structure of society, the family. I remember when I was in elementary school in Mexico and as kids we were not allowed to swear yet, common insults were calling people “indios” – which was synonymous for idiot – or “cabeza de Olmeca” – which meant that not only were you stupid, but ugly too – among others. So where the heck did kids come up with this? Well for the most part I think that many white households still believe they are superior to the rest of the population, and they teach this notion to their kids from a rather early age.

So, the idea that race does not matter anymore in the XXI century in my opinion is a lie. I strongly believe that we should read more of these controversial essays, because they force us to analyze the aspects of our societies – at least in my case – that we so stubbornly refuse to acknowledge.


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