The point to which I am trying to get is that I would be apalled by a white American for example saying "African American" -for no reason but to bring attention to the racial difference ,of a black person walking by. From what I understand, for example in Ethiopia, when Im called a Farengi its actually more like a European calling a black person a darkie So, should we not at least show some contempt toward those gringo-callers with the hope of promoting a more equal society?
Unless debate is promoted around this issue I believe the utopian dream of equality cannot be realised. Rememebr that in my country, South Africa, until recently it was completely acceptable in "civilised circles" to call a black person a name far worse than any mentioned here an extreme example I admit but add 50 years to this equation and it applies to any "first world" country.
I dont intend to pick a fight witht he next person who calls me a gringo, but I will not dignify thier comment with a friendly wave. Your cultural norms aren't those of others. At least in Brazil, it's rarely used in a perjorative sense.
It's typically shorthand for 'foreigner' and the term 'gringo' is sometimes applied to other South Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. Quite a few foreigners, including resident expats, use the term to describe themselves.
I'm not sure you have grasped the context. Racism and racial epithets do exist in Brazil, as anywhere but I wouldn't really consider the term to be indicative of the former or an example of the latter. White South Africans are probably the last people on earth I would use as a yardstick, particularly if bent on manufacturing and nurturing their own sense of grievance. Personally I don't think gringo is racist. Especially when used by South Americans from a European background. I guess if anything, you could consider it to be xenophobic as it's making an issue of foreigners and those from different cultural backgrounds.
However, I wouldn't really take offense. The reality is that race is usually the first thing that people notice about a person and I think locals in South America are just more open about it than people in the West. As Tirica said, it is also often used to address someone from a SA country who has slightly fair hair compared to the rest of the family. The darkest skinned one will be called negro or maybe flaco if he weighs in at less than others in the group. I have several Peruvian friends who answer to one of the three.
Calling you gringo is not an epithet or a racist comment at all. This is the problem with trying to interpret local norms with what is appropriate in another culture. These terms are not pejorative but friendly. Of course, someone might call you a gringo and the tone of it will be unfriendly. This can also happen. But, by itself, it not an insult to you unless said in anger.
Actually, the friendly wave will be appropriate in most cases. Here's an idea: Take the insulting name and take it as a nickname or laugh it off. They will be less likely to use it. Seldom is the term used perjoratively, usually it is just used in a friendly way. I have heard "mister"" or "misses" used in more sinister ways here. Remember, latinos call themselves names with affection that would be viewed as insulting in western society.
Look at gordo fatso , flaco skinny , feo ugly , sepo toad, meaning ugly , peludo baldy , negro blacky, applied to someone with a little bit of a tan , just to name a few epithets applied. Parents call their children this to little affect, because it is normal and affectionate.
Also remember, "gringo" is just a 2-syllable corruption of "griego" Greek , which was used in Spain until a century ago to mean ANY foreigner, and was carried over to the new world. It was and amongst the older still is used in BA to refer to the large waves of very welcomed and loved immigrants from Italy.
Next door to me here in Mendoza is a family fifth-generation of Italian-rooted Argentineans who affectionately refer to themselves as "gringos" because of this. People of South America have no problem drawing attention to someone's race or other physical features.
This is considered rude or even racist in the west but is everyday practice in South America. You're not the first one to be offended. Drogba a footballer of African decent was said to be quite insulted when Messi greeted him at the beginning of a match "Hola Negro".
An acceptable greeting in Argentina perhaps but no so in the UK. I would rather be called a "blackie" if people mentioned my name for all sorts of examples than to be called afro-descendant and always relate my name to things that are bad, diminished or ethnic-oriented.
Thanks for the constructive info, this has really helped me to contextualise the situation at least in South America. Mendocinateacher, your post in particular was very illuminating. Tiririca , Im very interested to hear exactly what you meant by "White South Africans are probably the last people on earth I would use as a yardstick, particularly if bent on manufacturing and nurturing their own sense of grievance.
Given the history of South Africa I would have thought it was self-explanatory. I've come across quite a few Sith Ifricans bent on creating their own sense of grievance, usually as a way of exculpating their own sense of guilt or justifying their views. Should you ever venture to Perth, Western Australia. Possibly the third most pressing reason that Western Australia should be towed into the Indian Ocean and used as a naval gunnery target.
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No worries. Im currently travelling in S America and Ive been thinking about this word "Gringo" much as I have have thought about the various other labels that have been applied to…. See All. Thorn Tree forum. Post new topic. Search forums. Jump to forum. Forum categories. All forums. Country forums. Interest forums. Talk to Lonely Planet. General chat. More information can be found by viewing the following announcement Details here.
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Copy and paste the url below to share the link. Permalink to this post. The problem of social prejudice due to income is the real deal to worry about. For the issue of calling "names" it all depends on the intention that you put on the word. Only time spent in SA is able to explain this in a more detailed fashion.
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