Thursday, July 08, 2010

Racial Sensitivity Watch Watch

We used to be fairly regular readers of the Los Angeles Times Mexico coverage, until they vastly improved it by starting the La Plaza blog, which writes up coverage of their coverage which is often more interesting than the original article. So while longtime Burro Hall readers won't have much need for the Times's take on Mexican's tv's golliwog-centric reporting from the World Cup, La Plaza's follow-up post is pretty informative.

In online reader comments to an article in the El Universal newspaper on the Times report, many readers reacted with indignation to the suggestion that the Televisa skits are racist (link in Spanish). "Disgusting double standard for an imperialist and invading country," wrote one El Universal reader. "They should be ashamed criticizing a cartoon."

Touchy, touchy! If we may broadly caricature an ethnic group for a minute, Mexicans sure are sensitive about any perceived insult, even when it involves calling them to account for broadly caricaturing another ethnic group. Anyway, we pretty much endorse Gancho's take on the issue:
I have wondered for years now about how appropriate US standards for racism are for Mexico. My initial reaction was that if Mexicans are at peace with their racial circumstances, the US, with its set of higher standards stemming from a racial history far more awful than that of Mexico, shouldn't really have much to say. Though the sentiment is well intentioned, it feels almost arrogant to conclude that, because black cartoons with exaggerated features were part of a Jim Crow mindset in the States, then Mexicans are racist for enjoying Memín Pinguín, and have no business doing so. The American experience isn't universal. Racially speaking, Mexican history is much less hateful than in the US (though not without its tragic episodes, such as the Caste War and the treatment of the Indians generally) and while national standards for offensiveness in the US need to in a sense atone for our history, other nations should not necessarily have to do so.

That's why we title our posts on the subject "Racial Sensitivity Watch" rather than "Racism Watch" - we really don't think racism is behind it. But, man, is it cringe-worthy sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Gancho got it wrong. There is an equivalent of the N-word in Mexico, it is "mayate". And there is racial hatred far deeper and widespread than anything in the US. A common expression in Mexico used to call somebody stupid is to say, "Tu eres muy indio." (you are very indian). I think Gancho needs to hang out with more huaracheros. However, I agree with him that Mexico would be better off with US sensibilities on racial offenses.

Burro Hall said...

We'll leave the speculation over who certain people do and don't hang out with to others, thanks.

Another word for stupid is "burro," so we know well the painful sting of hatred in this country.

Frank said...

The students from "Cero en Conducta", know how to accept a foreign exchange student. They are not racists like the people of Arizona.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous is wrong about "mayate" being the "equivalent of the N-word in Mexico". Chicanos use mayate as a pejorative for blacks in the US, in Mexico it means a dung beetle or the active or "top" in a homosexual relation.

_el morenito