Memin Pingin is not the only racist character that can be found in Latin America. Others abound, such as Peru’s “El Negro Mama” and “La Paisana Jacinta”.
El Negro Mama is a television character who is shown as a black-glove/wild-haired wig-wearing dirty, stupid Black thief unaware of how his actions can compound life for him and those around him. He speaks with an exaggerated accent, has a protruding prosthetic nose and often bulges his eyes in comic buffoonery when he looks at the camera.
The character El Negro Mama has been accused of portraying the worst stereotypes against Afro-Peruvians, and protesters have advocated that the show be removed from broadcast television.
The character La Paisana Jacinta portrays the worst stereotypes against indigenous people of Peru.
La Paisana Jacinta is often depicted as a Native woman who is lazy, toothless, and ignorant. Having moved from the countryside to the city of Lima, she is shown as fighting and cursing people, urinating in the streets, and having a messy, unkempt slovenly appearance.
Both characters were created and are played by Peruvian comedian Jorge Benavides.
Afro-Peruvian rights organizations have launched protests against these racist caricatures, most notably the organization known as LUNDU.
Headed by Monica Carrillo, last year in June, 2010, LUNDU was able to get El Negro Mama pulled from the airwaves; not so with the character La Paisana Jacinta. As a result of her actions, Ms. Carrillo became the target of abuse and attacks. But, even this victory was short-lived; in a few months, El Negro Mama was back on the air:
But in April, something changed.
One of Peru’s main channels, Frecuencia Latina, suspended a popular comedic character called El Negro Mama – a grotesque caricature of a black man, played by an actor wearing a prosthetic nose and lips with a blackened face.
The channel pulled the character after the threat of legal action from Lundu, an African-Peruvian civil rights organisation led by campaigner Monica Carrillo.
In a statement, the channel accepted the character may have been offensive to some viewers.
But it refused to suspend a stereotypical depiction of an indigenous Andean woman – La Paisana Jacinta – despite complaints of racism, saying the character had “evolved”.
Racial stereotypes, however, die hard.
Ms Carrillo became the target of an abusive counter-campaign using social networking sites to call for El Negro Mama to be reinstated. And after little more than a month’s absence, the character was back on the air by popular demand.
Frecuencia Latina declined the BBC’s request for an interview.”
The following video interview features Wilfredo Ardito Vega, on the return of the racist characters Paisana Jacinta and El Negro Mama to channel Frecuencia Latina (2) of Lima.
Fans of the character El Negro Mama and La Paisana Jacinta cannot see what all the fuss is about, stating that both are harmless characters and that Afro-Peruvians should just suck it up and not be offended. But, the same has been said about Memin Pingin as well.
Life for Afro-Pervuvians is harsh and unforgiving in Peru, and many still face the uphill battle of acquiring the most basic of human rights.
In November of 2009, the government of Peru apologized to the descendants of African slaves brought to Peru for the centuries of “abuse, exclusion, and discrimination” they suffered but, apologies are worthless without any economic, educational, legal and social changes to back up that apology.
The mass acceptance of El Negro Mama and La Paisana Jacinta are evidence that the complacency towards racist stereotypes are deeply ingrained in Peruvian society, and there is no evidence that such strongly held beliefs against The Other will not be eradicated anytime soon.
Sadly, some things simply never die, especially where racist caricatures are concerned.
6 responses to “. . . .AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: EL NEGRO MAMA AND LA PAISANA JACINTA”
I found your blog while researching some references Dr. Henry Gates made in his current PBS series Black In Latin-America. I feel that I’ve neglected my education because I lacked awareness of cohesive Black communities in Mexico and Peru as well as the struggles they face. I’ll be loking into being part of a solution.
I also found this blog while researching Dr. Gates too, i agree, i am African and i never knew about Afro-Peruvians or Afro-Mexicans as we are not taught about them, but i am glad that i have seen this and i will continue my research.
I am aware of the African Disapora through out the world. More so, though this is currently a reality in the Americas, attention needs to be focused on our people in places like the Middle East and India. For prior to 1492 Arabs were selling Africans as slaves to places we know today as Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc. Sadly, these enclaves of blacks have very little rights in thier host countries; and lives in abject poverty. They are duly unreported by the media in an attempt at keeping thier plight low-key. But worst, are the Multi National Corporations (MNCs) who have not only seen people of African-descent in the population strain, but contributed to thier neglect by either exploitation or underutilize in labor projects. In short, the Black Voice is being snuffed out because of the ignorance of the African Disapora in this country and the international community.
“I am aware of the African Disapora through out the world. More so, though this is currently a reality in the Americas, attention needs to be focused on our people in places like the Middle East and India. For prior to 1492 Arabs were selling Africans as slaves to places we know today as Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc. Sadly, these enclaves of blacks have very little rights in thier host countries; and lives in abject poverty.”
MODERATOR: I am also aware of the plight of dark people of the Middle East and India.
I have posted on them here, here, and here.
This just shows how backwards the media is in Peru. I understand that the owner of the station is of Israeli origin. Shame on someone like him propagating racist characters on the airwaves!!!
Everything goes backwards. Black people in most parts of Latin America and much of North America are portrayed as stupid, criminal, buffoonish, lazy, piggish, joyful, naive, loud and silly much like minstrel shows that Americans enjoyed long ago. It’s been centuries of bullying, disrespecting, scorning, abusing, bashing, ridiculing, laughing at, ignoring, belittling, victimizing, stereotyping, silencing, trivializing, killing, discriminating and poisoning black people as well as indigenous people with cruelty! I can’t believe Africans are looked at as if they were rats that need to be exterminated. Black and indigenous people never get any kindness nor do they ever get sympathies from anyone, the way they are treated looks like they don’t deserve to be born. They always get hurt like a bee that stings you bad. They never get respect and compassion either. It makes you feel like you hate being black, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t make me or those that I know feel like we hate being black. it, in fact, informs us of the continuing insanity of people who want to be seen in positive ways but have no problem consigning others who have darker skin, ONLY, to the worst beliefs and treatment imaginable. I can’t tell whether you are being sarcastic or not. It would be unfortunate if you are. I wonder why people, who are aware of the treatment of blacks around the world, prefer to identify with the oppressors rather than speak out against such treatment. I employed a Peruvian gardener (who is indian) to work on my yard a while ago. I was shocked when he attempted to talk to me as though I was unintelligent. I have a master’s degree and am of an advanced age. I now understand where he was coming from. I still am mystified as to why he would prefer to act as a racist rather than treat all he meets with the dignity he yearns for himself.