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Afro-Argentinians: Emerging from the Shadows




Monday, February 21, 2011
I'm having issues.  They're not horrible issues.  But still. 

First of all, I'm suffering from a little writer's block.  That means that the destination article I'm supposed to be writing for BlackAtlas.com has no words yet and I don't know where they are or where I might find them.  I don't even know which destination I want to start with.  The good news is that writer's block is temporary. 

So instead of trying to think up something more prolific than a bunch of predictable travel  clichés like tropical island paradise and best view ever, I decided it would be more fun to obsess about the prizes I received a few days ago from Women on Their Way by Wyndham Worldwide and the Local Nation Contest.  *Grin* 

As a newly-selected Local Nation travel blogger and Sounding Board member (still excited!), I was not only awarded 200,000 Wyndham Rewards points (which I noticed are already in my Wyndham Rewards account...yes!), but a nice off-white travel jewelry box from Pottery Barn, $800 in gift cards from American Express, and a super duper exclusively branded and brand new SlideHD Flip Video camera!  I charged up my new Flip on my laptop and read the instruction leaflet about 42 times already.  You'd think I never used a Flip before.  (I have.)   Told you I was obsessing...

So prize winnings aside, here's my little issue I have the nerve to type:  How am I supposed to pick 2 places to go out of all of the choices that Wyndham has to offer when there really aren't too many places in the world I don't want to go?  Click here to see what I mean.

See what I mean?!

I thought I was going to be in Morocco in September, but there's a revolution going on across North Africa and the Middle East right now, so there are some destinations I must sadly omit.  I really want to go to Bahia, Brazil and the idea of seeing tango performed in Argentina makes my leg wiggle with excitement. And then there's Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia.  Not to mention all of the cool U.S. destinations with lots of interesting cultural history, like the Gullah of [Hilton Head] South Carolina, just as one example.  Of course, I could go on. 

After hours of obsessing, a lot of clickety-clacking on the computer, a conversation about Africans in Central America with a friend, and picking a destination-of-interest that starts with an "A", I decided to Do What I Do and came up with a few research findings about Argentinian culture that I didn't know anything about.  And boy did I learn a lot!

The commercial below - called Soy Afro-Argentino/a (translated "I am an Afro-Argentinian") - was put together by the 2010 Census in Argentina encouraging Afro-Argentinians to stand up and be counted.  Take a look...





Looks like the African population in Argentina was on the verge of being forgotten historically and is almost non-existent by some people's standards. On October 27, 2010, for the first time in well over a century, Argentina finally reflected African racial ancestry in its census count (hence, the commercial).  #wow

It's interesting to note that during the 18th and 19th centuries, the black population resulting from the slave trade made up 50% of the population in some places and had a deep impact on the national culture.  [Wiki]  One argument for the decline in the black population is the warfare which left Afro-Argentinian woman alone and without mates which ultimately produced mixed race offspring from the mixing of Afro-Argentinian women and either Europen immigrants or white Argentians.

Afroargentine upper middle class women
Photo Source:  Wiki
Wiki has some pretty encouraging info though:  Today in Argentina, the Afro-Argentine Community is beginning to emerge from the shadows. There have been black organizations....that have help[ed] to rekindle interest into the African heritage of Argentina. There are also Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Brazilian migrants who have helped to expand the African culture. The Afro-Uruguayan migrants have brought their candombe to Argentina, while the Afro-Brazilians teach capoeira, orisha, and other African derived secular dances. 

The question that remains now is “how many people in Argentina can claim African ancestry?” However, the exact number is actually quite difficult to calculate. ....[M]any blacks....used to “pass” for mulatto or white, so for this reason, people may or may not be aware that they had a black great grandparent. In fact, many researchers believe that possibly as many as 10% of Buenos Aires residents have African ancestry, but are unaware of it.

I'm a culture fanatic, so I realize that there's more to Argentina than tango and black Argentinians, but I'm thinking - after doing a little digging - that hey, maybe Argentina is looking like a place to go and blog about after all.  (And I thought the highlight would be tango.  Ha!)  #givingitsomethought

Disclaimer:  I won the prizes I mentioned above in Wyndham Worldwide's Women on Their Way Local Nation Contest and it's true that I actually like everything I won.  If I didn't, I would tell you.

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