Had a really interesting verbal exchange a few days ago with Karen Morrison at the African American Studies workshop = Angola, Cuba, The Caribbean: Culture, Race & Identity Formation @ BU.
Karen, who presented: “Creating Race in Colonial Cuba, Some Preliminary Africanist Thoughts”, responded to my query about the use of “affectionate”, race-specific nicknames in Latin America (such as: “mi negro”, or “mi negra”) as emblematic of the region’s bizarre [my word] depoliticization of the private sphere, where accepted terms of “endearment” minimize the role of this now Othered person as an equal and perpetuate the systemic racial hierarchies visible in the public arena.
I see this all the time in my light skinned Latin@ family when they will have a really good friend that they obviously care about and they call that person “negro” or “negra” lovingly. But out in public these same family members are some of the most painfully racist and bigoted individuals I have known.
It reminds me of the ending to Island in the Sun, that Harry Belafonte film in which he rejects a relationship with a white woman at the end of the film claiming that there would eventually come a day when she would be upset with him, she’d forget herself, and she’d call him a nigger.
The hypocrisy of “post-racial” or “race transcendent” nations of the Americas.
Karen and I also had a very brief but intriguing exchange about the concept of “whiteness” and “blackness” being radically different during the European colonial era and the later North American Capitalist era…