At the University of Buenos Aries

An excerpt from my Journal Entry

19 June 2014

After we left La Boca we traveled to San Tamo which was a rich neighborhood in the late 1800’s. As war and sickness hit the neighborhood, the rich moved out and the poor moved in. This gave the immigrants and poor workers a chance to move elsewhere. Tango was created around this time and surprisingly to me, it was a dance between two men and later on women joined the scene.

I also learned the correct phase of the house we stayed in- It’s called a chorizo- casa choriza, which means sausage house. I am not sure exactly why though.

When the tour was done with Simon, we went to the University of Buenos Aries to listen to two more lectures.

The first lecture was by Lea Geler titled: Black Journalism in the White Nation: Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th Century.

Geler studies included looking  through the press of Argentina during the late 19th Century (1880’s). Dr. Anderson told us this was something exceptionally well to do considering how old documents are kept in Argentina, especially Afro-Argentines documents. Geler was able to write her paper surrounding what she found in these documents. I enjoyed her lecture because she gave actual quotes from this time period about what the black of Argentina thought about their social status.  Geler found that the press being the fourth largest press in the world, was linked to progress and used for social change.

Unsurprisingly, the Afro-Argentine press did not spark interest for the outside community and they mostly wrote about themselves. The journalist thought it was their job to bring social change in their community and called for change. The term barbarianism was used as something to rid them of and they blamed social inequalities on individuals within the community.  This mentality that the journalist were carrying reminds me of Marcus Garvey and his attitude toward the black community. He not only wanted all to return back to Africa but he called for a changed in the blacks mien. He wanted them to change their way of life and spoke mainly about their social life. I found it disturbing that they would use a term like barbarianism on themselves. They, like Garvey, blamed themselves for poverty and lack of success. All of this is included in the press!

Finally, (unlike Garvey) they thought new comers, like immigrants, improved the community and all were welcome. This was the thought throughout the entire state of Argentina and they were not keen to the idea of their children going to different schools in the state since schools were free in the first place. Till this day, (from what I’ve been told) their children (Afro-Argentine’s) still receive the short end of the stick within the education system.

The second Lecture was by Nicolas Fernandez Bravo and titled: Race and Ethnicity at the “Interior” of the nation: uses and abuses of the Cabescita Negra in comtemporary Santiago Dell Estero.

Now, the Cabecita Negra is an idea that is being challenged and has been changed. His article was based around social identities within history.

First cabecita negra was a term referring to those who worked in the fields then it became racial slang used by upper and middle class Argentines. Then in the 1940’s, the term became associated with people who were Peronist.

Till this day, the term cabecita negra is a term that casts people out insead of inviting them in. It implies not being enough of something –whether white enough or lacking that true European origin.

Next, we saw some art by Ricardo Santoro …I later saw the same art at the Museum.

This is when the history and all that is going on in Argentina gets really confusing. I never thought a nation would be more caught up in the image of the country more than America! Identify and politics intertwine in a way that becomes confusing that I would not be surprised if the Afro-Argentines are sometimes confused on why the other would or wouldn’t mistreat them. Argentina’s own government is so worried about its image and statistical qualification, that they are putting down their own and destroying themselves in the process. No matter how far she (Argentina) tries to get away from herself, she will always see her true image looking back at her in many colors.

At the end of the lecture, I asked a question about ethnic mixture- Who, really, are the Afro-Argentines? Who are the Blacks? Who’s African and who is Indian? Well, if this doesn’t get any more confusing, not all of them are cabecitas negras but they all are claiming rights to what? I don’t know. Maybe to their county. This shows how race in Argentina is not just white against the negro. There is no race problem alone, it’s always race and class that is the problem.

Capilla De Los Negros

Excerpt from a long Journal Entry

16 June 2014 –Tuesday

Gabriela continued to speak about other buildings. I begin to take fewer notes and more pictures. 

  • We spoke about a house built in 1831 that was the 1st house with high ceilings on both floors. It also had a secret passage, and the doors of the rooms were short so horses could not enter and the doors could be open only from the inside. This house was built for war.
  • Lastly, she told us about the Capilla De Los Negros, the chapel built for slaves in 1872 out of mud.

We went to visit the chapel. It is kept the same way it was years ago. The floor is still made of dirt and the benches were very old. Of course no one worship there now. It is kept by the grandson of the lady who used to take care of it in the beginning. I can’t remember his name. The church is a testament to the struggle of Afro-Argentines. It is the only building the state allowed them  have around 1862, their only place of worship. Currently, it is the only building they still have as a testimony of their history. 

Tina asked Dr. Anderson if they used the church as a form of organizing  the way the black church did and still does in America and Dr. Anderson said something that made it all come together even more, they had no need to organize and they did not really feel the need to organize.  

A short video I took is on youtube

The Boat House

Journal Entry

16 June 2014 –Tuesday

When they went to eat lunch, I got permission from Dr. Anderson to wait outside the restaurant. I was glad because this separated me from my classmates who were still upset at each other. While they were eating I made friends in the near by boat house with a lady named Gaby and her coworker, Albarguen. There was also another older man there. He was funny. He refused to say much in English but wrote the translation in my book. They taught me a math card game called Broom. To be honest, I still don’t know how to play it… but thank God for Google!  I promised I would keep in contact with them. We all exchanged information.

When we got back home, I was tired but we didn’t rest much. We went to eat and eating in Argentina is very different from eating in America.