They would rather choose Polish, Romanian, Italian, White Palestinian or Lebanese presidents to lead South American countries than Native and African descendants themselves, when the last two made the modern culture of the region. If you thought that Barack Obama, the first mixed race president to have been selected by corporations, was a miracle and a step ahead, one should be therefore discouraged to travel to Latinized America, then. Even in a nation like Brazil which counts more Africans outside of Africa itself, a place which abolished slavery in 1888, not one single African president has been elected. Even the most Panafrican leader, whether Fidel Castro or his brother Raul are white, such as the rest of the main political ruling class of the Caribbean.
Politics will forever be a reflection of the dominant body which colonizes a people. The Latinos -southern Europeans- have fallen on their backs and are weak when it comes to innovation and moving forward, contrary to the Northern Europeans, such as the British who have no issue embracing novelty. This reason explains why Spain and Portugal have fallen so hard over the past decades for, like any other Latin nation including France, the leaders focus on their institutions, on the old and not the novelty. At a time when Nigeria is becoming a very important economic space in politics, the south of Europe is still behind. And unfortunately, this affects the evolution of Latinized America too as the citizens have a hard time seeing themselves through another prism than that of the colonizers. The four hundred years literally killed any other perspective for them.
If South America and the Caribbean are privileged by White people as their favorite place to spend their holidays, colonization is still present, and worst, greatly accepted by the population. The propaganda of the “racial trilogy” has allowed generations of racist White entities with no blood ties to the region to rule and advance their own agenda. This is greatly accepted by the citizens who have been raised into thinking that Europeans are more intelligent than them and were born leaders. The racial and social castes established since 1492 have not disappeared and do not appear as being alarming to many.
When an Afro-Indigenous activist wants to expose the inner racism within the Latinized community, they have to deal with a terrific backlash, all the while being accused of being obsessed with race and racism. How could racism in Latinized America exist if we all come in all different colors, shades, shapes and forms? We do all dance to salsa and merengue so why should we be obsessed with race? How are the people supposed to decolonize when the majority of the presidents do not even look like the people? Why isn’t the Prime Minister of France a Black Jamaican-Nigerian man? This would be perceived as being absurd it is sure. But why can a Polish man or Japanese man become the president of Peru when the original population is NOT represented? Can’t local people offer anything more?
For this reason, the election of Native presidents Evo Morales in Bolivia, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or Rafael Correa in Ecuador were more than important. For the first time, the countries were led by indigenous sons of the land and not the descendants of invaders. Chavez or Morales did not have diluted faces. Their features truly reflected those of their ancestors. Features which were politically made to be perceived as “ugly” by the colonial agents. Through their victory they proved a whole generation that Native people could make it too and were always leaders in their own land. For this reason, even if we are all aware of the demise of Venezuela today and the improbable social condition in the nation, the opponents to Chavez and Maduro also have a hatred rooted in racism. Indeed, even before the social condition became problematic, their enemies looked a certain way. They were not the main population but the elite and were therefore white, with no blood ties to the continent and supported by their self-hating Native and Black minions as well.
Another form of perpetuation of anti-blackness and anti-Indigenous identity lies in elitism. By electing white presidents, the citizens are conditioned to think that foreigners are a symbol of security and trust rather than the African and Native descendants who have to be perceived as poor and unable to organize when history proved many times with the Mambis in Cuba, the Quilombos in Brazil and the Palenqueros in Colombia among others that the enslaved Africans always organized as fighters against colonial rule. Having access to elitism means rejecting your true origins to fit in another sphere which differs from yours originally. The top has to be “refined”, “elegant”, hence white. And in that sense, Nativity and its customs are an obstacle to the person who hopes to achieve the highest spheres. Such disdain contaminates the minds. By trusting the “others” you consider them to be superior and more able to lead you.
The placement of White governers and political heads of states in the region greatly contributes to the mental schizophrenia of the population. As they see White people in the telenovelas who speak the same language as they do, and white presidents at the top, the citizens eventually consider themselves white and have a hard time reconnecting with the original faces of their ancestors who were Native and African.
Latinized American Creole colonizers did allow Africans to keep their heritage and they even mixed with them so as to confuse them more. Yet, dancing to their original music is not a problem, as long as white entities remain in power. Even in terms of culture, the white body is the one which guarantees security and safety. And even when Black people try to keep a safe space for them, a white individual always comes to steal it from them. The racial discrimination in Brazil, a country built on the backs of enslaved Africans who made the nation, is more than present in music. It is always white singers like Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo or Claudia Leite who have the audacity to steal Black women’s voices and music and even call themselves “White chocolate” or “Black women with white skin” yet where are the original creators and vocal beasts like Margareth Menezes who remain unknown outside of Brazil?
Recently, during the Superbowl of 2019, Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, who is also white, was the one who promoted Afro-Indigenous culture globally with mapalé and champeta. Shakira* has a Lebanese father and a Colombian mother with Italian and Catalan ancestry. She is White and therefore, represents a form of security. The white entity always has to be the door which either opens up or closes the black body. On the contrary, though Taina, Jennifer Lopez, a colonial agent, always makes sure to collaborate with White Brazilians and White Creoles so as to further the false colonial narrative which claims that “All Latinos Were Created Equal in A Perfect World”. She chose to sing with a White Brazilian, Claudia Leitte to represent the country instead of Afro-Brazilian groups.
White Latinos have been guilty of that. They are always okay with exploiting the culture created by Africans and leave them in the dark once they shine. Worst, they are the first to shut them up when they attempt to express their concern regarding racism and exclusion in Latin America with this Veronica Vega-esque argument “We all BLACK” and “AAAAAALL MIXED”.
Why isn’t the governor of Puerto-Rico a Boricua, but a descendant of Spaniards?
The obsession with racial trilogy or the three original makeups which make Latinized America are once again another form of manipulation used by the colonizers to assert their presence in the continent and to justify their political domination.
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*I do love Shakira’s music and I do not try to attack her. She did the best she could to highlight Afro-Indigenous Colombian culture and I respect her for that. Still, she is tremendously guilty for having stolen and lied about the creation of Waka Waka in 2010, a Cameroonian song from the 1980s. Many French-Cameroonians still want to choke her because of that.