a word about discrimination
Discrimination is an odd little thing. Things can look so nice on the surface but it’s all rather grimy underneath. I live in a country with a female president. It’s also proud to be one of the first nations to legalise gay marriage. You may be imagining a nation where women are treated as equal to men, and gay couples are free to live their lives as they choose. It can all too easily be viewed as rather progressive.
Yet, here I am, frequently disgusted when I turn the TV on to see the gender balance in play. The president addresses her political minions and it’s a sea of man, with one or two women on the sidelines – if you look really carefully. Discussion programmes frequently see tables of only men talking about the serious issues. In fact when I expressed my surprise that there were two women on one of these programmes, it turned out the topic was a frivolous one relating to females. Women can discuss women’s stuff, but human stuff is for men. To be fair, women are given reasonable airtime on TV, once they’ve sorted their bodies out and lost most of their clothes. They’re welcome to dance half-naked in the background but they rarely get to join the serious discussions.
It’s not just women that get interesting televisual treatment, gay people are represented too on this prime broadcasting media. Represented as two-dimensional, comic and critical queens. And out in society I don’t see much evidence for their existence. I’m in a town of about 150,000 people and I haven’t seen a single gay couple. In fact, I don’t know anyone who knows an openly gay person.
But the most insidious, disturbing discrimination here is one that I think will cost the country for years to come. Rascism is an odd term to use when there are no distinct races to separate. It seems to come down to the fact that descendants of mainly European immigrants live in the nice areas and people with a more indigenous heritage are more likely to live in slum housing. There’s a bit of overlap but not much.
Inherent in the language is the use of ‘negra’ or ‘negro’ (black), to describe anyone with dark skin. This extends to a common nickname for friends, or just a general ‘mate’ type word for anyone with any skin colour. But it’s also commonly tagged with ‘de la mierda’ (shit) to describe the type of person who lives in the slums who is blamed for the all too frequent criminal or antisocial activities.
I have no idea how a country goes about redressing a vast racial social and economic divide. It’s a huge job. But what totally disgusts me on a daily basis, is the people who dwell in the land of privilege refusing to think about the issue beyond their own person inconvenience and fear. There is so little concern about improving education in the poor areas or about addressing the shocking discriminatory attitude towards people because of their appearance.
I walk about the streets and see mainly dark-skinned people. I turn on the TV and see only fair-skinned people. Well, apart from the ‘follow the drunk criminal’ shows and ‘watch teenagers fighting with comedy overdubbed noises’ programmes. People with darker skin have no voice, they have no hope and they have few educational or working opportunities. Something needs to change if Argentina doesn’t want to see this situation getting much worse in the next generation, because crime is rising, the divide is escalating and I can’t see any moves to making it better.
Same here in Brazil. Uproar presently going on because some evangelical nut got appointed to head the Federal Human Rights Commission. This assclown actually recently said something like, “Being gay is a bad option, but being black is just bad luck.” Here’s a link to the story: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/brazil-elects-racist-anti-gay-pastor-be-human-rights-boss070313
On another note, you can’t possibly be happy with Carabu Christina. I’m a fan of women in politics, i wish there were more, but she’s a disaster… even lying about the real inflation rate! Argentina is a hair away from collapsing again… and its seems no one there cares.
That is a shocking and completely bizarre story! One of those you couldn’t make up. Definitely deserves a satirical documentary.
And yes, Cristina is a lying disaster. But I’m always hopeful of the knock-on effect a woman leader has on the next generation. I was brought up under Thatcher, not my first choice in female role models, but I’m sure it helped set a notion in my head that women are natural leaders and equal in society.
Everyone here is all too aware of the impending disaster. Unfortunately they feel disaster is cyclical and inevitable and, short of banging pots in the main square to moan about it, they don’t yet grasp that things could actually change. I’m really hopeful that the Grillo revolution that hit Italy recently will soon be spreading round the world. Social networking sites may indeed give people the power to change the political landscape!
“disaster is cyclical and inevitable”… what fatalistic bullshit. Argentina is a basket-case because of Argentinians. Hell, they re-elected Cristina (correct spelling) knowing everything was turning to shit? Put away the pots and pans… grow a brain.
Well, that’s pleasant 🙂 Fatalistic bullshit it may be, but for people who have only known military dictatorships and corrupt, lying democratic leaders, they’re relieved if they get 10 years of relative stability after decades of political repression and economic crashes that make feeding their families a genuine struggle. People have a tendency to vote with their pocket, all over the world, and most people are better off than they have ever been under the Kirchners. Added to that, there wasn’t actually any alternative – usual jumble of the same corrupt political class talking about nothing. And telling people with a shoddy, atrociously funded, part-time education system with teachers who don’t need a university degree doing the honours to ‘grow a brain’ is rather simplistic. Although I am interested in how the pots-and-pans-banging culture emerged and why they feel it’s a constructive measure.
Was Lula as good as he looked from a quick foreigner’s glance?
Apologies, my Brazilian bias to Argentinians might have filtered through a little in that last post 😉
Lula was a joke, but a populist joke who left office with 80% approval rating and, if the tax returns are correct, with over R$300 million in his bank account… It’s a miracle! Believe me, the dumb doesn’t stop at the border. Fernando Cardoso was the true mastermind of stabilising the Brazilian economy. Lula inherited a very good situation and rode the wave like it was his. Politics here is as bad as in Argentina, but monetary policy seems to be controlled by some very smart men and women in the central bank which has avoided the political mess and steered the ship quite effectively. Education, though, is atrocious. There is no uniformity. Sao Paulo and the southern states are fine. Go north and its a cognitive clusterfuck. Maddening for an Australian so used to middle of the road politics, no corruption, social stability, and egalitarianism.
How disappointing about Lula! I totally relate to the maddening nature of everything. Maybe if I stay long enough I’ll think banging pots is a good idea too.
Oh god no! That said, when (not if) the pots start again do please take pictures and post them.
Your feelings about this, your perception of this, is part of the solution.
Unfortunately I doubt it. I just want to get out of here and back to relative sanity most of the time. Although I’ll miss the sunshine and the hummingbirds!
“To be fair, women are given reasonable airtime on TV, once they’ve sorted their bodies out and lost most of their clothes.” Zinger! 🙂
Racism is taught not learned.
In America have seen and been a victim of the nasty side of this issue. A lot has changed here, and some things still the same. However, more importantly there is a class war going on in America. Children of privilege only mix and socialize with others of privilege regardless of race. They see only the color of money. Progress on race relations maybe, but, oppression is gaining strength. 😦
However, if I live another 50 years, the younger generation may get this issue of race solved. Oppression of the poor and uneducated, that’s another matter.
“Children of privilege only mix and socialize with others of privilege regardless of race” I totally know what you mean. I have relatives on the wealthier side in the US and found their bubble existence rather unsettling. From gated neighbourhoods to obscenely wealthy churches to expensive malls, all in a big fancy tank-like cars and not having to view the rest of the world at any point. It’s really easy to lived a totally blinkered existence there. Education is the key out of that for everyone and I’m working on a new international curriculum item that’ll put the world to rights within a generation. (Deluded, again) 🙂
“Things can look so nice on the surface, but its all rather grimy underneath”. Ah, feminist conspiracy theory at its best.
Ah Louis, delighted to have your probing insight into the matter.
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