Saturday, July 4, 2020

black and brown bodies

I was stumped by this for a recent zoom simul gig where my speaker was in the US but my listeners were in Latin America. In a pinch I used cuerpos negros y morenos, but I know that doesn't quite work. In some areas of Colombia moreno is understood as having some African heritage, in others it's not. This has actually been a contentious issue for the census, with Afro-Colombian groups asking that the term be used to increase self-identification as Afro-Colombian and the census refusing to consider it a term for Afro-Colombianness (Paschell 2013). At any rate, I'm looking for a better option that, again, works not just in the US but in Latin America. Obviously, there is no such thing as neutral Spanish that will work across all countries, but I'm looking for something that will work in lots of contexts.

Friends have suggested:
- cuerpos negros y con tono de piel oscura 
- cuerpos negros y oscuros
- cuerpos negros y no blancos
- cuerpos negros y de color

What do you think readers? Any other good options out there?

Note: the image is from the PERLA project, where they went around Latin America and asked people to identify what color they were on this palette. Interviewers also marked their own read of what color the person was. For full results see Telles (2014).

Paschel, Tianna. “‘The Beautiful Faces of My Black People’: Race, Ethnicity and the Politics of Colombia’s 2005 Census.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 36, no. 23 (2013): 1544–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2013.791398.

Telles, Edward. Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

6 comments:

Errol de Jesus said...

Very relevant topic! My husband is from Mexico and refers to me as morena and our son as Afrolatino or Afro-mexicano. We don't use negro often. Prieta is one but not sure if it's very positive. Not even sure if BIPOC translates well. Thanks for posting this!

Unknown said...

After thinking about this a lot and talking to some folks, in LA, or at least in Colombia, the term "black and brown" just doesn't make sense to most folks. Nor does the term "people of color." I would suggest "cuerpos racializados" or "identidades racializadas." Although these may be quite academic terms they are used by some in the movement, and def more so than the initial suggestions. Another possible option, more along the lines of BIPOC, would be "personas negras, indigenas y mestizas." What do you think??

Sara Koopman said...

well racializadas lumps everyone together - to get to the point the speaker was making (as movements generally are) you could maybe say cuerpos racializados y mas racializados, but I'm not sure how well understood that would be. I think cuerpos negros indigenas y mestizos could work - but you lose the politics of putting indigena y mestizo together. And in the US of course brown includes lots of other groups that wouldn't represent. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I would say gente negra y latina for blacks and browns (in the United States).
Everyone is racialized, including white people, they are just racialized as superior. So "cuerpos racializados" doesn't quite work either.

Sara Koopman said...

agreed. I like negra y latina for its simplicity - but especially when people are appealing to black and brown unity they are going for a big tent, which includes, say, people of South Asian descent like the speaker I was interpreting for.

Sara Koopman said...

Oh, and to clarify on the term racialized: my understanding of its common use in academia is that it does not apply to white folks whose race is usually unmentioned, invisible, not seen as having an impact, etc.