Peru’s minorities battle racism [Featured]

June 14th, 2010

The BBC’s Dan Collyns, a British journalist based in Lima who brought significant attention to the racist TV character Negro Mama and helped create some of the pressure to get it banned, tells us more about the struggle of Peru’s minorities to get ahead.

(Dan Collyns, BBC) There is a saying in Peru – “el que no tiene de Inga tiene de Mandinga” – which means every Peruvian has either some indigenous or African blood.

It is an often-quoted proverb used to explain the country’s blend of races.

Racial mixing began mixing with the Spanish conquistadors who overran the Inca Empire in the 16th Century, and continued with successive waves of African slaves, indentured Chinese labourers and migrants from Japan and Europe.

The phrase speaks of a melting-pot nation but does not hint at Peru’s deep-set prejudices.

The country has socio-economic gaps along race lines and its inherent, if subtle, discrimination can mean an indigenous woman may only ever work as a maid; a black man may only ever aspire to be a hotel doorman.

This is the kind of everyday racism which dictates the lives of many Peruvians.


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