Afro-Argentines - Still the people in the land of the vanishing Blacks?

Photo: Ebony
Have Afro-Argentines stopped being vanishing blacks, as Ebony Magazine called them back in 1973? 

“What I found was not a viable, but a vanishing black people: relatively few in numbers, relatively free of racial discrimination and relatively content. Summarized by one gentleman, if there were more of us, perhaps it would be different," wrote Ebony editor Era Bell Thompson.
But thirty-eight years later the attidute has changed. Descendants of slaves are starting to assert their identity. The Global post called it  'The reawakening of Afro-Argentine culture'

But that’s not easy in South America's whitest country. But restfull attidute has changes. Now, for the first time in a century and a half, Argentine descendants of African slaves are organizing and going public to assert their identity

“We've been exiled from the collective memory of Argentina,” said Juan Suaque, a seventh-generation descendant of Argentine slaves, in the Global post. “It's as if you pass someone in the street and you have to explain your whole life, what and who you are.”

At the beginning of the 1800s, black slaves were 30 percent of the population of Buenos Aires, and an absolute majority in some other provinces. 

The first president of Argentina had African ancestry, and so did the composer of the first tango. Even the word “tango,” like many other words common in the Argentine vocabulary, has an African root; so do many beloved foods, including the national vices of the asado barbecue and dulce de leche.

To follow up on the story of the Black Argentine soldiers, some links and videos of the Afro-Argentines since they are part of the Black Diaspora, the history of Latin America and of course part of the history of Spain.

Article - Afro-Argentines
The must-read blog - AfroAmericanas
Organisation - Misibamba - Comunidad Afroargentina de Buenos Aires
Organisation - Diaspora Africa de la Argentina

Black history video Afro Argentines

Anti-racism video of 'Diaspora Africa de la Argentina' (Diafar)

Carmen "Pelusa" of the Afro-Argentine music group La Familia talks about the music Candoble

Campaign video of the Argentine census to stimulate Afro-Argentines to identify themselves


  1. Again I love the post. It's so sad that black people always get written out of history. I'm about history and tired of hearing biased history from white people. Loved the videos too. I live in Spain and I work with an Argentinan woman who looks mixed black and native American at first I thought she was Brazilian but she said she was from Argentina. I haven't aksed her if she has black ancestors because I know latinos can get very offended when asked this.

  2. Chico-Rei, thanks! Yes we need that black perspective, that's why it's good you are also writing this kind of stories.

  3. That is too true. It does seem that even history about places like Africa is from a white perspective.

  4. White Latinos have always disrepected and disliked Black Latinos even until this day they are treated with scorn by white Latinos. Good to see that the Afro Argentinian movement is growing throughout the Spanish speaking world and these people are now speaking up for themselves. In far too many Latino socities the only right Latino is a white Latino descendant from the Spaniards.

  5. I am an Afro-Mexican-American, my family's black side came from the Caribbean islands as immigrants in the late 19th century. And they arrived to a mostly white Mexican (Yes, there are Mexicans that are pure White) place. They worked and intermarried with whites. And let me add something, most of the times you, as a different person, just want to merge into the general population to make things easier to your children and descendants. I can say that even me (maybe I am 5 generation apart) have faced racism because I still preserve some African traits, but I am not ashamed, I always tell people my origins, and I am proud of being descendant of people that survived the black death and the inhuman business of slavery. Afroargentines I support you!!!

  6. I am an afro-latino (afro-mexican) and the worst racism I have encountered is actually not from whites, but from Asians. Chinese people literally asked me "What are you?" and called me a monkey. Race issues are not always black and white. We have to move beyond that dichotomy to rid the world of anti-african prejudice.

    1. This is an excellent point you made! I moved to San Francisco, California, a year and a half ago, and for the first time in my life I found myself in a city that is almost 50% non-white, but non-white composed mostly of Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, South Asians, and around 15% Latino. African-Americans are only 5% of San Francisco's population and dropping. Every day is a learning experience navegating these waters of being a racial minority within a sea of other non-black racial minorities.

  7. this is beautiful! I am so happy to see more Afro-Latinos stepping up and claiming their lineage. It is a pity that we are being wiped out nearly vanished from history. However, we must continue to educate our children about the rich African roots and culture.

  8. Hi! I'm argentinian and I love this post for so many reasons.

    First, I knew that "once upon a time" Argentina had a large black population (I still remember the representation of the typical black lady selling empanadas and stuff in every 25 de mayo commemorative ceremony in school), but never really knew why black population almost disappeared. And it was not until I was older than I started wondering, and I read above in one of the comments, that most times (if not always) History is written by white people, and is so true!... they never tought us this part of the argentinian history in school; but later on I read about all the people that fought at Paraguay war and something clicked there. Of course.

    I'm what you'd consider "white" (my ancestors, both from father and mother, came from País Vasco, Spain). Still, my mother is not quite white, and so isn't my brother. Me, like my father, are very much white.. and we don't particulary like it (our skin burns like hell in summer, which is 9 month a year).

    Regardless of this, I live in a part of the country that most of the population is from european descent, and to some of the german or ukranian descendants (some families, not all of them), we are considered "not white", and don't want their children to marry or date "not blonde blue-eyed people". I mean... *sights*

    Inmigration in my province was massive and tough we all love each other very peacefully now, to some families that come from very closed inmigrat colonies, integration is still an issue. So, I can't even imagine what they would say about the afro-argentines.

    I've met people that I'm pretty sure (now that i think about it) were afro descendant, but never for a minute I thought about asking them about it, beacuse.. who cares?! Don't get me wrong, but does it really matter? I mean, aren't we all the same? I don't go around telling people that my great grand parents came from Spain, first, beacuse I don't think they care, and second, and most importantly, I don't think it matters.

    To me it's ridiculous that we are in the XXI century and we still have to talk about different races, the white, the black and the hundreds other different colors that there are in between. We all live in this very beautiful country, we all have the same rights, and so we all have the same stupid corrupt goverment. Good for us.

    I think it 's okay to love and honor the culture of your ancestors, to some it's part of their identity and that ok; to others, like myself, it's just something that needs to be explained when they ask about their weired last name. To me Argentina is an unique country, and its different from the other countries from latin america, we are the best, right?. I'm sure the same thing the colombian people think about themselves, and the brazilians, and the mexicans, and we can go on and on (see, we are all the same).

    To be honest, I love that my country was populated by so many different cultures; like it or not, "white" inmigrants ended up pairing with natives and other "not white" inmigrants and the result is a very diverse etnicity (not entirely white!). And, to the ones that still have issues with integration, it's ok.. It's good that we can all get along with such diverse cultural identity.

    It was not my intention to write this much, but it felt inspired. Loved runing into this. Go afro argentines!!

    PD: si este es un post sobre afro argentinos, por qué carajo escribimos todos en inglés?!

  9. It's good to see more information on this. I was born in England so was my dad. My grandad came to England around 1900. He's afro Argentine. I don't know enough of my heritage. I know he changed his name before he came here and he received a bravery medal in Mendoza where he lived. He left his wife and children in Argentina and met my grandma in the UK. Why he left I don't know, im not sure if there's many records available about my family as I hear many were destroyed, an I'd love to know if I have relatives still in Argentina now.

  10. My wife is from Argentina now living in the USA. She says there are very few black people in Argentina... and that one could walk around all week and not see one Afro-Argentinian person. However, she thinks its because "black" people blended in with "white" and native peoples and now everyone looks very similar, so its hard to tell and that nobody really cares about race.

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