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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Afro-Peruvians and the “N” Word


In my first trip to Perú, I visited the predominately black District of El Carmen where I engaged in conversation with a young man who, like everyone else in the district, speaks no English. He appeared Afro-centric as he was wearing a woolen cap with Africa written across the front. He looked at me curiously and asked, ¿Nicao? I said, ¿como? (huh?). He repeated, ¿Nicao? 

I finally realized that he was trying to say nigga and was wondering if he was pronouncing it correctly.  I explained to him what a lot of African-Americans simply don't get; this is not a word we want to identify ourselves with and should not be in our vocabulary. He thoroughly understood. However, I was not surprised, but at the same time, very surprised that the word nigga made it down to this sleepy, friendly District of El Carmen in Southern Perú.     

Then there is Tía, a teenage daughter of a good Afro-Peruvian friend in Lima, who is a diehard fan of hip-hop and seem to have adopted the word nigga the same way a lot of clueless African-Americans do. I nicely told her once before  about the use of that word, but she too is hooked. Below is one of her Facebook threads among some Afro-Peruvian friends:

Tía:  Amo a mi loca familia, Niggas (I love my crazy family, Niggas)
W Bill Smith:  SMH, LOL!
Tía:  “Like”
Xiomara:  Niggas are the best and you know it my sistah!
Rayza:  Tú con tus niggas y yo aquí con los mios (You with yo' niggas and I'm here with mine.

:::::::Sigh::::::: I don't know whether to laugh or go off!

In my opinion, these hip-hop artists are aiding the media in delivering negative stereotypes of the African-American community to the whole world, and at the same time, are winning over a lot of wannabes as their fan base continues to expand. I've even overheard young Asian guys and White guys referring to each other as niggaz because, thanks to hip-hop, they think it's cool.