My race is only part of the whole

Colorblind – A glimpse into race in the U.S. and abroad is a new API blog series that looks at racial issues and concerns faced by API students and staff abroad. This post is by API Buenos Aires student Jameson Hall.

Jameson at Igauzu Falls, Argentina

Hola todos!

I want to speak about some of the negatives about being a foreigner in a new city specifically as a person of color. Here is an update for you…

I’m African American.

I’m Black.

I’m a Negro.

My name is Jameson.

Yes, yes, yes. It is true. I have darker pigment than most people especially here in Buenos Aires. Since I’m naturally kissed by the sun there are a few reactions I have experienced while abroad and I think it is important to share with you all.

1). Stares. I kid you not when I say I get stared at by everyone. Everyone being men, women, children, grandma, grandpa, people working in the stores, people on the bus, people on the subway, people in the bank, people in the supermarket… the list goes on. I’ve recently learned that is something very common in Buenos Aires but in the U.S. from a young age a person is taught not to stare because it’s considered rule.

2). Long stares. These are the ones that get to me the most. I’ll catch someone staring at me…smile or say hola! (you know something nice). When the moment has passed what do people keep on doing? – STARING! Did I not just catch you staring at me and you looked away thinking (dang it! He saw me staring). But, no they have the audacity to keep on staring!

a) There is an urge inside that makes me want to say “Hey, if you take a picture it will last longer!” in Spanish of course.

b) I also have the urge to give them the stink face like some give me.

3). People down here just love my hair. My locs and my skin color are the two things that compel wide eye stares. It is one thing to ask to touch my hair and asking how I do that I’m totally okay with because really in Argentina there is a very low percentage of dark skinned people. However some people love my hair so so so much or find it so so interesting that some have even asked “Hey, Can I have a piece of you hair?”

WAIT A MINUTE…

Thoughts

Do whattttt?

You want a piece of my what?

My hair?!?!?!?!?!

What will you do with it? I mean really? Are you going to sew it into your head? Or will you make earrings out of it? Are you going to frame it?

The options go on and on!

Needless to say, my friend Kathryn and I left that supermarket fairly quickly haha. I just wanted to clearly say that my skin color/my race is only one branch of this tree or it’s only one piece to the puzzle. Do you understand?

My race only defines part of this whole that is Jameson.

Know all of me or nothing. There is my two cents.

Fun Fact: People either think I’m from Brazil, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and so forth which is cool but… when I tell them no I’m from the United States, ALL cool points go out the window haha.

Jameson Hall is studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, and is an international studies major at Texas State University.

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Comments

  1. Great Blog series! Very important for the field of international education. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience in Argentina with us. It’s great to hear from an African American fellowmate. However, If you don’t mind me asking, have you ever been yelled any racial slurs, or has anyone ever made an attempt to arm for being Dark skinned, are there a lot of Neo-nazi skinheads as said around? If so, how do you deal with these kind of situations? What advice would you give to people to deal with these stuff as well? I am Salvadoran,Guatemalan American with brown skin, and i always had the curiousity of Argentina by wanting to visit the place, but all thanks to the things people say (laughs) i was hold back. Thank you for taking your time reading this comment and I look forward to recieving your reply.

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