Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mexican postage stamps under fire


Lots of chatter today about the release of a set of postage stamps in Mexico. The character portrayed on the stamps, one Memin Penguín, is a caricature of a Mexican of African descent and his mother. Memin was a popular comic book character for about 20 years in Mexico, up to about 1977. By our standards, it is blatatantly rascist. By Mexican standards it is not. Mexican society is a rascist society kind of like that of Japan. Intermarriage, even fraternization, between the mestizos and the indigenous peoples is frowned upon and is rare. Even more rare is intermariage or fraternization with blacks. By mestizos I mean the lighter complected Mexicans of mixed Spanish/Indian or European/Indian descent. In Mexico, the whiter your skin the better.

Mexican mestizos see nothing wrong with this and do not consider it rascist at all. They also see nothing wrong with the timing of the release of the stamps, coming on the heels of the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton/Vicente Fox bruhaha over the "jobs even blacks won't do" statement. Mexicans don't consider the timing of the release of the stamps to be stupid at all, either. I report, you decide.

Here are the actual stamps being released for sale:

Stamp images from Res Ipsa Loquitur who has some comments of his own. He's right about this; Mexico is an uncivil, violent, rascist, corrupt society. He's wrong about it being a banana republic. It is a narco republic. I know. I live here. I'll probably get shot for this post.

UPDATE: A Mexican embassy official says that the character is based on a Cuban. Hmmm... didn't Richard Pryor play a "Cuban" baseball player in a movie once?

Linked to: Res Ipsa Loquitur, Joe Gandelman, Michelle Malkin, Narcissistic Views, GOP and the City - there are no Mexicans who see this as racist - congratulations and keep your mouth shut about this while you are there, Sadly, No, Cheat Seeking Missiles, Don Singleton, Shrink Wrapped, Balloon Juice, American Digest, Los pasos del cangrejo, PostWatch, FirefoxIE, JamulBlog, Pandagon, The State of..., Ain't Nobody's Business, Waveflux, Blog Alice, The Brutha Code - I hope you're in a better mood tomorrow - Note: this blog contains a lot language, WFMU, Liberal Serving, Weapon of Mass Distraction, America Service, Ramblings Heard in the Cage of Camp X-Ray, Immigration Watchdog, Amphatememe, Na Han, Playahata, Random Stuff, All the Marketing,


Anonymous said...

I lived in Mexico for 5 years, and I agree with you Markinmexico, there is no education in the general public, that racism is bad. They seem to use a lot of nicknames based on your physical appearance, though. Not just the color of your skin. Gordito, Flaca, Gorda, Flacita, Chino, Choco (refers to skin color) on an on. Completely different cuture. And the worst name you can call anyone in Mexico is: Indio.

Anonymous said...

Esto es tan estúpidamente surrealista que ni siquiera resulta divertido: un puñado de gringos y sus acólitos, que sólo hablan mal inglés y que no saben absolutamente nada de México, menos comprenden, intentando imponer por la fuerza a sus vecinos del sur soluciones foráneas que no han conseguido que les funcionen en casa.

Generaciones enteras de mexicanos aprendieron a leer con Memín Penguín a la par que eran cautivadas por su simpatía, su dulzura, su inquieta inteligencia y su conmovedora sinceridad y capacidad de amar. Memín les ayudó a adquirir valores humanos, a respetar la diversidad y a detestar la injusticia. Y ahora nos quieren reinventar la rueda encontrando odio donde siempre hubo aprecio y racismo donde siempre hubo cariño y respeto, en un clarísimo caso de «piensa el ladrón que son todos de su condición».

No son ni capaces de escribir correctamente el nombre de Memín. Tamaña muestra de cerrazón causaría hilaridad si no provocara antes profundo llanto.

Mark in Mexico said...

Calm down there, Pedro. Firstly, Spanish grammatical symbols such as the stress mark over the "í" have no grammatical value or meaning in English. Therefore, if you see it used, for instance in, "No más," it is incorrect. That is why we write, "Jose Cuervo" and not, "José Cuervo." That is why we write (and pronounce), "Lee Trevino" and not, "Lee Treviño".

Secondly, American society has shown the ability to grow , mature and change over time (ever hear of "Little Black Sambo" or Br'er Rabbit?). Mexico still lives like it's 1805 instead of 2005.

Your air and water are poisoned, your streets are filled with trash and garbage, your politicians steal you blind, the uncountable NGO's that exist in every state spend more time shooting and killing each other than they do helping their people, the mountainous regions of Guerrero are contolled by narco paramilitary gangs, the mountainous regions of Chiapas are controlled by masked revolutionaries, the streets of your border city of Nuevo Laredo are controlled by one of two rival, heavily armed gangs of assassins, most of whom recently deserted from your army, the people of Puebla derisively call the street that runs by the military fort, "Calle de Los Indios Verdes", the last chief of police in Nuevo Laredo was shot dead 6 hours after being sworn in and narco-politicians and narco chietains (those few who didn't purchase their "escapes") took control of their prison and the army had to go get it back.

As proof that what I say is true, over TEN THOUSAND PER DAY of your paisanos flee your country across its northern border every year.

Memin Penguin didn't do such a good job of teaching you, "kindness, sweetness, eager intelligence, touching sincerity, capacity to love, acquisition of human values, respect for diversity and to detest injustice, did he?

Maybe because you spent too much time giggling at his monkey face and not enough time paying attention to what he was saying.

Anonymous said...

To Mark in Mexico, you are a disgusting apátrida, and read well CON ACENTOS: APÁTRIDA, and a shame for us Hispanics. No wonder Hispanics in the USA, or 'Latinos', are more and more disregarded by us the REAL hispanics given they grow up A LA GRINGO, with a bunch of liberalistic-fakefreedom-racism-labeling-artificial idiosyncratic concepts which are completely opposed to their parents and our countries.

If Mexico lives in 1805, then it was a VERY HAPPY SPANISH PROVINCE which VERY UNFORTUNATELY fell PRAY to MASONIC FRENCH AND ANGLOSAXON FOES OF SPAIN and proceeded to get independent from Spain SO THAT IN THEIR WEAK RESULTING ARMY THEY'D NOT HAVE THE STRENGTH TO DEFEND THE REST OF ITS TERRITORY AND THERE.... the Manifest Destiny of this infested nation called USA.

The ones living in the 1800s if not before are GRINGOS. UNTIL WHEN, UNTIL WHEN!!! will negros keep fighting WHITIES as if they're enemies? Have you seen NEGRO GRINGOS beating the crap of our LATINO STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND GANGS? YES. Latinos are inferior to negros in the social scale. These negros in USA, as well as natives and EVERY OTHER MINORITIY, have ABUSED the 'civil rights' premises to enrich their lives in millionary suits $$$.

Anonymous said...

I really dont understand you gringos... this is just a comic book! has nothing to do with any racism or any political issue, we mainly respect all cultures and people, really there is no racism here in mexico as I have seen living in the US, all these gangs and hate that you have in your damn first world country with more weapons than people. You think we live like in the wild west with narcos controlling government and stuff but is not like that, you just take facts to the edge. Mexico is changing, damn everything here is getting better. You´ll see. US is being drowned by your own government.

Sr. G.H.M.
Director 1st assistant
Local department of Development

Anonymous said...

Yeah! There's a lot of racism in Mexico (and Latin America), our water and air are poisoned, and blah blah blah. But you could never live without us, mexican people working in the US, legally or illegally; or you coming to Mexico to get cheap drugs (coming from other countries by the way, not from us, like DEA says), and your kids coming to Mexico to get drunk illegally (for you because it's legal here to drink if you're 18) in Tijuana. And al that shit about nicknames is just because we love life, we try get the funny thing about everything, my nickname is "flaco" (skinny) and so what, I AM skinny, my best friend is "el negro" (the black) because he has dark skin, and he doesn't give a fuck about ALL the people calling him by his nickname. Let's face it, you are the most racist country in the world, rulled by people who employs illegal immigrants in their companies, or people who used to be illegal as your governator. Stop messing with our culture, it's just an old comic book, please!!!

Anonymous said...

OH! and I forgot one thing, you can get those "racist" stamps for $6.50 pesos for a set of 5 (that's about 60 cents). And you, "anti-racism" gringos are spending $50 dollars for that!!! If you don't believe me, just have a look on!

Anonymous said...

Good night my opinion is that very they are mistaken I I am lawyer and within the studies of my somewhat essential race to study is the social, cultural aspect, of ethics of moral, religion, and customary, therefore the identity of each country not this cradle in its laws, this cradle in its custom and the principles that I finish of indicates, for example there are countries where in these times it is very common to kill a greater amount of wild animals when in the United States is all the opposite for which my serious opinion which each country has its own identity, its own laws and own his conduct, I believe that if common sense to the things puts to him we can understand this from the point and logical Vista like a cartoon, an animation, without trying to adjudge nothing to nobody to give an example if all a outside racial question in but of some program in the United States is mofan or deceived of the vagabonds, of the homosexuals and they do it of a form that causes laughter, I believe that but the important thing in this is not to fall in contrariedades since a cartoon is single like the one of Speedy González which could be offensive to some Mexican, but I ask I if some of you see our country asking the president or any president of the United States to modify it or to eliminate it, I agree in which can offend to some person if it is the person adjudges it like own, I in the individual, it does not offend me Speedy González since that he is cartoon and that what tries to do is to make amuse and make laugh, if the drawing of Memin Pinguin looked like some political, religious authority, or prestige person that has an image within the society would be in agreement with all the allegations of president Bush and you, I believe that it is a waste of time being so many hungry children, so many slaughters, so many spilling of refuel, as much oppression that there is in Iraq because the United States thought that its form to see things was the correct one which has caused all this, the wars begin by not respecting the ideology of every one, I believe that he is key for not putting to us in a dilemma or in a problem when does not exist it, another example is the OneMinuteMan Project which is racist to the 100%, your American government has asked our government to take care of each one of his necessities and your government has not protected nor has listened our government because these racist Americans with arms of high caliber put themselves on the South border to protect what they call their country putting in danger thousands of lives of children, women, to allow these attackers to carry arms and to handle themselves with authority where it is incumbent to them, we live in an i mperfect world and the changes we individually do, these are wars of opinions of people without criterion and without anything better to do, than single he tries to call atention and to gain popularity,
we are a country constituted by a congress and where the decisions fall to them, and not in the president and if it were thought that it offends or who somebody arrived to offend to but of some Mexican of color it had raised the voice, by I complete, I do not believe that it is offensive since the personage exists from long before some of you and I were born, I do not believe that he is right, to put our selves in discussions where the only thing that there is a CARTOONS that has anuses existing in mexico, that has never been offensive to anybody but some American politician candidates to something, whom ever thinks that with this he goes to gained votes with some minority, since in that country we are majority, and depends on us as citizens not to fall in the stupidities nor to be puppets of anybody, it is necessary to be analytical and then criticize, and I I ask you; in fact, do you really think that a Mexican who is a minority, that has racial diversity, could be able to create this like an insult, if this were us we would be demanding to TacoBell, OneMinuteMan, creators of Speedy Gonzalez, Pete Wilson, the world has good and bad people that every one takes this as agrees to him, the changes are individual noncollective and I decide as a person to see it and laugh and to think of it as an image that someone is trying to sell me and that it depends on me, if I buy it or think back, and listen to any opinion, tomorrow we have to go to work and is going to be people, that do not have where to sleep, do not have anything to eat, that is been held hostaged, that lives within a war and tomorrow they are going to follow living that reality, but Memin Pinguin is going to be history because he is just a cartoon.

Anonymous said...

I think if Americans put out a comic about Mexicans swimming into America would not be racist AT ALL. Do you want to know why? Because it has nothing to do with our racial features. It would show Mexicans, Guatemalans, Brazilians, Salvadoreans among others crossing the border illegally. If the forementioned comic would exist it would show the lack of security Mexico has and how Bush government haven't solved the inmigration problem on the border. If existed, unless it has positive messages as Memin Comics had, that comic would only demonstrate racism to YOU Americans and that anonymous have proved it, not to Mexicans or others.
That mexican character on the comic attended school with kids not necessarily as black as himself. This was all created during mid 40's. This was a reality as well in Mexico, not considering wealthy people, the rest would share the same. Now, you tell me, was this happening in your country? Did black kids attended schools or universities mixed with others during 40's decade?
The racial problems in Mexico have being created by the white wealth whose ancestry remont to Spaniards during colonial time and not by indians, mestizos, blacks or mulattos in Mexico. Taking apart the white wealth in Mexico, the rest of the people have no problems with others. "the lighter your skin, the better" but who says so???? the white society in Mexico who are a small portion compared to rest of the population.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you wonder how is that comic has been such a sucess in countries like Columbia or Venezuela to name some?? This comic has been published and distributed in other countries during the last 20 years. Do you think only America has a black population?? There are countries where the majority are black and they have welcomed this comic as it is, a cartoon. Only American citizens have felt offended with this. I haven't heard of Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia or Venezuela being upset with comic when they have had this comic during so long in their countries. Don't try to share your fears about black segregation in American history with the rest of the world. Mestizos and indians has nothing to regret about blacks. For those who think there are just "a few" African-Mexicans let me say there are more blacks in Mexico, than those in the coastal area of Guerrero. Try to visit Veracruz,Tabasco,Campeche and Nayarit. The worst sin about that person who did that study in Mexico was the fact he only wanted to focus on segregated black communities. That's why he did not found so many pure blacks in Mexico. Trying to find blacks in Mexico will be hard unless you decide to go on color skin. During centuries, decades, all the people mixed, but whites. This is totally different to what you would find in America until 50's-60's where they would still segregate blacks in communities.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, this is a cartoon created in a country where mix was a reality for everyone without , again,the wealth. If Mexicans had wanted to attack African-Americans, this comic would have been issued , since it was created, in America. It would have been easier since America had many cartoonist portraying blacks in derogative forms but Mexicans did not show that same context. Go ahead, read the comic and you'll be sure about what i'm saying. The Mexican portrayal is totally different.
Mexico has ALOT of problems, i agree, dirty water, dirty streets, you name it. But even when some refer to this comic as helpless with so much "narcos", at least the mixed population (around 85-90% in Mexico )don't face racism as you do in America, where caucasians took and still do a big part in social scale.
America is the only counrty who have felt offended, you wonder why. I guess Americans haven't got over the racism problem in their country since there is still so much resentiment from their past. When you truly forgive facts from the past, you can then remember them without feeling pain. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mark, no eres sólo un reportero en tu nota publicada, sino también juzgas la situación. Parece que después de los comentarios que has hecho te lavas las manos cuando dices: "I report, you decide".

Dudo que la sociedad mexicana tenga serios prejuicios raciales contra la gente de raíz africana. Creo que en primer lugar, en México no existe la situación de multiplicidad étnica, como ocurre en Estados Unidos. De ahí sea comprensible el titubeo del mexicano frente a una persona sea de raíces africanas o europeas. Sin embargo puedes examinar el historial de los africanos en México desde el siglo XVI y su relación con mestizos e indígenas.

En México no se puede ser racista porque realmente la identidad del mexicano no es respecto a la raza blanca (esos son pensamientos individuales que no puedes agrupar en el colectivo común). Es una mezcla o indefinición racial si lo estudias desde esa perspectiva. Nuestra cultura no se siente a partir de la llegada de los españoles sino desde la época prehispánica (ve los modismos del lenguaje). Pero la capa de la superficie nos llevará seguramente a una malinterpretación si es que no nos comprometemos con develar la verdad intrínseca. Te invito a que leas a William H. Prescott y demás autores extranjeros que han visitado y publicado libros sobre nuestro país.

En México desafortunadamente los españoles desde la colonia dejaron bien claro cual era la raza elegida, es decir, la blanca. El sentimiento de ser blanco, y por ello superior aún pervive en nuestra sociedad, mas no es una idea homogeneizada. Es algo que debemos superar. También debemos reconocer el respeto que España ejerció respecto de las culturas prehispánicas, siendo un ejemplo claro las ordenes religiosas, y desde luego el mestizaje.

Comparándolo con Estados Unidos realmente México no tiene una historia como la suya, ya que los colonos de Estados Unidos simplemente diezmaron a los indígenas (y a los búfalos). En el siglo XX hubo brotes como el Ku Klux Klan, lo cual te habla de una verdadera identificación de un país respecto de su color de piel. No quiero decir que todo Estados Unidos era Ku Klux Klan pero el mensaje que la nación trasmitía respecto a la grandeza de ser americano era encausada en este sentido. En México simplemente no puedes encontrar ese pensamiento colectivo. Si el mexicano trata de encontrar relaciones de fondo entre sus valores culturales y su color de piel se quedará confundido.

Respecto a Memín Pinguín es solo una historieta, a cuyo personaje si realmente le buscas una raíz de prejuicio racial, no la encontrarás. Te invito por lo tanto que leas sobre su autora Yolanda Vargas Dulché.

Mark, tu nota refleja, en primera instancia, un desequilibrio entre objetividad e impulsividad. Se siente tu resentimiento hacia los mexicanos. Desde la lectura de tus palabras puedo medir tu capacidad de amar y de odiar.

Te invito me escribas

José Carlos Figueroa

Anonymous said...

Excelente comentario el de José Carlos Figueroa

Anonymous said...

This is a stamp issued by the Mexician government. Neither Jesse Jackson nor anyone else in the United States has any right or business demanding its removal.