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"There are No Black People in Argentina" Really?

Here is a story I found fascinating. Its from 2005, but I still found it engaging and learned a thing or two about communities that struggle to find a collective identity after being written off in history books. In 1810 30% of Argentinians were black. Now it is 1.8%. The article states that the conventional knowledge says the reason for the drop had been either war, where they were on the frontlines, or yellow fever. But they're still there, albeit some of them a little lighter skinned.

I found it curious that people who visibly look black are forced to pass as white, since (at the time of this article), there was no racial category of "Afro-Argentine" forAfroargentine
them to check. So essential Argentina is all white. Really? I think something similar happens in Brazil, where people say they are "muy, muy moreno" instead of "negro".


Argentina was interested in presenting itself as a white
country," said George Reid Andrews, a history professor at the
University of Pittsburgh who has specialized in black history in Latin
America. "Its ideologues and writers put a great emphasis on the yellow
fever epidemic and the war, and it was feasible to pretend that the
black population had simply disappeared as immigration exploded."

*photo by

Silvina Frydlewsky of the Washington Post


of the current population of blacks in Buenos Aires are essentially
wild guesses, partly because the Argentine government has not reflected
African racial
ancestry in its census counts in well over a century."





  • a.I had read the warfare-yellow fever tale about Argentina’s supposed lack of Black-African DNA and this is similar to Chile being devoid of the same population.
    b.Ebony magazine had an article in the late 70’s-early 80’s about Senegal that told how the mens bball
    team went to Argentina & some folks touched the hair of Senegalese basketball players when they arrived to play at a tournament!They said we don’t have many or (any)blacks in Argentina!c.Why is it surprising to find that {indigenous Australians are called Black?}Some use the term “Kooria” and despite not having a recent African heritage the treatment from white Aussies sure hasn’t been like treating fellow white people!Its bizarre that whites can be Asian Indians {some} or Icelandic and be part of the "great Indo-European "group while Papuans & Fijians are said not to be related to Yorubas & Wolofs!

  • Huumhh !!!
    Argentina in 1810 : 30% black
    Argentina in 2001: 1.8%
    How/Why has it dropped so drastically ????

  • Guerreiranigeriana, thanks for your very informative post! Yeah, one of my friends went to Brazil and relayed to me much the same story. I just find it interesting how different countries have completely different modes of racial classification.
    When I was in Australia, I was really surprised to find that Aboriginals are called “Black”. So, I got into a few debates about how Blacks are supposed to be of African descent, not just people who have dark skin. Well, then I found out (and this is on wikipedia too) that many Aboriginals actually embraced the term and started doing so in the 70s.
    Anyway, thanks for the commentary, much appreciated.

    Please check out this online magazine The Afropolitan. We need to support communities like this in order for our GLOBAL MOVEMENT to be VICTORIOUS!!

    Jacques Nell
  • argentina has and continues to pride itself on being the most european of the south american colonies turned sovereign nations…so as for counting the blacks, i am not surprised that they don’t…with brazil, there are usually three categories of race to choose: branco (white), pardo (brown or mixed) and preto (black)[it may have changed since i have been there]…but of course, no one wants to be black because that is the lowest…a brazilian guy refused to call me negra or preta eventhough i insisted that i was negra or preta and not morena (mixed)…he told me that for him to call me preta would be the equivalent of him calling me nigger, because he was a white brazilian…i said oh and asked that he call me negra…he said: you’re too pretty to be negra…let me call you morena, please…turns out, brancas are for marriage, morenas for sex and pretas/negras for work…so even if you are black, but you happen to be pretty, the tendency is to call you morena…complex…and that doesn’t even get into the 50+ ways they have of classifying a person based on hair type and texture, skin color, etc…
    …point being, brasil is very different from argentina in that it is pretty clear of the african influences and has pretty much adopted them as brazilian culture…there is actually a growing black power movement, especially in salvador, bahia, where you can find people with shirts that read: ‘sou 100% negro’-i am 100% black…you find some of the most unlikely, at least in brazilian culture, claiming that they are black…so things are changing, slowly…but brazil is very different from argentina…they tried to whiten their society after slavery, but, considering that they got the most enslaved africans…but what you do get is that the south of brazil (closest to argentina) is very white-where most of the europeans and japanese settled during the ‘whitening’ time and most of the blacks or those with african ancestry are in the northeast, especially bahia (this is highly generalized)…it’s rather interesting…i’ll stop now…sorry sooo long…


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