Ahora te has puesto a favor de los negros.

English Translation

You’ve really turned black now.

This would be extremely offensive in the United States. Does it possibly have a different meaning in a Spanish-speaking country? Thanks.

There are a few ways the word negro could be used that aren’t necessarily “offensive”, but they assume too much about the context. I have a different opinion to offer.

My understanding is that race itself was never as big a deal in Spanish-speaking culture as it is in The States. Carlos Fuentes’ El Espejo Enterrado discusses Latin America’s colonial “brownocracy” (his term) and makes it clear that interracial marriages were quite common. (All the insults he lists are a backhanded acknowledgement of this fact, whatever he thought they implied.) Not everyone was happy about said “brownocracy,” but I always get the impression that the problem wasn’t about race per se. Some people wanted to justify their status in the colonies’ hierarchy based on being from Spain. (In other words, being a colonizer gives you rights over the colonized. Sounds “natural”.) That such people would tend to be “white” by modern standards would be incidental under this interpretation. The point being, however, that “siding with the blacks” wouldn’t be as offensive “over there,” if I’m giving Fuentes a fair read.

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