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#1
Old 05-04-2013, 07:54 PM
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Spanish morenita/morenito is that considered ok for black people?

Mira a esa linda morenita!

I've heard that for years. Is it still ok and not offensive in these PC times?

I've heard Prieta used too for blacks. I'm guessing negra is a no no.

Whats the safe way to indicate a black person in Spanish these days?

Last edited by aceplace57; 05-04-2013 at 07:56 PM.
#2
Old 05-04-2013, 07:59 PM
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Eh, depends on the place. And in some places, negra has nothing to do with skin color (and neither does morena).

I am morena because of my dark hair, not my skin. I do not have piel morena, though.

I think, in general, native Spanish speakers are much less prudish about skin colors compared to English speakers (at least).

I mean, I know plenty of songs describing women by their skin color, using words that would not be considered PC in English, if translated straight.

Mulata/o is acceptable (at least in some regions). I do not know of a place where it is explicitly a no-no (other than English).

And I'm called negra and negrita despite being quite the opposite.
#3
Old 05-04-2013, 08:13 PM
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Muchas gracias!

I really don't want to offend people in two languages. My Spanish is shaky enough already.
#4
Old 05-04-2013, 08:26 PM
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AFAIK, morena is fine. I don't think even negra, mulata, or prieta are a no-no. But I know more of the Caribbean and Mexican dialects, perhaps in some other region it may be different, but those that I know from other regions don't seem to have an issue.
#5
Old 05-04-2013, 08:34 PM
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Here in Mexico moreno/a is brown. Negro/a is black. This is skin color. Neither is offensive. They are descriptions. No racism here. Well, a lot less.
#6
Old 05-04-2013, 08:55 PM
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I'm white and non-Hispanic, but I've seen that Hispanic cultures don't have the same hangups over race as Anglos do. Yes, race has had meaning in Latin America and Spain, but not in the same way. Also, there are Hispanics who are as fair as the bonniest lassie from Scotland if you look hard enough. I actually met a Salvadorian lady in the US whose accent and lack of English proficiency combined with her appearance threw me off completely and had me suspecting that she might be French Canadian.

Latin America has seen a greater amount of race mixing with huge populations of multiracial people. Wander around Puerto Rico for a while and you'll find people who are more or less a mishmash of European, Native, and African blood. That's not as common in English speaking areas. English settlers seemed to have a hangup with race mixing that the Spanish and Portuguese didn't have or didn't have to the same degree.
#7
Old 05-04-2013, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGrenze View Post
Eh, depends on the place. And in some places, negra has nothing to do with skin color (and neither does morena).

I am morena ...

And I'm called negra and negrita despite being quite the opposite.
Wait, you're a girl?
#8
Old 05-04-2013, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post

Latin America has seen a greater amount of race mixing with huge populations of multiracial people. Wander around Puerto Rico for a while and you'll find people who are more or less a mishmash of European, Native, and African blood. That's not as common in English speaking areas. English settlers seemed to have a hangup with race mixing that the Spanish and Portuguese didn't have or didn't have to the same degree.
English settlers came with families (think Puritans, pilgrims, Jamestown, the lost colonies, etc.). Portuguese and Spanish early conquistadores were military men (or poor or mercenaries looking for quick gold). Huge gender imbalance in the first decades. It also led to children of any unions eventually being recognized, and some of those unions being recognized (because there were no other women around) at least by church and perhaps by crown, too.

Yes, AFAIK, I am woman.
#9
Old 05-04-2013, 09:33 PM
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Here at least, skin color is seen as just another physical characteristic, like blonde, or tall. In fact nicknames like:

negro/black
chico/short
gordo or guatón/fat
flaco/thin

Are extremely common, there's (almost) always at least one of each in every class in school, group of friends, coworkers, etc.
#10
Old 05-04-2013, 10:48 PM
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I've noticed that too. If you're heavyset they call you gordo in Spanish. Or someone with big arms (weight lifting) is Tiene los brazos muy gordos.

Nothing cruel is meant by it. Spanish is just very descriptive about people.
#11
Old 05-04-2013, 11:17 PM
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I've had to educate a few Colombian transplants to the US that 'fatty' and 'fatso' are not OK nicknames. Nor commenting on how females look as being appropriate conversation in the workplace. But then again, I've had to educate Gringos about that one, too.

Although, remember, a century ago, 'fatty' was an acceptable nickname. Isn't that right, Mr. Arbuckle?
#12
Old 05-05-2013, 12:43 AM
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Here in Panama moreno/a and morenito/a are perfectly OK. I know a woman who goes by La Morena as a nickname.

I have been told that it is somewhat rude to refer to a person as negro/a, but that the diminutive negrito/a is OK.

Cholo is used for people who look Indian (indigenous): dark brown skin and straight black hair. This can sometimes be used as an insult, but sometimes is just a description. I saw a police report referring to a suspect having cholo hair, and have met guys nicknamed Cholo. The local baseball team in a small town is called Los Cholos.
#13
Old 05-05-2013, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grama View Post
Here at least, skin color is seen as just another physical characteristic, like blonde, or tall. In fact nicknames like:

negro/black
chico/short
gordo or guatón/fat
flaco/thin

Are extremely common, there's (almost) always at least one of each in every class in school, group of friends, coworkers, etc.
And they can be serious or just-the-opposite. Often those nicks are the story behind a lastname, such as my classmate with the thick eyebrows whose paternal line is definitely not in doubt: his lastname means HeWithThickEyebrows.

Moreno/a also means "dark haired" and "tanned". I'm castaña (dark brown hair), my sister in law is morena (raven-haired), both of us get morenas in the summertime (in fact, right now I have T-shirt-lines, just from walking around in the spring's sun). My pelirroja cousin on the other hand and like every other true redhead wouldn't get a tan unless it was painted on


I used to work in a factory in northern Spain that was part of an American multinational company. Sometimes we'd get "PC reminders" out of Home Office which made zero sense in the local context; for example, shortly after I joined, we got a letter saying "we need to hire more African-Americans and more women", leading to jokes about how "we're ahead of HQ's plans, we just hired two women and a black guy!" "wait, do guys from Equatorial Guinea count? The letter says 'African-American', do African-Africans count? Would a Moroccan count?" "If we're supposed to hire 'minorities', shouldn't we be hiring gypsies? This is Spain, our traditional minority is gypsies! I'm a very traditional guy and I say we need to hire more gypsies!" "Trying to get your cousins hired?" "Only my father's side!" (his mother's side isn't Roma).

Another one was about PC language, leading to several lunch breaks spent coming up with ways to describe someone without saying "the black guy" (there was only one in the factory), "the fat blonde" or "the beanpole - I don't just mean 'tall', when you see him you'll know which one I mean". It can be pretty hard, we had a lot of dudes whose description would have been the exact same as the Guinean's once you left skin color out of it.

Last edited by Nava; 05-05-2013 at 01:32 AM.
#14
Old 05-05-2013, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGrenze View Post
I think, in general, native Spanish speakers are much less prudish about skin colors compared to English speakers (at least).
I think you should perhaps revise your notion to be "Americans". In Canada we call people of African descent "black". No they are not really black, but most Canadians are really closer to pink, and are not offended to be called white. Labels of convenience are not offensive.

Calling someone "African Canadian" just isn't done. Often it would be a misnomer anyway. It is amusing when an American calls a Canadian "African American". It is even funnier when they were born in Africa. Or they have a Jamaican accent.

My ancestors were ethnic Germans that lived in French territory. They fled to southern Russia, then later to Kansas, and finally to Canada. What sort of hyphenated nonsense do I need to use? Just Canadian thank you. If my skin tone matters, white is fine.
#15
Old 05-05-2013, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzyOgre View Post
I think you should perhaps revise your notion to be "Americans".
Agreed, but if you'll accept an inadequate excuse, so much of our media comes from the US or is tailored to them that it can be hard to keep that in mind.

Which has brought to mind that one of the differences between UK and US media is that in UK movies or series, race is irrelevant most of the time and anybody making a fuss about it gets smacked down, but when it's relevant for a description it gets mentioned same as if it was eye color or mode of dress. That's how it is not just in Spanish but in many other languages and countries. Sorry, the only Aus-based series I'm familiar with was Neighbors... dubbed to Catalan ... and I only caught it a couple of times, so I can't compare.

Last edited by Nava; 05-05-2013 at 06:40 AM.
#16
Old 05-05-2013, 07:21 AM
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Ask some black people. Generally, the best way to avoid offence to any group of people is to ask them how the prefer to be referred to.
#17
Old 05-05-2013, 03:43 PM
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Location: Massachusetts, USA
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For some time after hearing "mi morenito" I wondered if it meant "my little moron." (At least I guessed right with "sauce puttanesca.")
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