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US-Mexico Controversy About a "Racist" Postal Stamp

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 12:38 pm
Excepts for a NYT article:

"Mexican postal officials on Tuesday unveiled the series of five stamps, a total of 750,000 stamps, depicting a character known as Memín Pinguín, a broadly drawn comic figure with thick lips, big eyes and protruding ears.

"The new stamps immediately drew sharp criticism from civil rights leaders in the United States, who said they demeaned black people around the world and called on Mr. Fox to withdraw them. "Comedy masks tragedy," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said at a meeting of civil rights leaders in Little Rock, Ark. "In this instance, it's comedy with a demeaning punch line and we would hope that President Fox will take it off the market."

"Later on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Mexican ambassador to the United States suggested that civil rights leaders in the United States were overreacting. "Memín Pinguín is a character like Speedy González, created in the 1940's," the spokesman, Rafael Laveaga, said in a statement. "Just as Speedy González has never been interpreted in a racial manner by the people in Mexico, because he is a cartoon character, I am certain that this commemorative postage stamp is not intended to be interpreted on a racial basis in Mexico or anywhere else."

"Carlos Caballero, the assistant marketing director for the Mexican Postal Service, said the cartoon character embodied many good values and was a beloved part of Mexican culture, not a racist caricature.

"Sergio Peñalosa, a civil rights leader in Mexico's small community of black residents on the Pacific coast, said the stamps appeared to be a political mistake. "One would hope the Mexican government would be a little more careful and avoid continually opening wounds," he told The Associated Press."

---------------

The White House critisized the post stamps as "improper" and with "no place in today's world", according to Stephen Hadley, US National Security adviser. A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said that "racial stereotyypes are offensive, regardless of their origin".

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez replied: "It is a total lack of knowledge about our culture and a lack of respect".

A recent poll shows that 96% of Mexicans support the postal stamp, while 4% consider it racist.

Memín Pingüin was a weekly comic book, very popular in the mid and late 60s (over 1.5 million copies sold every week) who told the stories of a grade school black child, Memín -who was the hero of the story-, and his good classmates and friends: Carlangas -the son of an unwed mother-, Ernestillo -the son of recent immigrants from the countryside- and Ricardito -the son of a rich family.
The story (which I avidly read as a child and young teenager) stressed the values of friendship, solidarity and inclusiveness.

http://photos.eluniversal.com.mx/web_img/fotogaleria/memin1.jpg
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 11,695 • Replies: 73
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 12:42 pm
BM
0 Replies
 
mac11
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 12:42 pm
Why should the US have any say in this?

Obviously, no one considered the comic book racist, or they wouldn't have chosen this character for the stamp.

What do you think fb? It sounds as though the stories taught good lessons to children.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 12:44 pm
Quote:
"It is a total lack of knowledge about our culture and a lack of respect".


I only can agree to that - you can't neither change history nor foreign culture due to someone's personal's views.

[I wouldn't have a different opinion if the result had been 3:4, fbaezer! :wink: ]
0 Replies
 
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 12:48 pm
What business is this of those outside of Mexico? Doesn't the U.S. government have more urgent matters at hand?

Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck are black. Is anybody going to make an issue of that?
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 01:02 pm
Just a few quotes from a Mexican newspaper forum (incredibly flooded with responses):

"The image we all have of Memín, is of a child with a great heart, mischievious like every child, yet respectful and with values we lack nowadays. Before critizising, they should inform themselves about the origin and characteristics of the "piece of chocolate" (as his mother said)".

"Black Gringos: it's your fault if you are so delicate and have an inferiority complex. You think there are no black angels in heaven, but you're wrong: Memín Pinguín y Saint Martín de Porres. One is Mexican, the other Peruvian."

"Yeah, the Gringos talk about racism, while they let vigilantes shoot us at the border".

"Jesse Jackson is an opportunist who nails anything for publicity and to draw money from his own black people".

"Memín is a referent of Mexican pop culture, we should ignore the ignorants from the Country of Hipocrisy".

"Memín Pinguín IS racist. He looks like a monkey. And even if he's good-hearted and innocent, also looks stupid. And his mother is also a stereotype. We should be more critical about our own racism".

"Have the Gringos taken the black figure off the Aunt Jemima hot cake boxes?"
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 01:04 pm
I am ambivalent about these stamps.

My initial gut reaction to the stamps is that they are racist. To people with my background, there is a visceral reaction to this type of figure.

However, I also understand that my reaction is a product of my culture and upbringing. My parents were very involved in the US civil rights movement. They met at a civil rights rally, and we were taught to recognize the racist messages of Little Black Sambo, and blackface and the effect they had on our culture.

I recognize the reaction I, or other Americans, have to that may be different then that of a typical Mexican.

On the other hand, symbolism in popular culture is powerful. Challenging the cultural messages in the US was necessary.

So where does that leave me....

It is obvious that this is an issue the Mexican citizens need to decide.

It is difficult for me to know whether these figures have a racial significance or not. My intuition says they do. It seems like Mexico should listen to its black citizens on this one.

It is a good for any culture to have public discussions about racism in society.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 01:08 pm
I personally think it was unwise to use "Memín" as a postal stamp, precisely because of the lack of knowledge about the character outside Latin America.

I don't think Memín would have been successful today as it was 40 years ago, in part because of the racial stereotype of drawings. (Some re-runs are still sold, but with little market success)

At the same time, the fury it has caused in some sectors of the US amazes me. An excess of political correctness (and a will to see as racist something that was not, in the first place).

Finally, the reaction created a tremendous anti-US backlash in this country. Talk about making a storm in a glass of water.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 01:54 pm
Daffy Duck was black?

<realises that he never spent a moments' thought on it>
0 Replies
 
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 01:56 pm
nimh wrote:
Daffy Duck was black?

<realises that he never spent a moments' thought on it>


See! Nobody even noticed because it doesn't matter :-)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 02:03 pm
Yup, of course Daffy Duck was black - LOL

(We had the cartoon character discussion here too, a while ago (like, in the 80s or something) - dont even remember exactly about what character anymore, but he's disappeared now.

On the other hand, "Black Pete". Santa Claus's helper (that's St Nicholas, December 5) seems to have easily beat off the fight for now, though I have one black friend who doesn't celebrate December 5 for that reason (but I also know black people who dont care a whit)).
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 02:17 pm
An the other site, we don't have "nodding negros" at christmas in the church's nativity sets anymore (those were black figures, which 'nodded' when you threw a coin it it - collecting money from children for chidren in Africa was the idea behind it).
http://www.voelkerkundemuseum.com/web/images/Leitfaden/035.jpg


But I honestly don't eat 'Sarotti chocolate' due to its poor quility and not as of 'anti-racsm' reasons
http://ftd.de/asset/Image/Migration/2004/sarotti_gr,0.jpg
0 Replies
 
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 02:25 pm
nimh wrote:
Yup, of course Daffy Duck was black - LOL


He still is! Laughing
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 05:20 pm
When this comic character was originated, such a portrayal of blacks was pretty much universal, in both Mexico and the USA. Many people in those days failed to understand the racist overtones; of these, the ones that remember still don't get it. There is a bit of innocence in the not understanding. They can't feel the indignity of such a portrayal, so can't understand a black person's discomfiture. It does not matter that the dialog for this mexican cartoon was sensitive and heartfelt- -the image is derogatory by today's standards. I would not go to Mexico to preach morality, but I would not purchase the stamps, either.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 05:37 pm
Mexico seems to have skipped Racial Sensitivity seminars.

Notably because last week Fox (supporting his countrymen in hopping over the borders, possibly) said the jobs they were taking --(paraphrasing) Americans wouldn't want them, even the blacks.

I usually don't think Jesse Jackson is right about anything, but those stamps are demeaning.

And, (LOL!!), we DID take Aunt Jemima out of the Mammy scarf and fix her hair, and got her a nice dress....
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2005 06:58 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
I would not go to Mexico to preach morality, but I would not purchase the stamps, either.


Well, the 750,000 stamp issue has been sold out. In ONE day.
Amazing.

Will discuss the central issue later. No time at this moment.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jul, 2005 02:13 pm
The central issue (for me, anyway) is that Mexicans want to be able to cross our border illegally, do as they please and not get any trouble for it.

They're buying up those stamps primarily because our country said it was racist.

They're a little screwy when it comes to our country.

We should think up a product, mass produce it, market it in Mexico and then get a notable American to denounce it. We'll make millions.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jul, 2005 03:09 pm
Wow! What an irrelevent, ignorant and offensive statement!

This thread had nothing to do with immigration, and in case you haven't noticed, the vast majority of people in Mexico haven't immigrated.

The fact that you are willing to make you hatred based on one issue, a broad general hatred of Mexicans and a condemnation in unrelated topics is wrong.

Seeing as at least one participant in this thread is a Mexican citizen, your attack a personal one.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jul, 2005 03:23 pm
Heh, heh, ebrown.

Lash is known to be most anti-racist person here on A2K!

She would never do such, what you wrote there - besides, she knows what she writes, since:

Lash wrote:
Unlike a lot of rabid liberal partisans here, I don't get my material from blogs or biased writers. I read the straight news from a few sources.
0 Replies
 
luxvica
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jul, 2005 03:32 pm
Hey ebrown BRAVO,BRAVO good answer .......BRAVO,BRAVO,BRAVO :wink:
0 Replies
 
 

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