Monday, May 24, 2010

The Name Game...

“Estoy Arto”

is the fun phrase of the week. It means

I’m fed up.

And I am.

Now, I never imagined I’d make a good politician. I’m way too fickle, way too brutal, ungraceful, and undiplomatic with my opinions. I don’t like having meetings about having meetings, voting about voting, and I have a tendency (or rather a learned familiar habit) to interrupt people with rude sounds. (Ok, before you jump in and call me a LIAR, I’ll admit that perhaps this isn’t too far from modern politics.)

During my college years my preference was always to work on the doing end rather than the legislative end. Yes, I can advocate for youth, but if I have a choice, I’d rather just work with them.

But, when my friend Fede became president of the Diaspora and when I became friends with other members of the political groups I ended up showing up to the meetings. I’d have to meet with Fede or my advisor (another anthro-activist) afterwards. I didn’t necessarily have a reason NOT to participate but today, I came to the end of my rope.

After a meeting, I came home furiously to my roommates and immediately began cleaning and organizing the kitchen cabinets. I screamed about the politica de orto, all of the boludeses that these people talk about. I can’t handle it anymore.

Estoy arto.

Today I had gone to a meeting that had started in a certain luna de miel period in differing Afro groups; two groups with “rivaling” ideologies had finally agreed to sit down together to work. The biggest problem outside the Afro-Community is invisibility. How can you get what you need if no one will admit you exist? And the biggest problem within the community is that 27 little groups of 2 black people arguing about “how” they exist.


As I told a fellow black scholar who just came down to study Afro-Argentines…it is awesome fodder for an anthropologist. 26 groups who refuse to work together because of ideological issues? How do you have a visible afro population of about 2%, and have 36 organizations? Why do you have TWO groups of Haitians with similar acronyms? Why do you have La Diaspora Africana en Argentina, and Africa y su Diaspora, and why can’t they work together?

I have my own opinions. Cough(Selfishness, Selfishness, Trying to capitalize off of victimization)

If in my heart I was a real academic, before I was an activist, I would love to figure that out. Instead, I passed the question onto another worthy academic with only a short time in Argentina, and told her to have fun with it, because it made my heart hurt.

On this gem of a day, La Diaspora Africana (my organization of choice because of familial ties and ideological openness) had finally gotten La Diaspora Africana (a group especially ideologically concerned with keeping their organization racially “pure” and “true”) to agree to begin to work towards an Acto de Congresso that will happen before November.

This upcoming summer (winter for yall in the NORTH Americas) is one of the most important first steps in the Afro community—the first census that will include the choice of “Afro-descendiente”. The first time in hundreds of years that definitely (well, as definitely as a census can be) a number can be taken of the amount of negros are in Argentina.

Now, of course, most people don’t know that this is happening. And really, why would they? But, this important event should be publicized and the people should be aware of it. Well, this plan of action would be the topic of discussion at this meeting if only we could stop talking about oh, I don’t know, WHO HAS THE HISTORICAL RIGHT TO CLAIM A NAME THAT HAS BOTH “africa” AND “diaspora” IN IT BECAUSE APPARENTLY THEY ARE TOO SIMILAR FOR SOME PEOPLE.

Yes, for about two hours, these were the topics of conversation

-Somehow people are not bright enough to tell apart organizations with TWO different names: Africa y su Diaspora, y La Diaspora Africana. They are absolutely, the same thing apparently.

-The possibility of going back into archives of flyers to find out which group actually started using the phrase first—handling this “name” situation LEGALLY

-It was actually said that this was a question of “moral y ethica”.

-An e-mail had arrived at the wrong group, and so this meant that there was obvious confusion and the ideologies had to be kept separate.

Now, a few of the members of the Diaspora are professional activists, which is to say that they are shameless in their ability to continue to push their organizations agenda….no matter how silly that agenda may be. But as Fede or the president of IARPIDI an anti-discrimination group would try to direct the conversation back to ya know, this once in a lifetime opportunity to start to bring afro-organizations together, to get voices heard, to get people COUNTED…. It was actually suggested that the two groups could NOT work together before an issue like this was adequately solved. How can we be able to trust each other?

This is when ETHIC & MORAL were brought up…

Now, on this mention of evil name stealers—I had to scoff a bit, and make a rude noise. I can’t help it, I told you.

With a few sympathetic voices trying to speak sense into the people, trying to remind them that they were arguing over a brand name, when they were trying to represent millions of people in the community. Worse, if was as if they were living in a big shit pile and arguing over whether it should be called PoopooPile or ShittyCaca. When you have no goals or plans for advancement, no unity, no power to help the masses of people who don’t come to your meanings, who cares what you call yourself??? Trying to convince them to put away the issue for at least a few meetings, then they could settle it….

After two hours, I had to leave. I’m just not made for all of this politics. More music less politics. More music less politics? More music different politics!

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