Sooooo I was walking through the grocery store the other day when I noticed a certain brand of charcoal that got my attention. Yes, its called ‘Carbon Negrito’, which is ‘Little Black Coal’. Now I know that none of you are idiots and can see the imagery and what it is attempting to convey. That the coal is black, therefore it is a little monkey. This type of imagery is not unknown to the US, but I will say that you typically do not see stuff like this on counters or shelves. The most offensive thing is probably Aunt Jemima syrup, but we all know she ain’t goin’ no where….lol. This, however, takes it to another level and kind of makes you cringe when you see it…or at least it does to me. A friend of mine wrote a post on Facebook about how monkeys as black imagery is very common in Perú and he thinks it’s about time that they think of something else. He is Peruvian and, based on that, I value his opinion on a topic that doesn’t necessarily affect him in that he is not an Afro-Peruvian, but it does offend him because he has family members and friends that are. To me that shows me that I am not ‘just being sensitive’ and that yes, there is something a little non-P.C. about it.
Here is a quote from what he posted on facebook and I think that it is valid in this conversation:
Growing up, our opponents called my historically predominantly Afrodescent soccer team Alianza, Gorillas. In response, we called our arch rivals, which were historically predominantly Euro descent, Universitario, Chickens. Obviously Gorillas was referring to Blacks referring them as apes. In response we called the other team Chickens, not sure why, but their color was cream, and a plucked chicken is pale pink, so who knows. But at the end of the day, fans, like me, may have been called a gorilla, or on the other side, a chicken, but unless we look like an African, we walk away with no negative self ideation. But what of the Black person who is bombarded with that visualization day in and day out? How do they escape it?
As one friend of mine said (meaning we joke about everyone)we use “crolos (crocodiles, an offensive term for afrodescendants), crudos (raw, a offensive term for Europeans), jalados (pulled, referring to pulling the eyes to get eyes like many Asian populations), serranos (Mountain people), pelos de erizo (porky pine hair as many Natives have thick straight hair), pitucos (snobs), huachafos (gaudy), figuretis (attention seeker), altaneros (stuck up), allalleros (peanut gallery), mal paridos (bastards), inseguros (insecure), sobrados (another term for stuck up), acollerados(tag alongs), etc..
Problem is stereotypes are based on prevalence of exposure to negative stereotypes with a lack of positive stereotypes. Sure, I could be called a crudo, but if I am raised in a community where plenty of people look like me and are doctors, millionaires, scientists, politicians, etc, then an offensive term will not have as strong an effect on me. It would have to significantly affect my reality (being mixed, it did affect me as a kid, but most White people would just shrug the comment off).
What are your thoughts? Is it offensive or just a cute little monkey?