Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

>African Americans in the XVIth Century Spain

>Now I have discovered that it isn’t just the word “Jew” that my students resist pronouncing. They also have a problem with the word “black.”

Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler: Two Spanish Picaresque Novels (Penguin Classics)We are reading a XVIth century Picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes. The stepfather of the main character is a black slave from Africa. When I ask my students who the stepfather is, however, they keep saying that he is “African-American.” I have pointed out twice that this character could have hardly been “African-American” for the obvious reasons. Yet the problem persists. Now they have taken to saying that he is “Well, you know.” Which, of course, annoys me beyond what I can express. We can’t go through the course well-you-knowing important realities and groups of people.

The novel is actually great. So I highly recommend it as good, fun reading.

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10 thoughts on “>African Americans in the XVIth Century Spain

  1. >How about "Moor"? Or is it too much to assume that the students have read or seen Othello?

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  2. >Not just Othello. The word "Moors" is mentioned on every page of our course textbook.

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  3. >It seems to fit the model I offered with respect to (not mentioning) the Jews: there is nothing antisemitic in that phenomenon, students are just extremely afraid to say something politically incorrect…

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  4. >In this case I think you are right, there's obviously something like that going on.We will need to talk about self-censorship with the students.

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  5. >I love being called black…imagine that. :)Seriously, I hope we'll get back to being black, white and a Jew. What's the big deal?Maybe it's because black is used to define everything ugly in this world.But we love wearing black dresses, buying black cars, shoes, etc.hmmm…African American is a little pretentious. While I am proud of my African heritage, I don't think its necessary to label me so. A quick glanceat me will let you know where my dominant roots are.Okay, so black people want to have a specific name too, like, say…the Italians.In conclusion, Black is my preference, but African American is okay too. :)

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  6. >Is it some form of Americocentrism then? I once had students ask me if we had "Thanksgiving" holiday in Nigeria.That said, I've wondered also why Black been replaced with African-Americans in formal circles. African-American is not a race, it's a tag. The race is either "African" or "Black", or "Negroid" if we want to be specific. But I understand how the last one might make some people uncomfortable, because of how it might eventually be modified again, in favour of an easily-pronunciable American version. Oh langauge.

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  7. >I think it's a little bit of all these things. Americocentrism, unhealthy political correctness, and of course some lingering racism. If you don't think there is anything "wrong" or shameful about being black or jewish, you won't have any trouble saying these words.

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  8. >Anita: black diamonds and black pearls are considered the most beautiful and expensive. And imagine using white mascara. Urgh! That would look weird. :-)

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  9. Pingback: Lincoln: Clarissa’s Review | Clarissa's Blog

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