The Mexico Blackface Stamp – Memín Pinguín

This is a tough thing to post on because I don’t know much about the character Memín Pinguín in Mexico, but I have to agree it looks racist in context to the history of entertainment in the United States.  However, I cannot be the judge of another culture, but I do have to sympathize with anyone that would find this character offensive.  I also have to take time to understand the comic before I pass judgment on it.  What I take exception to is people using this against Mexicans as if they’re all racist against people of African descent. I do know that those with dark skin, regardless of their country of origin, are often discriminated against much more often than those with lighter skin. That’s something we have to change through pushing for compassion and human rights.

Here’s a link I found about a stamp issued to commemorate a character from Mexico which looks like he’s in blackface and appears racist. Of course what many do first is match it against our U.S. ideals since we get to determine how the rest of the world lives. I may be wrong, but Mexico did not promote slavery and actually they would not allow slavery back when they invited people from the young United States to occupy the area of Mexico that is now Texas.

From the Texas State Library and Archives Commision:

The enslavement of African Americans was the curse of early American life, and Texas was no exception. The Mexican government was opposed to slavery, but even so, there were 5000 slaves in Texas by the time of the Texas Revolution in 1836. By the time of annexation a decade later, there were 30,000; by 1860, the census found 182,566 slaves — over 30% of the total population of the state.

That’s not important though, because you have to prove that all Mexicans’ are racist and that doesn’t help your argument. Obviously this stamp is offensive to us and we would like to believe it would be offensive to others as well. But it’s like I always say – negativity and vilification of others will not create positive change. It’s well understood that racism is alive and well all over the world so we have to promote compassion and positive action to end it.

From Wikipedia we learn of the Memín Pinguín comic:

The character of Memín Pinguín was inspired by Cuban children seen by the author Yolanda Vargas Dulché on her travels.
While Memín suffers a degree of racist taunting, especially in the first issues, the characters mocking him are depicted as either cruel or ignorant. As the story progresses, his race becomes less of an issue.
In one famous issue, Memín, having read that Cleopatra VII of Egypt took milk baths to lighten her skin, tries the same treatment. His mother weeps with sorrow that her son would want to change his skin color. A repentant Memín decides to be proud of his race and color to honor his good mother.

So when I see a anti-“illegal” immigrant blogger use this stamp against Mexicans in order to promote anti-Mexican sentiment I have to worry.

Lest We Forget The Mexico Blackface Stamp From 2005
By Digger

I have mentioned the Mexico “blackface” stamp a number of times to people and they have never heard of it, so I figured I’d post on it again. I’ve been called a racist and every other name in the book you can think of for my opposition to illegal immigrations.

(Commentary on the “blackface” stamp explaining how our perception of an image versus the meaning in another society/culture may vary greatly.)

(Story from New York Times)

Article from Washington Post

Many anti-“illegal” immigrant groups and individuals feel it’s ok to focus their rhetoric at Mexicans because they represent a large portion of those here without documentation. While they claim to be anti-“illegal” immigration they rarely to never address any nations specifically other than Mexico even though there are undocumented migrants from many countries. So finding this post on Digger’s Realm, an anti-“illegal” immigrant site, fit right in with the usual anti-Mexican sentiment. From doing some research on this stamp I do understand the perception of this character is dissimilar to that of the U.S. which makes it all the more fitting that U.S. citizens would take exception to it. We are the world’s police and morality judge, right?

His statement towards the end of his post is odd to me:

I just thought I’d remind everyone of this so the next time I mention it people will know what I am talking about and the institutional racism that is still prevalent in Mexico. All the while they claim that Americans opposed to a mass influx of illegal aliens are the racist ones.

What pro-migrants, and migrants themselves, are claiming is that those that target Hispanics and demean, vilify, and demonize them are racists. Nobody is claiming that every person opposed to undocumented workers are racists. One evil does not excuse another. Just because Mexico embraces a character that appears racist by U.S. standards does not make it ok to demean people from Mexico no more than it should be assumed that all Mexicans are racist.

What his point is here I can’t say, but what it looks like is that he’s trying to excuse those that speak out against Mexican migrants by demonizing them because of a character on a stamp. Basically, I guess, he’s saying that Mexicans are racists so they should just put up with the anti-Mexican sentiment.


2 thoughts on “The Mexico Blackface Stamp – Memín Pinguín”

  1. I was born in peru on 1977 , I remenber reading this magazines during my childhood and how different my view on racism was , I actually thought the character was a hero that overcame so many things and it show me so many human traits , I think I seen much more racist in new jersey ….

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