At the time of Emancipation in 1853, Buenos Aires was a near-majority black city. Argentina's most famous dance, the tango, has its roots in Africa; and Lunfardo (also known as Lumfardo), the rough, slum-based slang still used by tango aficionados, includes many African words. However, specific historical details rarely discussed today in Argentina, such as the placement of black soldiers in the frontlines ahead of white soldiers during the Paraguayan War of the 1860s and the outbreak of yellow fever in the 1870s that disproportionately impacted poor areas where Afro-Argentines lived, mean there is very little of a black presence in the center of the city now. This contrasts strongly with neighboring Brazil and even Uruguay.
With the 2010 Bicentennial and an emphasis on rediscovering the country's various ethnic roots, a black cultural revival is beginning. The theater company Proyecto 34S runs African-themed productions, and Afro-Kitchen, a puerta cerrada (private restaurant), specializes in Afro-Argentine cuisine. The magazine Revista Quilombo (www.revistaquilombo.com.ar), is an additional source for Afro-Argentine culture. The Argentine term quilombo, referring to a chaotic, confusing situation, is a Lunfardo word, originally an African word referring to a place where escaped slaves sought shelter. (In immigrant days the word also meant "bordello.") The island resort Tigre, in the Buenos Aires suburbs, was one such place.
Today, immigration from Africa itself and increased immigration from neighboring Brazil are increasing the black population of Buenos Aires. Still, blacks are a rather rare sight in Buenos Aires and black tourists may be seen as a curiosity. Since the election of President Obama in the United States, there has been a healthy curiosity among Argentines about the lives and views of African Americans, so don't be surprised if locals approach you with questions.
If you feel you have been discriminated against as a person of African descent, contact INADI (Instituto Nacional contra la Discriminación, la Xenofobia y el Racismo; tel. 0800-999-2345; www.inadi.gob.ar). You may also report it to Carlos Alvarez of the group Africa y su Diaspora (tel. 11/15-6202-9737; email@example.com; www.africaysudiaspora.wordpress.com).
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