Saturday, August 11, 2012

Congrats! ... And an NBC gaffe?

Congrats to the US Women's B-ball team on their fifth consecutive Olympic gold!

Gaffe to NBC talking head Mary Carillo, who when referring to US basketball superstar Diana Taurasi, brings us the fact that "she's Italian, even though her parents are from Argentina..."

Come again?

Now, if you've ever been to Argentina, then you know that this huge nation is very diverse, almost as much as the US, when it comes to its European ancestry, and also that Argentines of Italian ancestry make up the largest historical block of immigrants to Argentina, so a slight majority of Argentines are of Italian ancestry, which reflects powerfully on the Italianate accent of their Spanish language. Case in point: if we look at the last names of the 15 players in the strong Argentine Olympic team we see that out of the 12 players, five have Italian surnames, five have Spanish and two have German... that's pretty much the Argentine demographic make-up plus a lot of Welsh in the city of Trelew, Argentina (founded in 1886 by Welsh settlers) and a lot of Scots in Patagonia.

And to trip over the fact that the daughter of Argentines, now in the US, is now Italian (again) instead of... what? See how difficult and silly this Latino label is?

Those of you who know me well, and those of you who know me through my writing, know that one of my pet peeves is the usage of "labels" to box people and art, or art and people, into easily distinguishable categories.

One such label is the American invention of the Hispanic (now apparently not a PC term because technically it includes two European nationalities) or Latino label to pass for ethnicity and often and always wrongly for race.

What does that mean in art? And what does it mean to "Latino" artists? Does it mean anything?

If you want to hear my opinion on the subject then start by penciling in October 11, 2012, where starting at 5PM I will be presenting a lecture titled "On Identity in the Arts: What Does It Mean to be Latino?" at Montgomery College in Silver Spring, MD.

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