I went to do some errands with Manuel some days ago, and since it was a sunny day I thought it would be a good idea to stop for and ice-cream. While Manu was enjoying his melting ice cream I started checking my grocery list… bread, milk, noodles and …..
– MOOOOOOOOM Why is that man brown?
– Well, because…..
I was trying to find the best answer when I heard:
– Hi brown sir! Manuel greeted.
OMG! Please earth, swallow me now, I thought. Why was he doing that? I was so embarrassed I couldn’t take my eyes from the list I had.
– Good afternoon little guy! The man answered laughing.
I really felt I had to apologize, so I looked at him and I said “I’m sorry, I don’t know why …….”
– “Don’t worry”, he interrupted me with a broad smile. “Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but I AM black”
– “You’re right” I said, and we both started laughing.
Here in Uruguay, where most of the inhabitants are from European decent, the Afro-Uruguayan community is very small, only 4% of our population, if I’m not wrong. For that reason, you can walk long blocks without seeing a black person around. At school, Manuel doesn’t have any Afro-Uruguayan classmate and when Sebastián went to school, he only had one Afro-Uruguayan partner in six years. So no wonder why Manu was so curious when he saw the man.
– “You are not back”. Manuel said. “You are dark brown”
Oh Noooo, here he goes again, I thought to my self. This time I didn’t say anything because….
– “That’s true”. The man answered laughing loudly. And, what color are you?
– I’m light brown.
– So, we are not very different. What do you think?
– Yes, we are……
I was just about to jump into the conversation when Manuel said…
– We are different because I’m a child and you are not. Why are you brown?
– Because my family came from Africa loooooong long time ago.
– When my mother buys a motorbike we will go to Africa.
– Oh, Good idea! It’s a beautiful country.
– Yeap. Good bye, I’m going to play now.
– Good bye
On our way home, I remained in silence thinking about the lack of integration we have with the Afro-Uruguayan community. It shouldn’t be this way. Black people have influenced our music, our culture, our whole country in so many good aspects…..
– Mom, when we go to Africa we can invite our friend from the park.
– Sure baby
– Yeap. Then we have to buy a car, because the motorbike is too small.