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Wednesday, December 7, 2016


... and no, this isn't about Donald Trump ...

In my recent research for my book I have encountered several late 18th to early 19th century descriptions of the Portuguese, some not that nice, being those personal opinions of the writer. But one has marked me profoundly for the level of racist content in something that is no longer a personal opinion, but more an offense to several continents, countries, religions and ethnicities, by making a negative and highly judgmental comparison. Might those be: The Jews, the Moors, the sub-Saharans, the French, Brazil, Asia and other people of the former Portuguese colonies.
For starters, the critiques are about the supremacy of white skin and original language, about the result of people of different people of origins coming together only producing "mongrels" and about (white) surnames that shouldn't be given randomly.
All of this in a detailed description of the Portuguese male!
Well, I have to agree with certain aspects like greed, jealousy, submissive behavior and vanity, but is it really necessary to offend so many people just to make a point?
If one thing this country of mine is certain of is that the mixing of "breeds" is what makes us great. If it weren't for the Moors, we would have never become the 1st Modern Europe Nation to sail beyond North Africa and conquered other oceans. If it weren't for the innate curiosity that other cultures of Europe have brought to this end of the Iberian Peninsula, there wouldn't be people in India right now whose last name is Pinto, or even the Brazilian Carnival. And let us not even begin talking about curry and samosas.
A big shout out to all of you beautiful people! Holler!
Well, at least we didn't stuck to our clubs drinking gin and complaining about the heat....
As a reminder, please, when you read "ombre blanco" it should really say "homem branco". Two different things.
And if for this author "pure" skin, "pure" names and "pure" language are so important (as if those really exist!), what must he think of Americans, Australians, Kiwis and even that whole South Africa issue? Or does that not count, the doings of his own people? Let us not forget Ireland and Scotland...
This random racist ranting is so bad that to blush is the minimum of response to the writing and I have chosen to laugh at it, for it being absolutely idiotic, since it is well known that once a person regards itself as better as the rest, he or she puts themselves automatically below everyone else. This type of reasoning has never been fashionable, so the excuse of it being part of a long forgotten time does not apply.
So in regard to all this, Mr. Crocker your high horse makes your ass look big!
Anyway, here's the link to the entire publication. And for a good chuckle, a video for a samosa recipe.

«The Portuguese males are undoubtedly the worst-looking race in Europe; well may they consider the appellation of ombre blanco, "white man" as an honourable distinction. They proceed from a mixture of Jews, Moors, Negroes and French and seem from their appearance and qualities, to have reserved to themselves the worst parts of each of these people. Like the Jews they are mean, tricking and avaricious: from the Moors, they are jealous, cruel and revengeful; as the people of colour, they are servile, indocile and deceitful; and they resemble the French in vanity, grimace, and gafonade.
In the New World they have practiced the same mixing system; and a mongrel race, retaining the Portuguese name, and a dialect of the language, have overspread the land, and are the vagabonds and outcast of Asia.» (Crocker, Richard; Travels through several provinces of Spain and Portugal; 1799; pp 296-98)


Jonathan Hopkins said...

You'll have to forgive him - he was an Englishman, after all!

I suppose the problem with looking at this type of writing 200 years after the fact is that was how Britons felt about other cultures, and probably how other peoples looked at them. It wasn't racist, since the term hadn't been invented, just the norm. There were plenty of authors and diarists who felt differently, as you've probably found. And it's likely many Portuguese found the English uncouth, heretical and arrogant. Which a lot of them were. I think Spain felt the same way.

Speaking as one from a country that purportedly provided the term 'welch'- well, the English gave that word to the world (alternative English spelling of Welsh) - I sympathise.

Sara Seydak said...

Thanx for your comment Jonathan. Sorry to only have seen it now. Don't you just love it when blogger notifies you....not!
Well, like everything in History, we cannot judge the past with today's eyes. That is sure.
I have also found some accounts on how Portuguese back then were horrified with the fact that English priests could marry. :) It has all to be understood within the cultural frames of a certain time-period.
Anyway, thought it was an interesting thing to share.