A South American Liverpool Fan Reveals What Negrito Really Means

A Twitterstorm has developed today since Daniel Pacheco called Glen Johnson 'Negrito' - the same name that Suarez infamously called Evra before being banned for 8 games. Here's what it really means...
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A Twitterstorm has developed today since Daniel Pacheco called Glen Johnson 'Negrito' - the same name that Suarez infamously called Evra before being banned for 8 games. Here's what it really means...

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I'm a Liverpool fan and I live in Colombia. Living in Latin America takes some getting used to and after two years in Bogota certain things still leave me completely baffled. Jokes for one, no matter how many times people painstakingly translate them on my behalf I generally remain stone-faced; a bit like translating a good pun to a Frenchman- don´t waste your time trying.

And so it was that I struggled for some time with the word NEGRITO. Negro is Spanish for BLACK and ´ito´ is an extension added to the end of almost any noun to mean- small version of (´ita´ for the feminine). Negra, negro, negrita, negrito, I hear the word used in one form or another every other day. And not only because it is my girlfriends nickname for me! (Another Colombian joke- because I´m big and as white as a merengue- geddit?).

In Medellin this type of terminology is particularly common and everyone is (for example) el flaco (the thin), mi gordita (my little fat girl), el gringo (the non-Colombian), mi negrita (my little black girl), amiguito (little friend), mi amorsito (my little love) etc.. The addition of the suffix- ita/ito is generally a sign of closeness and affection and indeed the first par, ie. Gordo (fat) is often not at all descriptive, but also just for fun. This may sound strange, but when you consider the word ´marica´ is used seemingly at random to mean either, ´mate´ (friend), ´gay´, or ´wow´, you begin to understand the complexities of making assumptions about a language - based on our own.

Let´s assume that he at least meant to patronize Evra, but perhaps in this case that is closer to shouting ¨see you later fat lad¨ after nut-megging a rotund member of the opposition.

An amiguita in Medellin once said to me, about a black American friend who was visiting- ´your n___ friend is so cool´. She was a hip hop head and had picked the word out from American lyrics and thought it the same as negrito. I explained to her the BIG difference. I´m a very white, very middle class hip hop head myself, so have strong feelings about this word and its casual use by ´cool white kids´ - and I hate it. Anyway, I explained the difference and the connotations and history of the N word and she understood and accepted that it was completely contextual.

A week or so later I was in the mountain town of Manizales with the same girl and it was raining, mucho. We were out shopping when I heard her say, ´look, a black *******´ I turned to her and said, ´what the **** did you say?´ and saw she was pointing at a Blockbusters, I had been complaining about being stuck in the hotel with only rubish pirate DVDs to watch. Confusion can easily arise.

Who knows what Suarez has been told about language and racism since he arrived in the UK? Let´s assume that he at least meant to patronize Evra, but perhaps in this case that is closer to shouting ¨see you later fat lad¨ after nut-megging a rotund member of the opposition- than it is hardcore racial abuse. All I would ask is that he not be judged by a British understanding of the words involved. There are many very insulting Spanish words, but negrito is very far from being one of them and without understanding the context of the word in Latin America one can´t judge Suarez (or my amiguita negrita de Medellin) on racism.

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