El Negrito

In Argentina, a country where class and race is not far from the surface, someone who comes from the Buenos Aires slums is known as El Negrito.  As writer Colm Toibin wrote in a profile of Diego Maradona in Esquire in 1991, that refers to someone with darker skin than the ruling class, specifically someone “from the shanty towns beyond the city, with Bolivian or Paraguayan blood, perhaps with Indian blood.” It’s a testament to Maradona’s talent and nous that this ‘little black,’ who is arguably the world’s greatest player of all time (of course Pele’s supporters would disagree), could still lead his country (incidentally, with another negrito, Carlos Tevez, leading his attack), this time as coach, to its 3rd World Cup in South Africa.

I am rooting for Argentina to take it all. (My other cup favorite is Brazil, also known as the “… the world’s largest African country.”)

Here’s a few reminders of the brilliance and comfort on the ball of the former player described in his prime by Eduardo Galeano as

… a short-legged bull, [who] carries the ball sewn to his foot and he’s got eyes all over his body.

First, just for sheer enjoyment, watch Maradona warming up before a game for his Italian club, Napoli:

And there’s that second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup semi-final in Mexico City:

A different class, El Negrito.

* BTW, on Argentina’s African history and popular prejudices there against black people, see here and here, for example.



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. great! thanks…loved this. do you have the original Esquire piece by any chance? would love to see it.
    thanks, J

  2. So in South Africa you wear Ghanaian apparel but that’s abandoned as soon as you get back to the States? Not that they’ll win, but one can still root for a team that has the slimmest chances. I am.

    That said, Argentina has a strong team. Saturday’s matchup will be a good one.

  3. @Judith: I read the Esquire piece in the latest issue of Business Day’s Sports Monthly.

    @Adrian: C’mon. You’re a bit like Justin Kraus. Haha.

    There is no contradiction here. I support more than one team. So can you.

  4. Hahaha! I got the same criticism from one of my friends on my blog for supporting Brazil. Still support BlackStars tho’.

    Sean, how solid is your prediction on BlackStars beating Uruguay?

  5. Thanks for posting this , just wanted to know from people who have been to South America or or are South Americans – is it true that most South Americans hate Argentinians because as a nation they think their “white” ? its something that I’ve often heard uttered by my Brazilian and Mexican amigos…

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