Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lima Pallbearers All Black: A Racist Peruvian Tradition?

Lima Pallbearers All Black: A Racist Peruvian Tradition?


Lima Pallbearers All Black: A Racist Peruvian Tradition?, Lima pallbearers are all black, which is said to be a racist South American tradition.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, questions of racism haunt the George Zimmerman trial.

The New Black Panthers party claims the Trayvon Martin shooting shows the racial bias in America’s judicial system. They’re even planning a Million Youth March for 2013 in New York City.

Meanwhile, in South America people with black skin are chosen to be pallbearers precisely due to their amount of melanin. In Lima, black pallbearers will parade former mayor Jorge Reyna’s body through the Chorrillos district. The Peruvian capital used to be the regional seat of Spain’s colonial power and black Lima pallbearers routinely bear the caskets of the rich and famous, from presidents to bankers.

But this tradition for black Lima pallbearers is apparently unique to Peru although it was introduced by the Spanish. Other South American countries like Brazil and Colombia have large black populations but none of them share the tradition of choosing pallbearers for their black skin tone.

Scholars believe the Lima pallbearers except the jobs due to a lack of opportunity, saying, “Beyond the question of racism or prejudice, I think it is simply a question of employment.” Maribel Arrelucea, a historian of Peru’s slave trade, said that “to have one’s body carried by a black is understood by many to be a symbol of prestige, just as it was in the colonial era when the aristocrats of Lima went to church accompanied by a slave.”

But the black Lima pallbearers themselves say they’re treated well by the families who hired them and are often paid triple the normal amount. They earn about $70 a week, which is only minimum wage for the area, but a lot more than some people in Lima make.

Visitors to Lima, Peru might be shocked to find out their taxi drivers may have college degrees higher than them. The rocky hillsides of Lima are littered with hovels of the poor and unemployed who fill the streets each day trying to scratch a living. The official unemployment rate in Peru is 7.7 percent, but unofficially it’s much higher. Still, for many, the black Lima pallbearers are a reminder of a Spanish colonial past and a current racism problem.

What do you think about the tradition of having black Lima pallbearers?

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Title: Lima Pallbearers All Black: A Racist Peruvian Tradition?
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