Any African-Americans or people of color in BA?


Mar 8, 2006
I am considering moving BA in the next year or so and I have read many of the travel books on Argentina. Argentines especially "portenos" are very proud of their european heritage. I just wanted to know if anyone has seen people of color or know any communities around town. I was looking to be in Buenos Aires or Mar del plata because of its proximity to beaches. I frequently travel alone so I was just wondering if I should be concerned? Also how safe are the streets for women in the evening? Anyone that offer info will be greatly appreciated.
Hey Yolee - My friend and I were just talking last night and we were actually saying that one of the nicest aspects of Buenos Aires is that it really does feel so safe. This of course does somewhat depend on the area in which you live, but I'm in Palermo and I can easily walk around late at night and not worry about anything, especially as this is a late-night town so there's always a lot of people around in my area.
I haven't been to Mar del Plata, BA is about 5 hrs away by car to the beaches -- remember the water is the Atlantic here so hopefully you don't have visions of aquamarine warm seas like in the Caribbean!
I'll send you a note as well with my email if you have other questions.
Hola Yolee, I am not a female but have lived here for about 15 months and I can tell you I feel as safe or safer than any city in the US. It is just the same common sense you would use in most cities whether Chicago, LA , Paris or London. Avoid dark deserted streets, don;t flash cash or jewlery...the basics. As for African/Afro Brasilian/AfricanAmericans you do not see too many here. When you do it is mainly Brasilian tourists. From what I have read at other web sites, people of color do not experience any difficulties here due to their race. In my experience the few overtly prejudiced Porteno's that I have meet seem to save that distasteful aspect for people with more Indian features. I have also found this true in other south American countries as well so that is nothing unique to Argentina. So relax and come down ready to fully enjoy yourself in this fantastic country.suerteSAM
Hi YoleeG,

I am an African American male living here in BA. In a way I don't yet feel qualified to answer your question because I have only been here for 2 weeks but I will try to answer from my own experience thus far since it appears that no other African Americans have responded to you yet. From what I see day to day most of the people here seem to be of European decent all though some of them are quite dark. The guidebooks and historical references say that they are mostly the descendants of Spanish and Italians. The portenos that I have met all claim to be Italian. I think that that must be the "in" thing to be down here because some of them don't look Italian, don't know how to speak Italian, and in general don't know much about Italy. This is funny to me because I have experienced the same thing in Brazil and California. Many people around the world hinge their connection to "Mama Italy" on the basis of some distant great grand relative by marriage. I will say though that here in Buenos Aires I have felt something. Their is a distance and it is something that I would be tempted to call racism if there weren't so many other factors at work here. For one thing I speak Spanish but I am not fluent so it could be that. I also have an American culture in the way that I dress and act and I'm not sure how they are reacting to that. I am a light skinned African American and have many times been mistaken for a Brazilian. A porteno friend of mine told me that some Portenos have racist ideas about Afro-Brazilians. (and I have seen myself that it seems that darker African Americans seem to be treated very well here because they are so rare that they are like a novelty.) I have not been here long enough to really know what is going on. The only thing that I can say is that you, as a African American, you probably know what it is like to "feel" racism. I have traveled many places in the world and I can say that I am feeling a level of "something" here as it relates to me (be it racism or whatever) that is not as bad as in the Midwest in America but worse than in Europe or Brazil. Keep in mind that Buenos Aires is huge like New York city so there is that general feeling of alienation that you find in any huge place but what I am talking about is something else. If you are a woman who is in need of a lot of positive attention from men I would wonder about how that would play out here. It seems that the lighter skinned blondes are worshipped here. I will give you an example. I belong to a gym where there is a lot of posturing (men flexing what they have to flex and women eyeing and flirting) There was a beautiful black girl working out there with braided hair. At the same time there were some other pretty dark haired portenas there along with some indians and two blondes. All of the guys in the place were tripping over themselves to get to those blondes and totally ignoring the black girl and the indians (to even more of a degree than this would happen in the U.S.). I'm a people watcher. I love a scene like that because to me it is like watching an episode of National Geographic. I think that it bothered this particular girl (although I realize that many women wouldn't have cared one way or the other). I am going to stay here for two months and actually I wish that this question would have been asked later in my time here. I am sorry that I seem to be writing a novel here but I have seen questions similar to this on other sites and all of the caucasion respondents have answered that there is no racism in BA and they are not in a position to know. I will say that in spite of this I still love this city and I am very grateful to be here. There is SO much to do and everything is SO CHEAP. It is like having a New York city lifestyle at a sixth of the price. I live in Recoletta where I have a high speed internet connection, cable tv, doorman, and maidservice and I pay $500US and have no other bills. This is considered ridiculously expensive by Argentinian standards but it is hard to find a place for $500 a month in St Louis, Missouri(considered to be one of the cheapest cities in the US). A cab driver bringing me home the other night told me that I live a block from the ex-president. I would say (racism or not) you have to come down here. Due to the economy, being in Buenos Aires right now is a very singular and unique experience. I think that being here now is a lot like being in Paris in the 20's and 30's. It is a "hot" expat hang now but you need to jump on it now because things are getting more expensive every day. You don't want to get here when it's too late and run into old timers talking about the good old days when things used to be cheap.
Hi, my husband and I are both black (English) and have been living in BA for nearly 18 months. There are very few black people here and those that are tend to be Brazilian - everyone will immediately assume that you too are Brazilian. We have not experienced any racism at all.
As for safety, Argentines are under the perception that BA is unsafe but compared to London or New York, crime is relatively low. We live in Palermo and I feel safe walking around the streets on my own at 4am... that said, like everywhere, you should always be aware of your surroundings etc. etc.I would definitely recommend coming. We have had a fantastic time here!!
Yolee, I spent over a month traveling throughout AR and yes there is a heavy European background, is seems a very hidden prejudice among Argentine. For instance those people that were originally from outside BA, usually deny it, and they tend to emphazise a lot of the European background.
However, once you get to the northern part of the country around Salta area, you will find Argentines that look like any other natives from Central America very dark skinned these people are not recognized too freely among Nortenos.
I agree what others have said about the safety in the city use common sense, and avoid dark and isolated areas even in broad day light, just line any major city in the World, in fact London sometimes around the city is not as safe as BA
There are like said by most very few black people in Argentina, compared to the rest of South America. This is due to historical reasons (absence of slavery there). But, like any big city in the world, Buenos Aires is cosmopolitan.

Indigenous argentines are sometimes called morenos/morachos or negros by local argentines because they have darker skin than those of european ethnic origin. Those words come generally with alcohol.

African rooted people living in Buenos Aires can have several origins :

The rich :

- Brazil (50% of brazilians have african roots) : tourists, local businesses
- US american : expats, students, tourists

The poors :

- Caraibs, more specifically the Dominican republic (fairly common in prostitution).
- Africa, sellers in the streets
fifilafiloche said:
There are like said by most very few black people in Argentina, compared to the rest of South America. This is due to historical reasons (absence of slavery there).

There was slavery in Argentina. Until 1813, there was slavery as in the rest of the continent. The General Assembly of 1813 declared what was called the Libertad de Vientres (freedom of wombs), meaning that all children born from slaves were born free. Slavery was finally completely abolished by the constitution of 1853.

You can see an outline of Afro-Argentine history at
ericdharma said:
Many people around the world hinge their connection to "Mama Italy" on the basis of some distant great grand relative by marriage.

I find this rather funny. Many blacks do the same hinging their history on "Mama Africa" having never been there.

I myself am of Italian descent. My Grandparents were the first in their family born in America and I have traveled to Italy and visited the village (Nola, near Naples) where my family came from. I know blacks aren't sure as to where exactly are from in Africa due to slavery, but to dis people for claiming their ancestral roots is a cheap shot.