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Love it, Hate it, Just don't IGNORE it

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That’s not what Frida Kahlo said.

This is all over my Tumblr:

I don’t like the gringos at all. They are very boring and all have faces like unbaked rolls.

Frida Kahlo - upon her first trip outside of Mexico, to San Francisco, Ca.

Here’s the thing.  My mother’s a professor of art history.  She did a lot of her doctoral work on Kahlo, and that just didn’t sound right either in terms of how she spoke or in terms of her personal history.  So I looked it up:

"The Riveras arrived in the United States in November 1930, settling in San Francisco while Rivera worked on murals for the San Francisco Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Arts, and Kahlo painted portraits of friends. After a brief stay in New York City for a show of Rivera’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, the couple moved on to Detroit, where Rivera filled the Institute of Arts’ garden court with compelling industrial scenes, and then back to New York City, where he worked on a mural for Rockefeller Center. They stayed in the United States for three years. Diego felt he was living in the future; Frida grew homesick. “I find that Americans completely lack sensibility and good taste,” she observed. “They are boring and they all have faces like unbaked rolls.”
Read more:
Those who are familiar with Kahlo, or who read the article, will know that she didn’t feel that way about white people as a whole, as many of her close friends were white Europeans from France and Russia and her father was a German Jew, or even about all gringos (a term that generally refers to Americans, not whites as a whole) since she had a number of close friends & people she admired (Georgia O’Keefe, for example) among them.

Subtle, but important, differences there.  The world’s full of real examples of racism & privilege.  They’re so plentiful you can’t go 5 minutes without tripping over really egregious ones (hey, did you hear about the Ohio Republican elections official who admitted today that their entire goal in that state is to stop “the African-American vote machine”?), not to mention the subtle ones that’re everywhere.  Misquoting historical figures to try & amplify racial overtones in their comments not only doesn’t help make the point, it gives ammunition to those who work to shut you down when you point out actual racist & privilege based abuses.

EDIT:  My friend Yvonne pointed out that I didn’t make the best choice of word usage in one section of this, and it could result in a misunderstanding of my meaning.  Rather than editing this post I put up a clarification HERE.

Filed under race racism privilege white privilege Frida Frida Kahlo gringo gringos quote quotes

  1. space-time-tofu reblogged this from atravezdefrida
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  8. slephoto reblogged this from yvonneemilie and added:
    Yvonne’s right about the definition of racism, I just want to note that I said “racial” (as in “bringing issues of race...
  9. yvonneemilie reblogged this from slephoto and added:
    Omg, such good commentary. (Aside from the fact that if Frida Kahlo had said “gringos” it wouldn’t have been a racist...