Why Don’t I Like the Word ‘Gringo’?

A gringo is a non-Hispanic man especially from the United States or a Westernized country. It is a word originated and probably spoken numerous times in Latin America. American or Western male expats and travelers are not the only ones called ‘gringos’; American/Western women are called ‘gringas’ and their children are called ‘gringitas’ (describing girls only) or ‘gringitos’ (describing boys only or boys/girls together). If you travel to Latin America but you have not been born or raised in any (e.g. Colombia) of the countries, you may be called one of those names (I have mentioned above) regardless of your race, gender, age, etc.

If an American/Western male traveler or expat speaks, behaves, thinks, or even dresses differently, he is spotted right away. He would be looked as a gringo; he would be treated like one in a positive or negative way. If he is alone, inexperienced, and or does not speak/understand the foreign language well, he may become an easy target for pickpocket thieves, prostitutes, and or other human predators. But, if he is accompanied with someone who lives in the foreign country he visits, he would be protected.

I do not know who has come up with the word ‘gringo’. Why do Latin Americans keep saying this name and other similar names (e.g. gringa, gringita, and gringito)? Why does the word ‘gringo’ seem harmless to some Americans/Westerners? Why does it bother me? My reasons are:

  • It seems to give me or another American/Western male traveler/expat a bad reputation.
    • I do not want to be judged and treated like a sex tourist or degenerate.
    • What if I go on a date with a foreign woman?
      • Would I still be accused of being a lowlife?
    • What if I help or give someone money?
      • Would that make me a good guy?
  • It shows disrespect to me as an American.
    • If I am willing to spend money, travel a long distance, meet and date foreign women, etc., the last thing I want or need is to be called any name by a stranger.
    • Because I get less respect in United States due to my race and personality, I do not want the same experience in another country.
    • How would a foreigner (e.g. Brazilian) feel if he or she comes to the States and gets name-called or worse?
  • It belittles me. 
    • I want to be important or interesting to a foreign woman I am dating.
    • For most of my life in America, I have been ignored or considered boring by former classmates, former co-workers, and many others.
      • Thus, I want to feel and be treated differently by foreigners.
        • What others think or say about me nowadays is meaningless; I am focused on other things such as my online business(es), relationships, etc.
  • It can make me a target to human predators.  
    • I do not want to be exposed, harassed, and or stared uncomfortably by others while I am walking, eating, or doing something else.
    • I do not want to be constantly asked or begged to give someone money.
    • I do not want to be seduced or harassed by prostitute(s) especially if I am with a date.
    • I want to be safe whenever I go back to the hotel.
  • It is no different from offensive names such as “b” word, slut, and “n” word. 
    • No one, including a lowlife, likes to be insulted or called a derogatory name.
    • Anything negative can become stuck in my head.
      • It can be hard to erase, forget, or even think or see myself in a positive way.

The word ‘gringo’ may be okay because at least American/Westerner expats/travelers in general are called or described as that. But, foreigners especially the ones in Latin America (where the word has derived) must be careful who they call that word. Possibly, American/Western expat(s) or traveler(s) might confront and get in a physical fight with foreigner(s). A similar case applies to a white American or anyone else in general calling a black American the “n” word. Some people are offended by certain names but other people are not. But, people around the world should stop using names, whether they are inappropriate or not, and call each other by their real names. This is the 21st century. More people are dating, marrying, and having mixed race children globally. If someone asks to be called a nickname or a particular word, then other people should respectfully do so. If every American/Western expat or traveler is called a ‘gringo‘ or a certain name and therefore does not return overseas, what would foreigners (e.g. Latin Americans) do and how would they react? Would they truly be sorry for their name-calling?

Dave Chappelle – Saiyan Island Forum




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