Over time, I realized how hard it is to have a community of Argentinians outside of Argentina. Most Latin American communities enjoy getting together and bonding over national foods and traditions while living in the U.S., but that isn’t really the case for Argentinians. We like to compare ourselves with Beta fish; that’s to say, if you put two of us in the same bowl, each will try to hurt the other. I think this animosity goes back to political differences and the economic crash. Whenever I run into an Argentinian outside of Argentina, the first question asked is always “When did you came to the United States?” Based on the answer they provide, you do the math to find out whether they fled dictatorship or democracy, or who they blame for the economic crisis. Then it becomes very easy to develop a prejudice against who they are or what they believe before you learn much else about them. As a result, genuine Argentine communities outside Argentina are hard to come by.
When I arrived in Michigan I also realized I was very Argentinocentric. Before leaving Argentina, I never had the opportunity to travel and because I was never exposed to other countries, I had this idea of what it meant to be American, Latin American, or Spanish. Now I realize they are only stereotypes, but it took much time around different kinds of people to come to that conclusion. Over the same period I’ve also recognized similarities between the two countries – they were really striking. In both the United States and Argentina, there are historical dynamics that still shape our lives. A history of oppression, legacies of colonialism, it’s all part of a history you can’t erase. There’s a ruling class, racial hierarchies, different privilege among different groups in both countries. Both have this wealthy class that controls national economic activity and political rhetoric. In Argentina, the government went as far as adopting economic models from countries like the United States. That would never work because at the most basic level we have a different society and culture, but I guess they tried because of all these similarities.