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When you were talking about the caste system, I was thinking about how Mexicans still have to come to terms with this in our own culture. We spoke earlier about the castas paintings that were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Mexico. The Spanish, establishing a form of racial apartheid, delineate the fifty-three categories of racial mixtures between Africans, Indians, and the Spanish. And they have names, like tiente en el aire, which means stain in the air; and salta otras, which means jump back; or mulatto, a word that comes from mula, the unnatural mating between the horse and the donkey. "Sambo" is now a racial epithet in the US, but it was first used as one of the fifty-three racial categories in the castas paintings."
Author: Amalia Mesa Bains

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