I finally took a photo of the signs for the fastfood restaurant, Menestras del Negro:
I don´t think I need to explain why I find these offensive, but just in case, it is the depiction of black people as savages. I do not know where this chain of restaurants originates and it is possible that they are not from Ecuador. These images, however, can be seen throughout the city of Qyuito. Menestras del negro is a traditional lentil dish that is very yummy. I´ve never tasted food from this restaurant.
I also wanted to share some other thoughts around my critiques of racism and other things in Ecuador:
-I am not trying to scare people from visiting Ecuador. Yes, I have problems with some things here but I also love this country. Otherwise, I wouldn´t still be living here. Ecuador is a beautiful country, filled with warm and friendly people who have welcomed Jordan and I and have become close friends of ours. There are many things I love about living here including the gorgeous landscapes, delicious food, handicrafts, and the strong passion for soccer.
-I do realize I am making generalizations and not everyone here is racist. I have met lots of open-minded progressive thinking people. My closest colleague at the university I work with has dedicated his career to improving medical conditions for everyone in Ecuador because of his belief that all people here should be treated as equals and should have access to similar resources.
-My criticisms of Ecuador should not imply that I think America is perfect. I know there are still huge race problems in the states along with a whole slew of other issues (ahem, Bush).
-I recognize the pros and cons of critiquing a society as an outsider. In some ways I may be more capable of seeing things, but I also know that it is easy to quickly judge something that is different. I´ve made a point to give examples of when I´ve done this with the different understanding of safety between here and the US. Some of the comments and emails I´ve received make me realize how I may also be doing this with race. I am now going to make a point to really think through why I think something is racist before I condemn it. I also plan to continue the conversations about race and other social issues I´ve had with both Ecuadorian and expat friends living here.