One thing you should know before answering this question: Brazilians tend to call any foreigner gringo, not only Americans, especially if they have fair skin. Sometimes, even Indonesians or Thais are called that way, but generally gringoness is a package that includes blue eyes and blond hair.
Personally, I have always used the word freely without perceiving there any political incorrectness. I don’t think many Brazilians think of the word gringo as an insult – unless you are in some very specific niche that might use “Gringoes, go home!” as a call to arms.
Nevertheless, a couple of times, while abroad, I employed the word and the recipient end of the nickname seemed unconfortable. In one specific case, I called my then boyfriend, a blond Mexican born in Argentina, “mi gringuito”. He denied me his love for a few hours.
More recently, discussing Bebel Gilberto’s music with an American friend, I said that, despite its qualities, this is Brazilian music for export, produced for gringos and it didn’t work that well for me. She didn’t seem particularly pleased either.
Did I commit a faux-pas? What is your opinion? This question is particularly directed to those among you that are foreign expatriates in Brazil. Can I call you gringos?
My own conclusion – from now on, I will use it only while I am in Brazil. Just in case.
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