Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be the hero.

African Proverb 

This proverb exists in different forms in many parts of Africa

"Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter" (Igbo, Nigeria).

"Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes" (Kenya and Zimbabwe).

Black/African history has always being taught/told from the perspective of White American/European colonisers. We need to reclaim our history and culture. No more white African Queens, Kings and Gods, there needs to be a true representation of African history and culture in the media. 

Arizona’s law banning Mexican-American studies curriculum is constitutional, judge rules
March 11, 2013

A court upheld most provisions of an Arizona state law used to prohibit a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson on Friday.

The ruling dealt a blow to supporters of the suspended classes, who had hoped the courts would overturn a 2010 law championed by Arizona conservatives determined to shut down the unconventional courses.

“I was really surprised at the decision,” Jose Gonzalez, a former teacher of Tucson’s suspended Mexican-American Studies classes, told The Huffington Post. “But as a student and teacher of history, I know in civil rights cases like this there’s always setbacks.”

The experimental Tucson curriculum was offered to students in different forms in some of the local elementary, middle and high schools. It emphasized critical thinking and focused on Mexican-American literature and perspectives. Supporters lauded the program, pointing to increased graduation rates, high student achievement and a state-commissioned independent audit that recommended expanding the classes.

But conservative opponents accused the teachers of encouraging students to adopt left-wing ideas and resent white people, a charge the teachers deny. Aiming squarely at Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies program, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 — a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, are designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity.

Federal Judge Wallace Tashima said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.

The news wasn’t all bad for supporters of the suspended classes. Tashima ruled that the section of the law prohibiting courses tailored to serve students of a particular ethnicity was unconstitutional.

Originally filed in October of 2010 on behalf of the program’s former teachers, who lost standing because they are public employees, the case is currently brought by former Mexican-American Studies student Nicholas Dominguez and his mother Margarita Dominguez. They will likely appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within the next 30 days, their lawyer Richard Martinez told The Huffington Post.

“This case is not over,” Martinez said. “It’s not only important to Arizona, but to the country as a whole that this statute be addressed.”

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne began a campaign to eliminate the Mexican-American Studies program from Tucson Unified School District in 2006, when he was serving as the state’s Superintendent of Public Education.

Angered that Mexican-American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta had said that “Republicans hate Latinos” in a speech to Tucson students, Horne sent Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan, a Latina Republican, to give an alternate view. But the intellectual exercise turned confrontational when students, who said they were not allowed to ask Dugan questions, sealed their mouths with tape and walked out of the assembly room.

“As superintendent of schools, I have visited over 1,000 schools and I’ve never seen students be disrespectful to a teacher in that way,” Horne said in an interview last year.

The final product of his efforts was House Bill 2281, which then-State Sen. John Huppenthal (R) helped pilot through the Arizona legislature. Huppenthal, who succeeded Horne as state superintendent of schools, then found Tucson out of compliance with the new law and ordered the district to shut Mexican-American Studies down or lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over the fiscal year. In January of 2012, the school board complied, voting 4 to 1 to discontinue the classes.

The decision drew national attention as administrators plucked Latino literature that once belonged to the curriculum from classrooms, explicitly banning seven titles from instruction.

Tashima wrote in Friday’s ruling that Horne’s anti-Mexican-American Studies zeal bordered on discrimination.

“This single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program, along with Horne’s decision not to issue findings against other ethnic studies programs, is at least suggestive of discriminatory intent,” Tashima wrote.

But the federal judge stopped short of invalidating the law on those grounds.

"Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program," the judge wrote in the ruling.

Not everyone agrees.

Writer and activist Tony Diaz — who along with independent journalist Liana Lopez and multimedia artist Bryan Parras launched a “librotraficante” caravan to “smuggle” books banned from Tucson classrooms into Arizona — said the court had “failed our youth, our culture and freedom of speech” by upholding the Arizona ethnic studies law.

“But we remain inspired by the youth of Tucson, the teachers, the families, the activists who will appeal this unjust ruling and continue the struggle to the Supreme Court,” Diaz said.

Photo: Save Ethnic Studies by Julio Salgado


You say hispanic, I say latino

Most use the words interchangeably these days, but the “hispanic” identity originated from an initiative in the 1970s to give Latin American’s in the United States a more unified voice in politics. UC Berkeley sociologist Cristina Mora talks about the positives and negatives of this distinction in her new book:

You have the person whose great-grandmother came from Argentina, but has never visited Latin America, and does not speak Spanish, lumped into the exact same category as a Guatemalan who just crossed the U.S. border.  One argument the book makes is that in order for all these government, market and political interests to come together, the category had to become broader in order to fit in all these ideas about Hispanics being consumers, or Hispanics being disadvantaged people.

Over time, the Hispanic identity has become based on cultural generalities such as ‘We all love our families. We are all religious and we all have some connection to the Spanish language however far back that may be.’  That’s a weakness and a strength. It was because of that ambiguity that we have the large numbers who identify as Hispanic and who have made advances.  But when you have such a broad and opaque category it’s hard to elicit and sustain passion and commitment.

Read more in her interview here 

GRINGO GO HOME: a comprehensive list of (some) of the bullshit the u.s. has pulled on latinoamerica

this list is being published on december 27th; 2014. i’m 20y/o; argentinian, not associated with any particular political party. i don’t claim to know everything that’s happened or is happening in latin america and i welcome any addition from fellow latinxs.

i want u.s. intervention on my country and the rest of my continent to stop; and i want the usamerican people to be aware of the atrocities that your country has committed against ours. 

i strongly suggest thisisnotlatinx and fylatinamericanhistory for more readings on latinoamerican history, politics and why your country fucking sucks. now: the first part of this post is mostly historical events from 20 years or longer ago; the second part is about more recent events.

#murder cw, #torture cw, #sterilization cw, #police violence cw, #medical cw, #drugs mention cw (add any warning i missed, por favor)

 recent events:


  • Para colaborar menciono el golpe de estado a Jacobo Arvenz en 1954 impulsado por EEUU debido a las medidas proteccionistas en el pais que perjudicaba a la United Fruit Company (empresa PRIVADA) // “To collaborate, let me mention the coup d’etat against Jacobo Arvenz (Guatemala) in 1954, pushed by the US due to the protectionist motions that affected the United Fruit Company” - via thehawthornepassage
  • Por favor, no olvides el boicot económico que los Estados Unidos ejercieron sobre Argentina para forzar la caída del peronismo y evitar que Argentina se convirtiera en la potencia sudamericana que prometía ser en la primera mitad del siglo veinte. // “Please, don’t forget the economic boicot that the US used against Argentina to force the fall of Peronism and avoid Argentina becoming the south-American potency that it promised to be during the first half of the 20th century” - via olie-golden-wolf

  • Dominican Republic: Two Interventions and support to the worst dictatorship in the island. A lot of people say Trujillo was the most bloodiest mothefucker -pretty sure I made a mistake in those words but wathever- in America Latina. Thanks. - via juanitastar
  • American invasions/occupations of the Dominican Republic: 1916-1924; 1965-1966 (let’s be real the US never left)
    Also this gem:
    "Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the brutal dictator who ruled the country with Washington’s blessing for 31 years.  Trujillo used the U.S.-trained National Guard to banish, torture or kill his opponents.  As President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of state, Cordell Hull famously said of Trujillo: "He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch." - 40 years later, U.S. invasion still haunts Dominican Republic  - via @212023

 also; as of today, the list of USAmerican military bases; training locations and planned military programs on latinoamerican soil includes the following (sources and readings on why you should be angry and worried: [x] [x] [x] [x])

  • cuba (guantánamo)
  • puerto rico 
  • colombia
  • perú 
  • aruba
  • curaçao 
  • paraguay
  • brazil
  • el salvador
  • honduras
  • haiti
  • las bahamas
  • antigua y barbuda
  • ecuador
  • bolivia

EDIT: this list had originally included costa rica, but, as someone pointed out, the military pact that the US had started talking about w/costa rica’s government was never actually acted upon (“In June 2002 the United States signed an agreement with Costa Rica for an International Law Enforcement Academy, but popular movements have so far prevented the pact’s ratification. - [x]

Let's get into it: Latin@ vs. Black

This post is too damn much for me to just sit here and see this kind of logic (or lack thereof, better yet) come onto my dash.

Identity is such a difficult topic to discuss, especially when it comes to race & ethnicity, as it’s a very personal expression and affirmation of our own experiences (in relation to a larger collective) and us navigating the spaces we create within that identity.



Black (person): any member of the African diaspora

Diaspora: the scattered population with origins within a smaller geographic location

African-American: a Black person living in the United States of America, with cultural traditions stemming from their displacement into the country by the Transatlantic Slave Trade (often interchanged with Black, although the two have separate meanings); created as a reaction to terms such as “Negro”

Afro-: prefix used to emphasize African heritage or influence on something, sometimes used as a reaction to invisibility or Otherness within that group

Hispanic: a term created in order to classify all Spanish speakers into one box on the census form; this term means “of Spain” and erases any Indian or African identity a person from Mexico, Central America, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, or South America might have.

Latin@:  a person from Latin America (anywhere in the above-mentioned regions); this term is preferred over Hispanic because it does not deny the large influence of pre-existing American Indian culture and African culture brought over by the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Spanish: a person from Spain; another word for Castilian, the most popular language of Spain and the majority of its former colonies (often interchanged with Latin@ although this is wrong as fuck)

Racism: institutionalized discrimination of an ethnic group, often based on phenotypical or linguistic differences

Shadeism/Colorism: discrimination of certain (usually dark but sometimes light) skin tones due to conforming within a Eurocentric standard of beauty; often happens in post-imperialist countries


Now that we got that out of the way, let’s make something clear: Latin@ and Black are not mutually exclusive terms. Meaning that you can be Latino and Black at the same damn time. Latin@ does not define a race, but rather expresses that people from Latin America come from miscegenation and often are multiracial. That’s why you have people like Celia Cruz, Roberto Clemente, and Arturo Schomburg identifying as negro and Latino simultaneously. Because Black is a term describing race and Latin@ is a term roughly describing ethnicity.

When Latin@s who are more visibly African in origins (or Afrolatin@s) deny what they are (like this lady) it’s due to anti-Black propaganda fed to the masses in Latin America largely due to North American influence (the last thing antebellum US wanted was Latino Blacks and American Blacks thinking they could be like Haiti and revolt against imperialist rule. In fact, most of the reason why Haiti’s economy remains abysmal is due to French and US influence but they don’t tell you that in US History II, do they?)

That’s why you’ll find loads of colorism within countries like Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Not to mention other countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, and even right here in the United States of America. The post-colonial identity is, largely, a reaction to what European rule did during their control. In countries with a huge American Indian influence, indio is an insult because calling someone out on their other-than-white heritage is hurtful; negro or prieto is also used derogatorily. 

Articles like that woman’s are problematic because it just falls right into that cycle of anti-Black (self-)hatred. Latin@s in the US often do not claim their Black heritage and opt for a raceless identification with the terms Hispanic and Latino. But the truth is that most of Latin Americans are mestizo or mulato, or a combination of both. This obsession with race and skin tone was enforced by the Spanish caste system which treated lighter or Spanish-educated people as better.

Black slaves in the US faced an entirely different struggle from Black slaves in Spanish colonies or Dutch colonies or Portuguese colonies. That’s why we all have a different culture but are still part of the African diaspora. So, being Afro-Dominican and being African-American are two totally different things, but for the most part we all have the same point of origin. And our differences in self-concept and self-expression are just due to who colonized us. (Did you know that babies born to Indian or Black mothers & Spanish fathers but educated in Spaniard customs was considered white in the Dominican Republic? It throws the contemporary American understanding of race out the fucking window, I’ll tell you that.)

Will Latin@s ever claim their Indian and African ancestry for good? I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck. But you won’t deny that shit in my presence because I’ll get your life together for you REAL quick. 

The island of Haiti & Dominican Republic was the first fucking stop for stolen Africans in the New World. The Black Experience in the Western Hemisphere STARTED in DR and Haiti, and denying that is an insult to every African man, woman, and child brought over on slave ships to our fucking soil.


REFERENCES AND RESOURCES FOR Y’ALL (taking y’all to college real quick wepaaaa)

Black behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops by Ginetta E. B. Candelario

Merengue : Dominican Music and Dominican Identity by Paul Austerlitz

The Dominican Republic: A National History by Frank Moya Pons

Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview by Audrey Smedley

Introduction to Dominican Blackness by Silvio Torres-Saillant


"The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports"

The 140th Kentucky Derby takes place today. 

Some fans of the Kentucky Derby know that African American jockeys were quite successful in the early days of the race. But very few know that the trainer of the first winner Aristides in 1875 was former slave Ansel Williamson.

Aristides was ridden by jockey Oliver Lewis, also an African-American. In fact, African-Americans dominated horse racing, America’s longest, continuous sporting event. 

Once upon a time the Kentucky Derby was a Black thang. African-Americans once dominated the horse racing game so thoroughly between the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century that when the first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875 thirteen of the fifteen jockeys at the starting line were African-American. The dominance of the sport also extended to and included African-American horse owners, trainers, exercise riders and stable hands.

The next two Derby winning trainers — James Williams and Ed Brown — were also black. Black athletes dominated horse racing for the next three decades, winning 15 of the first 28 Derbies.

Sooooooooo, what happened? Whites resented the jockeys, who were bringing in big salaries, and also couldn’t deal with the fact that Blacks were dominating what was, in the nineteenth century, America’s national pastime. 

Klan intimidation, collusion to deny Black jockeys and trainers work and access to US tracks were factors as well. In addition the mass migration of African-Americans from the farms of the South to northern cities combined to ethnically cleanse horse racing of its African-American presence by the turn of the early 20th century. 

Black jockeys also faced intimidation from white jockeys. The racing establishment never banned African-American jockeys but they turned a decided blind-eye to racism. What are the results? An African-American hasn’t won the Kentucky Derby in over a century. 

Today, jockeys and trainers from Latin America dominate the sport. 

The top 10 jockeys, based on earnings by the horses they rode (mounts) in the United States in 2010, include the following Latinos: Ramón A. Domínguez (1,474 starts, $16,911,880); John R. Velázquez (1,192 starts, $16,743,328 horses’ earnings); Joel Rosario (1,335 starts, $15,897,538); Rafael Bejarano (1,292 starts, $14,225,120); Javier Castellano (1,243 starts, $13,037,706); Martín García (933 starts, $10,151,584); José Lezcano (1,054 starts, $9,277,682).

Of course, owners take 60% of the earnings from winnings. And most owners are still rich white men. 

The owners of the horses are more often otherwise anonymous extraordinarily rich Southerners than they are urbane self-made millionaires. They have money because their fathers had money and he had money because his father had money and so on until you think there might be a father who owned somebody else’s father. They are the unknown rich, without whom, there is no horse racing. Yet, they are almost never the featured player in the media’s coverage of the event.

(The Montreal Review, Fox News Latino, Trans Griot, ESPN)

Rudy Martinez: The Beginning of the Latino Impact in World War II

On December 7, 1941, the date that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said would “live in infamy,” the Imperial Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pear Harbor, Hawaii.

Rudy (Rudolph M.) Martinez was a young sailor who had just left his family in San Diego to begin his duties as a sailor in the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor. On the morning of the attack, the 21-year-old Navy electrician mate 3rd class was aboard the USS Utah when the battleship was hit by two Japanese torpedoes.

A vertical view of the wreckage of the USS UTAH (AG-16), which is now part of the USS UTAH MEMORIAL.
National Archives Identifier: 6349935

A Mexican American, Martinez officially became the first Hispanic to be killed in World War II. His final letter written home asked for a photo of his mother. Martinez’s death marked the beginning of the surge of Latino military service in World War II.

About half a million Latinos served during World War II. Gen. Douglas MacArthur called the Arizona National Guard’s 158th Infantry Regiment, known as “Bushmasters,” “one of the greatest fighting combat teams ever deployed for battle.” The regiment was composed of many Latino soldiers.

Martinez was awarded the Purple Heart and World War II Victory medal posthumously. Since then, more than 400 Latinos have received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

Keep reading (and en español) at: Prologue: Pieces of History » Rudy Martinez: The Beginning of the Latino Impact in World War II


Paris Is Burning is a 1990 American documentary film directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-AmericanLatinogay, and transgender communities involved in it. Many members of the ball culture community consider Paris Is Burning to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the “Golden Age” of New York City drag balls, as well as a thoughtful exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality in America.

The film explores the elaborately-structured Ball competitions in which contestants, adhering to a very specific category or theme, must “walk” (much like a fashion model’s runway) and subsequently be judged on criteria including the “realness” of their drag, the beauty of their clothing and their dancing ability.

Most of the film alternates between footage of balls and interviews with prominent members of the scene, including Pepper LaBeijaDorian CoreyAngie Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja. Many of the contestants vying for trophies are representatives of “Houses" (in the fashion sense, such as "House of Chanel") that serve as intentional families, social groups, and performance teams. Houses and ball contestants who consistently won in their walks eventually earned a “legendary” status.

The film depicts people with different gender identities or communities and their different forms of expression. It also explores how its subjects dealt with the adversity of racismhomophobiaAIDS and poverty. For example, some, likeVenus Xtravaganza became sex workers, some shoplift clothing, and some were thrown out of their homes by homophobic parents. One was saving money for sex reassignment surgery. Yet what makes this film significant is its approach. According to Livingston and according to the reviewers and movie-goers who viewed the film, this documentary is a multi-leveled exploration of a subculture in African American and Latino cultures that proves to be a microcosm of society, which was an underappreciated and arguably underground world that many Americans were unfamiliar with. hrough candid one-on-one interviews the film offers insight into the lives and struggles of its subjects and the strength, pride, and humor they maintain to survive in a “rich, white world.”

Drag is presented as a complex performance of gender, class, and race, in which one can express one’s identity, desires and aspirations along many dimensions. The African-American and Latino community depicted in the film includes a diverse range of identities and gender presentations, from gay men to butch queens to transgender women.

The film also documents the origins of “voguing”, a dance style in which competing ball-walkers freeze and “pose” in glamorous positions (as if being photographed for the cover of Vogue). Pop star Malcolm McLaren (with Mark Moore of S’Express and William Orbit) would, two years before Paris Is Burning was completed, bring the phenomenon to the mainstream with his song “Deep in Vogue”, which sampled the movie and directly referenced many of the stars of Paris Is Burning including Pepper LaBeija and featured dancers from the film, including Willi Ninja.  The single went to #1 in the US Billboard Dance Chart.  One year after this, Madonnareleased her number one song “Vogue”, bringing further attention to the dancing style.

Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban, underground Chicano libraries begin to pop up
March 24, 2013

Arizona lawmakers passed a law to dismantle a Mexican American studies program in Tucson schools, but the legislation has had an unintended effect: The controversy is renewing interest in the state and nationwide in ethnic studies and Chicano and Latino literature.

Some Tucson students have found new ways to study the subject while receiving college credit to boot. Others who had no interest on the topic say they are now drawn to the material.

"Underground" libraries with Chicano literature are popping up across the Southwest and are set to open soon in unexpected places such as Milwaukee and Louisville.

"I guess the irony is … that we have banded together and created a new civil rights movement, a renaissance in Latino literature. Now there are people in Louisville, Ky., who will be enjoying Chicano literature," said Tony Diaz.

Diaz heads Librotraficante, a group that raises money to buy books and open libraries to keep Mexican American studies alive. The state ban was the impetus for Librotraficante — whose name is Spanish for “book smuggler.”

A federal judge this month upheld the law banning the program, which critics said sowed discontent and promoted resentment against non-Latinos. Supporters said the program focused on long-neglected aspects of American history and inspired Latino students to excel in school. The supporters said they would appeal the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Facing financial penalties if they continued the program in defiance of the new state law, trustees of the Tucson Unified School District killed the program last year.

Before the ban, interest in ethnic studies was minimal across the nation, says Sean Arce, who used to head the program.

"After the ban it really has grown exponentially," he said.

Arce, who was dismissed when the program was discontinued a year ago, says he’s now in demand as a speaker, receiving invitations from various colleges — including Harvard and UCLA — to talk about the importance of ethnic studies. He said a few urban school districts have contacted him about consulting and collaborating on building a curriculum similar to the one outlawed in Tucson.

"We are happy and fortunate to collaborate with these folks because it really is a national issue," Arce said. "It’s because Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic."

Raquel Velasquez, a student at Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz., is among the students who say the controversy over the program has drawn them to ethnic studies.

"It was only until it was banned that I really took this seriously and recognized the need," said Velasquez, a 19-year-old originally from Tucson. She is one of 14 students at Prescott College taking a pedagogy class to help train them to become ethnic studies teachers.

Curtis Acosta, who used to teach mostly Mexican American studies at Tucson High Magnet School and now is relegated to teaching a mainstream English curriculum, says he now looks forward to Sundays. That’s when he teaches a Chicano literature class at John Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson.

The idea for a course outside the confines of the school district came to him right before the Mexican American studies program was done away with in his school.

"I couldn’t sit back and watch that happen," Acosta said. "So right away, the wheels were in motion. I had to do something."

Now 10 students are enrolled in the Chicano literature class, and Prescott College offers college credit for those enrolled. Acosta and his colleagues also raised enough money to offset all of the students’ tuition costs.

Bianca Sierra said Acosta’s class may be one of the few silver linings to the ban. The 18-year-old is a senior at University High School in Tucson, where Mexican American studies was never offered. Although she had taken a slew of Advanced Placement courses, she’d never had the opportunity to attend a class on Chicano literature.

She says she likes her Sunday class better than her classes at school because she can relate to its subject matter on a personal level. For example, books she reads in her Chicano literature class have characters with names similar to those of her mother and grandmother or mention foods similar to those prepared in her home.

"You can put yourself in their shoes and relate to it more," she said.

She also enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and format of her Sunday literature class. Instead of simply listening to the teacher lecture, the students gather in a circle and, along with Acosta, discuss and debate the subject matter.

"I like it because it makes me feel more invested in it, because they are asking you, ‘What is your opinion?’ I was never asked what my opinion was on an issue [in class]. You’re just not asked that in regular school," she said.


Watch El Librotraficante talk about bringing truckloads of banned Latino history & literature books back into Arizona on Democracy Now here. 

Kids Pose as History’s Most Influential Latino Leaders

"Eunique Jones Gibson — photographer and creator of the non-profit organization Because of Them, We Can — has launched a new art campaign called Por Ellos, Si Podemos to send a positive message to kids by highlighting influential Latinos in history.

Most of the time when I hear about Latinos on television or even online, they’re negative stories…but very few about the positive impact and contributions that Latinos have had,” Gibson tells Mashable. By turning her camera on these well-known Latino leaders, Gibson hopes to send a positive message to counter the dozens of negative ones children consume on a daily basis.

See all the kids and quotes here

Check out the website: Por Ellos, Si Podemos (in Spanish and English versions)

Watch on

Black In Brazil

I observed that Brazilian society has made issues centered on race invisible due to the concept of a racially democracy. Over 75 million people of African descent live in Brazil today, that fact is a reason why the “rainbow nation” concept has been perpetuated by its renowned carnivals which negates from its massive race problem, the dilemma that race doesn’t exist in Brazil.  Rather than assert blackness like their cousins in America for social, political and economic recognition, there are hundreds of negation terms for Black which subconsciously imposes colorism. The powers that be promote color allegiance to separate the people by hues of black, thus hindering the power that a communal effort would have. A reason why the Civil Rights Revolution of America was so impactful, the participants sacrificed individuality (class, religion, ethnicity n color) to unify for their cause of demanding their rights as citizens of America.  That revolutionary led to the wide spread imposition of affirmative action that gave many great Black Americans the opportunity to go to a university, an opportunity that John Lewis Gates says is the reason he was able to go to Yale, and Barack Obama to Harvard.

In America there is a an informal one drop rule which means any person with any African ancestry is legally defined as Black a tradition that reeks of the anti miscegenation laws imposed before the civil war. Although the “African” in Brazilian culture and genes is recognized and even integrated, it is seen as inferior. In Latin American colonies there was a dichotomy between the public sphere of life and private, when one could “pass” as white in the public by their color, class or even legally by “cedula de gracias al sacal” the purchase of whiteness, and be “black” in their private life.  This reality is exemplified in the case of Francisca da Silva de Oliveira an 18th black slave whose freedom was brought by her white master/lover. She was able to become one of the wealthiest women in her town.  In the Documentary it shows the image of the ex slave with white powder on her face, assuming  a “white ” identity, a option that was seldom granted to many slaves at that time, and was also a foreign concept in slavery in America which has a mighty master/concubine history. She was able to rise above her “blackness” and become a mistress to a white merchant; this story has been used to perpetuate the subconscious Latin concept of “avanzar la raza” (“improve the race”) and also the Brazilian concept of a “racial paradise” when there are no differences depending on race.  That myth has festered into the problem Brazil has now with its black population, which is the denial of their race as a reason to their second class status. All in all John Lewis Gates says one of the solutions for progression in Brazil is affirmative action which allow more blacks to attend college and led their people out of destitution, an elitist belief stemming from W.E.B Dubois Talented Tenth concept, but it is still an option. Brazilian People Rise Up and embrace your blackness so that you can realize you are the pulse of Brazil. 

Afro-Mexican youth dancing. Photo by Bobby Vaughn

Last year, a bilingual exhibition, The African Presence in México: Yanga to the Present, was mounted by the Oakland Museum and the DuSable Museumon both sides of the Mexican border - in the US and Mexico itself. It traced how Africans - fewer than 2% of colonial Mexico`s (1521-1810) population - significantly enriched Mexican culture through their art, music, language, cuisine, and dance. The African Presence in México invited Mexican-Americans and African-Americans to look at their identities in light of their shared histories in Mexico and the United States.

The Spanish first brought Africans to Mexico in 1519 to work in the agrarian and silver industries, under often brutal conditions. There were constant slave protests and runaways (cimarrónes) who established settlements in the mountains of Orizaba. In January 1609, Gasper Yanga, a runaway slave elder, led the cimarrónes (or maroons) to a successful resistance against a special army sent by the Spanish Crown to crush their uprising. After several cimarrón victories, the Spanish acquiesced to the slaves` demand for land and freedom. Yanga founded the first free African township in the Americas, San Lorenzo de los Negros, near Veracruz. It was renamed in his honour in the 1930s.

Slavery in Mexico was abolished in 1810 by Jose María Morelos y Pavón, leader of the Mexican War of Independence. As a mulatto (Spanish and African), Morelos was directly affected by Mexico`s prejudices. Racial mixes were seen as undesirable by a society that aspired to purity of race and blood (i.e., Spanish only).

In 1992, as part of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas, the Mexican government officially acknowledged that African culture in the country represented la tercera raiz (the third root) of Mexican culture, with the Spanish and indigenous peoples. But the plight of Afro-Mexicans has not improved much since the recognition of 1992.

As Alexis Okeowo, a black journalist in the Mexican capital, Mexico City, attests, when she visited Yanga, her heart broke. “As I arrived in town,” she reported, “I peered out of my taxi window at the pastel-painted storefronts and the brown-skinned residents walking along the wide streets. `Where are the black Mexicans?` I wondered. A central sign proclaimed Yanga`s role as the first Mexican town to be free from slavery, yet the descendants of these former slaves were nowhere to be found. I would later learn that most live in dilapidated settlements outside of town.”

The next morning when she went searching for the Afro-Mexicans, Okeowo found that though she had grown used to the rarity of black people in Mexico City, it was different at Yanga, where she was not only stared at but also pointed at.

“The stares were cold and unfriendly, and especially unnerving in a town named for an African revolutionary,” Okeowo recalled. “`Mira, una negra,` I heard people whisper to one another. `Look, a black woman.` `Negra! Negra!`, taunted an old man with a shock of white hair under a tan sombrero.

“Surrounded by a group of men, [the old man] gazed at me with a big, toothy grin. He seemed to be waiting for me to come over and talk to him. Shocked, I shot him a dirty look and headed into [a] library`s courtyard.”

Okeowo continued: “The notion of race in Mexico is frustratingly complex. This is a country where many are proud to claim African blood, yet discriminate against their darker countrymen. Black Mexicans complain that such bigotry makes it especially hard for them to find work. Still, I was surprised to feel like such an alien intruder in a town where I had hoped to feel something like familiarity. Afro-Mexicans are among the poorest in the nation. Many are shunted to remote shantytowns, well out of reach of basic public services, such as schools and hospitals.

“Activists for Afro-Mexicans face an uphill battle for government recognition and economic development. They have long petitioned to be counted in Mexico`s national census, alongside the country`s 56 other official ethnic groups, but to little avail. Unofficial records put their number at one million.”


Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta

  • Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930 in Dawson, New Mexico
  • At three, her parents divorced and her mother moved the children to Stockton, California
  • Dolores’ grandfather took care of her and her brothers while her mother worked
  • Dolores received an associate’s degree in teaching from the University of the Pacific’s Delta Community College
  • She married Ralph Head while in college and had two children
  • Dolores taught grammar school for a while but resigned after seeing so many kids come to school hungry and without adequate clothing
  • In 1955, Dolores began her career in activism by helping Frank Ross start the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO)
  • The CSO helped Hispanics economically and fought segregation , police brutality, and held voter registration drives
  • In 1960, she helped create the Agricultural Worker’s Associations (AWA) which led her to meet fellow activist Cesar Chavez
  • Dolores divorced her first husband and soon married Ventura Huerta and had five more kids
  • In 1962, Dolores and Cesar Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)
  • Dolores served as the president of UWF until 1999
  • In 1965, Dolores helped organize the Delano Grape Strike where 5,000 grape farm workers protested against Delano grape growers
  •  In 1967 (or 1966), the United Farm Workers Union was formed (UWF), a combination of the AWA and NFWA
  • Dolores then helped negotiate contracts for workers and managed a hiring system
  • She also fought against the use of dangerous pesticides and advocated for unemployment and healthcare benefits for farm workers
  • In 1973, Dolores helped organize another large boycott which resulted in the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975
  • The act allowed farm workers to create unions and bargain for better wages and work conditions
  • In the 70s and 80s, she worked as a lobbyist on behalf of farmers in order to make sure they got proper representation
  • Dolores’ marriage to Ventura Huerta eventually ended and she began to have a relationship with Richard Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez; they had four children together but never married
  • She has received many awards including the United States Presidential Eleanor D. Roosevelt Human Rights Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Source: biography, wikipedia, nwhm


Women’s History Wednesday:

As part of its project to document the history of Iowa Latinas and their families, the Iowa Women’s Archives preserves and makes accessible the records of the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Council 10 of Davenport, Iowa. 

Mexicans arrived in Iowa as early as the 1880s, and by the 1920s boxcar communities had grown up near railroad yards in towns such as Fort Madison, Davenport, and Bettendorf. During the mid-20th century, second- and third-generation Mexican Americans fought for civil rights through organizations such as Davenport’s LULAC Council 10, founded in 1959 and still going strong today.

Pictured here is a LULAC Christmas party from the early 1960s, showing a blend of traditional activities such as pinata games alongside an early example of what has become an internet phenomenon — the “Scared of Santa” photo.

Iowa Digital Library: Mujeres Latinas Digital Collection

Iowa Women’s Archives: Guide to the LULAC Council 10 records

Iowa Women’s Archives: Mujeres Latinas Project