colonial heritage

As per usual, Frank Waln is bang on. Don’t ignore Indigenous voices as America attempts to move forward despite the negativity in these coming months. 


Feliz dia de la Independencia Dominicana. Que viva mi gente! I found these walking around la zona colonial in SDQ back in November. 

If you know any Dominican people please do wish them a happy independence day. They will love you for it.

Photography by Ruddy Harootian

Is Colonialism still alive?

I was super excited to visit the British museum to see what I find to be my most beloved treasure of my heritage- Ancient Mesopotamia. I realized just how much they’ve stolen and it made me upset, while I was having the time of my life seeing all these breathtaking relics. It was emotionally overwhelming.

Iraq, a war-torn land, is (and has been for as long as I remember) in a terrible condition where our heritage is being destroyed, manipulated and forgotten. It is disheartening. So I thought it is good that they were there. No harm will come to them. A part of us is safe.

I realized that Ancient Mesopotamia in all its fragments wasn’t the only thing that was ripped out of its land. I too, along with my family, followed its same path. War, suffering and injustice for the sake of ‘power’ made it so. As I walked through the “rooms” that were mainly dedicated to Ancient Mesopotamia, I experienced what I was so desperate for: coming face to face with my roots and have them speak to me.

In the British museum, London, I felt so at home, surrounded by my history and ancestors, finding them in the silence and peace of reunion. As much as we have been ripped out and cut to pieces, we’re not dead. We live.

~Aya Al-Hakim©  


The Historic Spanish Town Square :: 'The Original Emancipation Park’

This specific area of Jamaica boasts arguably the most significant sites and monuments of the country’s history spanning the years of colonialism onward. Generally acclaimed to be the most impressive of its kind in the West Indies. While the town was of significance for the Spanish during their rule, the square gained its prestige from the English, who constructed in the area the Court House, the House of Assembly, Rodney’s Memorial and King’s House (the Governor’s official residence on the island).

In more recent times, the Square has become the site of The Jamaican Peoples Museum of Craft and Technology, which occupies the space of the former stables block of the English. The site hosts many of the island’s key artifacts ranging from items of the Amerindians through to the English. The Jamaica Archives is also located in the area.

anonymous asked:

I love your blog! If it wasn't for this blog, i'd feel that I wouldn't know to much about my pre colonial heritage as I do now. I'm curious as to what religion was like back then and if its true that majority of the pre colonial Philippines were muslim or at least most of it was influence by islam as the philippines today is influeced by america and spain?

Thank you! :) This blog it the outcome of my own decolonization and search of identity so I’m glad it has helped others as well!

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards there were different religions that had a foothold in the islands. This includes Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, & native Animistic beliefs. During the time the early Spaniards arrived Islam was already in Sulu and other parts of Southern Mindanao. It was also in the Tagalog region and the Tagalogs were called Moro’s by the Spaniards just like those in the south (and every other Muslim group they encountered). Between the Sultan of Sulu and his people, the Datu’s and Rajah’s of the Tagalog kingdoms, of Maynilad and Tondo, and the Sultan of parts of Borneo (which today is known as Brunei), there were intermarriages and thus the spread of Islam spread through the ruling class, the Datu’s, Rajahs, Sultans, and their kin. When the Spaniards arrived Tagalogs were already practicing a mix of Islamic and native Animistic beliefs. You can see this with some of the deities the Tagalogs worshipped  or regarded that are influenced by Islam.

In other parts of the islands such as the Kingdom of Butuan in Northeastern Mindanao, which is one of the first places the Spaniards arrived in, they were practicing a mix of Hindu-Buddhism, which is still found in parts of Indonesia, in particular Bali, and other parts of Southeast Asia. We know this based on historical accounts and archaeological finds of gold artifacts depicting deities and figures in Hindu and Buddhist mythology such as Tara, Ganesh, the Garuda, the Kinnari, Padmapani, throughout the islands of what is now known as the Philippines. Also though none has resurfaced so far there is written accounts recalling figures of the Buddha scattered by the rivers along with the larawan figures of the spirits and ancestors that the people gave offerings to in porcelain plates.

Majority though still practiced native Animistic beliefs and had their own mythologies and spirituality. They had their own rituals, practices, beliefs in the afterlife, creation stories, deities, etc. They venerated the spirits, the ancestors, believed in more than one soul, believed everything had a spirit, regarded certain rocks, animals, tree’s, as sacred, believed the flowing river waters and water in general was the pathway to the ancestors, of the beginnings and source of life and death. They saw all things as sacred and gave reverence to all life.

With the other religions that arrived on the islands they tended to blend it together with the native beliefs which you can still see it done somewhat with the arrival of Christianity. We also have records of some people fighting against the new religion of the Spaniards. One favorite of mine is found in the written account of Francisco Alcina who talks about a man who stood up for his beliefs and practices and of his thoughts in regards to the afterlife as well as the injustices done toward him and his people by the Spaniards.

“Padre what you say is undoubtedly true that there is a glory and punishment. It seems in conformity with reason that the good should be rewarded and the bad punished. But this is for you, the Spaniards, who are a wise people and know all this, but not for us Bisayans. Thus for Castilians, we do not doubt that there will be a heaven, but for the Bisayans, it seems not because in this part of the world God created us with such great difference from you. As we see here, the Spaniards do not permit us even to sit down in their houses, and have no respect for us, so much the less will it be the case for us there were as you say, everything in grandeur, majesty, and glory without end.”

There wasn’t one religion throughout the islands and the other religions came in different waves that influenced the language and culture of our ancestors. However for the most part people practiced the indigenous Animistic beliefs which you can find more info on those in the following tags: myth, deity, diwata, folklore, and on my personal polytheistic blog and the first one I made that I don’t really go on anymore and random blog posts on my personal blog that if you can find on the archive would be helpful but I suck at tagging when it comes to my personal blog so good luck sorting through that mess of an archive.

What's in A Name? Everything! -Surnames in Latin America

So I was chateando with my friend last night about the power of surnames in Latin America. I was joking that if I ever have children I’ll be sure to give them 500 names like Charo (María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza) and Gloria Estefan (Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan). We all know both appellidos are used but it goes deep and again to colonial foundations. 

I said that often “class,” background or neighborhood/region can be discerned from names and that practice is strong in colonial heritage… because purity and “calidad”(quality) (and duh) whiteness ruled the day.

In my travels, (hell, even personally) oftentimes foiks ask last names first like these exchanges:

While in Peru, woman sees a teen says:

“You look familiar, I think I know you, what’s your last name?” Teen gives last name, then the woman asks if someone is her family member she says no that’s a family friend, they go back and forth and woman finally figures out who the teen is just by surnames/family names. 

When I was in Puerto Rico, my mentor asked this guy at a museum his surname, he told her and she said *Salaman de Carolina?“ And they figured out his family and neighborhood. 

I’m also taking more notice of the surnames of people that I befriend in my travels. Usually mestiz@s, those whom would be considered the blanco mestiz@s and the majority of them have Basque surnames. They are often well off, and are students, artists, business owners, or their family is. So they are reaping tangible benefits of their whiteness and lineage. We know this but it’s striking when you see it in real time. I’m also noticing a lot of Basque last names in Latin American leadership: Balaguer, Pinochet. Guevara…

Info on the Basque DIaspora:

A Brazilian friend of mine said (in Brazil) ‘Silva’ is known as a name of those who live in poverty (I hate saying "poor people”) so a friend of hers uses the surname of the family her mother works for instead of Silva. Intense right?

“Mosquera” is a very common last name in Colombia, I’ve noticed as well. I know about 3958085 Colombian Mosqueras. 

Also fascinating is the practice of adding “de” or “y” to your name once married. My mother said she didn’t do that because she didn’t like the possessiveness of it. “Why am I "of my husband”? She said.

“Racial forgery in Latin America is often accompanied by handed-down but unproven oral accounts of a presumed Spanish great-great-grandparent and a Spanish surname. Most mixed-white race and white people in Latin America have Spanish surnames inherited from Spanish ancestors, while most other Latin Americans who have Spanish names and surnames acquired them through Christianization and Hispanicization of the indigenous and African slave populations by the Spanish friars, especially in order to ease record-keeping and tax collection, in the case of the Native Americans and Afro-Latin Americans.”

This is very important to pay attention to: “most other Latin Americans who have Spanish names and surnames acquired them through Christianization and Hispanicization of the indigenous and African slave populations by the Spanish friars.”

Keep in mind that the spreading of Christianity (and the weakening of Islam) was a major goal of Iberian “exploration” and to baptist, “Christianize” and “Hispanicize” the “inferior” natives and Africans. Having a spanish surname doesn’t automatically mean Spanish/Iberian/European ancestry. We see this in the case of (among many others) Palenque de San Basilio in Colombia. When I was there, I was told about the incredible history and what really struck me was that at the end when the Europeans agreed to leave the Palenqueros alone, a condition of this “peace” was that everyone get baptized/Christianized so “that’s why you will not see an African surname here, mostly Spanish,” my guide said. I was floored. Because even in surrender, colonizers were HELL BENT on stripping people’s identity and imposing their own, no matter what! It is absolutely mind-blowing.

Also interesting is of course, you can chart migration with surnames. One of my surnames is Irish. Great-grandfather was Jamaican. The irish were in Jamaica. I’ve met many Latin Americans with Arab, German, Italian, French (look, insert every nationality) surnames and some know the history of that ancestor, most don’t. I love guessing the origin of surnames. 

My AfroPuerto Rican mentor extraordinarily retained her Senegalese surname and has been able to trace her lineage, which actually turned out to be religious royalty in Senegal. (I cover a little of this in my doc)

Surnames hold so much power in making claim over inheritance, land etc. Maybe a European-descendant father will not give his Afrodescendant or indigena-descended offspring his name, so that they won’t be entitled to his wealth. Or sometimes it was the other way. And enslaved women sometimes used this as a way to gain freedom for their children, and themselves. e.g.-Xica da Silva  Resistance any way you can do it. 

You all have any interesting appellido/surname stories?