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Negritud Journal

Ah, I have been awaiting the release of this for almost a year now, since I first heard it was gestating.
Bobby Vaughn is the creator of Afro-Mexico.com,I seem to have communicated with him via email 5 or 6 years ago. Small world, or small little circle of Afro-Latin students and scholars. Nice to see that he’s doing well and prospering and making even more of a name for himself.

I’m not quite a scholar or professional, but I live nearby and think I’ll attend this conference thing. My mother got her postgrad certificate from Clark Atlanta so perhaps it is only fitting that I make an appearance.

“Atlanta, May 5, 2008, 11:20 a.m. – African studies in Latin America and the Caribbean found its headquarters for American academia in Atlanta with the launch of the scholarly journal, Negritud.

Luis Miletti, an Afro-Puerto Rican and assistant professor of Spanish at Clark Atlanta University, released the journal in March after an overwhelming global response to his announcement last year to start the publication. Negritud is published in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Some academic fields of study will include literature, history, anthropology and archeology.

“This is the only journal that accepts all writing styles within American academia,” Miletti said. “That is unheard of because in the US, they tend to be very uniform.”

Negritud could indeed be setting a new precedent for the academic medium. In addition to the Web edition, a weekly public radio program for the annually published journal is also under development. The radio show will showcase lectures, panel discussions, and current events regarding Afro-Latinos in the US and abroad.

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Bobby Vaughn, an assistant professor of anthropology at Notre Dame de Namur University in California and an expert on the African Diaspora in Mexico, lauded the effort.

“Being exposed to quality work on the African Diaspora from different fields and genres would afford us the ability to see our work within a larger creative context,” Vaughn said. “The exemplary scholarship that illuminates the expressive arts, literature, culture, politics, and history of the Afro-Latin people would illuminate the complexity inherent in any people’s lived experience.”

The word, Negritud, means blackness. Miletti says he uses the term to reference a consciousness of and pride in the cultural and physical aspects of the African heritage.

The Caribbean recently lost one of its greatest contributors to the Negritud movement in the French-speaking world with the recent passing of poet and politician, Aime Cesaire of Martinique. He is most famously known for the poem, “Notes From a Return to the Native Land.” In 1946 Cesaire was instrumental in moving Martinique from a French colony to an overseas department. He died at 94 in the capital, Fort-de-France in April where he served as mayor for over 50 years.

“It is with sadness that we received that news because we were counting on his contribution,” Miletti said. “I was trying to contact him from about a month and a half before he died.
It’s a loss to the academic community and to this journal.”

Since Redding News Review broke the story during its planning stage in July 2007, Miletti says he has gained support from scholars representing the English-speaking Caribbean as well. This comes after the newly formed National Association of Caribbean-American Journalists held their first annual convention in South Florida shortly after the journal’s release. Ann Marie-Adams, who is the president of NACAJ, welcomes the invitation.

“The time is ripe for a scholarly journal that spotlights the Afro-Caribbean,” she said. “Our presence is muted on the national and international stage. Therefore, we will look to Negritud as one avenue that continuously embraces the many diverse voices that come from the Caribbean.”

A conference for Negritud is scheduled to be held on the Clark Atlanta University campus for March 2009 and is expected to attract academic professionals from across the globe. The agenda includes panel discussions, films, plays and a live web broadcast for radio affiliates to carry.”

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Educational Goals

1. Background
(note that these are generalizations and arent meant to speak for every single person of every race, rather of certain attitudes held by a large number of the groups mentioned)

Having grown up in a world that was primarily African American and Hispanic/Latino I learned and became a part of both cultures. I have lived in both cultures most of my life. I have friends that are African American, Latino and Afro-Latino. I live now in an area that has been almost 50% African American for a very long time, with a small population of Latinos- mostly Panamanians and Puerto Ricans. In recent years there has been a large influx of other Latinos- Central and South Americans. The African American and Latino populations combined are the majority here.

With a sudden and significant increase in the Latino populatin in the past decade (approx 800% in the past 5 years) there has been an increase in AfricanAmerican/Latino tension. This is not unique to this area, AA/Latino tensions and conflicts have been increasing in many areas where the two large minority populations meet.

On the part of African Americans there is the fear of being overshadowed by another minority group and being shut out and further discriminated against, that others will come and “take over” and reap the benefits that their ancestors fought for in a land that they have been a part of for centuries. On the part of Latinos there is the fear of being shut out and not allowed the same rights and privileges that other minorities have struggled to attain. AA’s are resentful that many Latinos are able to, after a generation or so become “white” in the eyes of society and that the offspring of Latinos (and other racial minorities) and White people are seen as white and enjoy the ame status as the majority race in this country while the offspring of African Americans and whites are still relegated to minority status.

African Americans feel that Latinos are trying to “escape” being minorities and that rather than fight for civil rights for all, they simply will allow the status quo (White Privilege) to exist. That their goal is not to seek equality by ensuring that all people have equal rights, but to become a part of the majority, leaving those who cant behind.

Latinos who generally neither understand nor accept the “one-drop” rule of hypodescent (meaning that a child is the race of the minority race parent, regardless of percentage of admixture) feel that African Americans are being ridiculous to accept a rule that they feel was meant to keep minorities as minorities and from joining the majority. In most of Latin America there is a wide wide range of admixture and the races arent as polarized. Where in the US the “white” populatin is, by definition, almost TOTALLY white with very little nonwhite ancestry, in Latin America there is a wider range. They feel that African Americans expect them to limit their choices of mates and spouses for no good reason, and dont accept that its a bad thing to want to be a part of the majority.

African Americans see becoming a part of the majority as giving up their “blackness” and see people who wish to become part of the majority as something akin to “traitors” who have no pride in who they are.Latinos who have come from countries where they have always been a part of the majority have no desire to come to the US and find that they are now second class citizens. The conflict is that to African Americans (and most Americans) becoming part of the majority means becoming “white” as those are the only people in the US with true 1st class status, while to most Latinos there is no conflict between their personal identity and their status. So a Mexican who wants to be a part of the majority is seen by himself as wanting 1st class status and by many AAs as wanting to be “white”.

Afro-Latinos have other problems. African Americans often reject them based on ethnicity or nationality, even African Americans who are concerend with equality and “blackness”. Latinos often treat them as “blacks” and not as fellow Latinos. Especially when we consider that the concept of “latinness” is a new one and historically Latinos have thought of themselves as Latinos no more than Americans have considered themselves part of some unified group of mostly white english speaking people along with Canadians, Britons and Australians. An Argentine or Peruvian isnt going to automatically accept and embrace a black Cuban simply because they speak Spanish.

Afro Latinos dislike the AA insistence that they have a “black” identity. Most of them identify by nationality first, race later. Because there is no one-drop rule in Latin America,Latinos who may be considered “black” in the US arent considered “black” at home and they dont identify as such. They resent being told they have to change their identity to conform with the US norm. They also feel that “black” as a label means “African American” and they are not, initially, African American. African Americans who have been raised in a country where if you have ANY black ancestry, you are “black” do not understand the concept of being a “white person with black ancestty”, for example, and feel that the rejection of the label “black” by Latinos with any (esp visible) African Ancestry is an attempt to deny it, which they feel is a rejection of THEM and their culture. They hear “I am not black” as “I am white, I have no African ancestors” because in the US, those have been the only 2 options for a long time.

Let me say, that has not always been the case. Mixed race black/white Americans have had different labels at different times in US history, sometimes black, soemtimes white and sometimes in a group all their own.But because those who were in mixed race groups did have higher status than “blacks”, the resentment remains when anyone wishes to be a part of a non- “black” group.There is good reason for this, due to hypodescent in America a white person has to have no identifiable African ancetry to remain “white”, if not they are relegated to second class status. A woman who marries someone white and has children who marry white people, will have children who will be 1/4 “black” (I say this becuase most black americans are already mixed so the percentage of African ancestry may actually be lower than 25%). In order for these children to live as part of the majority race and enjoy majority status, they have to “pass”, to pretend they have no black ancestry. This usually means moving away, and doing what they can to keep from having their black relatives identified with them.

In most of Latin America and the Caribbean, this isnt the case.(Allow me to dispense with capitalization and quotation marks please) There are white men and women with black grandchildren and black men and women with white grandchildren. I have seen families that look “striped” every generation is a different color than the previous generation. White mother, brown kids, white grandkids, brown greatgrandkids, black greatgreatgrandkids, then back to brown, beige and white again. The lack of distinct lines and polarazation means that while colorism DEFINITELY exists, that there is less segregation and racial lines arent as marked. There is generally no need for a woman to pretend her mother doesnt exist, her race is HER OWN and isnt based on the race of her parents. Children in the same family can be of different races, if thats wh at they appear to be. Race is based more on phenotype- appearance, than it is heredity. Of COURSE the child with white skin and blue eyes and blonde hair is white while her sister with brown skin, kinky dark hair and more African features is “mulatto” or black. Having a black relative doesnt automatically relegate a white person to minority status.

Additionally, to go back a few points. Many Afro-Latinos who do embrace a black identity are confused when the same African Americans, it seems to them, who want them to embrace their “blackness” then reject them based on their Latin-ness. If they can accept Haitians, Jamaicans, Africans as black, why not black latinos? If it were merely the language differences, then why accept the Haitians and Africans who are not Anglophones?

I frequently say that the child of John Smith and Mary Jones is a Smith and a Jones. Little Brandon Smith-Jones. A Latino can be BLACK and LATINO and can be fully part of BOTH communities- the greater community of ppls pf African ancestry and the greater community of Latin Americans or even of Spanish descended people. I want to say I dont know why there has to be conflict, but that isnt true. In the US one has to be ONE thing and most of us arent aware of being able to have MULTIPLE identities.Any identification as ONE thing automatically signifies rejection of any OTHER thing.

I could go on.

I believe there is much for everyone to learn. I have friends who are African American, Afro-Latino, Latino and AfricanAmerican/Latino mixtures. All ask me frequently to explain something about one of the other groups, or come to me with comments and observations. And as this is an area that interests me much and since I live in a world where Puerto RIcans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, African Americans, Panamanians etc all go to the same places and listen to reggaeton, salsa, hip hop, bachata,merengue and so on I have much opportunity to socialize with many groups. I will note that we ALL are listening to AFRO-Latin music. 🙂 We all eat similar foods. Gumbo, Asopao, Arroz con Pollo, Paella? (I saw Bobby Flay making Jambalay with chorizo last night) We all play dominoes and barbeque all summer. Hey, it seems like a petty small thing, but I believe that the cultural similarities are often lost in the rush to force people to pick ONE identity and accept it. I think Soledad O’Brien has done a good job at being Soledad. She’s a member of Latino, Cuban, Irish, African American and other organizations.

I believe Latinos and AAs need to understand the culture and rules of each others societies, to understand one another. A lot of the conflict from AAs is based on the perception that other minorities want to become white and leave blacks behind to be downtrodden alone. Understanding where they come from will help with some of that. For Latinos coming here, to understand the history and rules which have shaped minority life and culture will help them empathize with the feelings of other minorities here. I think AAs would do well to see that there are benefits to a less polarized view of race. That while it will be a while for hierarchies based on apperance to disappear, that when the people in power and in 1st class status have recognizable identified BLACK relatives, that it makes institutionalized racism harder. Nepotism is apowerful thing. When the ppl making the decisions have minority race parents, siblings, grandkids etc, it means they have a vested interest in making sure not only “white” people have rights. Rather than passing in secret, it would be nice if those who are white looking and white identified, publicly were able to fight for the rights of their darker brothers and sisters AND maintain their status. Rather than requiring everyone to be in the lower class group, let those who can cross over then use that status and privilege to help those who couldnt.(FWIW The president of the DR and Hugo Chavez are both men who’d be considered black in the US)

The problem IMO isnt that of identity, its of White Privilege. As long as being whiter means having better status, there will be those who wish to join that group and who disdain anything that isnt “white”. It also means that anyone attempting to become a person who enjoys that privelege wont be seen as wanting the same rights, but as wanting to deny their non-white ancestry. Those who cant or wont become “white” will be angry at the unfairness of it, and at those who they feel are ashamed of their roots and deny them in an attempt to join the “oppressors”.

Many African Americans are afraid to unite with Latinos for fear that after gains are made, that they will then be left behind as the Latinos outnumber them and no longer have need for them to make the numbers needed to have power.

SO. Whats the deal?

My goal is to finish my degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies.Then to get a PhD and/or Masters (It depends on if I can get into a PhD program without getting a Masters first). Particular area of studies? I want to study mostly Afro-Latin cultures focusing on the Caribbean. I want to have a decent grounding first in GENERAL Latino studies and African descended ppl (the Diaspora) because in order to focus on Afro-Latin, Latin and African Americans and how they will relate and interact in the future, I need to be able to understand all 3 areas. THEN I want to focus primarily on AA/AL/L and how the cultures and ppl intersect.Where the worlds collide, so to speak.

Particularly, youth culture and music. (LOL Oh, I know you were waiting on that) But in my studies and my life, I have found that most non-latinos and non-african americans who become part of the other community do so by entering via the music. People, young people especially, identify themselves based on their musical tastes. Hiphop ppl, rockers, goths, etc. Larry Harlow has a pass, Eminem has a pass, Tony Croatto had a pass.

People socialize a lot based on musical interests. It affects the clubs they go to, the concerts they see. It is something that seems superficial, but actually has a lot of impact on how people live day to day.I’ve listened to a lot of hiphop-merengue, hip-hop salsa,hip-hop reggaeton , reggaeton and hip hop made by Dominicanos and Puerto Ricans. And lately I’ve been hearing more “urban” latin music featuring AA artists. This is nothing new. Jazz, Bugulu, Salsa, HipHop all were created with the cooperation of African American and Latino Artists.

I’d love to study the music of the Caribbean more because I like it. ANd because I think that for AA’s, its a way to point out CULTURAL similarities. To point out that some of the greatest songmakers of Latin America LOOK LIKE THEM. And then point out that some of the songs they listen to here were MADE BY THEM.

Then ease into some stuff about Schomburg and that Don Pedro LOOKED Like them, served in the army here with AAs. Suffered experiments by the gvt JUST LIKE AT TUSKEGEE. That there has been a lot of common history and oppression. That AA’s seem to think that they are alone in the Americas, when there are HUGE populations JUST like them all over these 2 continents. That MAYBE if EVERYONE would understand- why let these borders separate us? We arent siblings, but maybe cousins? So yes, we were all raised in different cultures but we still have a few common ancestors and some relatives in the middle to bridge us. That as a whole, we make the MAJORITY of the Americas. If we want power- not power to take over and Kill Whitey, but power to influence the world we live in and make positive changes, that we need to be aware of our numbers and maybe FLEX.

I will also say that, hey, of COURSE those in power want us to fight and be divided and have hate and miscommunication. Wny WOULD they want us to wake up, count, recognize each other as family and say “theres enough of us to stand up to you and say ‘we arent having this anymore'”. Because ppl in power often see equality not as the desire for other ppl to be equal, but as loss of their privilege. And yes, that is what it would be. A quest to end white privilege. But I believe that in this country, or all countries, those in power see it as their RIGHT and cannot see “we want you to not have privileges we dont” as being very unfair. All they can see is “they want to take over and then they will treat us like we treat them”. I’d love for people to be able to accept that if they DO have special perks, that equality does mean they will have to give them up. But thats not WRONG.

Yeah, we arent all the SAME. But we like a lot of the same music, eat very similar foods, hang out at the same places and have had to deal with the same oppression. So can we PLEASE try to understand one another, learn to live with one another?

HEY, its IVY QUEEN on Despierta America!! She looks, um, rested today. She must have gained some weight.Thats good because sometimes she looks like she could be my mother and shes younger than I am. I wont lie, part of why I like her is because she looks more like me than my own sister,lol.

On that note, Im gonna go.I’ll edit this later to tighten it up and remove all the personal crap,lol. Listening to Tonny Tun Tun (El Moreno) and I have a few hundred reggaeton tracks to listen to, rate and comment on.I’ve somehow become Musical Advisor to a few local DJs because of my obsessive interest in salsa, merengue and reggaeton. Thats kind of why I have to go back to school. I cant get anything done, havent been able to get anything done for almost a decade now. THis here, everything I wrote has taken over my life. That and my herbs. A friend was like- there has to be SOME way you can combine your musical and herbal/bodycare products interest so you can do both. And make a LIVING. LOL

Maybe, I can write a book on my herbs and my recipes for beauty products and instead of making them, I can sell the damn book? I love my stuff, love making it and love when ppl LOVE it. I want EVERYONE to try it, not for momey, but because the stuff works and its good.

This is a monkey on my back. I WISH sometimes that I could kick it. Funny that something SO intangible as music, somthing so ephemeral as dancing could mean so much to humans.Iwish I could explain it or understand it. I cant.

Summary-

Living in both cultures for both of my life, I have great love and respect and appreciation for both. I’d like to study more and find a way to promote understanding between cultures and to bridge our differences. To help us all get along and fight for equality for all of us in the Americas. And listen to a lot of great music, go to a lot of great parties and have a good time while I am at it.

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