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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Rise and Fall of the Black Marvel of Uruguay, South America


José Leandro Andrade
“The Black Marvel”


During the 1920s and 1930s, José Leandro Andrade was highly regarded in his home country, Uruguay, as “Maravilla Negra (the Black Marvel)” whom enchanted soccer fans witnessed the effortless elegance in his movements on the field. He was a powerful, dynamic, and quick soccer player whose incredible abilities transformed him into an international celebrity at a time when ideas of white racial supremacy were rife across Europe.

Andrade had the courage to ignore white notions about how a black man should behave as he treated Paris, France as his own personal and professional playground, especially with the women who adored his suave, good looks as well as his athletic prowess. In this respect, there are parallels to be drawn with black American boxers Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali.


José Andrade is dubbed 
as “the first Pele”

Born in Salto, a city in northwest Uruguay noted for its cattle, citrus fruit, and its soccer players, Andrade grew up in poverty sleeping on a dirt floor and spent little time at school. Prior to his introduction to professional soccer, he worked as a carnival musician playing the drums, the violin, and the tambourine. At various times he worked as a shoeshine and newspaper boy, and some said that he had also worked as a gigolo.

In the 1920s, when the Olympic Games was effectively viewed as a world championship of soccer, he was winning over European audiences by the hundreds of thousands they came to watch him play. José Leandro Andrade was considered responsible, more than anybody else, in the first third of the 20th century for putting soccer on the map of international sports.


An Uruguayan Postage Stamp 
in honor of Andrade

When Uruguay faced Yugoslavia in the Olympic games of 1924, Yugoslavia, having sent spies to watch a Uruguay training session, predicted an easy win. Uruguay beat Yugoslavia 7-0. The Uruguayan team learned of the presence of spies and deliberately misplaced their shots and passes in training. Three days later, Uruguay defeated the United States 3-0.

In 1928 José Andrade won his second Olympic gold medal in Amsterdam. A Spanish correspondent who has been watching soccer for 20 years said that he has never seen any team play with the mastery of this Uruguayan team. It was though they were playing chess with their feet, he added.


The Uruguayan soccer team of the 1920s

 After his retirement, José Andrade had trouble finding and keeping a job. While his former teammates became successful coaches, businessmen, Andrade suffered from poor health, a troubled marriage, and depression.

In 1956 a German reporter searched the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo and found him living in terrible conditions in a basement of a flat. Andrade was too intoxicated to understand the reporter’s questions. Within a year, Andrade died a penniless alcoholic in an asylum at the age of 56.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Black Cuban Women Smash White Cuban Male Business Barrier



Yvonne and Yvette Rodriguez, identical twin sisters, became the first Afro-Cuban women to break to into the old, white Cuban male dominated cigar industry with a boutique line called Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars (Three Pretty Cuban Women’s Cigars) consisting of three different cigar blends — La Clarita, La Mulatta, and La Negrita.
 Ironically, the powerful truth about the world-famous authentic Cuban cigars made on the island of Cuba is that Afro-Cuban women are the ones doing the bulk of the cigar manufacturing by hand.


Yvette and Yvonne who grew up in South Miami Heights have been straddling African-American and Cuban culture since birth. They’d speak Spanish at home and dance to Spanish boleros as well as immerse themselves in R&B at Miami Southridge Senior High School. To this day, no one ever assumes that they’re Cuban until their rapid-fire “Spanglish” starts spilling from their mouths.
After high school, the two sisters went to Miami Dade College and then the University of Florida to pursue journalism degrees before parting ways as Yvette took a job reporting for Channel 7 and Yvonne began producing and editing programming for Spanish Telemundo television.

The concept of a cigar brand came to Yvonne in a daydream, which she shared with her sister Yvette. Soon after, she began consulting with her cigar-smoking boyfriend about the production side of the industry as well as with a Miami Cuban on vacation in Costa Rica who owned a tobacco farm in Nicaragua.
Soon, the twins were fast rolling on creating their own line of cigars using their Afro-Cuban culture as their distinct brand, which are now sold in shops from Chicago to Baltimore to Atlanta reaching more black consumers.

They’ve now partnered with other Afro-Cuban family businesses such as On Cuba Travel to host cigar and rum tours on the island of Cuba. They dream of one day owning a plot of land for a tobacco farm in their Cuban homeland..

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Seem Attractive to White and Mestiza Latinas




 As many of you know that with my explorations, research, and travels through Latin America, I try, as much as possible, to engage their black communities and be exposed to and immersed in black culture, which includes going out with black women. 

One thing I find baffling is that all the while I am admiring the “sistahs,” the white and mestizo women are admiring “me.” For example, while boarding planes in Mexico City and Panamá City (Panamá), wow; hot, sexy-looking women gave me such piercing eye-contact I thought they were going to burn holes through me. At a popular night spot in the Lima, Perú, one of the female dancers (mestiza), came off the stage, bypassed several tables over to mine, grabbed me to dance with her and on stage.

I am often reminded that the reason the non-black women give me such attention is because of the black male sexual stereotypes. However, one of my blog readers, a black Panamanian women whom I will call “Katia,” gave me a more interesting take on the matter:
Black women, it seems, are more cautious because of personal experience and other issues that has been passed down for generations. There are wounds and scars that are being addressed and not being addressed, and wariness of men is one of them. From my own experience and observations of other women who have been hurt, we are guarded and observant.
Please do not take this personally because for every woman that does not admire or notice you, there are others who do.  The women who have been taught to focus on color are very superficial, and would not be good for any man. For every woman that does not admire you, there are 20 who do. They may not be as blatant about it as those who are obviously letting you know that they see you.
And because you are noticing those who are admiring you, you may be missing those who are inconspicuously noticing you in a more significant way. They are also watching your reactions to those very same women who appear to be admiring you.

Another Panamanian whom I will call  “Luisa” gave me an even more interesting perspective:

in my perspective also as a Afro Panamanian female. Is that African women on a hole no matter where we maybe be from, are subtle in our approach to men not necessarily because of negative experiences but because throughout history the cultural belief that a true lady never acts out aggressively.
In Panama specifically, most black females when encountered with a male that she may find to be attractive she may not ever directly stare at him you may notice that she creats eye contact only to then lower her eyes with a slightly smile, but she will never stare directly at you. 
She may glance at you but will not stare ever. I have to say that I have noticed a more direct approach to men by African American, Dominican and Colombian women. I am not saying that this is a bad thing I am just pointing out characteristics in social behaviors.
Being a black woman or Latina is not a determinant in how she may approach or react. I would say that a more important influence would be the social behavior of the environment she was raised in. The black experience in Latin America was different to the experience in the USA African American women do have a very different demeanor and this also goes for women from the English, West Indies. 
Don't get me wrong! Just because I tend to look at black women due to social conditioning growing up in the hood does not mean that I am not open to having a non-black woman in my life. What counts in the long run is how well we can get along, communicate, and understand one another. I have seen this simple formula work in relationships regardless of the color of the people involved.