Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Friendly US/Cuba Relations

Any animosity between Cuban people and the United States lie solely with the two governments, not the ordinary, everyday people; at least not with Cubans.

When I visited Cuba, I never noticed any animosity from Cuban people when they realized I'm American. I remember people practicing their English with me, or simply shaking my hand saying, “nice to meet you!” In the worse case scenario, some would try to hustle me and get me to spend my money on them, considering their abysmal economy in relation to ours. This ridiculous trade embargo against Cuba only makes matters worse; not for the Castro government, but for every day people, including children who have no beef with the U.S.
Any animosity between Cuban people and the United States lies solely with the two governments.. Cubans love it when American visitors come to get to know their country, spend their money, and bring their t-shirts, CDs, and other American-style items they no longer need to give away. I was sorry that I didn’t bring more things to give away. A professional dancer gave me a free private salsa lesson because I gave him a jazz CD. The seven-year old child of a woman I developed a rapport with, high-fived me as though I gave him a $20 bill when I gave him a package of pencils, pens, and writing paper.
Almost everyone in this Spanish-speaking city of Havana wore English-speaking t-shirts like it’s a fad. I remember meeting a woman on the malecón (the waterfront) wearing a New York Knicks jersey, and I shouted to her in Spanish, HEY, THAT'S MY TEAM :-) She looked at me bewildered as it turned out that she did not know what she was wearing. I just hope that when this political riff-raff is over between the US and Cuban governments, that Cuban people do not become too Americanized. The island has much to offer in terms of culture, which attracts people, like me, from all over the world.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cuba Converted Black Panther into a Patriotic American

 Afro Latino     black Latino     Cuba
 When I visited Cuba, it was not long enough to see what the real Cuba was like, and on my way back to the airport, I felt heart broken to leave so soon. I used to be in love with the island and was an admirer of Fidel Castro. The primary reason was while other Latin-American leaders sweep the racism in their countries under the rug, Castro spoke out against it, and made changes where blacks had educational and professional opportunities traditionally reserved for whites.

I felt so much at home on the island, considering my love for the diversity of its music that I felt tempted to defect and spend the rest of my life there. I thought Cuban refugees to the USA were overwhelmingly upper-class and had to leave Cuba to maintain their high standards of living and oppress the less fortunate like they did back home.

Upon my return to the US, I experienced hostilities from Cuban-Americans who felt I was supporting the Castro regime. One was a black women named Lydia Limeón who lashed out bitterly. After calming down, she recommended a book entitled Hijack by former Black Panther Tony Bryant who hijacked a plane to Havana, Cuba in the name of “revolution.” When the Cubans got through with him, he came back to the US a patriotic American with political views leaning to the right. This video will do a better job than I ever could to explain why.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Afro-Latina All-American Swimmer

  Afro Latina   Black Latina   Afro-Puerto Rican   Black Puerto Rican
Maritza Correia was the first Afro-Latina of Puerto Rican heritage to set an American and world swimming record in the Olympics."Ritz,"as she is called, was born on December 23, 1981, and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico where her parents, from Guyana in South America resettled. At the age of seven, Ritz was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, and her doctor recommended that she take swimming lessons to improve her condition. Once Maritza “Ritz” Correia got started, she never left the pool.

After her family moved to Tampa, Florida, Maritza Correia went out for the swimming team at the high school she was attending, Tampa Bay Technical, and won the U.S. National High School Championship in the 50-meter freestyle, and became a six-time Florida High School State Champion in five swimming events. At the age of 16, Ritz became a member of the USA National Junior Team that competed in Sweden, and at the age of 18, competed on the USA Short Course World Championship Team in Hong Kong.


After high school graduation, Correia got accepted into the University of Georgia and joined the Lady Bulldogs' Swimming and Diving Team, winning first place in the 400 meter freestyle relay, and earned a share of the SEC Commissioner's Trophy for high point honors. She was the first and only swimmer in SEC history to win an SEC title in all Freestyle events. During her college career she was a 27-time All-American, and 11-ime NCAA Champion.

Although, she competed in the trials for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, she missed making the team, but won a gold medal in the 800 meter freestyle and two bronze medals in the medley relay, and 400 meter freestyle relay in the World Championships held in Japan.

In 2002, Correia became the national champion in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and was a member of two winning relay teams at the NCAA Championships held in Austin, Texas. She set the NCAA, American and U.S. Open records with a time of 21.69 in the 50-yard freestyle, and earned seven All-American certificates.

Correia graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Sociology in 2005. The year she won three gold medals at the 2005 Summer University Games in Izmir, Turkey. The Georgia graduate was a 27-time All-American athlete..

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blacks in Uruguay

When we think of nations that contain members of the African diaspora, we think of the United States, Jamaica, Haiti, but we seldom think of the South American nation of Uruguay, where many, including me, thought of it as being a white nation. 

Yet Uruguay, like the rest of the nations in the Western world, enslaved Africans who eventually ended up playing important roles in Uruguay's life and culture, which includes the second-largest black press in Latin America, a black political party, and volumes of other social and civic groups. Today, according to the Bradt Uruguay Travel Guide, many of the black Uruguayans have assimilated into the rest of society.

Black Uruguayans contributed greatly to Uruguay's economy, society, and culture primarily through slave labor. In addition, black Uruguayans were the soldiers who fought and died for their country's independence from Spanish rule, and later defending against aggressive foreign forces wanting to invade the country during the early parts of the 19th century. The music, literature, and art of black Uruguayans has been enriching, enlightening, and entertaining since colonial times, and loved by all citizens, regardless of color. 
 A street in the historical black community 
of Barrio Sur of Montevideo, Uruguay, 

When slavery in Uruguay ended, Barrio Sur, a community in Montevideo, the nation's capital, became a predominantly black community where a revival took place of some of the rituals of their African heritage, which eventually evolved into what is known as Candombé. On the 6th of January they held a special ritual parade called "Llamada de Los Reyes" giving honor to the eldest members of the community. 

By the year 1800, the black population of Uruguay was estimated at 25%, and candombe's origins had evolved from the early19th century being perceived as a threat to upper class whites who sought to ban it. 

The roots of Candombé can be traced to the Bantu people of Africa. As time passed, blacks gave up these rituals to focus on assimilating with the rest of Uruguay's population. However in more recent times, these rituals have, once again, been revived and became an integral part of Uruguayan culture. Presently, Barrio Sur is still connected with Uruguay's black culture and Candombe is regurarly played on weekends. 

 The roots of Candombé can be traced to the Bantu people of Africa

The development of Uruguay's black journalism was partly the result of the country’s economic and educational achievements during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Because of meat and wool exports, Uruguay became one of South America’s most successful national economies, along with having the highest rates of literacy and newspaper readership.

As in other Latin American countries, Uruguay had its share of black civic and political uprisings, one being an organization called Mundo Afro (Black World). In 1980, a Uruguayan writer reported that in the downtown commercial districts of Montevideo, there are less than 10 black employees. Mundo Afro was able to successfully get the Uruguayan government to gather racial data, which as a result of these facts, and other political pressures, the Uruguayan government committed itself to addressing racial discrimination and inequality.  

In 2003 the municipal government of Montevideo created an advisory unit for Afro-Descendent Rights; and then President Tabaré Vázquez (2005-10) appointed a presidential advisor for Afro-Uruguayan affairs and created programs for Afro-Uruguayan women and Afro-Uruguayan youth in the Ministry of Social Development. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Do Latinos Look Like?

Multi-media journalist Dash Harris interviews people on the streets of New York City to identify Latinos based on physical appearance. Do stereotypes guide people’s perception of a certain “look” of Latino ethnicity? From personal observation through traveling as well as growing up in New York City, is that Latinos come in all colors and represent many ethnicities, including African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and European. This video really surprise me. I was under the impression that New Yorkers knew better!
black Latino       Afro Latino       black Hispanic       Afro Hispanic

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Perú Facing Up to Racial Disrimination?

Thursday 12 July 2012
black Latino       Afro Latino       black Hispanic       Afro HispanicCesar y Maribel 

Peru has been slow to tackle inequalities that left African-Peruvians with limited job prospects but that is set to change

from the Guardian

For many tourists visiting Peru, the hotel doorman is likely to be their first encounter with an African-Peruvian. It is a job usually filled by young black men in Peru. They also often occupy roles as chauffeurs or coffin bearers. For activist Jorge Ramírez, this is another example of the structural racism in Peruvian society, which means black people have extremely limited job prospects. "The prejudice is that that's all we're good for," said Ramírez, president of the Black Association for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (Asonedh).

Now, it is hoped, change is at hand. For the first time, a government body will be set up dedicated solely to policies that favour Peru's African-descended population. Between 8% and 10% of Peru's population of nearly 30 million claim African heritage, a smaller proportion than in Colombia but greater than in Andean neighbours Ecuador and Bolivia.

Under the umbrella of the vice-ministry of interculturality, which is part of Peru's culture ministry, a tiny team of civil servants are working to reduce the "invisibility" of the descendants of African slaves in the country.
The approach is three-pronged, explains Rocío Muñoz, one of the team's two members: a multi-sectorial development plan, which will include public policies and affirmative action; a nationwide census to provide up-to-date statistics on the African population and its level of health, education and employment; and the establishment of a permanent office – the office for African-descendant policy in Peru.

"Neighbouring countries have made much greater advances than Peru," says Muñoz. Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia all recognize their African-descendant populations within their constitutions and have dedicated policies for their development, something Peru has yet to do. In a 2011 report, Peru's human rights ombudsman, La Defensoría del Pueblo, declared Peru's African-descendant population to be in a situation of "vulnerability, deferment and invisibility", which impacted negatively on their human rights, especially in health and education.

It said that just 2% of those who suffer illnesses attend health clinics or hospitals. Only 2% of African-Peruvian students complete a university education, more than half fail to finish secondary education, and 13.8% do not complete primary education, it said. Hugo Nopo, co-author of Discrimination in Latin America: An Economic Perspective, a book sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, found that in Latin America the average wealth gap between the white elite and indigenous and African-descended people was 38%. He said: "The inequalities in access to education services later become inequalities in human capital, in access to labour markets, in the ability to generate wealth, and in general the ability to live a full and decent life within society.

"The best policy to provide equal opportunities is education. The education given to people from the earliest years is key for their later development. In that sense, minorities are at a clear disadvantage faced with the majority and public policies have done little to remedy that situation." Nopo says state-backed equal opportunities programmes in Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, although "well-intentioned", have done "little or nothing" to improve the status of African-descended minorities in those countries. He added: "In Latin America in general, we have to confront a historic debt. This can't be resolved with short-term remedial policies like anti-discrimination laws or quotas in different aspects of public life. The solution has to be long term, attacking the root of the problem. That's why I'm so convinced that education is the only way."

The statistics, albeit incomplete, show African-Peruvians suffer more health problems, and are poorer and less literate than the national average – in a country where a third of the population live in poverty, measured as living on $1 or less per person per day. Black Peruvians do not have the same opportunities as others, says Muñoz, an expert on African-Latino issues who believes a "colonial way of thinking continues in what is an apparently democratic society". "Without doubt, there are a series of stereotypes which have confined Afro-descended men and women to certain types of work," she says. "There's a real need to generate opportunities for them. In many cases, they just don't have other employment options."

In November 2009, Peru became the first Latin American nation to apologise to its black population for centuries of abuse, exclusion and discrimination. It also admitted discrimination continues in the present day.
But it was not until Ollanta Humala became president last year with the promise of "social inclusion for all" that the African-Peruvian issue was incorporated into a ministerial agenda. The appointment of the African-Peruvian singer Susana Baca as culture minister was seen as a good start. She was celebrated as Peru's first black government minister, although her tenure lasted only five months.

But although Humala officially implemented the International Labour Organisation's convention 169 on indigenous and tribal communities, African-Peruvians were left off the agenda until now, says Owan Lay, a researcher at Peru's vice-ministry for interculturality. On 4 June, African-Peruvian culture day celebrated the birthday of Nicomedes Santa Cruz, a seminal black poet and musician. But activists argue that, although their fellow Peruvians appreciate their contribution to music, culture and sport, they do not recognise their abilities in other spheres.

"People need to understand that we don't just know how to dance or play musical instruments; we can also think and fill important posts," said Ramírez, who is impatient for concrete action to be taken. "For years we've been waiting, and Afro people continue to be humiliated, mistreated and excluded. If the state doesn't take action now, we'll continue to be victims of this structural racism."