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News, views and events detailing the Black presence in the Americas.

This website is designed to keep you up to date on Life in the Black Americas.  

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Friday, December 7, 2007

New Stem Cells Reverse Sickle Cell Anemia in Mice

"Scientists have succeeded in using cells virtually identical to embryonic stem cells to 'correct' sickle cell anemia in mice," Amanda Gardner reports in the Washington Post.

By using a new technique that takes skin cells and grows them so that they can be used in place of stem cells, scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research "have cured sickle cell anemia in mice by rewinding their skin cells to an embryonic state and manipulating them to create healthy, genetically matched replacement tissue," adds Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times.

The finding holds great promise for the thousands of people who suffer sickle cell anemia -- the inherited blood disorder that makes your body produce abnormal red blood cells.

Abnormal, or sickle-shaped, red blood cells don't carry oxygen to the blood as easily as regular red blood cells; and because sickle cells don't last as long they cause anemia in patients with the disease.  Sickle cells can also get stuck in blood vessels, slow down blood flow and affect the functioning of the body's organs.

Sickle cell anemia affects people of African descent and some people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent.

The Whitehead Institute noted that "Sickle-cell anemia is a disease of the blood marrow caused by a defect in a single gene. The mouse model had been designed to include relevant human genes involved in blood production, including the defective version of that gene. 

....The blood of treated mice was tested with standard analyses employed for human patients. The analyses showed that the disease was corrected, with measurements of blood and kidney functions similar to those of normal mice."

9:09 pm est 

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Malcolm X to be honored at former Queens home

The Queens, New York-based newspaper Newsday reports that Malcolm X's last home will finally be memorialized with the creation of a commemorative bust of the slain human rights leader.malc011_a.jpg

"The Queens Council on the Arts has put out a call for artists to submit designs for the bronze or marble sculpture to be erected outside the modest home at 23-11 97th St. in East Elmhurst," Newsday reporter Merle English writes.

Local councilman Hiram Monserrate -- the first Latino ever elected to public office in Queens -- said he was inspired to have the bust made as he learned about Malcolm, particularly after viewing the 1992 Spike Lee film, "Malcolm X."

"Monserrate decided to ensure that the detached, two-story dwelling where the family lived for about five years during the 1960s was enshrined in the area's lore," the article states:

" 'Young people of this community, primarily African-Americans, knew who Malcolm X was, but they didn't know he lived in the neighborhood,' he said.

" 'The young people should take pride in what Malcolm did, and partly because he was from this neighborhood,' he added.

"The block where the house stands also is named for Malcolm X."

12:52 am est 

Carlos "Patato" Valdez:  Nov. 4, 1926 - Dec. 4, 2007  

Condolences are coming in following the passing of Carlos "Patato" Valdez.

"Patato," who was born in Havana, Cuba, passed in New York City on Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at age 81; he reportedly died of respiratory failure. patato2.jpg

In a biography of the legendary conguero, artdrum.com wrote that "Patato ...is more influential than any other conguero, based on the fact that he invented the tunable conga, a revolutionary step in music history and the most natural thing for today's players: Formerly, the traditional conga consisted in a wooden body with a nailed-on drum skin. It used to be tuned by holding a candle beneath the skin, but results were not very satisfactory as the tension of the drum skin slackened as soon as the skin cooled down again. It was Patato's idea to fix the skin to a metal ring which, connected a various points with the conga body, could be stretched and loosened with the help of a square box wrench, thus enabling the musician to tune his instrument to specific pitches." 

Valdez' LP Patato Model Conga is one of the top-selling conga drums of all time.

"Valdez dazzled an audience well into his eighties with his rumba moves," notes lpmusic.com. "He's also  the man who gave Brigitte Bardot a mambo lesson in the film 'And God Created Woman.' Valdez also expressed his understanding of melody through bass and tres, the Cuban folk guitar."

You can view a video of Patato on the congas here

12:24 am est 

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LA Times profiles São Paolo's Afro-Brasil Museum

The Los Angeles Times article "Putting the 'Afro' back in 'Afro-Brasil' " profiles São Paolo's three-year old Afro-Brasil Museum.

The museum's founder "Emanoel Araujo says he doesn't know of any other museum in Latin America devoted to Afro-Latino culture and certainly none on such a large scale with a comparable variety of objects," Times Staff Writer Reed Johnson writes in the December 3, 2007 piece.

"Araujo says that the museum still is struggling to raise its profile in a vast city of more than 10 million. Some radical black groups wish the museum would pursue a more political agenda, he says, while the influential and fast-growing Universal Church of the Kingdom of God discourages its black parishioners from taking an interest in traditional African religions, which the church associates with satanic worship.

"Like Brazil's African-descended population as a whole, the museum is searching for new ways to realize its potential." 

11:17 pm est 

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blacks in Canada want Black-focused school

Blacks in Canada have been clamoring for the establishment of schools that teach their history.

And this past November 29, 2007, CTV Toronto reported that a group of parents shut down the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) meeting when they found out that a feasibility report on the establishment of such a school has yet again been tabled.

The article, "Supporters of black-only school shut down meeting" said that "Dozens of supporters of a proposal to implement a black-focused school showed up to last night's meeting expecting to discuss details of a feasibility report on the issue.

"The TDSB spent $300,000 preparing the controversial report, which is the first comprehensive survey that includes information on race and ethnicity.

"However, when parents realized that the report would not be discussed, many erupted in outrage."

Back in 2005, Dr. George Dei wrote an opinion piece entitled "Black-Focused Schools Are About Inclusion, Not Segregation" for the Ontario, Canada newspaper, the Guelph Mercury.  In that piece, Dr. Dei the current professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT) refuted charges that a Black-focused school would be segregationist.

"A black-focused school works with the principles of social responsibility, mutual interdependence, respect, transparency and accountability.

"Classroom teachings centre the learner in her own culture, history, personal location and spiritual identity. A focused school treats education as an expression of shared community responsibility.

"Teachers work collectively with students and parents, educating about academic and social success, community belonging, social responsibility, mutual interdependence, respect for oneself and peers, and the wisdom of elders.

"The school will teach discipline by developing the learners' sense of self-worth, moral fibre and purpose within society. Teachers will invoke alternative ways to practise effective discipline without resorting to suspensions, expulsions or the summoning of law enforcement to the schoolyard.

"The school will be established within the public school system. The idea is no different than those behind the establishment of faith-based schools, all-girls schools, the French Immersion programs, specialized arts program, and even boy-only literacy classes in the junior grades.

"Some have asked if we should give in to any group that wants such a school. My response is that where there is established educational disadvantage (e.g. Aboriginal students) we must never close the door to new, or even radical educational options for youth."

7:19 pm est 

Tietê conference features "Reflections on Black Conscience"

This past November 27, 2007 the first "Conference of Reflections on Black Conscience" was held in the city of Tietê in Brazil's São Paulo state.

The seminary featured debates on subjects like the importance of affirmative action measures in Brazil, the health of Afro Brazilians and methods to combat racism.

The conference -- which was sponsored by the Plinio Moraes school; Tietê's City hall; Black Community representatives of the Tietê City Council; the Afro-Brazilian women's organization, Nzinga Mbandi; and the Afro-Brazilian group Union Negra Ituana (Unei) -- lecibrandowprojectetniax.jpegwas a landmark event for the city of Tietê, which for the first time had more than 200 people talk about issues important to its Black population.

Leci Brandão da Silva with the youth of Project Etnia X. (Photo:  Lilian Santos)

During the event, youth participating in Project Etnia X, spoke about their cultural program and the famed samba singer Leci Brandão, who is known for many famous hits including her collaboration on Rappin' Hood's 2001 hit single, "Sou Negrão/I'm Black."

5:57 pm est 


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Visit www.afropresencia.com to find listings and links to areas where you can find out about upcoming events, as well as links to articles, photos and videos on Life in the Black Americas.



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The Sound of My Footsteps:

Narratives of Migratory Jamaican immigrants

TheSoundofMyFootsteps.jpgI

Interviews with over 30 Jamaican immigrants

on their pre-migratory perceptions of New York

and England

 Click here to view and purchase the book.

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The Afro-Latin@ Reader focuses attention on a large, vibrant, yet oddly invisible community in the United States: people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. The presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States (and throughout the Americas) belies the notion that Blacks and Latin@s are two distinct categories or cultures. Afro-Latin@s are uniquely situated to bridge the widening social divide between Latin@s and African Americans. At the same time, their experiences reveal pervasive racism among Latin@s and ethnocentrism among African Americans. Offering insight into Afro-Latin@ life and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and antiracist politics, The Afro-Latin@ Reader presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black Latin@s in the United States. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.

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African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events

 by Karen Juanita Carrillo

The proof of any group's importance to history is in the detail, a fact made plain by this informative book's day-by-day documentation of the impact of African Americans on life in the United States.  One of the easiest ways to grasp any aspect of history is to look at it as a continuum. African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events provides just such an opportunity.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.

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The View from Chocó: The Afro-Colombian past, their lives in the present, and their hopes for the future 

by Karen Juanita Carrillo

 The View from Chocó: The Afro-Colombian past, their lives in the present, and their hopes for the future is an introduction to the lives of Blacks in Colombia. Afro-Colombians live in a resource-rich yet remote region of Colombia. They only recently won recognition as one of that nation's distinct ethnic groups. But Colombia's on-going civil war has led many Afro-Colombians to reach even farther than their nation's borders for recognition: many have made their way to the United States as refugees and as political activists working for peace in their homeland. The View from Chocó introduces the lives and struggles of a too-long neglected community of Colombian Blacks. 

 Click here to view and purchase the book.

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To view and purchase Kindle books, please click the following links:

The View from Chocó: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LSSNLU

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF LIFE IN THE BLACK AMERICAS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AVE92J0

 

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