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

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In Peru, Novalima bangs the drums of change

There's an interesting story on the The Christian Science Monitor's website.  It's an article by Nina Roberts about the predominately Afro-Peruvian group, Novalima.   

Although titled, "In Peru, Novalima bangs the drums of change," the article ends by declaring that even though Novalima was specifically formed to promote traditional Afro-Peruvian music and to sing about the struggles of Blacks in Peru, band members do not consider themselves "any kind of example for bridging racial and economic divides."

"The racism in Peru is dangerous because it is not confronted directly," Roberts quotes a photographer as stating:  "Many black people live day-to-day; they see no future for their kids – they don't have the same opportunities as blacks in the USA."

The article continues by stating that, "Although all members agree racism is a problem in Peru, whether it's against Afro-Peruvians or Andeans, they all appear reluctant to cite Novalima as any kind of example for bridging racial and economic divides. Most just shrug their shoulders or stare blankly when asked about the band as a kind of symbol, almost as if an interracial couple had been asked if their marriage had any kind of political agenda."

3:06 pm est          Comments

New Jersey - First Northern State in the US to Apologize for Slavery

On Monday, January 7, 2008 New Jersey became the first Northern state to apologize for 150 years of slavery.

Slavery was not abolished in New Jersey until 1846.  The state had one of the largest slave populations in the Northern colonies and it did not ratify the constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery until January 1866, a month after the abolition of slavery had already become federal law.

"The resolution," according to Assemblyman William Payne (D-Essex) who sponsored the measure, "offers an apology for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its after effects in the United States of America." The resolution also addresses the impact slavery has had on Black populations in New Jersey.

It states that "the vestiges of slavery are ever before African-American citizens, from the overt racism of hate groups to the subtle racism encountered when requesting health care, transacting business, buying a home, seeking quality public education and college admission, and enduring pretextual traffic stops and other indignities."

Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Morris) states that although everyone "sees slavery as an abomination America does not and has never accepted the notion of collective guilt."

So far legislators in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have issued formal apologies for slavery.

11:25 pm est          Comments

Forgotten Step Toward Freedom: 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808

"WE Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations," noted Columbia University history professor Eric Foner in a New York Times Op-Ed.

"The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). Looming on the horizon are the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth (2009) and the sesquicentennial of the outbreak of the Civil War (2011). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited.

"Jan. 1, 1808, is worth commemorating not only for what it directly accomplished, but for helping to save the United States from a history even more terrible than the Civil War that eventually rid our country of slavery."

1:25 pm est          Comments

Exploring Latino-Black Relations's "Hispanic-American Village" has been inviting writers to look at Black and Latino relations in the United States with a series of articles in its "Commentary Series: Latino-Black Relations."

In "Explorations in Black and Tan" the author Carol Amoruso writes about a time in mid-20th century New York, when "before there was such a thing as a Latino in New York, 'Latinos' were Puerto Rican. There was a smattering of Cubans, some stragglers from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but their numbers were negligible compared to the 100,000 Puerto Ricans in the City at the time of the Second World War. A mass migration began at the end of the war, and by 1960, there were a million Puerto Ricans in New York." 

The predominance of Puerto Ricans -- and their Afro-Puerto Rican infused (yet unacknowledged) culture -- presumably allowed for a commingling of African Americans and Puerto Ricans.     

Amoruso writes:  "Rigo Andino, PhD candidate at the University of Binghamton, New York, and a Nuyorican, offers a more nuanced take. By the 60s, he says, Puerto Ricans basically had to choose between three identities -- nationalist Puerto Rican, Afro-Puerto Rican, and black:

  The black Puerto Rican... has historically had relationships with the black community, sees himself as being part of the black community, but at the same time, he reifies the Puerto Rican culture: " I'm black, but I'm Puerto Rican." Then there's the one who says," We have African blood in us, but we're different. We're Puerto Rican," and they'll uphold that to death. And then there's the one who says," I'm not black, I'm Puerto Rican," to a certain to degree, having more of a white identity than the other two. So, it's in terms of the individual Puerto Rican. You even had Puerto Ricans fighting alongside blacks against other Puerto Ricans.

5:26 pm est          Comments

London, Sugar and Slavery

As 2007 served as England's "Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act," Britain's Museum in Docklands established a permanent exhibit called the "London, Sugar & Slavery gallery."

706691_tn.jpg"The story of ‘London, Sugar and Slavery’, as the new space is

 Images from Museum in Docklands

called, is literally in the very bricks and mortar of this four storey museum, a former sugar warehouse built to store produce from the Caribbean," Sara Wajid wrote in a review of the exhibit on

"The West India Dock, where the museum is situated, was built in 1802 and paid for by sugar merchants, plantation owners and slave traders.

"Now this ambitious gallery, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£506,500) and Renaissance in the Regions (£230,000), puts the ‘trade’ firmly back into ‘slave trade’. Through 140 objects, art, film, a sound and light installation, traditional exhibitLSSBanner.jpgion panels and interactive screens the visitor is left in no doubt of the economic importance of sugar and the slave trade to London, once the fourth largest slaving port in the world."

The main point of the exhibit is to show the long denied yet fundamental role England's greatest city played in maintaining the transatlantic slave trade.

3:12 pm est          Comments

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In partnership with:
LUNDU Center for Afro-Peruvian Advancement 



By Lisa Scott


Interviews with over 30 Jamaican immigrants on their pre-migratory perceptions of New York and England

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Miriam Jimenéz Román  (Editor), Juan Flores (Editor) 


The book 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.



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.



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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