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Boricuas vs. Nuyoricans—Indeed!   A Look at Afro-Latinos

By Miriam Jiménez Román

"[Puerto Rico's] reluctance to engage racism as anything other than an imported 'gringo' problem is consistent with the exceptionalist posture typical throughout Latin America, where the myth of racial democracy has continued to dominate national discourse despite well-documented evidence to the contrary," the scholar Miriam Jiménez Román writes in her article Boricuas vs. Nuyoricans—Indeed!   A Look at Afro-Latinos in ReVista:  Harvard Review of Latin America.

"Puerto Rico, identifying as culturally 'Hispanic,' has looked for its models to an increasingly Europeanized Spain and to other Spanish-speaking countries. The prevalent tendency is to ignore the neighboring Caribbean islands, full of 'negros de verdad,' and instead to focus on a Hispanoamérica ostensibly full of mestizos, indios and blancos—all bound by the same reluctance to acknowledge its strong African roots.

"Puerto Rico as a 'Latin' country exempts itself from racism even as it distances itself from its Blackness, identifying 'real' Blackness as somehow inconsistent with Hispanic history and culture—or with history and culture, more generally. This perspective has become the official line, made real by repetition rather than concrete experience or the historical record. The contradictions have provided space for and encouraged the creation of a Taino revival movement overwhelmingly composed of second and third generation stateside Puerto Ricans who, by laying claim to indigeneity and thus the most 'original' roots, propose to out-authenticate the islanders.  It is a view that leaves unexplained why a people ostensibly so proud of their racial mixture overwhelmingly reject mixed race classifications.  Revealingly, and to the consternation of many, more than 80% of islanders self-identified as white in the 2000 census.

......."[I]t is this understanding of a de-Africanized mestizaje that many Puerto Ricans cling to when they first arrive in the United States.

"It permits a scenario in which Puerto Ricans, defined as neither Black nor white, arrive in the United States devoid of racial prejudice only to be accosted by it in their new home. Puerto Ricans are presumably taught racism in the U.S. and forced to choose between Black or white identity, to the detriment of their 'true' cultural selves. This perspective, prevalent in the scholarship produced since the 1930s, is also expressed in the autobiographical novel Down These Mean Streets, the dark-skinned Piri Thomas anguishes over being 'caught up between two sticks.' Yet, it would be more accurate to say that Thomas and the others are actually stuck between the myth of racial democracy with its implicit preference for a bleached mestizaje, and the reality of African descent as a liability. The choice, if choice there were, is not between Black and white but between the myth of race-free color blindness and the reality of anti-Black racism. It is this fundamental contradiction that provided fertile ground for new ways to understand race."

3:09 pm edt          Comments

U.N. experts warn on new threats to MDG progress in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is warning that "[r]ising food, energy prices and global financial uncertainty demand new action to advance U.N. development goals in the Americas.

"Top United Nations experts on Latin America and the Caribbean warned this week that global economic shocks could throw some 16 million people of the Americas into extreme poverty, threatening important gains toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the region. Concluding a two-day meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional directors of 13 United Nations agencies promised joint action to ensure continued progress on the MDGs in the Americas over the next two years.

" 'Latin America and the Caribbean have made real advances toward fulfilling the MDGs, particularly in areas like infant mortality, hunger and poverty reduction,' said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago. 'But not all groups have benefited equally, and the new global developments are a real threat to our progress. We need to mobilize and coordinate development action among U.N. agencies and the region's governments to continue to fight poverty and promote sustainable and equitable development.' "

12:19 pm edt          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.

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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. 

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