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African Roots Still Run Deep For Blacks on Mexican Coast

Alexis Okeowo writes for The Washington Post about Mexico's Afrodescent community in Costa Chica:

"You have to really want to go to Chacahua. The island is nestled along Mexico's Costa Chica, a 200-mile-long strip that straddles the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero on the Pacific Ocean; the nearest hub is Puerto Escondido, a developed beach in Oaxaca.

"After your flight from Mexico City or Cancun, the easy part of the trip is over. From Puerto Escondido, you need to reach El Zapotalito, a tiny spot on the coast. The land journey can be done by private taxi or, for the braver, by public transportation. From El Zapotalito you can take a boat to Chacahua.

"Luckily, I did want to go. I was on the hunt not only for an idyllic beach getaway, but also for a hidden group of people who call themselves Mexicanos negros (Black Mexicans). The end of slavery after Mexico's independence from Spain left Black Mexicans throughout the country, but today black towns remain only in remote areas. The African part of Mexican history was neglected by the new Mexican leadership, leaving slave descendants to wonder about their origins.

"Yet with the rise of tourism to Costa Chica in recent years, modernity has slowly come to the fishing villages that rest on a sultry, stunning stretch of the Pacific coast. In Chacahua, virgin beaches, glittering lagoons and fresh-seafood-only menus have created an alluring destination that is still little known -- much like its inhabitants."

5:28 pm edt          Comments

Orishas Avoid Malls

Journalist Alfredo Prieto writes on Havana about how santeria and its practitioners continue to be misunderstood in the United States:

"Luis Perez Hernandez is a babalawo priest of the Afro-Cuban santeria religion who was arrested last August in his suburban home in Westchester (outside of New York City) for cruelty to animals.

"As evidence against him and his son, the police presented a beheaded dove and goat. In the family's backyard there were also more than a hundred other animals, still alive but without anything to eat or drink.

"It was even cited that Perez Hernandez intended to drink their blood. However, in addition to being untrue, these accusations reveal the level of ignorance concerning the religious practices. Firstly because, as believers and those versed in this religion know that animals must be well taken care of before the sacrifice; and secondly, because it is taboo to drink their blood, which is exclusively reserved for the deities.

"This is not an atypical case, but another of the acts of harassment that babalawo priests have suffered in the United States, especially since the 1990s when santeria expanded throughout that country, essentially as a consequence of that latest wave of Cuban emigration."

8:03 am edt          Comments

Race Matters in Cuba

"A recurrent fallacy in the discussion of racial consciousness being raised in Cuba at the moment is the fact of speaking only about that which concerns blacks when dealing with the issue of race," Cuban psychologist Sandra Alvarez Ramirez notes in an article by Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) and the Havana Times.

"It is as if restricting the analysis of what is occurring to negritude. This aspect can be explained by the fact that black people, for the most part, have been those who have historically experienced the particularities of racism and racial discrimination in Cuba, and how this has soaked deeply into current Cuban society."

7:51 am 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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