Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shattering the Black vs. Brown Paradigm

Here's another aspect of the whole mythical Black vs. Brown game the media loves to exploit.

Alisa starts:
To this day, the vast majority of people in the African diaspora live south of the U.S. border, in Latin American countries from Brazil to Colombia to Cuba and, yes, even Mexico. The song "La Bamba," in fact, was brought to the Veracruz region of Mexico by Africans enslaved to the Spanish. The song likely has roots in the Bembe (Bantu) culture from what is now the Congo. This is only a stone's throw, geographically, from the Kenya of Obama's father's birth.

How quickly we forget in this country. How brutally we refuse to learn.

The New York Times not only ignores completely the African history of Latin America by positioning "blacks" against "Latinos" as if none of us were both. To do so is enormously irresponsible because it dissolves from public consciousness the fact that African slavery was a crime committed all across this hemisphere, by colonial Europeans who spoke English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. The story also erroneously portrays Latinos as a race unto themselves - an error egregious enough to be stated in our own census bureau's definition of Hispanic as a person "of any race". Including "black".
And Liza expands:

Let's be frank : every single country in the Americas had slavery. Slavery is encoded into the DNA of anybody born in this hemisphere, whether their families where part of the slave economy or not.

That there are many latinos who don't want to recognize their African ancestry? I give you that. Racism --and it's opposite, self-hatred-- is part of the fabric of the cultures of this hemisphere, not just the United States of America.

The difference though is that, racism in latino culture is not manifested as a hatred of blacks for being blacks. Many migrant workers who come to this country have heard of the trials and tribulations of the African American community. The issues of "tension" that Nagourney crapped about, have to do with the economic facts that led to the 1900 riots in Puerto Ricos : Of an American government with imperialist tendencies using every dirty capitalist trick in the book to maintain the lower end of the labor spectrum weakened in order to ensure a never ending pool of labor at 'slave-like' wages.

I highly recommend taking the time to read both posts fully - they are beautifully woven with storytelling and passion. I really love the internet because it gives us a chance to learn, to love and to hopefully grow in our understanding of a very diverse world.

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