Culture

Afro-Latinos Continue To Make Huge Impacts On Global Politics

World history books do not always include large sections to detail the accomplishments of Afro-Latinos across North America, South America, and the Caribbean. So many Afro-Latinos have thrown their hats in the rings and led their countries through difficult moments and elevated the political discourse needed to push contries forward.

Cecilia Tait

Olympic silver medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Cecilia Tait became a champion off the volleyball court as well in her native Peru when she entered politics 10 years later. After dipping her toes in local politics, she eventually became the first Afro-Peruvian elected to the country’s Congress.

María Isabel Urrutia

Another Afro-Latina Olympic medalist from South America who went into politics once retiring from sports is Colombian María Isabel Urrutia. She won her country’s first Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games and then transferred into politics, holding a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia.

Julio Pinedo

In 2007, Julio Pinedo, a direct descendant of African slaves in Bolivia, was officially recognized by La Paz as ceremonious king of his Afro-Bolivian community. 

“He is a symbolic figure,” Spanish photographer Susana Giron told the New York Times in 2015. “For the Afro-Bolivians, he is important because he gives them a cultural identity. It shows they are a people descended from Africa. It is about their history and culture.”

Benedita da Silva

After Brazil’s military dictatorship ended, black Brazilians started to gain prominence in politics. One such example is Benedita da Silva, Brazil’s first female senator. Her resilient attitude was honed throughout her life, including when she received her high school diploma at the age of 40 and went to college at the same time her daughter was studying.

Her political resume includes becoming a senator, as well as the first Afro-Brazilian governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and Minister of the Secretary of State. 

She is also a fierce advocate for women’s rights in Latin America.

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat is a Colombian politician, engineer and college professor. She was appointed in 2007 to serve as Colombia’s Minister of Culture, thus becoming the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold a cabinet position in her country, also the youngest. As part of her work as Minister of Culture, she has put Colombia’s name on the map, literally. She has acquired spots for her home country to exhibit at book fairs, film festivals, concerts, and conferences around the world.

Luis Gilberto Murillo

Another Afro-Colombian engineer who had a successful career in politics is Luis Gilberto Murillo. 

In 1998, Murrillo won the governorship for the state of Chocó, becoming one of the youngest people to do so. However, he was stripped from his governorship in 1999 due to what some newspapers and residents called a controversial court ruling.

Murrillo was kidnapped in 2000 in Colombia and after being released a few hours later, he fled the country with his family. He returned in 2011 after mostly working in Washington D.C. and continued to work in politics, most recently as the former minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in Colombia. 

He continues to be outspoken for issues on environmental sustainability and has not let the bumps along the road deter him from fighting for causes he is passionate about.

Pío Pico

Alta California’s final governor under Mexican rule was Afro-Mexican rancher and politician Pío de Jesús Pico. He served twice as governor and once he gained U.S. citizenship, was asked to be part of the Los Angeles Common Council, although he did not assume the office. If you’re in Los Angeles, you might recognize him as the namesake of Pico Boulevard. 

READ: Latino Politicians Sound Off Over Tom Brokaw Saying Latinos Need To Be Better At Assimilating In The US

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

indyamoore / Instagram

While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Things That Matter

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Whittney Williams, a young Taiwanese Republican and formerly undocumented immigrant supports Donald Trump’s immigration policy and is running for Congress in Michigan. Despite living in the United States without her papers for 16 years, she is happy to throw Latinxs under the bus or into alligator-infested moats to score political points with a racist constituency that likely would never vote for an Asian American.

As of 2019, there are only 13 Asian-Americans in Congress and three on the Senate — all of them are Democrats. Asian American representation is sorely lacking in the American political system, but is Williams the person best suited to advocate for their interests? That’s not up for me to decide. However, her stance on immigration ain’t it. 

There are currently 102 women serving in congress out of 435 congresspeople. Guess how many of those women are republicans: 13 out of 102

The Republican Party has been pursuing legislation that many consider racist and sexist. When you align with them as a woman of color they don’t suddenly start to align with your politics, rather they expect you to align with theirs which means possibly supporting racist, sexist, and xenophobic policies.

Williams talks about how difficult it was growing up undocumented but her policy positions will make life for currently undocumented immigrants even more difficult.

“I was brought to America from Taiwan as a 10-year-old girl without knowing a word of English,” Williams says in a campaign ad. “My family overstayed their visas, and as a result, I spent the next 16 years living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant.” 

Williams was undocumented against her will like many children are. Her parents entered the United States using tourist visas in 1992, but stayed long after the visas expired. Williams did not acquire U.S. citizenship until 2013 after getting married. 

“If someone knew (about your immigration status), if you told somebody, they could take advantage of you. It’s a constant fear. And you’re constantly told, ‘Oh, you’re an illegal immigrant,’ not, you know, human. That takes a toll on you as you hear that constantly,” she said on MLive. 

Wow, sounds terrible I guess we should punish everyone in similar situations because reasons… 

Williams wants to “stop the flow” of immigrants. 

Williams wants to curtail immigration in the U.S. and believes building a wall on the southern border would “stop the flow” of migrants. 

“When you look at a problem, of course, you want to stop it first, so you can resolve what’s in here, because if you keep having this flow … this number here is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she told MLive.

The United States is not so densely populated that it can’t afford more immigrants. In fact, immigrants are necessary for our labor force due to low birth rates. So far, Trump’s wall has cost taxpayers $6.2 billion and only 60 miles, of the 2000-mile border, have had their pre-existing fences built. That money can’t go to immigrants? Trump’s trip to play golf have cost taxpayers $340 million. That money can’t go to immigrants? Immigrants are not a burden on our society and these GOP morons need to stop touting this inaccurate talking point. 

You want to stop immigration, then the U.S. needs to support folks in other countries so they don’t have to flee. Few politicians so much as mention this besides Julian Castro who proposed a Marshall Plan in Central America — oh, and he’s a Democrat by the way. 

A broken clock is right twice a day. Williams says Democrats don’t do enough for immigrants. 

Williams says Democrats don’t go far enough on immigration — and I agree. The Obama administration deported more immigrants than any other administration. That will always be a blemish on his and the Democrat’s legacy. 

 “Politicians knew of us: They called us ‘Dreamers,’ and quite frankly, used us as political props for their own personal gain,” she said. 

Yes, the Democratic party likes to trot out immigrants and other marginalized people for political clout but rarely listens to us — but that is not the point. While the Democratic party is imperfect, it is a false equivalency to suggest they are pursuing policies that throw children in cages and would suggest shooting migrants in the legs.

The Democratic party is changing, it has hope to be reformed. We have A.O.C., Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Deb Haaland, and an ever-evolving coalition of people of color and immigrants, indigenous folk, and women who are fighting institutionalists with us and for us right now.

Meanwhile, the Republican party just announced it would be stealing DNA from detained immigrants and entering it into a criminal database. Williams, whose side are you really on?