MY BLACK ?… YOU CAN’T ERASE

By Jenay Wright —Being Black means the world. While many will try their hardest to hide this part of them. I have to embrace it. Apart of Self-Love is loving all that comes with you. If you carry that Black magic with you, it’s essential to celebrate it. There is more to being Black then your physical skin color. 

Your culture. Your roots traces back to the motherland. 

I would die to know what part of Africa my blood runs through. My Black matters and through a lifetime I’ve seen and heard people try to change that perception. Individuals try to justify that anything associated to Black is wrong. 

Repeating words like” Blacks are ghetto” or” Blacks are loud.”

As a Black woman how do you think that makes me feel. I was born into this world Black was born to a Black mother and father. Who not only…

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They Said I Had Bad Hair

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By: Suyent Rodriguez 

Me dijeron que tenia pelo bueno

Because it flowed in the wind

…when it was relaxed

“You can brush her hair all you want

but it will curl up eventually”

Mami’s coworkers said

When I was a baby she loved my hair because it was straight and soft

Little did she know,

It would in fact curl up

When I was old enough to hold my arm up

my dad’s hair was the first thing I reached for.

And his curls I would twirl on my fingers

All day long

But I never played with my mom’s hair

Little did we know,

I internalized the message

of a beauty standard that isn’t our own

Our Afrikan ancestors passed our melanin on to us,

Along with a hair that is so so good

So I let it grow,

And now your crown doesn’t fit

And your beauty standards…

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United Nations of Melanin

By Yokary Cruz-Garcia — Growing up in the Dominican Republic, people told me how lucky I was that my light-skinned father is a fourth generation Spaniard. I was the “piel morena ” with good hair, blessed because I didn’t need a “desrizado ” to straighten my hair. People made comments about my dark-skinned mother’s good fortune to “refinar la raza.” She made our family “proud” by giving birth to two children with Spaniard features.

Hearing people use terms like “advancing the race” upset me so much . Why is being black so bad? Dominicans have a hard time accepting their origins. They don’t want to admit their closeness to Haitians or accept that most of us have more African blood than Taino blood . Why is my mother’s black skin not beautiful? I had so many questions, and not many answers.

yokaryMy family has a mix of color from white to…

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Beyond the aesthetic question, kinky/curly hair is a symbol of resistance against racism: after straightening for years, woman feels empowered with natural hair

Black Women of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: The discovery of the beauty in kinky/curly hair is a process that tens of thousands of Afro-Brazilian women are experiencing these days (see here and here). Obviously more than simply an issue of beauty aesthetics, it is a symbol of the struggle against the racist concepts of the beautiful and the ugly that permeate Brazilian society. The fact that the story below is so common among black women reveals how people of visible African ancestry struggle with self-acceptance when everyone is taught to believe that certain features, such as straight hair, are better than others. Below is yet another example of the natural hair revolution that is has slowly taken place in Brazil over the past few decades. 

Raísa Azeredo

Beyond the aesthetic question, kinky/curly hair is a symbol of resistance against racism

Stories such as that of the publicist Raísa Azeredo, who started straightening…

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Twin daughters of Nigerian father and Brazilian mother, Tasha & Tracie Okereke represent ‘poor black girls from the ‘hood’; with new fashion movement, they show how to have swag on the cheap

Black Women of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: There is a common belief that says that people get extremely creative when they lack financial resources. Sometimes this creativity leads to illegal activities and sometimes it leads to so incredible movements, inventions, creations and ideologies. The young ladies we present in today’s piece are certainly showing what one can do when they can delve into their creative sides and express themselves. Brazil is an incredibly unequal country in which extreme poverty and vast wealth can often only be separated by a street or avenue. And although the population generally follows the ideology that affords a certain level of respect or disrespect according to one’s possessions and status, increasingly, Brazil’s poor and middle class black population are pushing for more acceptance and recognition of not only their very existence and humanity, but the fact that they have aspirations to do things and achieve goals…

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Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

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The chapel in the small lakeside resort community of Chascomús is at best underwhelming. Its whitewashed brick exterior is partly obstructed by a tangle of vines and bushes, and its dim, one-room interior is no more majestic than its facade. Wooden pews and an uneven dirt floor are scarcely illuminated by sunlight from a single window. The gray, cracked, dusty walls are adorned with crosses, photos, icons — things people leave to mark their pilgrimage. A low front altar is layered with thick candle wax, flowers and a pantheon of black saints, Madonnas and African deities like the sea goddess Yemanja of the Yoruba religion.

Despite its unkempt state, this chapel, the Capilla de los Negros, attracts a little over 11,000 tourists each year who come to see a church named for the freed slaves who built it in 1861.

The chapel is “where we can locate ourselves and point out the truth that we are here,” said Soledad Luis, an Afro-Argentine from the tourism office who led me through the space. She knows it well. It sits on a plot her great-grandfather helped secure, and her family still gathers there weekly for a meal.

Capilla de los Negros feels off the beaten path, but it is part of a list of slave sites in Argentina created in 2009 by Unesco. Its inclusion signals the growing consciousness of African heritage in Argentina, seemingly the most Europeanized country in South America.

Argentina at one time had a robust African presence because of the slaves who were brought there, but its black population was decimated by myriad factors including heavy casualties on the front lines in the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay in the 1860s; a yellow fever epidemic that rich, white Argentines largely escaped; and interracial offspring who, after successive generations, shed their African culture along with their features. And European immigration swelled the white population — 2.27 million Italians came between 1861 and 1914.

The demographic shift has been sharp. In 1800, on the eve of revolution with Spain, blacks made up more than a third of the country, 69,000 of a total population of 187,000, according to George Reid Andrews’s 2004 book “Afro-Latin America.” In 2010, 150,000 identified themselves as Afro-Argentine, or a mere 0.365 percent of a population of 41 million people, according to the census, the first in the country’s history that counted race.

But the culture the slaves brought with them remained. And in recent years, Argentina has gone from underselling its African roots to rediscovering them, as academics, archaeologists, immigrants and a nascent civil rights movement have challenged the idea that African and Argentine are mutually exclusive terms.

Some see creating tourist trails, with plaques and brochures, as a way to educate locals and tourists alike about this long-suppressed history. In my several visits the last few years and during my time living in the country, the trail led me to the other Argentina, one that is just starting to be woven into the country’s narrative about itself.

MY FIRST STOP required some dancing shoes. I dropped in on a tango lesson at the Movimiento Afrocultural on Buenos Aires’s Calle Defensa in San Telmo. The cultural institution was started in 2009 to promote African and African-Argentine heritage. As I scanned its events calendar, there were many activities that had an obvious African bent, but tango?

“There are no doubts that tango has an African origin,” the teacher, Veronica Rueco, told me. Together, we watched locals and tourists practice their dance moves in the center, a converted warehouse whose walls were lined with candombe drums carved with images of slave ship hulls filled with chained human cargo. “The only doubt is the exact story of how it came about.”

The dance form, she went on to note, was created in the late 1800s, the result of a fusion of African and European immigrant culture. (The term tango is thought to originate from a Niger-Congo term that survived the trans-Atlantic passage along with the slaves, according to Dr. Erika Edwards of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.)

The center’s director, an Afro-Uruguayan named Diego Bonga, leads a drum circle that draws a diverse crowd. The night I attended there were Porteños (from Buenos Aires), Chileans, Uruguayans and even a woman from Iran. The curious peered through the gates at us. Those onlookers are part of the party on Sundays, the neighborhood’s busiest day, when antiques vendors line Defensa, and Plaza Dorrego becomes an open-air milonga, or tango salon, with performers, locals and tourists dancing past midnight. That day, Movimiento Afrocultural holds a candombe parade. Spectators become participants, dancing on the cobblestones in the jittery shake of a murga comparsa, an Argentine dance popular during Carnival season, also rooted in African culture.

read the rest via http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/travel/argentina-rediscovers-its-african-roots.html?error_code=4201&error_message=User+canceled+the+Dialog+flow#_=_

Jesús Colón -Little things are big

This a short story by a writer called Jesús Colón (1901–1974) An Afro-puertorican writer known as the father of Nuyorican Movement.

I’ve been thinking; you know, sometimes one thing happens to change your life, how you look at things, how you look at yourself. I remember one particular event. It was when? 1955 or ’56…a long time ago. Anyway, I had been working at night. I wrote for the newspaper and, you know, we had deadlines. It was late after midnight on the night before Memorial Day. I had to catch the train back to Brooklyn; the West side IRT. This lady got on to the subway at 34th and Penn Station, a nice looking white lady in her early twenties. Somehow she managed to push herself in with a baby on her right arm and a big suitcase in her left hand. Two children, a boy and a girl about three and five years old trailed after her.

Anyway, at Nevins Street I saw her preparing to get off at the next station, Atlantic Avenue. That’s where I was getting off too. It was going to be a problem for her to get off; two small children, a baby in her arm, and a suitcase in her hand. And there I was also preparing to get off at Atlantic Avenue. I couldn’t help but imagine the steep, long concrete stairs going down to the Long Island Railroad and up to the street. Should I offer my help? Should I take care of the girl and the boy, take them by their hands until they reach the end of that steep long concrete stairs?

Courtesy is important to us Puerto Ricans. And here I was, hours past midnight, and the white lady with the baby in her arm, a suitcase and two white children badly needing someone to help her. 

I remember thinking; I’m a *Negro and a Puerto Rican. Suppose I approach this white lady in this deserted subway station late at night? What would she say? What would be the first reaction of this white American woman? Would she say: ‘Yes, of course you may help me,’ or would she think I was trying to get too familiar or would she think worse? What do I do if she screamed when I went to offer my help? I hesitated. And then I pushed by her like I saw nothing as if I were insensitive to her needs. I was like a rude animal walking on two legs just moving on, half running along the long the subway platform, leaving the children and the suitcase and the woman with the baby in her arms. I ran up the steps of that long concrete stairs in twos and when I reached the street, the cold air slapped my warm face.

Perhaps the lady was not prejudiced after all. If you were not that prejudiced, I failed you, dear lady. If you were not that prejudiced I failed you; I failed you too, children. I failed myself. I buried my courtesy early on Memorial Day morning. 

So, here is the promise I made to myself back then: if I am ever faced with an occasion like that again, I am going to offer my help regardless of how the offer is going to be received. Then I will have my courtesy with me again.”

Via https://www.facinghistory.org/for-educators/educator-resources/readings/little-things-are-big

Goddesses in Ayê: Model and fashion designer Aline Andrade exalts African culture and black beauty in photo shoot

Black Women of Brazil

1Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes photos speak for themselves. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if that is true, there are no words necessary for today’s post! Simply put, the photos below represent the essence of black beauty in a tastefully done artistic layout. Aline’s look and presence fits in very well with our series called “Faces of Afro Brazil“, other photo essays presented here and represents the representation we seek to share of Black Women of Brazil! Congratulations to Aline Andrade and Lincon Justo in their collaborative effort!

Goddesses in Ayê

Check out a gorgeous fashion editorial inspired by the Goddesses in Ayê Iansã and Oxum, along the river. A work that exalts African culture and black beauty.

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by Francine Moura

Recently the photographer Lincon Justo in partnership with model and fashion designer Aline Andrade collaborated in the photo shoot entitled Deusas…

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“I grew up without having a black couple that represented me,” says actress Taís Araújo. Starring with real life husband in new series, pair has become a reference for black couples

Black Women of Brazil

Actor Lázaro Ramos and wife actress Taís Araújo star in the Globo TV novela 'Mister Brau' Actor Lázaro Ramos and wife actress Taís Araújo star in the Globo TV novela ‘Mister Brau’

Note from BW of Brazil: Actress Taís Araújo has been featured or mentioned in a number of previous posts and for good reason. She is perhaps the most accomplished of black actresses in Brazil and the holder of a number of titles of the type, “the first black woman to”…She is a shining star for black Brazilian women who are starved for role models in Brazil’s ultra Eurocentric media that represents anything but the physical diversity of the Brazilian population. Over the past few years, and particularly of late, since the announcement and debut of a new novela in which she stars with real-life husband Lázaro Ramos, the couple has become a reference for many Afro-Brazilians who recognize the necessity of seeing black couples in real life and in the media. As…

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