Education and EZLN

Education is foremost in transforming a people and society. This is especially true in regards to the reversing of the effects of over 500 years of colonization. Education restores a sense of “self” to people and re-orientates them to their history, current state of being and future. Education changes the way people think and process information and ultimately enables them to be more self-determined and self-sufficient.

Often times, we see the protests and demonstrations of our people against oppression and government tyranny. However, we can never depend on the media to provide the clearest and whole picture of what it is we are striving for. The media is fueled by sensationalism and often times are more directed towards making our attempts at social democracy appear frivolous and useless.

This is apparent in media coverage of the Zapatista’s of Mexico. While they may have brought national and international attention to themselves by their takeover of Mexico City in the early 1990’s in protest of the North American Free Trade Agreement, their focus and objective has strayed away and they remain diligent in their struggle for self-determination. Below is a link to the website of the “ZAPATISTA REBEL AUTONOMOUS EDUCATION SYSTEM OF NATIONAL LIBERATION OF THE HIGHLANDS OF CHIAPAS”.

“In this website, we present the educational project of the indigenous people of the Highlands region of Chiapas, recognizing that education can come and be organized from the heart of our people. To educate is to learn, which is to say, “to educate by learning.” We can educate students –who educate us- so that those of us who are in favor of life can educate each other mutually and so construct those many worlds of which we all dream. We can say that we know how to educate those who educate us, that is why our school is for the entire world and is why we say “for everyone everything, nothing for us.”
This is the form of the autonomy of our people, of our culture, and in this way we can recreate the different languages that have never existed for those who dominate, while our faces have been denied for being the color of earth.
Traditional education, as it has been up till now, has not understood that it can be synthesized in one word, which is REALITY or CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING.”




ThanksTaking Day

Peace! The following article was originally posted on a Nation of Gods and Earths listserv by my brother in Allah's Mathematics, Allah Divine. Much love!

The Lie

The Pilgrims left England seeking religious freedom. When they landed here, the righteous Pilgrims met wild Indians who soon became their friends. They learned to work together even though they had different languages and cultures.

In October of 1621, the Pilgrim settlers and the Indians of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts celebrated their good harvest and had a feast together. They each brought foods, which they shared with each other, in the first Thanksgiving, a celebration thanking God for taking care of their people. Thanksgiving is a wonderful way to remember all that we should be thankful for, and a reminder that white people and people of color can unite and be happy together. Yeah Turkey!

The Truth

This is how it really went.

The Pilgrims may have been religious radicals who were driven out of England, but they were never known for being "righteous" people. Although we are often taught that they were "fleeing religious persecution, " most schoolbooks don't mention that their voyage was being funded by a trading company. The trading company and the Pilgrims were interested in a lot more than religious freedom.

In 1620, the Pilgrims were pleased to find the ruins of a former Native village of the Pawtuxet Nation. They settled here and built a colony which they called the "Plymouth Plantation."

The Pawtuxet people had lived there in peace for thousands of years. That is, until the English settlers began arriving. In 1614, an English soldier named John Smith arrived and began taking Indians to sell into slavery in Europe. Another common practice among Europeans was to give "Smallpox Infected Blankets" to the Indians.

The settlers would offer the blankets as a friendly gift, secretly knowing what would soon happen to their new "friends." Since smallpox was unknown on this continent before the arrival of the Europeans, Indians did not have any immunity to the deadly disease. In a short time, smallpox would wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. The Europeans thanked their God for the Indians' demise. A colony founder remarked in a letter back to England: "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So…God hath thereby cleared our title to this place."

By the time the Pilgrims arrived six years later, only one Pawtuxet had survived, a man named Squanto, who had spent time as a slave to the English.

When the Pilgrims met Squanto, they were sick and near starving. Since Squanto understood the language and customs of the Puritans, he taught them to use the corn growing wild from the abandoned fields of the village, taught them how to fish, and taught them about the foods, herbs and fruits of the land. Basically, Squanto saved their lives. Without his help, Plymouth Plantation would not have survived its first winter.

Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty between the Puritans and the Wampanoag Nation, a very large Native nation which totally surrounded the new Plymouth Plantation. Because of Squanto's help, the Puritans enjoyed almost 15 years of peaceful harmony with the surrounding Indians, and the Pilgrims prospered.

At the end of their first year, the Puritans held a great feast following the harvest of the food that Squanto had taught them how to farm. The feast honored Squanto and their friends, the Wampanoags. The first Thanksgiving was a day of the Pilgrims giving thanks for the Indians who helped them and took care of them. However, the Indians who were there were not even invited! Actually, a few days before this feast took place, a squad of Pilgrims led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!

The feast was followed by three days of "Thanksgiving" celebrating their good fortune. The Pilgrims drank even more than their daily custom of half a gallon of beer, and engaged in drunken acts of violence and sodomy. They were having a good old-fashioned European party.

Soon after this first "Thanksgiving, " in 1629, the Puritans began a march inland from the shore. Using *Bible Passages* to justify their every move, they seized land, took the strong and young Indians as slaves to work their land, and killed the rest.

They destroyed their "friends" the Wampanoag pretty easily. Their chief was beheaded, and his head placed on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts - where it remained for 24 years.

But when they reached the Connecticut Valley around 1633, they met a different type of force. The Pequot Nation, very large and very powerful, had never entered into the peace treaty negotiated by Squanto, as had the Wampanoag and the Narragansett. They were not interested in helping or befriending the white settlers. The elders of the Pequot had warned them not to trust these people.

When resisting Pequot Natives killed two slave raiders, the Pilgrims demanded that the killers be turned over to them. The Pequot refused. This act of resistance led to the Pequot War, the bloodiest of the Indian wars in the northeast.

An army of over 200 white settlers was formed. They also convinced over 1,000 Narragansett warriors to join them by using lies and deceit. Although they would later destroy the Narragansett as well, the Narragansett Indians believed that they were helping the right group of people.

Commander John Mason decided not to fight a head-on battle. Instead, the Pequot were attacked, one village at a time, in the early hours of the morning. Each village was set on fire with its sleeping Natives burned alive. Women and children over 14 were raped and captured to be sold as slaves. Other survivors were brutally tortured and murdered.

Indians were sold into slavery in the islands of the West Indies, Spain, Algiers, and England; everywhere the Pilgrim traders went. The slave trade was so profitable that boatloads of 500 at a time left the harbors of New England. Of course, all this helped lay the foundations for the African slave trade.

As Ras Kass rapped in "Nature of the Threat":

Stealin land from the indigenous natives

Gave them alcohol to keep the Red (and BrownMan) intoxicated

Whites claim they had to civilize these pagan animals,

But up until 1848 there's documented cases

of whites bein the savage cannibals, eating Indians

In 1992, it's Jeffery Dahmer

They slaughtered a whole race with guns

Drugs, priests and nuns

1763, the first demonic tactic of biological warfare

As tokens of peace, Sir Jeffery Amherst

passed out clothin and blankets to the Indian community

Infested with small pox, knowin they had no immunity

Today it's AIDS, you best believe it's man made

Cause ain't a damn thing changed

The destruction of Indians in the Pequot War soon led to more destruction in King Philip's war. In 1641, the Dutch governor of Manhattan offered the first scalp bounty. Usually, we are taught that the Indians were the ones scalping white people. The truth was that it began with whites scalping Indians, and other Indians being paid or tricked to scalp their brothers and sisters.

The Dutch and Pilgrims joined forces to exterminate all Natives from New England, and village after village fell. Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Connecticut, the churches of Manhattan announced a day of "Thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the "heathen savages."

One colonist in Manhattan wrote, "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." Strange, indeed.

This was the Second Thanksgiving. Since that day, Thanksgiving has been a celebration of the destruction of Native people in the name of white supremacy. And somehow, God is all part of the plan.

During the feasting that followed this second Thanksgiving, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets of Manhattan like soccer balls. This is the origin of the football tradition on Thanksgiving.

From then on, a Thanksgiving feast was held after each successful massacre. Each town held days of Thanksgiving to celebrate their own victories over the Natives until it became clear that there needed to be an order for these special occasions. It was George Washington who finally brought a system and a schedule to Thanksgiving when he declared one day to be celebrated across the nation as Thanksgiving Day.

Years later, Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day a legal national holiday during the Civil War - on the same day and at the same time he was ordering troops to march against the Sioux Indians in Minnesota.


In 1492, there were over 80 million Native Americans. A century later there were only ten million. Today, there are about two million left.

You can't help everybody.First it was smallpox blankets meant to kill any Indian who touched them. But the Europeans gave them to the Indians as an act of friendship. The Indians would not be cold during the winter, thanks to the generous white people, right? Then they all started dying.

Then the Europeans offered alcohol to help the Indians cope with the cold winters (especially since many of them had lost their homes), and also to help celebrate their…um, well they ain't have sh*t to celebrate, did they? And now alcoholism is a major problem for Indians. They call it their "firewater" and that sh*t is killing many of them slowly.

Finally, some people learned that casinos could be built legally on Indian land. This seemed great. After all, the Pequot Indians, who were almost destroyed in the Pequot War, now make about $9 Billion a year off their casino built in the same area where they once fought. But guess what?

Now, the Indians have two more problems. First, they're losing their traditional values and deep understandings of man and nature. Instead, they're becoming shallow and materialistic in the pursuit of more money. And now the Indians have another addiction after alcohol: gambling.

Be careful whose "help" you accept.Everyone offering help isn't sincere.



Fabricating Family Ties


Today’s mathematics is “knowledge born”. I can’t help but think about ideas and how the are filtered into our lives. So many times do we exhibit a word or action that is a directive offspring of an idea that was planted in us mentally. Often we never know exactly when the point of contact was. It wouldn’t surprise one to learn that a lot of what and how we think is obtained through the “tell lie vision”. Now, I am a proponent for educational and enjoyable television, most of all “responsible” television. And in many ways, despite how we may think or feel about television in our society, it is truly a reflection of the mind state of the people and definitely of the U.S. government. After all, the government has used television programs and in particular, children’s programming, to orientation and indoctrinate our youth into the establishment’s “ideal” of “American values”.

Unbeknownst to many of us, this is actually the origin or our beloved comic book heroes such as Superman and Batman. They play a large role in transmitting the American worldview to masses of children during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It was very prevalent during the 1940’s with the introduction of “Captain America” who would be seen kickin’ Hitler in the crotch or battling “snarling, fanged” Japanese soldiers. It has continued straight through to my generation with cartoons like G.I. Joe and Transformers.

I have always been one to say that I thought cartoons were more for adults than children. After all, years later, I got a lot more of the jokes. As a child, I was more intrigued by the animation in and of itself. Going back and watching a lot of cartoons and television shows I knew throughout my youth revealed to me a lot more about myself and in particular where I may have adopted certain phrases, words, and mannerisms etc. I spent a lot of time watching television in my life.

They continue to teach the 85% daily…..” -13th degree, Lost Found Muslim Lesson No. 2

It was one day last week when my Queen and I sat down to enjoy an evening of the “idiot box” and one of our favorite shows, “The Simpsons”. This episode “Little Big Girl”struck a cord in me so much that I couldn’t really laugh. All I could do was to sit and do the knowledge and unravel the politics behind the animation. It seems to have been an episode most fitting for the month of November, considering Europeans and their fascination with the mythical feast of “Thanksgiving”.

However, in the episode Lisa was to do a report on her family lineage and heritage. Considering that the show “The Simpsons” is based on a “poor white trash” family, one could only expect that they hadn’t any sense of who they were. After discovering that her family had no real heritage and nothing that was admirable or respectable enough to present in her class, Lisa decided to concoct a lie about her great-great-great grandmother having been a Native American. And specifically the “Hitachi” tribe, a name she obviously pulled from her microwave. She gave a long speech of falsehoods before her school, seeking a good grade, only to be awarded by being asked to give her presentation before a larger multi-ethnic public audience. And she did, receiving accolades from those who knew nothing of the First Nations. Lisa eventually became overrun by guilt and the lies she was perpetrated only to break down before an audience of Native Americans.

What was interesting was how the ideas interwoven into the episode represented a double edged sword. On one hand, one could interpret this as non-Original peoples, that is, white peoples and the lies that have been perpetrated by those amongst them claiming to have Native ancestry into order to:

1) Receive federal monies by being on a tribal roster.
2) Claim some authority or right to be here in North America. I.E. a “real” American.

It is no secret that many whites showed up in droves claiming Native Ancestry once the U.S. government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs established the blood quantum and the policy of handing out land and money to individuals as opposed to groups. This happened in the late 1800’s. It isn’t a surprise that many tend to identify with Native peoples whenever they feel really nostalgic about American history. They justify their right to live on this land and due what they will to it and with it since they have strove to internal the “spirit” of Native Americans. Like when biker’s cruise on Harley’s with a chief or some feathers tattooed on their arms. Another sight is the really “spiritual” white people who attempt to harness the Native energy because it complements their back to nature-neo-hippie-mocha latte mantra- world view. When really, if they had the true knowledge of themselves and of the truth, they would delve deeper into studies of people such as the Druids of the Celtics in Europe and the sciences they practiced and how they were very environmentally conscious.

The other side of the sword, would be the assumption that the episode portrayed not just a confused white person, but in a way, making a mockery of anyone who attempts to reclaim their Native ancestry. And the most contemporary example would be us so-called Latin Americans. Making knowledge born or making known who we are is simply brushed off by main stream white America and viewed as a fledgling attempt at planting our own roots and staking claim to the U.S. as they once did. While this is far from the truth. And the truth being, “we are the Original people”. We are “los indios”, whether full-blood or mestizo. This, of course, they do not want to admit because it could mean the eventual displacing of European descendants from our land. All the more reason for the reclassifying job done at the Census Bureau in 2000. By placing “Latinos” in the category of white, it boosts their population numbers and is an extremely political move. One that will have cultural consequences via the constant barrage of euro-centric propaganda. It's bad enough that we've had to deal with the mind set of "the whiter the better" for 514 years throughout Latin America. People are being forced to compromise their identity to move ahead in this society.

However, we will not be disappeared or looked over. Our voices will not be silenced.

We are here to make knowledge born!



Racism in "Espana"

Las matematicas de hoy es "sabeduria y compremiendo". Wisdom is one’s wise words, ways, and actions. It is through our ways, words, and actions that we display our understanding, that is, our perspective of the world (how we see things). It is in our words and actions that we have long exhibited the subconscious (and probably even consciously) year to be like our oppressor. Plain and simple. The people of the lands of so-called Latin America, North and South, have a color complex. Many of us still think that “white is right”. We continue to link our reality back to a population and culture who are un-alike us, simply because of language, religion, and certain elements of tradition. Many of us think that we are “Spanish”. From the article below, one can see how we are viewed by Spaniards. Not all. But many I’m sure. So in reality, our words, ways, and actions aren’t as wise as the should be. They are full of confliction and conviction as our words and actions reflect the yearn to be like someone else. Someone whom we are not. And this is not understanding. It is a misunderstanding. It is how we wish to be viewed by the world so as to be accepted in a “white man’s world”. That is, since “black” and “color” are so despised by those overwhelmed by the mindset and institutions of white supremacy. And ultimately, this predictament hinders our ability to effectively control our own lives.
It makes me think of mi Tia, and her attempt to hide who she was when she first came to this country. She would front and tell people she was from "Argentina" despite the strong indigenous features that compliment her face. My Queen was even shocked to see huge paintings of "matadores" in mi Ti Ti's living room. Such a sharp contrast from who she blatantly is. In the words of Nation and Gods and Earths Elder, Abu Shahid, "Know who you is so you know who you ain't, so you can stop imitating a people who've spent years imitating you!"

Viva America Indigena!

Quito, Oct 23 (Prensa Latina) Ecuadorean Government, media and people in general showed indignation on Tuesday for a violent aggression against a 16-year old Ecuadorean girl in Spain.

Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espionsa, who is in Madrid, lodged a firm protest before Spanish authorities for the attack suffered by the Ecuadorean teen in the Barcelona subway.

In remarks made public by phone, Espinosa said to have received orders from President Rafael Correa to meet with the young girl and offer her legal support.

Espinosa said to have made representations to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Spain for the cowardly attack and for the release of the perpetrator by a judge.

We strongly reject this brutal aggression to our country people and demand actions to guarantee security of foreigners, who are exposed to cases like this, of an aggressive, racist nature, said Ecuador's top diplomat.

Local media in Ecuador described the attack as brutal and xenophobic and showed video images of the deplorable violent incident.

Residents of Quito expressed their concern for an increase in racist violence in Spain and other European nations and rejected this attack against their peer.

I think the Spanish Government must find an exemplary punishment so that actions like this do cannot happen again, said Jorge Penafiel.


Columbus Day Protest Arrests

DENVER: 10/6/07 Riot-clad Denver police officers moved quickly and violently against non-violent protestors this morning in downtown Denver. Over fifty people sat down in the street to protest the Columbus Day parade. Unlike past years when officers and protestors cooperated during the arrests, officers moved in quickly and used violence against the protestors. Many ofthose arrested were led away by two officers, both using pain compliance holds on the detained person. Those arrested were clearly in pain as they were pushed, pulled and dragged to two Denver Sheriff's Department buses. The use of force by police, particularly the extended periods those detained endured pain compliance holds, constitutes a significant human rights violation. CopWatch observers report that the sit in protestors did not use violence. At least a dozen other arrests were reported as well. After the initial arrest several other protestors ran into the street to block the parade, these individuals were also forcibly arrested. Several of those arrestedwere not participating in the sit-in. At least one arrest by Denver Sheriff's deputies did not appear to have any reason at all.Although police routinely have worn riot gear during the annual protest, this year CopWatch observed a clear escalation in the show of force by police. Riot sticks were being brandished by officers rather than remainingin their belts. Denver Sheriffs actually had an officer armed with a shotgun facing protestors. Denver CopWatch believes that an excessive amount of force was used in detaining and arresting the protestors.

Although the sit-in was blocking acity street, those participating in the sit-in did not use violence. The organized nature of the arrests suggests that the use of force was plannedand approved in advance by the command staff of the Denver Police Department. Chief Whitman was on scene during the arrests. The actions by the Denver Police and the Sheriff's Department was a serious and unnecessary escalation in the use of force. Today's police action was a clear departure from the tactics they have used in previous years which quickly and peaceably removed protestors. The new tactics resulted in the spectacle of people crying out in pain with tears on their cheeks while their hands and arms were being bent backwards by Denver Police Officers. Denver CopWatch will be issuing pictures and video clips of today's violent events in the coming days.

-Article from http://angryindian.blogspot.com/2007/10/censored-denver-columbus-day-protesters.html


SouthWestern Pennsylvania Pow Wow

Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center's Cultural Program

29th ANNUAL POW WOW Pow-Wow Preview 2007

This event will be held September, 29th & 30th 2007
Noon to 7:00PM (Rain or Shine)

There will be Singing, Dancing, Drumming, Native Foods, Demonstrations, Arts & Crafts,
No Alcohol or Drugs Allowed!!!!

From PA Turnpike, Take exit #48 (Allegheny Valley). Go south on freeport road towards Pittsburgh. Go to the 3rd traffic light by Giant Eagle and turn right on Rt. 910. Once on route 910 get into left lane . Follow 910 approx. 6 mi. to traffic light turn left onto Saxonburg Blvd. go approx. 1/2 mi. and look for parking signs for the Pow Wow events.

For information beyond the what is on the this page please Email powwowies@hotmail.com
120 Charles Street Pittsburgh, PA 15238Telephone (412) 782-4457 X202


"Explorations in Black and Tan"

Explorations in Black and Tan
Series Continues
By Carol Amoruso, Hispanic American Village Editor

Editor's Note: We follow up our discussion of troubled black-brown relations in Los Angeles with a continental drift eastward, giving a look at New York, where, to date, there have been no significant flare-ups. We’ve borrowed our title from Duke Ellington’s suite, Fantasy in Black and Tan, reasoning thus: Latinos come in all shades from black to tan, their skin having much to do with how they relate to each other and to African Americans. In addition, Ellington and his music, jazz, were a magnet for the city’s early Latino settlers. Together they bred Latin jazz, a lasting, superlative melding of affinities.

In the days before there was such a thing as a Latino in New York, “Latinos” were Puerto Rican. There was a smattering of Cubans, some stragglers from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but their numbers were negligible compared to the 100,000 Puerto Ricans in the City at the time of the Second World War. A mass migration began at the end of the war, and by 1960, there were a million Puerto Ricans in New York.

Blacks and Puerto Ricans in New York found and fostered commonalities early on as they celebrated their African cultural and blood ties. Often they lived side-by-side, shunted into the more run-down service-deprived neighborhoods. Most whites fled when Puerto Ricans moved in, while in the black ghettoes, there was no place for them to go should they have wanted to get away.

At first, it seemed as if the population at large didn’t quite know what to make of these incoming folks, most somewhere between black and tan. Dexter Jeffries, professor of African American and other literature and writing at Borough of Manhattan Community College, tells us that his step grandfather, a “brown Cuban,” came to New York from Havana in the 30s, immediately found work, despite the hard economic times, and felt privileged and assimilated. But just 20 years later, Piri Thomas felt “hung between two sticks,” growing up on the mean streets of East Harlem. Thomas is shamed on the street when he doesn’t own up to his blackness yet shunned by his own brothers since they could “pass.” He spends a number of drug-addled years in el Barrio and in prison trying to sort it all out:

"I looked at Brew, who was as black as God is supposed to be white. “Man, Brew,” I said, “you sure an ugly spook.”
Brew smiled. “Dig this Negro calling us ’spook,’” he said.
I smiled and said, “I’m a Porty Rican.”
“Ah only sees another Negro in fron’ of me,” said Brew

Accounts of those days may be somewhat romanticized yet truthful in revisiting shared interests--especially music--and poverty, marginalization from the mainstream society, a nascent politicization, negritude, all insuring an early black-brown brotherhood. Says Jeffries: ” …the coalition back then, it was spiritual. It was political. It was racial.” But Rigo Andino, PhD candidate at the University of Binghamton, New York, and a Nuyorican, offers a more nuanced take. By the 60s, he says, Puerto Ricans basically had to choose between three identities -- nationalist Puerto Rican, Afro-Puerto Rican, and black:

The black Puerto Rican… has historically had relationships with the black community, sees himself as being part of the black community, but at the same time, he reifies the Puerto Rican culture: “ I’m black, but I’m Puerto Rican.” Then there’s the one who says,” We have African blood in us, but we’re different. We’re Puerto Rican,” and they’ll uphold that to death. And then there’s the one who says,” I’m not black, I’m Puerto Rican,” to a certain to degree, having more of a white identity than the other two. So, it’s in terms of the individual Puerto Rican. You even had Puerto Ricans fighting alongside blacks against other Puerto Ricans.

Pushing the issue of identity was the Young Lords Party, which took many of its cues from the revolutionary Black Panthers. Although short-lived--internecine fighting and the toll taken by police infiltration and harassment led to their early dissolution--the YLP dedicated themselves to fostering Latino pride, activism--most notably against police brutality--and community service. (One of the Lords’ greatest achievements was the take-over of Lincoln Hospital, a South Bronx hell-hole, forcing the administration to establish a drug rehabilitation center.) The Young Lords and Panthers eventually made alliances with white street revolutionaries. The oppressor now was not the honkey, but the “system”; the focus became less one of Puerto Rican negritude than of class struggle.

Today, the city is the mosaic first imaged to by its first black mayor, David Dinkins, elected with massive Latino support. There are “Hispanics” and “Latinos” now, when once there were just Puerto Ricans, making the way browns relate to blacks a much thornier issue. Having been granted a pigeon-hole, all the City’s Latinos—German Argentines, Dominicans, black Ecuadorians, Peruvian indios—would, by definition, have to have much in common with African Americans, lending currency to Professor Jeffries’ definition of race:
Race is informing the dominant culture that you’ve accepted the title they’ve made up for you. It’s either words or labels intended to make the dominant culture comfortable with who you are.

In truth, the many groups under the Hispanic catchall relate differently to African Americans, and African Americans see the various Latino ethnicities in differing lights as well. Moreover, people as individuals see others under personalized lights, and views will change depending on many variables. The dynamic is thus more complex and fluid, and unpredictable.

In 1995, with a population of over 600,000, Dominicans surpassed Puerto Ricans as the city’s largest Latino group. They are finding the racial equation here different from the one they lived under in the Dominican Republic. Although 85% of all Dominicans have black blood, back home, because of murderous racism bolstered by the DR’s history of dictatorship, if they can’t pass for white, they do their best to be “indios.” As Afro-Dominicans are frequently identified here as black, and many youths are copping to African American youth culture, many self-identify as black. At the same time, a great number of Dominicans still reject their blackness. In an article I wrote for the Hispanic American Village in 2002, I interviewed Dominican aestheticians, specialists in hair relaxing, proud of their ability to make black seem white. Observed one, "…we do not say that we are black. We invent a lot of names for our skin, like indio claro, indio lava[d]o or indio canela, but never black. So, the idea is to make you look white if you are black. They teach us that in the Dominican Republic."

Back on the mean streets, questions of race often give way to those of turf; there is rising street gang activity pitting Dominicans against African Americans in the Bronx.

The new Latinos come mostly from the Latin American mainland where the culture is more “indio” and European. Many are undocumented and fear informants and stigmatization, and they may see Americans less along color than nativist lines: who’s “American” and who’s foreign. Says Jeffries, after observing enclaves of various incoming Latino groups settling into his predominantly African American neighborhood, “They have their own world, even if it’s only half a block…It seems they don’t have intercourse with anyone. And I think to them a black person represents two things: an American--it’s no question of race, they’re just gringos. And another barrier would be the language.”

Mexicans at this point have assumed the highest profile of all Latinos in the city, with unofficial numbers soaring over the last ten years to over 300,000; they are the face of restaurants, convenience and greengrocer shops, and construction sites. Despite the racist implications of Mexican president Vicente Fox’s recent remark, one would have to concede that there is some truth in it: Mexicans, for whatever economic and social reasons, will take on jobs at least no, or few, naturalized Americans, black or white, will. And when one thinks of potential tensions between blacks and browns, referencing the incidents and tensions in LA and the mistrust that seems to be growing in the South as Mexican workers flood in, one wonders what’s in store for the New York area where, in addition to the numbers, they are beginning to spawn out into diverse neighborhoods, and have begun to organize, seeking decent wages (the average Mexican worker’s yearly in come is only $10,000), and working conditions. Also potentially explosive is the rapid rise of Mexican street gangs.

The question that seems most difficult to answer is whether tensions between black and brown, or between any two groups for that matter, result from the inability or unwillingness to bridge cultural differences, or the stress put upon them by their life situation, which itself is a product of forces from above and a system that encourages division.

“This is a period of exploration,” says Jeffries, referring to the way the new Latinos process their coming to know African Americans. His vantage point, teaching at a college with a black and brown student body, has allowed him over the years to monitor a whole range of attitudes and issues of young New Yorkers. “Right now, I can tell there’s still an innocence,” he says. “It’s still a period of ‘I am here. I’m still open. I haven’t shut down yet.’ But, I know what can happen in a few years. Or a few turns of events.” Jeffries’ fear is that the immigrants will be tainted by negative stereotypes of blacks proffered by the media, or by one bad experience, most notably the “black connection with ‘crime,” and this would give rise to major antagonisms. (Jeffries himself is half black, half white, with Latino cultural roots. His autobiography is Triple Exposure from Dafina Books, 2003.)

I also spoke with Tony Rosado, a Dominican American restaurant manager for 30 years, who prides himself on maintaining a very diversified kitchen. Mexicans can be compared to no other group, he volunteers, owing to their motivation, their “submissiveness,” and to how rapidly they learn kitchen skills. Rosado observes an overall resentment of Mexicans, with African Americans the most vocal. Mexicans, on the other hand, are loath to engage that resentment. Blacks resent the fact that Mexicans will “do a lot for less:” work longer hours and for lower pay, not complain, and either not stand up for or be unaware of their rights. In the ambit of the restaurant kitchen, adds Rosado, African Americans and Caribeños share “good vibes’ and have more in common, with Caribeños seen as homegrown citizens with kindred musical tastes and other commonalities, including (by now) language.

I recently interviewed a group of “new Latino” workers, mostly Mexicans (8 of 10, with one Peruvian and one Ecuadorian), seeking their input on the topic. All but two worked in construction, the others in restaurants. The men were in general agreement, expressing no open hostility towards blacks, offering no typically stereotypical remarks, although one got a rise from his colleagues when he referred to American blacks as “desmadres”—messed up; a few said they had African American friends, although none said they lived in heavily African American neighborhoods. All felt, however, that blacks remained aloof when sharing a job site, separating themselves from the other groups of workers. They talked about even the poorest African Americans’ willingness to pass up a grunt job, like the $8 per hour indignities the Mexicans were more than likely forced to take. Explained one worker with, yes, some resentment, while reaching into his own lowly status, “They [African Americans] feel more American. They feel they don’t have to do the work that immigrants should do.”

The Latinos didn’t feel there was much competition for jobs, because most blacks in construction come in at much higher pay rates, many of them being unionized. Professor Jeffries has a curious twist on why he agreed there was little job competition: Many black workers are so disaffected, after so many years of not getting ahead, they don’t even look for jobs, but depend on the underground economy to sustain themselves.

It is hard to predict, based on anecdotal accounts, observations, “vibes” and long-standing trends, that this city, a mosaic so precariously cemented together, will be spared deeply-affecting racial disharmony. Our Nuyorican observer, Rigo Andino, posits two ways to avoid confrontation. The first is in familiarity: in living side-by-side, by going to the same schools, the same clubs, by dating, by awareness of how similarly the overall culture treats both groups. “That starts breaking down walls,” he says. But, he also suggests that Latinos who have been here longer, the Caribeños, must come together with the “new Latinos,” “backing away some from their identification with, ‘Yo soy negro,’ to emphasize the culture they share with the “indios.” And their shared “hispanidad.”

* Down these Mean Streets, Piri Thomas; first pub. 1967 by Random House; Vintage Books Edition, 1997


The Nigger-Reecan Blues

(Pictured at right is poet Willie Perdomo)
I've commented many times on the mindset amongst Original people that our experience in a predominately white Judeo-Christian society produces. It can only be understood as a form of "schizophrenia" if we are to use Euro-psychological terms. This is because we live in a society of contradictions. We are constantly told one thing and shown another. We go to hospitals to tend to our health needs and are given the worst food. We send our children to karate class only to encourage them to not fight. We prosecute urban pharmaceutical entrepeneurs but not the corporate ones. We are told to work hard and go to school and have a family when society and it's trappings are in direct opposition to any of that. There are jobs, cheap, low wage jobs which hardly afford someone to realistically go to school or maintain a healthy family without working two or three of them. And we then become trapped in the chasing of illusions all with the "managers" of society's determination for us to become more mindless and better producer/consumers. We are told we can be anything we want. But our overall living conditions show otherwise. So we have become schizophrenic in many ways. This is one of my reasons for my refusal to refrain from using the "n-word". Our schizophrenic tendencies begin to manifest so within all the strides we make and progress we achieve we still do "nigga shit". We have a subconscious voice that speaks to us from a different quandrant of the brain, a voice that stirs the restless of colonization in all of us. So I can't take a so-called the movement seriously. And the reason is because I understand the reality and the depths of the conditioning of America and White Supremacy. I'm not shamed nor afraid to call it what it is. The movement to ban the word "nigger" is more so perpetrated by the middle class as a baby boomer's (house nigga mentality- that is those bought out and pacified by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's) reaction to the frustrated and agitated outspokeness of the young, the "field niggas". I appreciate the effort to put a blockade on buffoonery in entertainment. However, we still act like buffoons in other areas and sectors of society. It appears that our image in entertainment is all we care about, considering our history as entertainers for white folks.

The schizophrenia isn't "race" based, as in so-called African American versus Latinos and one wanting to be like the other, as the poem below may allude to. The poem from Willie Perdomo actually speaks to a truth, that there is no difference between so-called African Americans and so-called Latinos. We both have ancestors in Africa and in Native America. We are both Original people and are in fact ONE people-ONE race, in light of Allah's understanding. After all there are only two people on the planet according to our (the Nation of Gods and Earths) paradigm- the Original people and the Colored people. People of color and non-people of color. The schizophrenia is based in us living other than who we are. Remember it is largely due to environmental influences that we see each other as completely different. Yet, these environmental influences encourages a preference for things Euro-centric and the yearn to kindle an affinity for Euro-centrism and those who usher it. I-self have been called "too black" by some Latinos because I don't "sound" Latino. They thought I sounded "black" and also because I enojy hip-hop music and/or wear my clothes etc. Unfortunately, they are ignorant to their history and the "Latin" contribute to hip-hop from day one. And as well, they being unfamiliar with who I am, were ignorant to my upbringin' in a predominately African-American neighborhood which fostering a clearer understanding of our relationship to one another. Whereas other Latinos may only know of their African-American brothers and sisters from BET or what they held on to from bad experiences. And the same goes for African Americans and their perspectives on Latinos, and their isolation from us. However, my life experience allowed me to understand and appreciate Original peoples our are various cultural manifestations and expressions beyond the limitations of typical Latin upbringing. For instance, to take a light skinned Latino and understand him or her as no different from a "high yellow" brother or sister from Louisiana and the only difference being in the language they speak. Other than that, both peoples are the results of Indian, African and the mid-atlantic malay that mingled the slave traders and masters blood in us.

Nigger-Reecan Blues

by Willie Perdomo (for Piri Thomas)

Hey, Willie. What are you, man?

No, silly. You know what I mean: What are you?

I am you. You are me. We the same. Can't you feel our veins drinking the same blood?

-But who said you was a Porta Reecan?

-Tu eres Puerto Riqueno, brother.

-Maybe Indian like Gandhi Indian.

-I thought you was a Black man.

-Is one of your parents white?

-You sure you ain't a mix of something like

-Portuguese and Chinese?

-Naaaahhh. . .You ain't no Porta Reecan.

-I keep telling you: The boy is a Black man with an accent.

If you look closely you will see that your spirits are standing right next toour songs. You soy Boricua! You soy Africano! I ain't lyin'. Pero mi pelo eskinky y kurly y mi skin no es negra pero it can pass. ..

-Hey, yo. I don't care what you say - you Black.I ain't Black! Everytime I go downtown la madam blankeeta de madesson avenue sees that I'm standing right next to her and she holds her purse just a bit tighter. I can't even catch a taxi late at night and the newspapers saythat if I'm not in front of a gun, chances are that I'll be behind one. I wonder why. . .

-Cuz you Black, nigger.

I ain't Black, man. I had a conversation with my professor. Went like this:

-Where are you from, Willie?

-I'm from Harlem.

-Ohh! Are you Black?

-No, but-

-Do you play much basketball?

Te lo estoy diciendo, brother. Ese hombre es un moreno!


Mira yo no soy moreno! I just come out of Jerry's Den and the

coconut spray off my new shape-up sails around the corner, up to the Harlem River and off to New Jersey. I'm lookin' slim and I'm lookin' trimand when my homeboy Davi saw me, he said: "Como, Papo. Te parece como un moreno, brother. Word up, bro. You look like a stone black kid."

-I told you - you was Black.

Damn! I ain't even Black and here I am sufferin' from the young Black man's plight/the old white man's burden/and I ain't even Black, man/a Black man/I am not/Boricua I am/ain't never really was/Black/like me. . .

-Leave that boy alone. He got the Nigger-Reecan Blues

I'm a Spic!

I'm a Nigger!

Spic! Spic! No different than a Nigger!

Neglected, rejected, oppressed and depressed

From banana boats to tenements

Street gangs to regiments. . .

Spic! Spic! I ain't nooooo different than a Nigger.


"Native Costume" and Literary Perceptions

- Below, a poem from Martin Espada. This one was featured in a book entitled "Muy Macho", a collection of essays about challenging machismo in latino cultura. Espada's poetry, for me, captures the Borikua experience in much the same way that Piri Thomas' "Down These Mean Streets" did and impacted me in much the same way. Today's mathematics being build or destroy, we can examine the "positive" and "negative" of our experiences, especially here in the wilderness of North America, Amekikia, through the constructive criticism of literature. Regardless to what some skeptics may pose, the "pen" is truly mightier than the "sword". Being able to manifest ideas from the intangible to the tangible through the influence of literature is what governments do and reveals the importance of "propaganda" in their cause. It is just as important in ours. Literature creates the space for one to articulate and expound, add on to ideas to allows others to be inspired or motivated for change, or take that which was proposed in the author's words and magnify it. I, as a writer, have come to understand the importance of words and have thus dedicated my time to maintaining my blogs as spaces for my engagement with "freedom of speech" and the decimination of proper education. This is my contribution, regardless to however futile it may seem. What I do serves a purpose and influences people beyond what many may think. I may chose not to be on the front lines of the march or protest. However, I am protesting through my writing which is equally as dangerous and just as productive. And yes, actions do speak louder than words, for those who are quick to act and seldom take the time to think about it. The ability to form words, thoughtful and intelligently and transmit the idea through vibration into sound is an 'act'.

In the end, it's all about building and destroying, the balancing principles of the universe. Either build or BE DESTROYED. That means contribute and add on or destroy yourself, because that's what's at stake. And that means adding on in any way that you can and not necessarily how others do. It takes all kinds of people to run a 'Nation', from a garbage man to politician. And literature and those who create it as just as important. Literature is one medium that allows a people to take control of how they are percieved by the larger society. This is how we've been orientated to other cultures and peoples more intimately in grade school. We become involved with the characters and settings in stories and poetry which plant those mental seeds that grow into our adult perspectives. And predominately Euro-centric literature will lead to a Euro-centric mindset and outlook on people of color, mostly importantly, ourselves.

"He likes the devil because the devil put fear in him when he was a little boy."- 8th degree, 1-36, English C. Lesson No. 1


My Native Costume

When you come to visit,

said a teacher

from the suburban school,

don’t forget to wear

your native costume.

But I’m a lawyer,

I said.

My native costume

is a pinstriped suit.

You know, the teacher said,

a Puerto Rican costume.

Like a guayabera?

The shirt? I said.

But it’s February.

The children want to see

a native costume,

the teacher said.

So I went

to the suburban school,

embroidered guayabera

short sleeved shirt

over a turtleneck,

and said, Look kids,

cultural adaptation.


Racism in the Kiskeya

-The following article has a lot to do with the mental colonialization imposed upon the Dominican people. For years, Dominican Republic President Rafael Trujillo executed a viscious rule over the island. In particular, his regime was most memorable for murdering thousands of Haitians and darker Dominicans in pursuit of "whitening" the population of the DR. This is what we would call "Yakub's Rules and Regulations", within the Nation of Gods and Earths. That is, those social rules and regulations used as standards for conducting relationships which produce or further 'white supremacy'. There is a great movie that highlights those terrible times, entitled "In the Time of the Butterflies", starring Marc Anthony and Salma Hayek. What Trujillo did was entrench the people's mindset in that of fear and repression. He strove to whitened their society in order to reconnect them their 'motherland', that is, Spain. To do this he needed to erase the visible elements of mainly African and strong Indigenous prescence in the country. He even encouraged immigrants from Spain and France to come and work in order to redirect the development of society with a Euro-centric focus and drive. A similar campaign took place in Puerto Rico during the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's.
The DR's Dark Secret
Racism Against Black Dominicans Has Become Epidemic on the Island
The New York Post (August 9, 2007)

August 8, 2007 -- When I read last week about the U.S. Embassy inthe Dominican Republic censuring Loft, a nightclub in the Naconeighborhood of Santo Domingo, because of the club's policy ofdiscrimination against black patrons and employees, it brought backsour memories of a recent trip I took to the island.

Dominicans are known the world over for our great baseball players,our beautiful beaches and our friendly people.

But there is something of a dirty secret that we sweep under thedrug. Racism against black Dominicans, rich or poor, happens everyday, and not just in clubs.

On my vacation, some friends I decided to check out a night spot called Tribeca, in Santiago. Apparently, it was the hot spot. When we arrived, there was no line. As we waited, people began lining up behind us. Slowly they were allowed in. We weren't. I asked a bouncer why and he said one of the owners instructed him not to let us in.

Puzzled, I checked our attire. We were dressed similarly to people being let in, so it wasn't what we were wearing. We weren't drivinga Mercedes, but we weren't rolling in a Hyundai, either - we had a decent ride.

Then, it dawned on me. It wasn't our clothes or our car. The only difference between the people that were given passage and us wasthey were light-skinned with European features while we were dark-skinned with African features. We were the wrong color.
When I told my friend, he just said, "That's how they are here,let's go somewhere else."

I was shocked. I had heard stories of people not being allowed intocertain places in the DR because of their complexion, but it hadnever happened to me.

I had heard the myth of the black Dominican baseball player who wasn't allowed in a club, bought the place and fired everybody.Stories like these are rampant, and seem like urban legends.

But this was no legend.

Acts of racism are commonplace in the Dominican Republic. Dark-skinned Dominicans have been told where they belong, and it seemshave accepted it.

Immediately, I began paying attention, as I do here in the United States, to billboards, television commercials and programs.Billboard after billboard featured not one dark face. In television commercials and programs, dark Dominicans were barely present andmost of the time weren't even shown at all.

It was as if we didn't even exist. In a country where more than 80percent of the population is mixed with an African descendant, onewould expect that at least some mixed-race actors would be used incommercials, but they don't make the cut, either.

The unrelenting oppression of African culture and the discrimination against those that are, either partly or fully, descendants of the African people, continue to pull our country deeper into depths of poverty, ignorance and despair.

Racism is nothing new in Latin America. The question is what are wedoing about it? Tego Calderón, in a Tempo column last year, wrote that we needed a civil rights movement for Latino blacks. I agree. We no longer can continue to sweep this dirty secret underthe rug.

Julio Tavarez is the director of the Passaic County Chapter of theLatino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey

National Institute for Latino Policy
101 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 313
New York, NY 10013

Angelo Falcón, President and Founder 212-334-5722 Fax: 917-677-8593

"if you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are comrade of mine."
"Let's be realistic, let's do the impossible"- Ernesto "Che" Guevara


Taino DNA and Identity

mtDNA and Race in PR -- EL NUEVO DIA (Boriken/"Puerto Rico")
(Edited and clarified by Henry Quirindongo-August 29, 1999)
By Gladys Nieves Ramirez -

MAYAGUEZ - Two short studies revealing that a considerable percentage of Puerto Ricans have indigenous American Indian blood have persuaded doctor Juan C. Cruzado Martinez to make a sample experiment with the purpose of measuring genetic contributions through the maternal lineage of the three ethnic groups that predominate in Puerto Rico. In addition to the native American Indian, the study will identify the percentage of Puerto Ricans that have black and Caucasian (white) heritage. In the study, which (began) in August, (1999.) Martinez (received) a scholarship grant of $270.000 from the National Foundation of Sciences of the United States. Martinez, who is a professor of Biology of the Recinto University of Mayaguez (RUM), explained that the experiment will examine the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the mitochondria (mtDNA) that is transmitted solely through the mother. From the volunteers, six roots of hair are taken that are treated in the laboratory so that the DNA is released. Each ethnic group has an mtDNA distinguishing, marker indicated.

The professor maintained that for the first study, taken in the past academic year, he examined mtDNA of 56 people, 23 of residents of districts who have an indigenous known background, like Indiera Alta and Indiera Baja, of Maricao, and Miraflores, of Anasco. The other volunteers were workers of the RUM that affirmed to have Indian ancestry on the part of the mother or a grandmother. 70% of the examined registered mtDNA of indigenous origin. As that study was skewed, since they only looked for people who could possibly have indigenous ancestry, Martinez said he had made an additional study in which he examined 38 people selected (scientifically) at random. Of that group, 53% was positive for indigenous mtDNA. Surprising results "The results surprised us by the high indigenous percentage, because it says in history that the Indians were quickly exterminated by diseases. We are finding that, but more true, that they were assimilated and that can have many implications. For example, one can eliminate a race without exterminating it. It can be eliminated (to a large degree culturally as well as genetically), when assimilating", the professor expounded. He stated that the experiments examine the history of the bloodline of Puerto Rico solely through the maternal lineage. It added that furthermore, he intends to study the genetic contribution through the paternal lineage, which can take over the chromosome and since the Spanish colonization was mainly of men, it expects that the Caucasian contribution to the genetics of the Puerto Ricans is greater than the native by paternal lineage. (This also applies to he> Black slave men who were introduced there.) "Now we are going to make a study much more complete because the study will be representative of all Puerto Rico and we will gather from the different social strata," Martinez said. The statistical error is going to be relatively low," affirmed Martinez. For that study Martinez and a group of Biology students will visit 800 homes in different zones of Puerto Rico. For the sample volunteers of eight towns of larger populations will be selected. They are San Juan, Bayamón, Ponce, Carolina, Caguas, Mayaguez, Arecibo and Guaynabo. In addition, they will look for samples in Cayey, Corozal and Barranquitas, in the central zone; in Aguadilla, San Sebastián, Moca and Hormigueros in the west; in Yauco, Juana Diaz and Penuelas in the south; in Toa Baja, Vega Baja and Vega Alta in the north; and in Humacao, San Lorenzo and Loíza in the east. The towns were (scientifically) chosen at random, pointed Martinez. He emphasized that it will be the first time that an experiment of this nature in Puerto Rico (or anywhere else) has been made.

The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School

The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School

In the last two years of the nineteenth century and opening years of the twentieth, victorious in the Spanish American War, the U.S. government approved a series of grants and actions aimed at “Americanizing” the residents of their newest possession, Puerto Rico. In the process, at least 60 Puerto Rican children were sent to be re-educated at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where the motto was, "Kill the Indian, save the man." Founded in 1878 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt, the purpose of the Carlisle School was to create a new mainstream identity for Indians, to change them into something "acceptable" for the society of the times.
It all began after the Indian Wars, when Captain Pratt was put in charge of a group of Indian prisoners who had been virtually exiled to Florida. There, Pratt engaged in reform practices still followed today in our prison system

- Read the entire article at http://www.kacike.org/SoniaRosa.html

"The Last Puerto Rican Indian"

"The Last Puerto Rican Indian is beautifully written with a multiplicity of voices that capture both profound sadness and passionate defiance. Rich with spiritual meaning, Bobby Gonzalez brings us closer to the indigenous men, women and children of the Americas as he harmonizes between the past and the present, traveling great distances in time from before the conquest, through mass genocide and the resistance, to the contemporary and beyond. Affirming the enduring strength of our heritage, González declares, 'The Last Puerto Rican Indian has not yet been born.'" - Iris Morales, community activist/former Minister of Information, the Young Lords Party

Visit Bobby González' website at http://www.bobbygonzalez.com/
Also available at http://www.cemipress.com/


Mis Raices...

Sandanistas and Gang Warfare

Even Gangsters Need Their Mamas
By Tim Rogers

With his cap visor pulled low over his face, Jalson Espinoza watches a group of gang members from a rival neighborhood push through a massive throng of Sandinista supporters gathered to hear President Daniel Ortega speak. To the outside observer, many of the other young men in the crowd looked just as tough and menacing, dressed in bandanas and going shirtless to show off their tattoos. But very few of them are true gangbangers, Espinoza says. "You can tell who the real vagos are by the way they walk," he says in a raspy voice, using the Nicaraguan term for gangsters.

Espinoza should know. At 26, his street resume makes America's most notorious gangsta rappers look pampered by comparison. In a decade of gang life, Espinoza has been jailed 14 times, shot twice, had his jaw broken with a machete, and lost an eye to a rock fired from a slingshot.

But the thug life is a thing of the past, Espinoza says. He has traded in his gang colors for the red and black of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, for which he works as a youth organizer in a rough neighborhood in Ciudad Sandino.

In Nicaragua, a movement that started off channeling youth rebellion into the violent overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 is once again the governing party. And in many poor neighborhoods, the Sandinista Front has more street cred than the local youth gang.
Under the leadership of the National Police, an agency created by the revolutionary government of the 1980s, the Sandinistas are using their status on the street to win the war on the gang problem that has plagued much of Central America. But it's a war they're waging without violence.

Rather than adopting the disastrous heavy-handed anti-gang polices of neighboring Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which have actually led to an escalation of violence and repression, the Nicaraguan police several years ago launched an intervention program aimed at engaging young men to turn them away from gang life. Since the program began in 2003, police claim that gang membership has declined dramatically. According to official statistics, 42 gangs have been demobilized and almost 4,000 of their members have been reintegrated into society. Of the 62 gangs that existed here four years ago, only 20 remain, with a total of 363 still-active gang members. Those are impressive figures in a Central American region where total gang membership is estimated at around 69,000.

"We don't need more jails or laws in Nicaragua, we need more opportunities for young people," says Commissioner Hamyn Gurdiᮬ head of the police effort to demobilize gangs. Gurdiᮠ— who during the 1970s, at age 16, had gone into the mountains to join the Sandinista rebels — says that guerrilla experience, shared by many police officers, helps them to empathize with gang members and identify personally with the three-step demobilization process: cease-fire, disarmament and social reintegration. "That experience made us sensitive to their problems," he said. "Their life, the lack of opportunities they have, that is what it was like for us, only instead of fighting with assault rifles, they throw rocks."

The Sandinista government's message of peace and reconciliation, and its populist dedication to economic empowerment of the poor, appears to be resonating on the streets. "For young people, the last 16 years have been lost to governments that didn't give us any opportunities," Espinoza says, repeating President Daniel Ortega's line about the three conservative administrations that ruled before his return to power this year. "Maybe [Ortega] will give us new opportunities and jobs."

Old-fashioned Nicaraguan nationalism may also have helped keep the gang culture at bay, since the major transnational gangs that terrorize Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — the Mara Salvatrucha and the M-18 — are essentially foreign, originating in Los Angeles. Mauricio Bustamante, 19, spent three years living in Guatemala spying on M-18 for the Salvatrucha before returning to Nicaragua and getting involved in his old local gang, the Cumbas. He says that Nicaraguan gangs have rejected the culture of the Salvatrucha and M-18 in keeping with the Nicaraguan spirit of resistance to foreign intervention.

The strongest pillar of support for the anti-gang efforts of the National Police, however, comes from within the community. Many gang members still live with their mothers and grandmothers, who can play a key role in the demobilization and reintegration process, Gurdiᮠsays. "My mother told me she wanted nothing to do with me after the fourth time I got arrested," says Espinoza. "But once she saw that I was trying to get out of the gang, she immediately started to support me again."

The police are helped by the fact that under the scars and tattoos, even the toughest vago is still a mama's boy at heart.


Original Women in Latin America

LATIN AMERICA: Indigenous, Black Women Face ‘Triple Glass Ceiling’

"QUITO, Aug 9 (IPS) - Indigenous and black women in Latin America and the Caribbean face three-fold discrimination because of their gender, race and social class, in politics and at work.

"That is how it was put by participants in a panel on "Citizenship and Political Participation by Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Women" at the 10th Regional Conference on Women that ended Thursday in the Ecuadorean capital. Guatemalan indigenous activist Otilia Lux de Cotí said that from the indigenous women’s point of view, the struggle for women’s right to participate is inextricably linked to the struggle for indigenous peoples’ right to participate. We are discriminated against by governments, by men, and often by other women, so in order to correct historical inequalities, we must restructure the state and build an egalitarian society, said de Cotí, formerly Guatemalan minister of culture and sports.

Therefore, when demanding minimum quotas for women’s participation, quotas for indigenous and Afro-descendant women should also be specified, she said.


Inside every mestizo there is either one dead Indian, or an Indian waiting to re-emerge” -Jose Barreiro

"Latino Boycott"

Latinos Launch Economic Boycott: Resolution Leads Many to Shop Outside County
By Pamela Constable

Washington Post Staff Writer

Maria Rivera, a hotel maid from Woodbridge, drove her two daughters to Lorton last weekend to buy school supplies. Juan Padilla, who owns a tropical-themed restaurant in Manassas, purchased all his cooking ingredients yesterday in Fairfax County.

On the first day of a one-week boycott called by immigrant groups in Prince William County, both of these county residents said they were shopping elsewhere to send a message that Latino immigrants are an important, unified economic force and can't be intimidated.

"They used us Hispanics to build this county, and now they are trying to kick us out. It's not fair," fumed Padilla, 28, a legal immigrant from El Salvador. On the window of his restaurant, La Laguna, was a large green poster that read, "We Are A Pro-Immigrant Business. Rescind the Prince William County Anti-Immigrant Resolution."

The boycott is a protest against a resolution, passed unanimously by the Board of County Supervisors in July, to deny many public services to illegal immigrants and empower police and other officials to question immigrants about their legal status and in some cases turn them over to federal immigration authorities.

County officials are studying how to implement the resolution, the result of widespread concern among longtime residents who think that the rapid influx of Latino immigrants, including many who are illegal, has increased crime and blight in the area and created a heavy burden on public services.

Several activists who support the resolution said that the boycott is bound to fail and that its only effect would be to pressure Latino business owners into conformity with a radical agenda by some groups to push the rights of illegal immigrants.

"They don't have a prayer of reversing this resolution, which has the support of 80 percent of county residents," said Greg Letiecq, an activist who heads Help Save Manassas. "This is an attempt to bully immigrant businesses."

Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) also said the boycott would have little impact.

"I think it's going to have no effect whatsoever," he said. "It just strengthens our resolve and reaffirms that we're doing the right thing," he said. "And it confirms that illegal immigrants and their support groups have no respect for our community or the rule of law. It's just going to inflame people and make people that much more upset with illegal immigration."

The boycott has both galvanized and divided the county's large Latino population, which has tripled in the past decade and is now estimated at 30,000. One group, Mexicans Without Borders, hopes economic pressure will stop the measure. Another, headed by several Latino businessmen, opposes the boycott and seeks peaceful negotiations with county leaders.

There was no way to determine yesterday how many immigrants had observed the opening day of the boycott, which targeted all non-immigrant-owned businesses, including such chains as Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Giant supermarket as well as gas stations and convenience stores.

Boycott organizers said they had placed more than 350 of the green posters in businesses throughout the county, signifying that the store managers or owners are sympathetic -- or at least do not want to lose their immigrant customers.

A demonstration at Potomac Mills shopping center drew fewer than 100 people, who stood under a broiling afternoon sun yesterday and held aloft placards calling for immigrant rights. Some passing drivers honked in support; others swore or made insulting gestures.

In interviews in Manassas and Woodbridge, several dozen Latinos said they supported the boycott, and some were indignant about the way they feel immigrants have been treated in the county. Only two or three said they did not know about the boycott.

"I am only buying in Hispanic stores this week. I am a resident now, but I am still an immigrant, and it is not good what they are trying to do," said Abel Santiago, 28, a Mexican restaurant worker who complained that he had been stopped and asked for identification recently. "We feel so much hate and resentment now. But we should have our rights, too."

Rivera, the hotel worker who attended the demonstration at Potomac Mills, said she was also a legal resident but was angry at the proposals aimed at driving out illegal immigrants. She said she decided to participate after hearing about the boycott through her church.

"They don't want our children in the schools. They don't want people renting to immigrants. They want to ask for families' ID cards in parks. This is wrong, and we do not accept it," she said.



Arturo Schomburg, Jan. 24 1874- June 8 1938, famous historian and considered the "Father of Black history." Arturo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and later travelling to Harlem, NY, April 17, 1891. The 'Schomburg Center' in New York is name after this famous Afro-Boricua and features numerous works and research on African-American and Puerto Rican studies.

Who is a Latino? (by Ruth Kunstadter - July 2007)

L.A. Law actress Michele Greene.

Supermodel Christy Turlington.

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter.

Baseball legend Ted Williams.

New Mexico Governor – and presidential candidate – Bill Richardson.

What do these individuals have in common?Their American-sounding last names – and their Latino cultural heritage.

I call them "Latinos incognitos," because at first glance, they might not easily be recognized as Hispanic. With Anglo fathers and Latina mothers, the institution of marriage automatically hid the Latino heritage of all these individuals – at least on paper.

As a result, they certainly don't "sound" Latino. They may not even "look" Latino, either. So are they really Latinos?

Because of his name and his part-Anglo heritage, Bill Richardson has been accused of being "not Latino enough." But at the same time, he is also accused of being "too Latino," trying to leverage his Hispanic heritage for political gain.

The reality, of course, is that Bill Richardson is Latino, and he is Anglo. The two cultures are not mutually exclusive – although they are often treated as such. When was the last time you saw a box for "multicultural" on any official form? Our society does not easily accept the middle ground between two heritages.

On official forms, as in life, bicultural Latinos are pressured to choose. And inevitably, they will receive criticism for their choices. Kevin Johnson (another Latino incognito), in his memoir, How Did You Get to Be Mexican?, recalls being accused in college of "checking the box" as a Latino to get preferential treatment, but not being "Latino enough" to back it up with political activism.

Even Latinos with two Latino parents can have their Latinidad challenged. A dear friend of mine, who proudly describes herself as Puerto Rican, was often made to feel less so by her native Puerto Rican peers in New Jersey, because she wasn't "born on the island." Another friend who doesn't "look" Latina recalls that the only way she could convince her Hispanic classmates that she was indeed Latina was to tell them she watched Walter Mercado's horoscopes with her grandmother.

But who is a Latino, anyway?

Is it someone who is born in this country, a descendant of the original Spanish settlers?

Is a Latino someone whose family immigrated from a Spanish-speaking country and created a home here?

Can you be a Latino without a Hispanic name?

Without speaking Spanish?

Without a direct connection to your heritage?

What makes someone a Latino?

It's certainly not just the name, despite the U.S. Census' original method of counting Latinos by using the category "Hispanic surname." Where does that leave Governor Bill Richardson or Michele Greene (who, as a bilingual singer/songwriter, recently released her second CD in both English and Spanish)?

Language helps – but you don't even have to speak Spanish to be a Latino (and a growing number of Latinos don't). The reverse, however, can be true – you can start to feel Latino just by speaking Spanish. There is something in the sound of the language, the words themselves, that bring Latinidad to those who choose to celebrate its beauty, its richness, and its innate poetry.

Those who learn Spanish in order to bark orders at employees or simply to fulfill a foreign language requirement are not likely to feel it, though. Here, intention is everything.Being a Latino is more than just a language or a last name, or even what country you came from or can trace your roots to.

Being a Latino is about a feeling, an attitude, a connection to life and culture and family and music, and a desire to experience it all to its fullest.Being a Latino means living life with sabor, and taking the time to appreciate and enjoy everything – and everyone – that makes life worth living.
And we can all use a little bit of that Latinidad.


The Bible: One of the Great Weapons Used Against Us

"When the white man first came to this land, we had the land and they had the bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them again, we had the bible and the white man had the land."- unknown

Brazil and the Killing Off of Our Future

BRAZIL: Controversial Bill to Sterilise Younger Women

By Fabiana Frayssinet

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 22 (IPS) - A draft law to reduce the minimum age for women to undergo voluntary sterilisation in Brazil’s public hospitals from 25 to 18 is vigorously opposed by the government.

A Brazilian Republican Party senator and bishop of an evangelical sect, the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), Marcelo Crivella, who introduced the draft law in the Senate, said it would help reduce violence, because "children who would be hungry and abandoned wouldn’t be born" -- factors that he argues are related to crime.

The current law regulating family planning states that voluntary sterilisation is only permitted for men and women who are over 25 years of age and have at least two living children.

The Health Ministry is against the draft law. Several family planning options are available in the public health services, including sterilisation of women by tying off the Fallopian tubes, an operation which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus from the ovaries, thus preventing fertilisation.

In an interview for the government broadcaster Agência Brasil, Health Minister José Gomes said he was "radically against" reducing the age for voluntary sterilisation, "because that’s not family planning, it’s fertility control," a phase he considers to be a thing of the past in this country of over 188 million people.

Regina Viola, coordinator of the Technical Area of Women’s Health at the Health Ministry, told IPS that tubal ligation "is considered to be an irreversible contraceptive method, since if a woman later changes her mind, the surgery cannot always be reversed."

Studies by the ministry indicate that "between two and 13 percent of women change their minds, depending on their age and the circumstances surrounding the tubal ligation. Among women under 30 at the time of the operation, most change their minds," she said.

Elizabeth Ferraz, coordinator of the research department of the non-governmental organisation BEMFAM, told IPS that the latest study of national demographic and health data, carried out in 1996, showed that 77 percent of women who were married or in a stable relationship used some method of contraception, and 40 percent of them had been sterilised between the ages of 15 and 49.

The study was undertaken by BEMFAM, which works on sexual and reproductive health issues in 13 Brazilian states.

The average age of the women at the time they were sterilised was 28.9 years, but 20 percent of them were under 25. Thirty-seven percent were aged 25 to 29, 28 percent were aged 30 to 34, 12 percent were aged 35 to 39, and three percent were aged 40 to 44.

According to Ferraz, the contraceptive methods used vary according to the women’s age and circumstances. For instance, many women at the height of their fertility use contraceptive pills to space their births, and when they consider they have the ideal number of children, they choose to be sterilised.

Furthermore, the more education a woman has, the wider the variety of family planning methods used, and the more frequently their partners have had a vasectomy (male sterilisation), the expert said.

While Ferraz considers sterilisation of women to be neither good nor bad in itself, but simply another choice available to women, she is concerned about the proposal to reduce the minimum age.

"This proposal is rather radical. We could do more through public policies, like giving the public more information about the variety of methods, and spend money on awareness-raising campaigns so that women can exercise birth control without resorting to a drastic measure like getting their tubes tied at the beginning of their sexual life. Different methods are suited to different stages in life," she said.

Ferraz pointed out that sterilised women often change their minds when they begin a new relationship, or if one of their children dies.

In the poorest areas of the country, indices of female sterilisation are higher than the national average: 43.9 percent in the northwest, and 59.5 percent in the centre-west. "Sometimes, access to other methods is difficult, and in the absence of other options, women opt for sterilisation," Ferraz pointed out.

In the context of poor populations with limited access to healthcare and education, "sterilisation is often a vote-catcher," said Ferraz. In doubt as to the effectiveness of other methods, such as condoms, pills or intrauterine devices, many women who have little money or education choose to be sterilised, thinking "they won’t have to worry any more."

A question which should be cleared up by a census on family planning that is being carried out by the Health Ministry is "to find out whether in Brazil, where the rate of caesarean deliveries is very high, caesarean sections encourage sterilisations, or whether sterilisation encourages caesareans," Ferraz said.

According to the 1996 study by BEMFAM, out of the total number of sterilised women, 59 percent had their tubes tied during a caesarean delivery, while only 15 percent had the sterilisation operation done after a normal birth.

The Health Ministry’s Viola also said she thought that information about the methods available, where to obtain them and how to use them, should undergird any reproductive health campaign.

The new National Policy on Family Planning, launched by the Health Ministry in late May, provides, among other actions, for a publicity campaign to offer clear information and stimulate family planning, and mass distribution of educational material about contraceptive methods to schools and community centres.

It also plans to expand the supply of contraceptives to basic health clinics from 20 million to 50 million blister packs of pills, and to encourage vasectomy operations in public hospitals. Brazil’s fertility rate began to decline in the late 1960s.

According to Ferraz, in 1960 the fertility rate stood at an average of six children per woman, but by 1996, the date of the last family planning census, it had fallen to 2.3 children per woman, and in some urban centres like Rio de Janeiro, it was even lower, at 1.9.

The expert cited economic reasons for the decline in fertility, such as migration from rural areas to the cities, and women’s entry into the labour market. Today, barely 20 percent of Brazilians live in rural areas, where there is less access to information. (END/2007)