Aymara Rap- Indigenous Hip Hop Music

Paz! Las matematicas de hoy es compremiendo y conocimiento.

"Understanding knowledge", being able to see (comprehend) the foundation or origin of something, through proper information.

Regardless to what some may think of Hip-Hop music, it is undisputedly the voice of the marginalized, poor and urban youth. The children are refugees of globalization and often misunderstood because they straddle the world of their parents- tradition, etc and the world they know and experience- via globalization, mass marketing, war and poverty. It amuses me to see how people cringe at Hip-Hop and how despites it’s undeniable force, is still looked down upon as mere ‘child’s play’ or such a low or primitive expression of culture.

And the world must keep in mind, that Hip-Hop-although socially applicable and inspirational to millions of youth around the planet from Africa to Asia to the Americas to Europe, it all started in the South Bronx with “niggas and spics”, poor black and borikua ghetto children. Hip-Hop now has a place at the Smithsonian and forever will be entrenched in the culture of the United States. Hip-Hop, like the Nation of Gods and Earths, started in the poor urban neighborhoods of New York and from there, spread to reach out across the world. Our culture, Allah’s mathematics, was very instrumental in the creation of Hip-Hop and perpetuating it through the ages as well as utilizing it as an important teaching tool for our ideology.

We are the voice of the voiceless…those who wish to speak but can not. Whether you are referring to freestylin’, cuttin’ a record, or walking somebody through 120 degrees.

Aymara Rap - the new musical expression of Bolivia’s indigenous youth
By Pablo Stefanoni

They are the children of "cholos" - the disrespectful name given to urban indigenous people in Bolivia. They refer to themselves in English single-syllable words and the names of their songs speak of indigenous pride; they criticise capitalism and demand a radical social change. This mix, so appropriate for these times, characterises the "hip hop" movement of El Alto, which is expanding and channelling youth rebellion in this large city of poor migrants, located at a height of 4000 metres and surrounded by impressive snow covered peaks.

The main centre of the "hip hop" movement is the radio station Wayna Tambo, which in Aymara means space of encounter for youth. There, Alli Abraham Bojorquez runs the program El Rincon Callejero, an inescapable reference for all altenos (people from El Alto) rappers and has his own group, Ukamau y Ke (That’s how it is, so what). But he translates in a more rhythmic and combative manner: "That’s how it is, so what cunt, we are Indians, so what."

Bojorquez is the leader of alteno rap. He is 24 years old, wears beige baggy pants, mobile phone on his belt and a red hat tilted to the left with a badge that says "no to racism". He speaks eloquently. He is the son of indigenous parents, for whom it’s difficult to understand their son’s "gringo" look and lifestyle. His surname can disguise his real background. Like in many other cases it has less to do with his roots than an attempt to "whiten" his ancestors to magically escape discrimination. That is how many a Quispe became Gisbert, while others were directly rebaptised with Spanish surnames. The situation has flipped around in the last few years, to the rhythm of marches and blockades that frightened the whites, and since the arrival to power of Indigenous President Evo Morales.

In El Alto, more than 80% of its 900,000 inhabitants identified themselves as Indigenous in the 2001 census, and they say that if before it was an embarrassment now they are proud to be so.

"As you see, as a result of this bourgeoisie, inequality increases day by day in our city/Look at those jailones [yuppies] walking down the Prado [main strip in La Paz], saying that I am not to their satisfaction/What false illusions they make in their minds insulting and humiliating the people", says one verse from the song "Bourgeoisie".

"We don’t just sing about things like ‘I feel bad, my girlfriend left me and now I’m going to go and get drunk’, with a lot of cumbias [indigenous South American music]. We want to awaken the consciousness of the youth through protest music, but also through proposals", says Bojorquez. They see themselves through the music of Tupac Amaru Shakur, the black leader of US "gangster rap" assassinated 10 years ago, son of militants from the Black Panthers, and with a name that makes him an icon for indigenous rap.

"At the beginnings of the "90s, the discos were only for tradition music and inaccessible in the poor barrios. The strategy was to make friends with the jailones from the southern zone of La Paz who had family members in the US so that they would copy the discs for us. We did not understand any of it because all the groups spoke in English but we liked the rhythm" recalls the rapper, whose music fuses traditional rap with the solemn sounds of the pututus (bull horns) and the more rhythmic windpipes and Andean tambourines, with words in Spanish and Aymara. The massive diffusion of rap began through piracy and today, in El Alto, you can buy a CD for 5 bolivianos (US$0.60).

Bojorquez’s history is the same as thousands of inhabitants of this country, which in 2006 received some $500 million from the "export" of citizens. At the age of 11 he went to San Paulo to a textile factory and in that Brazilian city entered the world of hip hop together with youth from the favelas (shanty towns), who told stories which seemed to speak of his own life in El Alto. He returned to Bolivia almost 10 years later, in 2003, shortly before the altenos embarked on the "gas war". These battles - which cost dozens of lives and brought down the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada - gave a new life to this form of protest music, born from the black neighbourhoods of New York in the ’70s and out of ethno-cultural indigenous pride.

"The bells of a Bolivia marka toll/We don’t want anything to do with the TLC [Free Trade Agreement] nor ALCA [Free Trade of Area of the Americas]/We need to change the neoliberal model/Because it only brings social convulsion", says the song "Latin America" in line with the nationalist eruption that this Andean country is living through. "What globalisation wants is for all of us to think the same, to control us like sheep", says the youth leader in the studios of the radio where gangsters, like he was at the age of nine, "become rappers".

But this recuperated indigenous identity does not signify a backward step in the wheel of history. It was Felipe Quispe, the Aymara caudillo (leader) who lead the encircling of La Paz in 2000, who skillfully said: "We are Indians of the postmodernity, we want tractors and internet."

Today rappers also speaks to Evo Morales, in whom they are depositing their expectations of change for the majority of Bolivians, indigenous and poor, which here is almost the same thing.


Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice...

- from http://www.finalcall.com/

Broken treaties, broken promises
By Yo’Nas Da Lonewolf-Muhammad


Greetings Relatives,
In mafia movies, there are many messages in the way those in the mafia handle each other, whether it be towards family members or outsiders. In one movie, I heard a mafia boss say, "All I have is my word!"-that is said a lot, not only in mafia movies, but in everyday life.

The Bible teaches that your tongue is a sword. There is so much in the power of our words.

As a child, I would be teased a lot from children my own age who said I was "adopted" because of my brown skin, while my Native American mother was fair-skinned. When I would come home crying, my mother would tell me to say to those who teased me that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" That helped me through all the teasing because now I had something to say back. But as I got older, I realized that the teasing still hurt me. Words do hurt. But what hurts the most is when someone gets your hopes up by their words and doesn’t follow through with their actions.

Native Americans have been going back and forth with the United States government since 1722 on treaty developments, such as The Great Treaty of 1722 between the Five Nations, the Mohicans, and the Colonies of New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In 1926, there was the Deed and the Trust from Three of the Five Nations of Indians to the King.

What king you may ask? The king of Britain. The Five Nations had developed treaties with a country outside of the United States in the country’s early development. There are endless treaties to all Native Americans that lived in every state, from name changes to land, to even food.

Now, it wasn’t easy for Natives to agree to treaties, but through government strategies such as wars and killing off food supply and water, fear was implanted into them and the Natives had no option but to come to an agreement with them. But as time progressed, broken promises did also as many of these treaties were not upheld.

Today, Native Americans are fed up with those treaties that were established, and there have been many attempts to change them, to no avail. The reason for this is because the U.S. government does not want to give the Americas back to Indigenous people, so they stand on these broken treaties that they pillaged many Indigenous children, women and men for. Even former African slaves were promised 40 acres and a mule for years of forced slavery, however, that promise was also broken.

If the common ground relationship between the Blacks and the Native Americans is being hurt by trusting a government that wouldn’t follow through on promises, then why do we imitate the same behavior towards one another?

In day-to-day human conversation, people tend to say, "I’m going to do this; I’m going to do that for you. I know this person; I know that person can do this for you." We don’t seem to follow through on what we said we were going to do.

I understand that things can happen to prevent us from following through on our promises, but did we do all in our power to prevent the unsuccessful outcome of a project or a promise?
As we bridge the Black, the Red and the Brown people of America together, we must be mindful to not fall into the trap of giving broken promises, which will divide us more than unify us. We all have been lied to, so we must not lie to each other. If you say that you are going to do something, do it if it is God’s Will, but in that will that God gave us, do all that you can to fulfill God’s Promise.

I love you all!

Mitake Oyasin
All My Relations

(Yo’Nas Da LoneWolf McCall-Muhammad is the National Director for the Indigenous Nations Alliance-Millions More Movement and is now working to develop chapters throughout the country. If you would like to assist in this Movement, please email yonasda@gmail.com or visit www.myspace.com/indigenousnationsalliancemmm.)


"Black Indians": Five Percenters & Talking Drums

Peace! Frequently Gods and Earths appear in the media and often times the public is not aware. I have reposted an article about a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths, Mwalim Allah, and member of the Mashpee Wampanoag. Bridging two worlds with, like the title of one of his book of poems, a "mixed medicine bag", Mwalim represents a reality of ‘oneness’ from what would appear on face value as two different worlds. Showing forth, that the Original man is ONE. Because Allah is ONE. There is no separation between the Black, Brown and Yellow. We are the Original Man. Please support the God! (www.myspace.com/mwalim7 )

Mashpee Wampanoag Returns to the National Black Theatre Festival

"The Talking Drum" to be a Part of the Festival's Late-Night Fringe Offerings

"Mashpee Wampanoag performing artist, and writer, Mwalim (Morgan James Peters, I) will be returning to the festival with his Black Indian styled, adult storytelling theater "The Talking Drum" as a part of the festivals lively late-night fringe offerings; on the nights of August 1 - 3, 10:30pm - 1:00am at the Best Western Salem Inn, 127 S Cherry Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "The Talking Drum" was a popular spoken-word & music show in Southeastern, MA from 1995 - 2000, Originally, it was a monthly show at the Prodigal Son Cafe in Hyannis, with video footage airing on public access television, it eventually moved to the Cape Cod Community Television studios in Yarmouth, in 1998, running as a monthly, live broadcast featuring poets, storytellers, rappers, and musicians from all over New England."

The Talking Drum" will include feature performances by Black Indian spoken-word artists Garland Lee Thompson Jr. and Mwalim, as well as an open mic. This presentation is a part of the effort to raise awareness to the upcoming exhibit by the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of the American Indian, exploring the Black Indian experience. Thompson, a member of the recently fractured Okalahoma Cherokees, and Mwalim, member of the recently federally recognized Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Southeastern, Massachusetts."


Killer Cuchifritos? Borikuas Blood Pressure is Deadly

“Because the Devil taught him how to eat the wrong foods.”- 10th degree, 1-36, English C. Lesson No. 1

While diet and nutrition does seem to be revolutionary, it is. Especially when you consider the role diet and nutrition play as an element of colonization and culturally hegemony. Many of the dietary habits we have picked up are alien to us and are not conducive with “life”.

“The "Dietary Triad" was and still is the most important part of our diet as many foods which were eaten by our ancestors are still eaten today (tortillas, pozole, atole, mole, gum which was used to clean the teeth, tamales etc.. etc..) The reason why a lot of Mexicans are overweight and unhealthy today is because we now also eat the animal meat brought by the Spaniards. What’s the problem with this? Well, we get the adequate amount of protein our body needs when we eat beans. If you add beef or chicken, you will be putting too much protein into your body and you will therefore gain weight. Never underestimate the value of your diet! You should always try to stick to our native foods as they are the most effecient in the world. “- from http://www.mexicauprising.net/

It is because many of these foods that we experience many of the health ailments that afflict our people, making us dependant on the corporate devils for manufactured chemicals (prescription medication). It has been so ingrained in our “culture” that we actually think that it is a part of our culture. Just like so many so-called African Americans who refuse to relinquish the pork chops and chitlins brought upon them via chattel slavery. They feel that by letting go of these things they are letting go of “who they are.” We are taught that we came UP from slavery, and not that we plummeted down into despair. This is outrageous perspective and horribly limited and detrimental to the human psyche because it makes the ‘right now’ appear as the greatest moment in our history.

“I hate it when they tell us how far we came to be/ As if our people’s history started with slavery..”- Immortal Technique, “Leaving the Past” from the album Revolutionary Vol. 2

This, of course, keeps us from reaching our vision. Because we have not been honest enough to include and cover ever area of development as we march towards the future. We want land, yes. But what will we do? Govern it and our people like Chad Smith of the Cherokee Nation? With “tribal names and whiteman brains”….We need to leave the PORK alone. Especially for so-called Latin Americans who “claim” to follow the Bible. It says not to eat swine. Stop twisting it around. I read Geronimo’s autobiography and came across a section that mentioned him and his refusal to eat pork, to which some whiteman attempted to encourage in him to. Secondly, we need to approach fried foods, tostones, cuchifritos, fry-bread etc. We need to start thinking about how to eat to live, to sustain, and not living to eat. I understand and appreciate the culturally relevance of certain foods, however we can not allow them to prohibit us from living the most qualitative way of life possible. We can not allow them when in many cases we are dying by our “own hands” more than in the hands of the system, because we are continuing the atrocity and miseducation from the system, whether we know it or not. Please research the “Willie Lynch Syndrome” if you haven’t. While it may not be 100% historically accurate, it serves as a good example for the internalization of negativity and destruction by the oppressor and how it’s perpetuate throughout future generations.

Check out the article below…
Puerto Ricans' blood pressure deaths higher

“ATLANTA -- Puerto Ricans have a higher death rate linked to high blood pressure than blacks, whites or other Hispanic-Americans do, federal health researchers said Thursday in one of the first analyses of specific U.S. Hispanic populations. Health officials don't know why and said more study is needed to find the cause. One expert said it could be related to health care, diet or genetics.

Puerto Rican-Americans had 154 high blood pressure-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2002, according to the researchers' review of death certificate data.

For Mexican-Americans, the rate was 134.5 and for Cuban-Americans, 82.5 that year. Among non-Hispanics, the black rate was 138, and the white rate was 136.

It's not clear why the Puerto Rican death rate was so high, said Dr. Carma Ayala, the report's lead author and an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We really need to do more studies to find that out," she said.

Of all racial groups, blacks have the highest rate of high blood pressure, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites have the condition at about the same rate.

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Previous studies have focused on differences between blacks, whites and Hispanics, but this may be the first to look at the differences between Hispanic sub-populations, said Dr. Steven V. Manoukian, a cardiologist and official with the American Heart Association.

The data is important because it may lead to new clinical studies and public health education efforts, he said.

High blood pressure - also known as hypertension - is considered a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and an important predictor of premature death and disability. The condition can result from obesity and physical inactivity.”

- From: http://www.nshp.org/?q=node/1498

AmeRICAN: The Whitewashing of Boriken

This a picture of the “Puerto Rican” Barbie. It follows a stereotypical image of how many gringos view us. However, the characteristics are a stark contrast from the reality of what the majority on the island look like. This means that the product is marketing towards a particular sector of society, the rich, “white”, elites. However, the majority of poor darker girl are going to want one of course. And thus we see how images are implanted into the mindset’s of children. As children attach themselves to images, knowing themselves they will continue to grow, tend to settle on certain images to strive to be like. These images give them inspiration. And while people will kick the same ol’ “we come in all colors” nonsense, it’s only a automated response, a cut and paste retort taught to them by “the system” of white supremacy that took root once it broke out of the harsh winter’s of Europe. However, the Barbie doll isn’t to blame. It is only another pawn to forward the agenda of the elite. It is another strategy in the on going “whitewashing of Boriken.”

Below are excerpts from two works regarding the blanquemiento or "whitening" of Puerto Rican society. They touch on the various historical and cultural events that played as major factors in the forming of the "white" mentality instilled in many "light skinned" Borikuas. The result, after years of being fed such a poor mental diet, of course results in the internalizing of this image and the stride towards "whiteness" in order to excel and move forward and up in society. It did not happen accidentally. And the masses of Borikuas haven’t always harbored such a perspective of themselves. However, it came about for reason. It was a strategy that ended up a stigma in the self-identification, self-realization and self-determination of the people of Boriken.

"For those familiar with Puerto Rican history and society, this question may seem disingenuous. After all, ever since the island came under U.S. control Puerto Rican elites have worked long and hard to create and maintain Puerto Rico’s image as the "white island of the Antilles." At the turn of the twentieth century, the effort to portray the Puerto Rican population as "white" was partly a response to scientific racism. Confronted with scientific theories that linked prospects for development to a society’s "racial stock," Puerto Rican elites-like their counterparts elsewhere in Latin America- sought to position their society on the road to racial progress. Perhaps even more ominous that the predictions of race science, for Puerto Rican elites, was the specter of what might become of their society were their colonizers to see Puerto Rico as predominantly non-white. The shadow of the Jim Crow south hung over the island of Puerto Rico in the early twentieth century, a constant reminder of what it meant to be non-white under the rule of the United States."

- excerpt from and essay entitled "How Puerto Rico Became White: An Analysis of Racial Statistics in the 1910 and 1920 Censuses" by Mara Loveman and Jeronimo Muniz
You may view the entire paper at: http://www.ssc.edu/cde/demsem/loveman-muniz.pdf

Another article was written by a student named Maria Bruno from Trinity College as an analysis of an essay written by another other, and provides many insightful historical facts and relevancies. Please, do the knowledge and take the best part for yourself.

"In his essay Puerto Rico: The Four Storeyed Country, José Luis González develops a wonderful simile between the construction of a four storeyed building and the reconstruction of Puerto Rican history. González’ simile suggests that the history of Puerto Rico consist of layers or floor from which you must build. This is an excellent interpretation of how Puerto Rican identity has been formed because of it is divided into sections which makes it easy to follow the development of Puerto Rican culture. Through out time Puerto Rican elite’s have reconstructed their history by taking from and rearranging its foundation or early history in order to explain their interpretation of the islands historical and cultural development. In the process the foundation of the building or earlier periods have become obscured by the passing of time and the influence of the elite. The following pages will be my own construction of "The four storeyed country" concentrating on Spanish colonialism and it’s effects on the island."

- to read the entire paper:

Proper Education Always Corrects Errors


Puerto Ricans- U.S. Citizens in Limbo

The article below was reposted from www.indigenouspeoples.net :

Puerto Ricans--U.S. Citizens in Limbo

"At the end of 1995, the U.S. Department of State agreed to recognize the petition of Juan Mari Bras, 68, of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Bras claimed that U.S. citizenship is an imposed foreign citizenship, and declared that he was "Boricua" first. (Boricua is the Taino Indian word for Puerto Rican). He did this, in part, to buttress the claim that Puerto Rico is a separate nation.

Since then, at least 500 other Puerto Ricans have also renounced their U.S. citizenship, says Jose Lopez, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago. Prompted by this pro-independence fervor, Puerto Rican leaders across the country say it is time for Puerto Ricans to reflect upon what it means to be a U.S. citizen. And they have called for the celebration of "Boricua First"--a National Puerto Rican Affirmation Day--on March 29 in Washington D.C. This gathering will bring to light the concerns of Puerto Ricans both on the island and on the mainland.

Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War in which Spain ceded the island. In 1917, the Jones Act made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens. "Puerto Ricans didn't choose to be Americans," points out Howard Jordan, managing editor of Critica, a publication of the New York-based Institute for Puerto Rican Policy (IPRP).

Puerto Rico's commonwealth status means that island residents cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. Yet, Puerto Ricans have repeatedly voted against statehood (the last time, in 1993) partly because many fear that statehood would mean they would be forced to assimilate and would lose their Latin American culture.

Many Americans view Puerto Ricans as immigrants and newcomers, says Jordan. And they are often treated accordingly. It is not unheard of for U.S. immigration agents to ask Puerto Ricans for foreign passports, and for Puerto Ricans to suffer discrimination in the workplace as suspected "illegal aliens."

Confusion over Puerto Rican identity is rooted in Puerto Rico's colonial relationship--political, cultural and linguistic--to the rest of the United States.

There are approximately 6.5 million Puerto Ricans in the United States, who make up 2.5 percent of the total U.S. population. However, when the island is excluded from the Census count--which is standard practice--the percentage decreases to around 1 percent.
When the residents of Puerto Rico are counted as part of the U.S. Latino population, Puerto Ricans make up 24 percent of all Latinos, but only half that when Puerto Rico's population is excluded.

This intentional miscount reinforces the notion that Puerto Ricans are not part of the United States, leaving them in a political twilight zone. "It relegates them to second class citizenship," says Angelo Falcon, IPRP president. As a result, government officials virtually ignore the concerns of Puerto Ricans--a population that has the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country.

The Census also slights the Puerto Rican community through its creation of the generic "Hispanic" category. Lumped together under this one heading, specific Latino communities become invisible. So, while the different groups must assert their uniqueness, they must also be willing to unite when all Latinos are being attacked, says Falcon.
Another identity issue for Puerto Ricans has surfaced in Philadelphia. There, the police department has infuriated the Latino community by deciding to follow federal guidelines and recognize only black, white, Asian and Native American racial categories. This policy forces Latinos to accept official U.S. government definitions of race--which essentially do not recognize races that are mixed.

"All Latinos are mestizos (of mixed race). We have a little bit of everything," says Lizette Ortiz, president of the Latino American Student Association at West Chester University, Pa. The U.S. government has taken Latinos' land (Puerto Rico and half of Mexico); through legislation, politicians are trying to take away our language (Spanish); and now the federal government is attempting to impose an identity upon us, says Ortiz. "That's where we draw the line."

Angel Ortiz, a Philadelphia city councilman, says that once Latinos are forced to accept the official U.S. definitions of race, census bureaucrats and other government officials "will inject us with their virus of racism." The U.S. Census generally does not acknowledge race mixture, instead reinforcing historically racist and dangerous concepts of "racial purity." As a result of the councilman's intervention, the police department is reviewing its new policy.

The purpose of "Boricua First," says Jordan, is to focus Washington's attention on the specific political and economic agenda of Puerto Ricans and to get Puerto Rican bureaucrats in Washington to be more responsive to their communities.

Thousands from around the country are expected to participate in the bipartisan event. "Boricua First" activities will commence at the Vietnam Memorial and will highlight the historical role of Boricuas in defending the United States in wars throughout the nation's history. (There are, for example, 2,000 Puerto Rican names on the Vietnam memorial wall.) The day will end with the presentation of petitions to the President for the pardon of 15 Puerto Rican political prisoners--who are in prison because of violent independence-related activities against U.S. military installations in Puerto Rico and corporate targets on the mainland. Most were charged with committing "seditious conspiracy," highlighting the old adage that "one man terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

The leaders also hope to link up with the October 12 Latino march on Washington--as equal partners, they say; not simply as supporters. "


"Subtle Bias"

Below is a good article I pulled from blackelectorate.com which discusses racial politics and self-identity. It speaks to experiences that I have shared myself. In a world drenched in 'white supremacy', those of us who are very light-skinned are often expected to 'want' to 'pass'. Those of us who chose otherwise are looked at as 'insane" or even"radical". Those of our people who are darker than us are often victims of ignorance, and chastize us, calling us 'white". However, there is more to us that what meets the eye and most times our Afro-Indio blood cells and DNA isn't visibly noticeable. That doesn't make us any less than who we are- Original man and woman.

Subtle Bias

by Ann Cardinal

Let me tell you what really drives me crazy as a fair-skinned Latina. It’s a question I get all the time, one you might have innocuously asked yourself, on occasion. When I tell someone I’m of Puerto Rican heritage they say, "Funny, you don’t look Puerto Rican!" Though this raises my blood pressure through the roof, I restrain myself from using the comeback some of my more militant friends use, "Funny, you don’t look like a bigot!" My new version is more subtle, but hopefully just as effective, "And just what do you think a Latina looks like?" After waiting out either a series of stammers or excuses I continue with, "We come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, you know."

Now I don’t bring this up to make anyone feel bad. I know that more often than not there is no hurtful intent behind this comment; however it makes one feel that they are not ethnic enough, or somehow not fitting the "standard" for their given ethnicity. But the worse situation is when this question is asked as if it were a compliment, as I was asked by a loud man at a party in Brooklyn one afternoon: "Whoa, you sure are white for a Puerto Rican! Maybe you shouldn’t tell people your mother was one. You sure could pass as one of us." As if being "whiter" is equal to better. As if I am not proud of my mother and our heritage. As if I would prefer to be "one of us."

I taught a community college course in race, class, and gender in the United States a few years ago, and there was a woman from Germany taking the course who confessed she is often asked, "What brings you to Vermont?" She would tell them that her husband is a Vermonter and his work is here, and then she gets, "How long will you be here for?" or "When do you head home?" as if her welcome is expected to wear out, when in fact she was indeed a permanent Vermont resident just like everyone else in the class. It just seems to me that though there has been so much focus on PC terms, such as Hispanic-American and African-American (though I have insulted more black people with the latter… a Jamaican friend yelled at me in a coffee shop, "I’m a black Jamaican! I am not African American!"), that we lose touch with the subtler words that can be hurtful. This is even true within our own cultures.

My cousin Tere is a fair-skinned blonde beauty who, unlike me, is Puerto Rican on both sides. She was in an elevator in New York when two young Latino boys were talking about her in Spanish. She smiled down at them and responded to their comments in perfect Spanish. Their jaws dropped and they called her a "blanquita," little white one. And last year when my family and I were returning from Puerto Rico, the airline ticket agent greets me with "Good morning!" and turns to my Native American husband (who by the way, prefers to be called Indian) and says, "Buenos días, Señor" though those are about the only words in Spanish he knows and I am fluent.

And in the interest of disclosing all, I prefer the term Latino over Hispanic, as the latter is not inclusive of the indigenous races of countries such as Mexico that have their own rich cultural histories and language that began way before the invasion of Spain. I know, I know, this can all make your head spin… so what is my message, gentle readers? Only that I ask that each of us to respect one another’s identification. There is no way to know where another’s family hails from, whether they had mixed parents, or if their skin color has anything to do with their heritage. So when someone identifies themselves as something other than you would have guessed, keep it to yourself. I can guarantee they already know, they’ve probably looked in the mirror a few times in their lives, and would rather you take their word for it. However if they identify themselves as being from anywhere other than this planet, they are fair game.


"Whanau Maori & Mapuche Solidarity"

-The following article was taken from http://www.urihau.blogspot.com/

Whanau Maori & Mapuche solidarity
by:Viviana Avila

There have been a series of recent events that have directly affected indigenous communities, within the Latin American and continental context. This is not a new occurrence; everything started more than 500 years ago, and everyone knows what the armed, cultural invasion brought to our continent. The damage has not been repaired, despite all the time that has passed by, and the regrets that have been said by western civilization.

The dignity of the indigenous peoples and nations of the continent has not been crushed, despite the planned genocide of assimilation imposed upon these millennial cultures. On the contrary in the last few decades, the organization and struggle for their intrinsic rights has been more vigilant with each passing day, as with the increasing grades of consciousness and disposal to struggle for their sovereignty and self-determination. Some more than others, but incentive is alive and has begun to go forward.

We see it end to end in our continent, in the south beyond the Andes; that long and narrow stretch of land, bathed along a contaminated ocean by transnational corporations known as Chile. Those who lust for power have taken over our territories, thanks to the permission given by the cowardly governments that have opened their doors to these companies in exchange for the scraps the empire throws at them, so they can thicken their dirty filthy pockets. They are traitors to their people and to their roots; they wallow in their corrupt state of lies and unbounded ambition. Inheritors of the Pinochet regime, and administrators of his politics and fascist constitution.

Immoral, racist representatives of a sick society that have launched themselves against an unarmed people; intimidating, incarcerating and murdering youth and elders. Assaulting and terrorizing entire communities, on the search for young liberators wearing military boots, worse than in the times of the dictatorship. Mapuche is the name that is criminalized; their courageous organizations, the men and women dignified of their race. What a historical shame for those in the government calling themselves socialist. What a shame for women to have representatives as deceitful as that who leads the country of Chile. You would have to be deceitful to lie and say to the UN that the Mapuches incarcerated by her neo-liberal system are not political prisoners, but "common delinquents."

The shame that they forgot about their history. The shame of being the legal crooks of lands that do not belong to them; for wanting to develop a second colonization on Mapuche territory, that is nothing more than the extermination of a noble millennial people. One day they will be judged by history. Meanwhile, we leave the natural forces to look after and protect the ancient people with their part in this history. We men and women hold the other part, those that are not willing to let a second colonization happen in Arauco, in Malleco, nor in any other part of Mapuche territory.

Here in Canada, the same thing is happening. Perhaps in a different form, but the pillaging is seen despite the camouflage of grand terrains of flora; immensities of incalculable beauty. Large... everything is large. When one comes to this country everything shines, deceiving, as were the colonizers, as is the current empire, unnecessarily large, inflated with arrogance.... Savage; when it arrives at the indigenous reservations in the darkness, assaulting, clawing, submitting defenseless beings, seizing children, hitting elders and women, arresting youth... Advancing through ancient territory with their infernal machinery. Their factories poisoning the water. The contamination and indigenous poverty makes you shudder in the north, where the great cellulose companies destroy the forest and turn the water that runs through the streams into the color of oxide; burning eyes as you look, and your insides as you drink....

This may seem like a fable, an odyssey, but it is not. It is present north to south, east to west, in this immense show model known as Canada. Here as in the south of the continent, history repeats itself. The repression and displacement of cultures and territories are the product of the same patron of values: money. Universal corrupter of consciouses. The most horrendous injustices that a human being could conceive have been committed in its name. However the peoples and nations have said enough, and have begun to go forward as Che Guevara once said; their march of giants will not be detained. Forced for years to dwell in sacrifice and misery, the indigenous Nations throughout the entire territory have begun their march...

A little more than a year a ago on February 28, 2006, Hadonashonee, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory had to take over their own lands to stop the illegal construction of a housing development (the Douglas Creek Estates), in Kanonhstaton, the protected place. To this day, men and women confront with great courage and dignity, the defense of their territory in harsh climatic conditions and economic pressures on behalf of the government in the talks to recover their land. They are in constant harassment from the police authorities, and the racist population in its surroundings. Despite all the pressures and efforts remove and divide them, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory are more solid and united as ever under the banner of truth, dignity, and solidarity of their own people, and of brotherly peoples that have not been absent from the Reclamation site.

Recently, another front of struggle has arisen from the heart of the Mohawk peoples in Tyendinaga, in defense of their territory and displacement... The taking over of land in their own territory, protest through highway and rail blockades; the different actions of the indigenous peoples have the same cause:the struggle for the defense of their ancient territories, the preservation of their culture, autonomy and the right to decide and influence in their own matters.

That is why we say with much strength: yesterday Kanonhstaton, today Tyendinaga, tomorrow Beyond the Andes. The prophesy of the Eagle and the Condor will yet be realized.

The Women's Coordinating Committee Chile-Canadaemail: wccc_98@hotmail.com

Harriet Nahanee: Comments on our Condition

Below are some comments from recently past elder and Indigenous activist, Harriet Nahanee, on the state of our people in Amekikia, the wilderness of North America. However, many of the prevailing conditions also effect our brothers and sisters in the lower hemisphere as well. Across the Americas, time to’ build or be destroyed’.

July, 1995

Harriet Nahani is an Elder of the Pacheedaht Nation. Below, she introduces two essentials in understanding the Native experience in B.C.

On colonization:
We're in an awful state.
I'm not talking about just where I live--I'm talking about all across the country. We live in dictatorships run by federal government band-elected Band Chiefs, [and] Councillors.

We survived for 50,000 years under a chief who looked after all his people, or her people, depending on where you lived. Everything was considered: environment, the people, everything. They had a beautiful system and it was a good life until Europeans came.

Their idea was to civilize us and make us Christians, actually it was a process to take us away from the land.

They took children at five years of age away from their families, housed them in huge Residential Schools--impersonal places--they taught us a little ABC, just a little of that, but they trained us for servitude, this was to serve the white people.

They took our culture, our culture is our spine. We survived for 50,000 years with our methods.

Our ancestors were conservationists.

On de-colonization:
What I would like to see is people with [traditional] knowledge to teach the small, little people how to grow up with pride. This generation is lost. My generation is lost--they're assimilated.

They don't think like an Indian. What I'd like to see is our five-year-olds being taught their language, their songs, their games, their spirituality, their Indian, eh, their Indian-ness.

I'd like to ask all the people out there to reclaim their culture--practice it, teach the children, and let's reclaim our backbone, our culture and put some pride in our children.

"What we need is [an] Aboriginal Malcolm X to put some pride back into these lost souls."

-to learn more about Harriet Nahanee: