2.03.2009

The Internal Struggle for Outward Acceptance




Peace! Tau!


As we move forward we continue to struggle against the condition and brainwashing that has been perpetrated against us in the name of colonialism. As we struggle for freedom, justice and equality, our people still continue the struggle against the internal chains of bondage that we clapped on our brains throughout this journey for cultural liberation. Our mindstate still bears the scars of the internal slavery we ignore because we have become accustomed to. We still struggle to be excepting in a white man's world (society) despite how much we make others believe otherwise. In the strategy of 'divide and conquer' the issue of racial and ethnic identity still presents itself as a sufficient tool to keep our people blind to themselves and from uniting with those more like them than not. We can not move forward and extend our hands to the oppressor and his agents, in an effort to mend the sacred hoop of life, if we do not mend it within us first. And embracing our roots, our ancestral trees, especially as Afro-Indigenous people, as a extension of Pan-Indigenous solidarity, is a path in the right direction.


Black Denial: Latins And Their African Heritage


Why do so many Latin people deny their African ancestry which is so obvious ? That is a question that many people wonder about. It’s pretty much a no-brainer and very sad. Black people are the most hated people on this earth because of the images that have been associated with being black over the years. People come to this country from many different nations day in and day out and they all have one thing in common, a feeling of dislike towards and superiority over blacks. An insider who worked for the Census bureau in Florida during the last one conducted several years ago found that not one out of hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans the insider and his staff handled checked black as their race. The Census asks you specifically what your ethinicity is and hispanics have a second choice of being white or black. Did any of you guys see the Cuban Olympic team ??? I guess all of those players were white right ??? The Miami Herald did a very in depth investigation into why latins are so much in denial. This is part one of the article:


Nearly all Dominican women straighten their hair, which experts say is a direct result of a historical learned rejection of all things black



SANTO DOMINGO — Yara Matos sat still while long, shiny locks from China were fastened, bit by bit, to her coarse hair.

Not that Matos has anything against her natural curls, even though Dominicans call that pelo malo — bad hair.

But a professional Dominican woman just should not have bad hair, she said. “If you’re working in a bank, you don’t want some barrio-looking hair. Straight hair looks elegant,” the bank teller said. “It’s not that as a person of color I want to look white. I want to look pretty.”
And to many in the Dominican Republic, to look pretty is to look less black.

Dominican hairdressers are internationally known for the best hair-straightening techniques. Store shelves are lined with rows of skin whiteners, hair relaxers and extensions.

Racial identification here is thorny and complex, defined not so much by skin color but by the texture of your hair, the width of your nose and even the depth of your pocket. The richer, the “whiter.” And, experts say, it is fueled by a rejection of anything black.

“I always associated black with ugly. I was too dark and didn’t have nice hair,” said Catherine de la Rosa, a dark-skinned Dominican-American college student spending a semester here. “With time passing, I see I’m not black. I’m Latina.

“At home in New York everyone speaks of color of skin. Here, it’s not about skin color. It’s culture.”

The only country in the Americas to be freed from black colonial rule — neighboring Haiti — the Dominican Republic still shows signs of racial wounds more than 200 years later. Presidents historically encouraged Dominicans to embrace Spanish Catholic roots rather than African ancestry.

Here, as in much of Latin America — the “one drop rule” works in reverse: One drop of white blood allows even very dark-skinned people to be considered white.


LACK OF INTEREST

As black intellectuals here try to muster a movement to embrace the nation’s African roots, they acknowledge that it has been a mostly fruitless cause. Black pride organizations such as Black Woman’s Identity fizzled for lack of widespread interest. There was outcry in the media when the Brotherhood of the Congos of the Holy Spirit — a community with roots in Africa — was declared an oral patrimony of humanity by UNESCO. “There are many times that I think of just leaving this country because it’s too hard,” said Juan Rodríguez Acosta, curator of the Museum of the Dominican Man. Acosta, who is black, has pushed for the museum to include controversial exhibits that reflect many Dominicans’ African background. “But then I think: Well if I don’t stay here to change things, how will things ever change?”

A walk down city streets shows a country where blacks and dark-skinned people vastly outnumber whites, and most estimates say that 90 percent of Dominicans are black or of mixed race. Yet census figures say only 11 percent of the country’s nine million people are black.
To many Dominicans, to be black is to be Haitian. So dark-skinned Dominicans tend to describe themselves as any of the dozen or so racial categories that date back hundreds of years — Indian, burned Indian, dirty Indian, washed Indian, dark Indian, cinnamon, moreno or mulatto, but rarely negro.

The Dominican Republic is not the only nation with so many words to describe skin color. Asked in a 1976 census survey to describe their own complexions, Brazilians came up with 136 different terms, including café au lait, sunburned, morena, Malaysian woman, singed and “toasted.”
“The Cuban black was told he was black. The Dominican black was told he was Indian,” said Dominican historian Celsa Albert, who is black. “I am not Indian. That color does not exist. People used to tell me, ‘You are not black.’ If I am not black, then I guess there are no blacks anywhere, because I have curly hair and dark skin.”


THE HISTORY

Using the word Indian to describe dark-skinned people is an attempt to distance Dominicans from any African roots, Albert and other experts said. She noted that it’s not even historically accurate: The country’s Taino Indians were virtually annihilated in the 1500s, shortly after Spanish colonizers arrived.

Researchers say the de-emphasizing of race in the Dominican Republic dates to the 1700s, when the sugar plantation economy collapsed and many slaves were freed and rose up in society.
Later came the rocky history with Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s slaves revolted against the French and in 1804 established their own nation. In 1822, Haitians took over the entire island, ruling the predominantly Hispanic Dominican Republic for 22 years.

To this day, the Dominican Republic celebrates its independence not from centuries-long colonizer Spain, but from Haiti.

“The problem is Haitians developed a policy of black-centrism and . . . Dominicans don’t respond to that,” said scholar Manuel Núñez, who is black. “Dominican is not a color of skin, like the Haitian.”

Dictator Rafael Trujillo, who ruled from 1930 to 1961, strongly promoted anti-Haitian sentiments, and is blamed for creating the many racial categories that avoided the use of the word “black.”


The practice continued under President Joaquín Balaguer, who often complained that Haitians were “darkening” the country. In the 1990s, he was blamed for thwarting the presidential aspirations of leading black candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez by spreading rumors that he was actually Haitian.

“Under Trujillo, being black was the worst thing you could be,” said Afro-Dominican poet Blas Jiménez. “Now we are Dominican, because we are not Haitian. We are something, because we are not that.”

Jiménez remembers when he got his first passport, the clerk labeled him “Indian.” He protested to the director of the agency.

“I remember the man saying, ‘If he wants to be black, let him be black!’ ” Jiménez said.
Resentment toward anything Haitian continues, as an estimated one million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, most working in the sugar and construction industries. Mass deportations often mistakenly include black Dominicans, and Haitians have been periodically lynched in mob violence. The government has been trying to deny citizenship and public education to the Dominican-born children of illegal Haitian migrants.

When migrant-rights activist Sonia Pierre won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2006, the government responded by trying to revoke her citizenship, saying she is actually Haitian.

“There’s tremendous resistance to blackness — black is something bad,” said black feminist Sergia Galván. ‘‘Black is associated with dark, illegal, ugly, clandestine things. There is a prototype of beauty here and a lot of social pressure. There are schools where braids and natural hair are prohibited.”

Galván and a loosely knit group of women have protested European canons of beauty, once going so far as to rally outside a beauty pageant. She and other experts say it is now more common to see darker-skinned women in the contests — but they never win.


CULTURE PULL

Several women said the cultural rejection of African looking hair is so strong that people often shout insults at women with natural curls.

“I cannot take the bus because people pull my hair and stick combs in it,” said wavy haired performance artist Xiomara Fortuna. “They ask me if I just got out of prison. People just don’t want that image to be seen.”

The hours spent on hair extensions and painful chemical straightening treatments are actually an expression of nationalism, said Ginetta Candelario, who studies the complexities of Dominican race and beauty at Smith College in Massachusetts. And to some of the women who relax their hair, it’s simply a way to have soft manageable hair in the Dominican Republic’s stifling humidity.

“It’s not self-hate,” Candelario said. “Going through that is to love yourself a lot. That’s someone saying, ‘I am going to take care of me.’ It’s nationalist, it’s affirmative and celebrating self.”
Money, education, class — and of course straight hair — can make dark-skinned Dominicans be perceived as more “white,” she said. Many black Dominicans here say they never knew they were black — until they visited the United States.

“During the Trujillo regime, people who were dark skinned were rejected, so they created their own mechanism to fight it,” said Ramona Hernández, Director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College in New York. “When you ask, ‘What are you?’ they don’t give you the answer you want . . . saying we don’t want to deal with our blackness is simply what you want to hear.”

Hernández, who has olive-toned skin and a long mane of hair she blows out straight, acknowledges she would “never, never, never” go to a university meeting with her natural curls.

“That’s a woman trying to look cute; I’m a sociologist,” she said.

Asked if a black Dominican woman can be considered beautiful in her country, Hernández leapt to her feet.

“You should see how they come in here with their big asses!” she said, shuffling across her office with her arms extended behind her back, simulating an enormous rear-end. “They come in here thinking they are all that, and I think, ‘doesn’t she know she’s not really pretty?’ “

Maria Elena Polanca is a black woman with the striking good looks. She said most Dominicans look at her with curiosity, as if a black woman being beautiful were something strange.

She spends her days promoting a hair straightener at La Sirena, a Santo Domingo department store that features an astonishing array of hair straightening products.

“Look, we have bad hair, bad. Nobody says ‘curly.’ It’s bad,” she said. “You can’t go out like that. People will say, ‘Look at that nest! Someone light a match!’ ”

‘IT WAS HURTFUL’

Purdue University professor Dawn Stinchcomb, who is African American, said that when she came here in 1999 to study African influences in literature, people insulted her in the street.
Waiters refused to serve her. People wouldn’t help Stinchcomb with her research, saying if she wanted to study Africans, she’d have to go to Haiti.

“I had people on the streets . . . yell at me to get out of the sun because I was already black enough,” she said. “It was hurtful. . . . I was raised in the South and thought I could handle any racial comment. I never before experienced anything like I did in the Dominican Republic.

“I don’t have a problem when people who don’t look like me say hurtful things. But when it’s people who look just like me?”


4 comments:

Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sha-King Cehum said...

Peace Sister,

I realize the depths of all reprecussions that could come from the articles I post. The article itself is only a highlight of a larger problem. I don't teach understanding and if someone is at all interested to learn the finer details it is primarily up to them to seek them out. As I have, after reading things that I did and did not agree with. Today's mathematics is understanding and it is something that comes from within a person.

While I am familiar with the history you spoke in in your article, it was not my purpose to republish it. The articles I post range from simply just pictures, to quotes, comments, newspapper and magazine articles, to my own essays and understanding of things.

It would be great for you to write an article to be published on the matter, since you seem to be very staunch in your position.

It's dangerous for someone to take on face value. But then again, even when well elaborated upon and giving with context, someone can and still will see it how they see it.

It is better to having understanding than it is to be understood.

Peace!

Anonymous said...

Yo me alizo el pelo y no veo que eso tenga nada de malo no me hace mas ni menos negra. Todas mis amigas negras se alizan el pelo e igual que yo piensan que un pelo natural se ve de mal gusto. Ya trate una vez de tener un pelo natural y es horible.

Cuantos profesionales (mujeres)conoces que tengan un afro ?? Médicos, Abogados, publicistas,Contables etc. en la universidad se nos habla de una imagen profesional y eso significa no parecer una persona desorganizada, descuidadao sin mucha higiene.

Los empleadores quieren una imagen limpia para representar una empresa.

Anonymous said...

Gals
You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever. http://bit.ly/bllhx1