Article from- "Knowledge of Self Anthology: A Collection of Wisdom on the Science of Everything in Life"
By Sha-King Cehum Allah
The ‘Americas’ have long been considered a melting pot of sorts for various cultures and ethnicities. This is especially true when we consider the institution of slavery. Across North, Central and South America, Native, African , European and even Asian chromosomes have been infused through the hard times and hunger brought on by colonialism. Yet, it is the predominance of the African and “Indian” blood and culture that serves as the main pillars of civilization on these continents.
The merging of the African and Indian is what brought forth the reality of the "so-called Latino." For the two centuries we have been told that we are a ‘tri-racial peoples‘, a cosmic combination consisting of African, Indian and Spanish (European) blood. Yet, the focus has always been put on the 'Spanish' lineage as the result of self-esteem issues and cultural conditioning. We have a tendency to associate with that which is 'lighter' or that which is seen as closer to 'white', while at the same time pushing ourselves away from that which is ‘dark’ and embracing 'blackness' because our overseers and educators stipulated it as a 'sin' and equated it with inferiority. This is the unfortunate by-product of the mental and physical slavery we have endured. While there are many black and brown 'Latinos' and Native Americans, a large segment of our populations is 'yellow'. This has been exploited by our oppressors and has contributed to the masses of people's lack of understanding of who they really are. We have been psychological diced up and separated from ourselves. This acquisition and merger of Native and African culture and people is not solely the result of slavery and stands as a testament to who we are, beyond the Spanish interjection and inference. The Spanish no doubt have a role in our history and cultura from language to religion, but can not and are not the anchor for our identity. We are the Original people on this part of the planet earth- Nativos y Africanos. One people.
Many Native Americans, as well as so-called Latin Americans, have the misconception that the mixing of African and Indian was something that was primarily characteristic of the Caribbean, South and Central America, and the U.S. South, as the result of chattel slavery. Research and studies have shown from archaeology and anthropology that African peoples were traveling to the Americas, trading and building with the Native peoples, a considerable amount of time before the arrival of Columbus. Most of the supportive evidence has been found throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. Still much evidence shows and proves this taking place in North America as well, especially from the tribal stories handed down through the centuries, like those of the Anishnabe/Chippewa and the tale of Neganii and Abukar. Upon the advent of chattel slavery, they continued merging together for survival and developed many settlements throughout North, Central and South America.
These interactions between Original peoples reveal more about the “Americas” than we have ever been taught in school, and verify the forging together of a new cultural identity prior to what many Euro-centrists attribute as a result of slavery.
We came together prior to colonialism and not just ‘in the struggle’ and poverty of the urban jungle, cotton fields or encomiendas. The coming together and existing together of both peoples was essentially ‘nation building’ and reasonably the foundation for Elijah Muhammad’s use of the terminology 'Original Nation' in reference to the collective African-Indian population in America. This is a very important concept to understand giving that a large population of so-called African Americans possess Native blood just as many so-called Latin Americans possess African blood. The basis for Native and African peoples coming together is both cultural and political, while usually only seen as political in modern times. The perspective and assumption for it to be solely political, limits our understanding of each other and ourselves, as well as our ability to continue to elevate to our highest state of consciousness and existence. We are brothers and sisters and are literally, one people. The Original people.
We have been bombarded with notions of an “Espana” motherland from the start of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. It was the conquistadores, themselves of questionable ethnic origin, that perpetuated the idea of whiteness based on the ‘one drop’ theory, a contrast to it’s role in North American racial ideology- ‘one drop’ of black blood makes you ‘black’. It is through this mental framework that they would subdue the masses of African and Native people, seizing their identity as they raped and pillaged our women, replacing our self-esteem with obligations to the crown and church. Not only were we separated from our people and our legacy, we were further separated from our true selves by nationalism. New labels of identification were instituted as the countries of the Americas eventually fought for and obtained independence from Spain and other European empires. New labels that forced us to identity with our oppressor and unite under ’his’ common cause.
These labels- mestizo, mulatto, zambo, pardo, and triguena- were conceived with the intent to further divide us from ourselves and each other. Although, these labels would eventually take a back seat in favor of ’nationalism’. It should be noted that the independence movement in Latin America was headed by the intellectuals and elites. As they sought independence from Spain, the cause to fight became the propaganda for a common reality they all shared in being 'oppressed' by Spain. This common reality became 'nationalism' and ended up being to Latin America what liberalism was to the United States. However in many cases the revolution simmered down, people's vision were lost, and the oppression of Spain was replaced by the oppression of the intellectual elite of the European colonizers.
In time, they then sought a common identity, something that spoke out to the universal heritage and infusion of blood throughout Latin America. It was an identity that was to speak to the differences between those born in ‘Las Americas’ and the ‘Peninsulares’ (those born on the Iberian peninsula- Spain and Portugal). This identity would serve to tie them into the 'new land' where many of them were born, and highlighted the bloodline that birthed this new reality. This concept was Indigenismo. Yet, it did not represent truly the identity of the people but rather utilized the notion of the “Indians” as a novelty and placed it within the bounds of being a ‘heritage’ as opposed to ethnic or racial identity. It would later take on even more momentum as a tool against the campaign of ‘mestizaje’ or the ‘whitening’ of society, that took place during the mid to late 1800’s and which still persists today. It would become the rallying cry for such revolutionary figures as Augustino Cesar Sandino and Emiliano Zapata against the oppression of the ruling class.
Indigenismo is a wonderful concept. Even more powerful is it's application and implementation. That is, when the seed is cast out to be sown and takes root amongst the hearts and minds of the people. Something even more eventful than the blooming of flowers and the fruit of the crops. It is the moment when the seed is planted, when it actually resonates within a person or people. Indigenismo has been such a unifying concept through the 'Americas'. Yet like most things positive and unifying, there are those who are opposed to it. Through out 'Latin America' it has been the ruling oligarchies, the Euro-elite, whom undoubtedly were victims of the colonial education system and whose influences came from the European "Enlightenment" period of the 1800’s, who have opposed this idea with ferocity. It is they and their descendants, whom nowadays, have plagued us with the label of being nothing more than a 'mixed raced people', with no real point of origin. Owing ourselves and our livelihood to that 'Iberian connection', a perspective which is termed 'hispanismo'. And thus, the introduction and usage of the term 'hispanic.'
The use of this terminology was then able to tie non-European peoples into an identity centered-around conquest. In lands colonized by English-speaking Europeans- Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, etc., the people ended up viewing “England” as their motherland. Nowadays our people freely refer to themselves as ‘Hispanic’ and especially “Spanish”. Although we may continue to speak in the tongue of our conquerors, let it be understood that “Castillian” is not our original language. Still, many Spanish-speaking people are adamant about speaking the colonizers language, which allows them to relish in the desire to be other than our own selves. The manner in which someone speaks the language is considered a status of one’s social and cultural status, as many countries pride themselves on speaking, what they consider to be, the closest to how it is spoken in Spain. Still, each Latin American countries dialect(s) is unique and is reflective of the Indigenous and African peoples that lived in those areas and very much a mirror of the suppressed identity of the people.
“Inside every mestizo there is either one dead Indian, or an Indian waiting to re-emerge” -Jose Barreiro, Guajira-Taino Scholar and Editor of ‘Indian County’
Since their empires have been built from our blood and bondage, they ultimately fear that which will unseat them from their colonial thrones. So they have down played the Indian and African in us. Yet, it was the Indian and African in us that would not accept a life of servitude. As I have touched on before, to ‘identify with the oppressor’ is the goal of the imperial indoctrination and colonialism. This mentality they have sought to kindle in us to maintain their status quo and prevent 'us' from reclaiming power over our own destinies. Historians, intellectuals, government officials, have often made claims that the 'Indians' in Latin America were all wiped out, especially in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This outrageous claim is far from the truth. The classification of who and what we are has been in the hands of those who sought to exploit us. History has been recorded by those who have conquered and pillaged. ‘Their’ writings only serve as propaganda to authorize and justify their cruel treatment of the Original inhabitants of this part of the planet earth. But again, they do this to prevent any potential of us destabilizing their colonial power and reclaiming our lands, let alone our identity. They do this to make us think we are all different and to prevent a mass uprising of the marginalized, the voicing of our condition and demand for our rights across the planet. It prevents us from learning and cherishing our history. For a people without a history have no future. They want us to believe our history began in 1492 and that it started with them.
They have fomented a popular mentality that makes 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 (making information known) and attempting to unify people around who we are is simply brushed off by the main stream and viewed as a fledgling attempt at planting our own roots and staking claim to geography (as the U.S. and Latin America colonizers are guilty of). While intension of what appears to be ‘land grabs’ are assumed, this is far from the truth. The truth being that “we are the Original people”. We are “los indios”, whether full-blood or mestizo or zambo. Of course, this is something they do not want to admit because of it’s implications of the eventual displacing of European descendants from our land. All the more reason for the reclassifying job done on race and ethnicity by the U.S. 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 continued 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 over 516 years throughout Latin America. People are still being forced to compromise their identity to move ahead in society.
The revisions in the Census Bureau’s survey classifications on race having merged the "Hispanic" population into the "White" category was deliberate. White people are very aware that they are about to become the minority in their own country and this is just one effort in reversing the state of things and discouraging the unity of the Original people. They take the largest and fastest growing "minority" in America, covering them under the cloak of "tricknowledge" and white supremacy by calling them white. This is what happened in 1846 after the United States ‘stole’ the Republic of Texas from our Mexican brothers and sisters, and called it an "annexation". The majority of white settlers in Texas were slave holders and the U.S. government feared that revenge would be taken by the Mexicans and the other Original people who resided there. To prevent an uprising they classified "Mexicans" as "white" (despite their overwhelming Indian bloodline), a label which continued to appear of Texan birth certificates until the 1960's. "Mexica" is actually the name of the people we refer to as the ‘Aztecs‘. The ’Aztec” was conjured up by historians due to their proposed ancient homeland "Aztlan"- Southwestern U.S.) Regardless to one's actually skin color, there is much more in their bio-chemical make-up that constitutes who they are. Someone may appear 'white', but they aren't. The are light-skinned “people of color”, and their 'blood' and DNA bears witness. As Original people we range from very dark to very light. However, many remain confused due to how we were/are educated and saturated with notions of “Spain’ and Europe, yearning to be other than our own selves.
The people whom descend from the lands of so-called Latin America 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 our traditions. Many of us actuality believe the lies and think that we are “Spanish”, in spite of our latent embrace of ‘indigenismo’. We have been taught that we have Indian in us but we aren’t Indian. We have been told that we have African in us but that we aren’t African. We end up psychologically ‘riding the fence’ and making racial selections to suit our needs in society. Still, by the hand of the oppressor, indigenismo ended up only being a buffer to keep from being called “black”. While it has been documented that 85% of Dominicans have black blood, Carol Amoruso, editor of the Hispanic Village, in her series entitled “Explorations in Black and Tan” noted: “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.”
Indigenismo has been a double-edged sword. While unifying in many ways, it has been used at the hands of the elites to reshape 'Latin American' society in their particular image and taste. They purported that the average everyday Latino was a 'mestizo', a ‘mixture’ of Spanish , Indian and African. However, this perspective was adopted to create a false sense of 'equality' throughout society and served their purposes as a compliment to nationalism, attempting to erase any evidences or situations that could potentially spark future revolutions and revolts. The ‘Indianess’ of indigenismo served to distinguish between being looked at as 'white' and being looked at as 'black', which was far worse for the intellectual overseer's. Once formulated, this concept was then packaged in the form of literature and sent out to penetrate the mindset of the people. Yet all the while, telling the masses of Indian/African people that the majority of Indians died out or had mixed with the Africans so much that no one was actually 'black' or 'African' or 'Indian' anymore. And thus, Carol Amoruso, also noted in her series about recent immigrants to the United States- “The new Latinos come mostly from the Latin American mainland where the culture is more “indio” and European.” Most people from countries such as Mexico, Peru or El Salvador will claim to have "no black in them" when this is far from the truth. Nowadays, biologically speaking, while most people who are so called Puerto Rican, Dominican or Cuban have Indian, African and European blood, so do many other people throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America. The presence of Afro-Indio culture and blood has always been very abundant, even after the decimation of the people, especially population wise . On page 29 of "Black Indians", author William Loren Katz states: "By 1650 Mexico alone had an African-Indian population (some with white ancestry) of one hundred thousand. A new race was being born." Still, many Mexica continue the propaganda that Mexicans are not ‘black‘, and that only certain towns and neighborhoods have "black blood", although the truth continues to remain.
Many of our brothers and sisters who come to the U.S. from Central America are very indigenous in appearance. On face value, through media, we look over these people as 'Mexicans', not aware of their unique history. They too, have had considerable amounts of African blood infused into them, although they may contest it. Especially mi gente from Cuscatlan or as the devil now calls “El Salvador.” Descendants of the Pipil peoples, who are actually of the Maya, Salvi's or Salvadorenos have been institutionally and systemically conditioned to think they are different from Africans and have no African blood in them. They have been the victims of a vicious campaign, similar to that which took place in the Dominican Republic under Presidente Rafael Trujillo when he made every effort to 'whiten' society by killing thousands of Haitians and reducing the African presence in the Dominican Republic down to a myth. This is truth, not a conspiracy theory, and far from a mere political ploy to 'unite' the two groups of Original people under false bonds for the benefit of bi-partisan struggle. Many brothers and sisters who are Indigenous and are of the Pan-Indigenous Diaspora actually exist within the African Diaspora as well. With this truth in mind, while someone may chose to embrace one people over the other (usually due to upbringing or life experience), we must strive to embrace both, as both peoples are who we are.
It is very important to understand our relationship to each other and that we are really all one family- we are all of the ‘black family‘. We, however, exist within distinct degrees of melanin, which we call 'shades of black' within the Nation of Gods and Earths, defined as: black, brown and yellow. "Black" is typically seen as just a 'color' and most often associated with ’skin’ color, but it isn't a stagnant or fixed idea. It is dynamic. What is "black" in social standards varies with countries and cultures to be sure, which is the reason why so many so-called Latinos are reluctant to embrace the term. We also must look at the world and universe around us. Do not be blinded by the illusion of the daytime, for even our ancestors knew that the universe and space is black. The illumination of the Sun was born out of the blackness of this space and subsequently everything else in the universe and our solar system. The first organism of our intellectual and social capabilities to manifest presence on our planet, human being, has been recognized in science and anthropology as "black". This does not mean that were 'as' black as the universe, but a manifestation, in the physical degree, and a supreme embodiment of the sub-atomic intelligence that drives energy through it's different forms and brings forth life and matter. The word 'black' has more of a political connotation for us as human beings, especially nowadays, so someone who is referred to as 'black' isn't literally 'black'. And within the Nation of Gods and Earths we use it to define all people of color, regardless of their shade, as a term of solidarity and reverence for our common origin, whether cosmic or in terms of civilizations. Still, in the mainstream, Puerto Ricans (along with other so-called Latinos) who assert our Blackness are not only outcast by those who identify more so with their Spanish conqueror than their African ancestors, but are also shunned by so-called African Americans who do not see us as ‘black.’ Irregardless, whether someone is Navajo, Quechua, Mandinga, Ghanian or even Hmong or Pinoy, they are “black.”
It has been the traditional perspective, of the Nation of Gods and Earths, of Latinos as being 'Native American' and the Original owners of the Americas, but in no way limits us solely to that category. Nor is it to blanket someone's individual history in favor of the collective identity, as some forms of Pan-Africanism often do, attributing any and everything to the greatness of Africa alone. It is a perspective that links us all to an underlying factor, a common point of reference. It is a rallying cry to all my Indigenous brothers and sisters. A rallying cry of unity and solidarity, as expressed through the understanding of Allah and his will to unite 'all the seeds (shades of the Original man)’.
The Nation of Gods and Earths embraces all Original people by tearing down the labels of nationalism and tribal identity that create barriers, and bring everyone together for one common cause: education and elevation of our quality of living.
It is this perspective that speaks to so-called Latinos, not from a nationalist standpoint, but from a reality that harkens back further than ‘Latin Nationalism.’ It goes beyond state established boundaries and ties us all in to a shared history and ancestral memories. It is not merely the product of intellectuals but a perspective taken on by many Native peoples through the documented history of the Americas. Tecumseh, of the Shawnee, sought to unite all nations and tribes, under one common Pan-Indigenous identity, in attempts to resist and prevent the westward expansion of the 13 American colonies and the genocide against the Original people. He traveled from his home in the Ohio River valley, down south to Cherokee country, amongst the Chickasaw and Seminole, and even west ward a bit until he voyaged back north to Prophet's town (the city that he and his brother established as the center of their mission).
It is in this same vein and vision that we need to unite all those of Latin American descent. We need to unify and create a solidarity beyond our country borders and ethnic prejudices. It is up to us- the Original people, the black, brown and yellow sons and daughters of the Americas, to re-establish who we are and what belongs to us, especially our birthright. We must be determined in the fight for the freedom to define ourselves in today's society. We must reclaim our place amongst our black brother and sisters worldwide, as we are black men and women. Somos las personal Originales del Planeta Tierra!
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