Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice on 2017-07-05 22:21Z by Steven

Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

The Root
2017-07-01

Lori S. Robinson


iStock

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a three-part series looking at the fight for rights of black people in Colombia. This first piece explores the history of Afro-Colombians and the impact of the recently ended war with the FARC. Subsequent stories will examine the current political environment. 

Black activism started in Colombia when Africans arrived in chains.

Spaniards were early kingpins in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, first importing kidnapped Africans into what was then New Granada in the 1520s—a century before the British brought this epic crime against humanity to North America.

Concentrated along the country’s Pacific coast, enslaved people were forced to do agricultural labor and, primarily, to mine gold. This region became majority black during colonial times. It still is…

…Colombia never had legal segregation after slavery, like the United States. The national narrative of Colombia, like most of Latin America, has been that inequality is economic, not racial, and that significant racial mixing throughout the country’s history proves that racism doesn’t exist. According to Perea, Colombians have gone so far as to say that “racism was solely an expression of North American culture.”

Meanwhile, the largest numbers of black Colombians have been isolated, abandoned by their own government, without educational or employment opportunities, living in poverty…

Read the entire article here.

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With images of people of various skin tones, urban Afro-Colombians as well as farmers and people in traditional clothes, and music in the background that was not easily identifiable with any specific region in the country, the commercial’s message was clear: they were all AfroColombian.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-01-10 19:31Z by Steven

The Beautiful Faces commercial was about thirty seconds long: ‘I am negro, morena, mulata, zamba. I am Afro-descendant. I count. Palenquero, raizal, mulato, negra, I count. Afro-descendant, morena, negra. I’m zambo, raizal. I count. Palenquero, negro.’ It ended with the confident words of Maria Eugenia Arboleda, a famous AfroColombian actress: ‘My people, in this census, count yourself!’ This was followed by the some fifteen Afro-Colombians featured in the commercial exclaiming in unison: ‘Proud to be Afro-Colombian!’ With images of people of various skin tones, urban Afro-Colombians as well as farmers and people in traditional clothes, and music in the background that was not easily identifiable with any specific region in the country, the commercial’s message was clear: they were all AfroColombian.

Tianna S. Paschel, “‘The Beautiful Faces of my Black People’: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 36, Issue 10 (2013). 11-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2013.791398.

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‘The Beautiful Faces of my Black People’: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2017-01-06 02:22Z by Steven

‘The Beautiful Faces of my Black People’: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, 2013 – Issue 10: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
Pages 1544-1563
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.791398

Tianna S. Paschel, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

The recent multicultural turn in Latin America has made the census a key site of struggle for both recognition and resources. Drawing on document analysis and ethnographic methods, this paper examines the politics around Colombia’s 2005 census. I argue that Afro-Colombian organizations were successful in pressuring the state to move beyond the purely cultural notions of blackness institutionalized in the 1991 constitution and toward a broader ethno-racial Afro-Colombian category in the 2005 census. However, their success required them not only to situate their claims in international mandates and domestic law, but also to grapple with competing definitions of blackness within the movement itself. In this way, the Afro-Colombian movement has been an important actor in shaping how ‘official’ ethno-racial categories are made and remade in Colombia. This case not only sheds light on the politics of multiculturalism in Latin America more generally, but raises questions about how we understand ‘race’ versus ‘ethnicity’.

Read the entire article here.

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