A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2013-04-02 22:34Z by Steven

A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans

Miami Herald
2007-06-10 through 2007-06-24

In this series, the black experience is unveiled through a journey: to Nicaragua, where a quiet but powerful civil and cultural rights movement flickers while in neighboring Honduras, the black Garffuna community fights for cultural survival; to the Dominican Republic where African lineage is not always embraced; to Brazil, home to the world’s second largest population of African descent; to Cuba, where a revolution that promised equality has failed on its commitment to erase racism; and to Colombia, where the first black general serves as an example of Afro-Latin American achievements.

Part 1: Nicaragua and Honduras: Afro-Latin Americans: A rising voice
Audra D.S. Burch
A close-up look at a simmering civil rights movement in a tiny port settlement along Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast.

…To appreciate the story of race here, is to understand the kaleidoscopic legacy of slavery, the historic demonization and denial of blackness and the practice of racial mixing.

This portrait is complicated by the lack of reliable census data because of traditional undercounting and because some blacks decline to identify themselves as such.

The dynamic along the coast is a layered quilt of Miskitos, mestizos and blacks. The ancestors of other Afro-Nicaraguans were free blacks who immigrated from Jamaica and other Caribbbean countries, lured by the good, steady jobs available for English speakers.

Stories abound about people who have hidden behind ambiguously brown complexions, “passing” for Miskito Indians, or mestizo.

“It’s hard to mobilize when you are still recouping the identity and just starting to openly use the term black,” says [Juliet] Hooker, the University of Texas professor whose father was a regional councilman…

Part 2: Dominican Republic: Black denial
Frances Robles
An examination on the sensitive nature of racial definition in a nation with inextricable ties to Africa.

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…

Part 3: Brazil: A Great Divide
Jack Chang
Black Brazilians speak out and push for affirmative action laws in the hemisphere’s most Africanized nation.

…And Brazilians are finally discussing race after decades of telling themselves and the rest of the world that the country was free from racism, said Sen. Paulo Paim, author of one of the pending affirmative-action bills.

“The Brazilian elite says this is not a racist country, but if you look at whatever social indicator, you’ll see exclusion is endemic,” he said. “We want to open up to more Brazilians the legitimate spaces they deserve…

…”I have never seen any evidence that suggests anything other than there’s widespread racism in Brazil,” said UCLA sociology professor Edward Telles, who studies race in Brazil…

…Black leaders also blame what they describe as decades of self-censorship about race spurred by the “racial democracy” vision of their country, which long defined Brazilian self-identity.

Preached in the early 20th century by sociologist Gilberto Freyre, the vision depicted a Brazil that was freeing itself of racism and even of the concept of race through pervasive mixing of the races…

Part 4: Cuba: A barrier for Cuba’s blacks
Miami Herald Staff Report
Economic and political apartheid are alive in Cuba, despite a revolution launched in 1959 that promised equality.


Cuba’s official statistics offer little help on the race issue. The 2002 census, which asked Cubans whether they were white, black or mestizo/mulatto, showed 11 percent of the island’s 11.2 million people described themselves as black. The real figure is more like 62 percent, according to the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

And the published Census figures provide no way at all to compare blacks and whites in categories like salary or educational levels. Ramón Colás, who left Cuba in 2001 and now runs an Afro-Cuba race-relations project in Mississippi, said he once carried out his own telling survey: Five out of every 100 private vehicles he counted in Havana were driven by a Cuban of color.

The disparity between the census’ 11 percent and UM’s 62 percent also reflects the complicated racial categories in a country where if you look white you are considered white, no matter the genes.

“You know, there are seven different types of blacks in Cuba,” said Denny, who now works as a waiter but dreams of a hip-hop career. From darkest to lightest, they are: negro azul, prieto, moreno, mulato, trigueño, jabao and blanconaso

Part 5: Achievers: Racism takes many hues
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
An overview on the achievement of black leaders in the region. And a personal essay by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.

…Which brings us back to that earnestly debated question: Who is black?


The question is more complex than an American might believe. In Brazil, a nation of indigenous peoples and descendants of African slaves, European colonists and immigrants, a dark-skinned man who might automatically be called black elsewhere has a racial vocabulary that allows him to skirt the Africa in his heritage altogether. He can call himself moreno (racially mixed), mestizo (colored) or pardo (medium brown). Anything but “afrodescendente” (Africa-descended) or negro (black)…

..Brazil likes to think of itself as a racial democracy, says Miriam Leitao, but that’s a delusion. She has, she says, been making that argument for 10 years and has become one of the nation’s most controversial journalists in the process.

When she writes about racism in Brazil, people tell her she’s crazy. “I don’t know how to explain the thing that, for me, is so obvious,” she says


Read the entire series here.

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Interracial marriage in US hits new high: 1 in 12

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2012-02-17 02:46Z by Steven

Interracial marriage in US hits new high: 1 in 12

The Miami Herald

Hope Yen, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Interracial marriages in the U.S. have climbed to 4.8 million—a record 1 in 12—as a steady flow of new Asian and Hispanic immigrants expands the pool of prospective spouses. Blacks are now substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

A Pew Research Center study, released Thursday, details a diversifying America where interracial unions and the mixed-race children they produce are challenging typical notions of race.

“The rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved over the past quarter century,” said Daniel Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University. “Mixed-race children have blurred America’s color line. They often interact with others on either side of the racial divide and frequently serve as brokers between friends and family members of different racial backgrounds,” he said. “But America still has a long way to go.”

The figures come from previous censuses as well as the 2008-2010 American Community Survey, which surveys 3 million households annually. The figures for “white” refer to those whites who are not of Hispanic ethnicity. For purposes of defining interracial marriages, Hispanic is counted as a race by many in the demographic field…

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AP Exclusive: Many resist census race labels

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-01-31 21:42Z by Steven

AP Exclusive: Many resist census race labels

Miami Herald

Hope Yen, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — When the 2010 census asked people to classify themselves by race, more than 21.7 million – at least 1 in 14 – went beyond the standard labels and wrote in such terms as “Arab,” “Haitian,” “Mexican” and “multiracial.”

The unpublished data, the broadest tally to date of such write-in responses, are a sign of a diversifying America that’s wrestling with changing notions of race.

The figures show most of the write-in respondents are multiracial Americans or Hispanics, many of whom don’t believe they fit within the four government-defined categories of race: white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native. Because Hispanic is defined as an ethnicity and not a race, some 18 million Latinos used the “some other race” category to establish a Hispanic racial identity.

“I have my Mexican experience, my white experience but I also have a third identity if you will that transcends the two, a mixed experience,” said Thomas Lopez, 39, a write-in respondent from Los Angeles. “For some multiracial Americans, it is not simply being two things, but an understanding and appreciation of what it means to be mixed.”

Lopez, 39, the son of a Mexican-American father and a German-Polish mother, has been checking multiple race boxes since the Census Bureau first offered the option in 2000. Marking off the categories of Hispanic-Mexican ethnicity, “other” Hispanic ethnicity and a non-Hispanic white race, Lopez opted in 2010 to go even further. He checked “some other race” and scribbled in a response: “multiracial.”…

Roderick Harrison, a Howard University sociologist and former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, predicted a wider range of responses and blurring of racial categories over the next 50 years as interracial marriage becomes increasingly common. Still, he said racial categories will continue to be relevant so long as racial gaps persist in educational attainment, income, jobs and housing.

“These histories of exclusion, discrimination, and racism are central to the identities of several minority populations,” he said.

Read the entire artice here.

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Census releases data on American Indian population

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Native Americans/First Nation, New Media, United States on 2012-01-26 02:16Z by Steven

Census releases data on American Indian population

Miami Herald

Felicia Fonseca
Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Almost half of American Indians and Alaska Natives identify with multiple races, representing a group that grew by 39 percent over a decade, according to U.S. Census data released Wednesday.

Of the 5.2 million people counted as Natives in 2010, nearly 2.3 million reported being Native in combination with one or more of six other race categories, showcasing a growing diversity among Natives. Those who added black, white or both as a personal identifier made up 84 percent of the multi-racial group.

Tribal officials and organizations look to Census data for funding, to plan communities, to foster solidarity among tribes and for accountability from federal agencies that have a trust responsibility with tribal members.

The bump in the multi-racial group from 1.6 million in 2000 to nearly 2.3 million in 2010 was higher than that of those who reported being solely of Native descent…

The Blackfeet Nation in Montana had the highest proportion of people who reported being part of more than one racial group or tribe at 74 percent. Among Alaska Native groups, the Tlingit-Haida had the highest proportion of mixed-race Natives at 42 percent.

The number of Natives identifying with at least one other race increased in all but three states from 2000 to 2010, according to the Census…

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For the first time, blacks outnumber whites in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science on 2011-05-30 02:38Z by Steven

For the first time, blacks outnumber whites in Brazil

Miami Herald

Taylor Barnes, Special to the Miami Herald

Brazilians are no longer reluctant to admit being black or ‘pardo,’ experts said.

RIO DE JANEIRO—In the past decade, famously mixed-race Brazilians either became prouder of their African roots, savvier with public policies benefiting people of color or are simply more often darker skinned , depending on how you read the much-debated new analysis of the census here.

A recently released 2010 survey showed that Brazil became for the first time a “majority minority” nation, meaning less than half the population now identifies as white.
Every minority racial group—officially, “black,” “pardo” (mixed), “yellow” and “indigenous”—grew in absolute numbers since 2000. “White” was the only group that shrank in both absolute numbers and percentage, becoming 48 percent of the population from 53 percent 10 years ago.

Experts say the shift reflects a growing comfort in not calling oneself white in order to prosper in Brazil and underscores the growing influence of popular culture. Paula Miranda-Ribeiro, a demographer at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, said another factor was the increase in bi-racial unions with mixed-race kids.

While Americans look at race as a question of origin, Brazilians largely go by appearance, so much so that the children of the same parents could mark different census categories, she said…

…Activists and artists here say they’ve seen a greater mobilization for mixed-race Brazilians to call themselves black or pardo in recent years.

“The phenomenon I perceive are people getting out of that pressure to whiten themselves, and assuming their blackness,” says visual artist Rosana Paulino, whose doctoral work at the University of São Paulo focused on the representation of blacks in the arts.
She sees a rising self-esteem on the part of mixed-race Brazilians who stop using middle-ground terms like “moreninho” (“a little tan”) or “marrom-bombom” (“brown chocolate”) and simply call themselves black…

Read the entire article here.

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