Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Posted in Articles, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2015-07-03 18:18Z by Steven

Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

University of North Carolina Press
January 2016
Approx. 336 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4696-2341-2

David Wheat, Assistant Professor of History
Michigan State University

This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.

David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the “Africanization” of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain’s colonization of the Caribbean.

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As South Carolina deals with its Confederate flag, one town in Brazil flies it with pride

Posted in Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2015-06-24 18:53Z by Steven

As South Carolina deals with its Confederate flag, one town in Brazil flies it with pride

The World
Public Radio International
2015-06-22

Bradley Campbell, Producer


Descendants of American Southerners wearing Confederate-era dresses and uniforms dance during a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, Brazil, April 26, 2015. (Credit: Paulo Whitaker/REUTERS)

The push to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s state capitol gained steam today. Some of the state’s top politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, have jumped on board.

So far, more than 500,000 people have signed a MoveOn.org petition asking for the flag to be taken down. But the South isn’t the only place in the world you’ll find the Confederate flag still flying.

It’s also proudly displayed in the rural Brazilian town of Santa Barbara D’Oeste.

“Once a year, the descendants of about 10,000 Confederates that fled the United States and came down to Brazil after the Civil War, they have a family get together,” says Asher Levine a Sao Paulo-based correspondent for Reuters. “They all take part in stereotypically ‘Southern Things’ like square dances, eating fried chicken and biscuits, and listening to George Strait. That kind of thing. And a lot of Confederate flags everywhere.”

So when these people look at the confederate flag, what do they see?

Levine says it’s more ethnic than political. What fascinates him is that over the generations, the population has mixed with the Brazilians. So it’s a lot of people with a lot of different shades, not just white folks. “A lot of people who are descendants of these confederates have African blood as well,” he says. “So you’ll see at the party people with dark skin waving the confederate flag.”…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-06-24 01:32Z by Steven

The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

openDemocracy: free thinking for the world
2015-06-22

Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Brazil’s government has taken important steps to combat racial inequalities over the past two decades. Afro-Brazilian populations nevertheless remain socially and economically excluded, continuing patterns that began with legal slavery.

Brazil has been in the news a great deal of late, especially in association with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The most popular images involve football, carnival, samba, sunny beaches, and tanned women in bikinis. Less well known is the history of slavery and racism, which continues to have a profound impact upon Brazilian society.

Brazil has the dubious distinction of having imported the largest number of enslaved Africans—more than five million—of all countries of the Americas. The slave trade from Africa to Brazil was outlawed in 1831, but an illegal trade continued until 1851 before being outlawed for a second time. In contrast, legal slavery persisted until 1888, making Brazil the last country to abolish slavery in the western hemisphere. Today, 53 percent of the Brazilian population self-identify as black or pardo (brown, or mixed race). These terms as established by the Census refer to colour and not ancestry.

Achieving the abolition of slavery in Brazil was a long and difficult process. Abolition in 1888 was preceded by laws that, theoretically at least, freed the children of enslaved women (1871) and slaves who reached the age of sixty (1885). There was already a large free black population when slavery was abolished, and both this population and newly freed slaves received little or no assistance from the Brazilian government. There was no distribution of land or provision of education, leaving established patterns of wealth, privilege and racial hierarchy in place. In 1891, a new constitution established that only males with high incomes had the right to vote. The illiterate population, the vast majority of whom were Afro-Brazilians, remained prohibited from voting. At the same time, the government continued to encourage European immigration as a means to replace the enslaved African workforce, whose numbers had decreased following the ban of the Atlantic slave trade to Brazil. Inspired by eugenic theories, the monarchy and later the Republican government, as well as Brazilian elites, believed that the arrival of massive numbers of Europeans would lead to miscegenation and eventually ‘whiten’ the majority black Brazilian population…

Read the entire article here.

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Drum Dream Girl : How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2015-06-23 00:37Z by Steven

Drum Dream Girl : How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015-03-31
48 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102293
eBook ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102286

Margarita Engle

Rafael López

In this picture book bursting with vibrance and rhythm, a girl dreams of playing the drums in 1930s Cuba, when the music-filled island had a taboo against female drummers.

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

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Black Mexicans face considerable hurdles

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-06-17 19:06Z by Steven

Black Mexicans face considerable hurdles

Compton Herald
2015-06-05

Alexis Okeowo

Mexicanos negros (black Mexicans) face considerable hurdles; Afro-Mexicans are marginalized and excluded to the point that it is impossible to find any mention of them in official records

The first town of freed African slaves in the Americas is not exactly where you would expect to find it — and it isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find either. First, it’s not in the United States. Yanga, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, is a sleepy pueblito founded by its namesake, Gaspar Yanga, an African slave who led a rebellion against his Spanish colonial masters in the late 16th century and fought off attempts to retake the settlement. The second thing that is immediately evident to vistors who reach the town’s rustic central plaza: there are virtually no blacks among the few hundred residents milling around the center of town.

Mirroring Mexico’s history itself, most of Yanga’s Afro-Mexican population has been pushed to neighboring rural villages that are notable primarily for their deep poverty and the strikingly dark skin of their inhabitants. Mexico’s independence from Spain and new focus on building a national identity on the idea of mestizaje, or mixed race, drove African Mexicans into invisibility as leaders chose not to count them or assess their needs. Now many blacks want to fight back by improving the shoddy education and social services available to them and are petitioning for the constitution to recognize Afro-Mexicans as a separate ethnic group worthy of special consideration…

Read the entire article here.

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The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-06-14 16:51Z by Steven

The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

University of Georgia Press
2016-01-15
248 pages
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4896-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-4897-1

Lisa Ze Winters, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

Exploring the geographies, genealogies, and concepts of race and gender of the African diaspora produced by the Atlantic slave trade

Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora.

Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.

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Report Says Census Undercounts Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-12 03:18Z by Steven

Report Says Census Undercounts Mixed Race

The New York Times
2015-06-11

Richard Pérez-Peña, National Desk

The number of American adults with mixed-race backgrounds is three times what official census figures indicate, and the figure is rising fast, according to a survey released Thursday. But most do not call themselves multiracial.

The Pew Research Center survey found that 6.9 percent of adults in the United States were multiracial, based on how they identify themselves or on having parents or grandparents of different races. By comparison, the 2010 census reported 2.1 percent of adults, and 2.9 percent of people any age, as multiracial, based on people’s descriptions of themselves or others in their households. (Hispanics are considered an ethnic group, not a race.)

By any measure, the multiracial population is tracing a steep upward curve, with children being more than twice as likely as adults to meet Pew’s definition. The Census Bureau, which first allowed people to identify with more than one race in 2000, estimates that the number of people doing so will triple by 2060.

Interracial sex and marriage was outlawed in many states until 1967, when the Supreme Court struck down those prohibitions in Loving v. Virginia. Today, the United States is increasingly not only a multiracial country, but also a country of multiracial individuals, including the first biracial president, living in an era of rising acceptance and visibility.

Yet the Pew survey found that 61 percent of the people that it considered multiracial identified themselves by just one race. When asked why, they most often said that it was based on how they looked, how they were raised or knowing only family members who identified as one race

Note from Steven F. Riley, see: Nikki Khanna, “’If You’re Half Black, You’re Just Black': Reflected Appraisals and the Persistence of the One-Drop Rule,”Sociological Quarterly. Volume 51, Number 1 (Winter 2010).

Read the entire article here.

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Exhibit: “AfroBrasil: Art and Identities”

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-12 02:55Z by Steven

Exhibit: “AfroBrasil: Art and Identities”

National Hispanic Cultural Center
Art Museum
1701 4th Street SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Friday, December 12, 2014 to mid-August, 2015; Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-17:00 MT; Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-17:00 MT

Brazil* hosted soccer’s World Cup in the summer of 2014, and soon will host the 2016 Summer Olympics. While many are familiar with these events and Brazil’s other achievements, they may be unaware of the cultural and ethnic complexity of this large South American country.

The largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, Brazil is home to the second largest population of African origin outside the African continent. Yet, despite its sporadic economic dynamism, its soccer prowess (who has not heard of Pelé, the “Black Pearl”?), the fame of its Carnaval, and the acclaim given the 1959 Oscar-winning French film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro), starring Afro-Brazilian actors, many aspects of its Afro-Brazilian identity, art, and culture have not received the status or attention they merit.

Today, Afro-Brazilian art and identities saturate the core of Brazilian culture and society, but may not rise commensurately to the surface in galleries, museums, or the works of art historians. The artists, writers, musicians, and critics who do tackle Afro-Brazilian reality more often than not narrate; in doing so they include their personal experiences in a unique multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation-state. AfroBrasil: Art and Identities shows the multiple important ways in which Afro-Brazilian artists and their colleagues from other countries address the complexities of Brazil’s African heritage and its impact across frontiers and oceans.

Using a team approach, the exhibition has been curated to comprise four distinct, yet inter-related, sections, which can be visited in any order to make different connections and gain different perspectives…

…Photograph: Baianas (Praça de Sé, Salvador, Bahia), Paulo Lima, 2013, courtesy of the artist

*Brasil is spelled with an “s” in Portuguese and Spanish, with a “z” in English. Text and label materials in this exhibition use both spellings, depending on context.

For more information, click here.

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10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-04 14:33Z by Steven

10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know

La Respuesta: A magazine to (Re)Imagine Boricua Diaspora
2015-06-03

La Respuesta magazine is dedicated to both resurrecting lost history and highlighting marginalized communities within our “gran familia puertorriqueña”. Afrodescendientes boricuas is one such community, who are, at best – forgotten or ignored – and at worst – exoticized, feared, or even hated. So, with pride and determination, we humbly compiled a list of 10 “Black Boricuas” we think have impacted our history and identities.

Of course, there are many, many more. You can find some Afro-Boricuas in our list “20 Puerto Rican Women Everyone Should Know” (we did not reproduce them here so as to give room to name others). For the sake of space and capacity, we can only give you a taste – but let’s start a dialogue. Please, share with us the names of other Afro-Puerto Ricans you may know! ¡Qué Viva Puerto Rico Negro!

Read the entire article here.

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Expats Find Brazil’s Reputation For Race-Blindness Is Undone By Reality

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2015-05-23 20:24Z by Steven

Expats Find Brazil’s Reputation For Race-Blindness Is Undone By Reality

Parallels: Many Stories, One World
National Public Radio
2015-05-22

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, South America Correspondent

There is a joke among Brazilians that a Brazilian passport is the most coveted on the black market because no matter what your background — Asian, African or European — you can fit in here. But the reality is very different.

I’m sitting in café with two women who don’t want their names used because of the sensitivity of the topic. One is from the Caribbean; her husband is an expat executive.

“I was expecting to be the average-looking Brazilian; Brazil as you see on the media is not what I experienced when I arrived,” she tells me.

As is the case for many people from the Caribbean basin, she self-identifies as multiracial. The island where she is from has a mixture of races and ethnicities, so she was excited to move to Brazil, which has been touted as one of the most racially harmonious places in the world.

“When I arrived, I was shocked to realize there is a big difference between races and colors, and what is expected — what is your role, basically — based on your skin color,” she says…

Read the entire article here. Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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