Lamont Lilly: Dr. Cuevas, as only the second individual I know to describe themselves as Afro-Mexican can you share some insight on the cultural connections that exist within such a powerful ethic mix? And why have figures such as Gaspar Yanga and Emiliano Zapata been omitted from history’s reference of heralded freedom fighters?
Statue of Gaspar Yanga in Veracruz, Mexico. Courtesy: Black Art Depot Today.
Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas: Well, the reason you haven’t heard many refer to themselves as Afro-Mexican is because this is a relatively new term that was first coined by Eurocentric scholars like Melville Herskovits. It was Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán who coined it in 1945 in Mexico City, during the foundational meeting of the Institute for African American Studies. However, that doesn’t mean that a color consciousness didn’t exist in Mexico. Prior to that, we had a host of names such as “Casta,” “Chilango,” “Jarocho,” and “Boshito,” all terms that refer to the lack of blood cleanliness of non-white persons. That would explain why many people in Mexico do not identify themselves as Afro-Mexican. They refer to themselves as Casta, or any of the other names previously mentioned. Recently however, there’s been a movement in the South Pacific side of Mexico whereby Afro-Mexicans do not want to be called Afro-Mexican. They just want to be called Nĕgro — Black. It erases the science and intellectuality of such embedded complexities. Continue reading →
Harry Belafonte’s music moves in my mind and life like a childhood memory: I know he’s there and smile or dance when I hear one of his songs just for the little-kid joy it brings to me. (My personal cut: “Jump in the Line,” made famous again by Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.)
Toward the end of Down & Delirious In Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis In The Twenty-First Century, author Daniel Hernandez talks about encountering a group of seven muses. It’s a credit to his craft and this book that he’s able to weave the entire septet together skillfully, not just with each other, but with the whole other array of characters that inhabit the worlds he encounters as part of his own journey.
Our multi-talented homegirl Jessica Yee just edited and published her first anthology. Called Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, Yee and her contributors (including myself and Andrea Plaid) keep it raw by illuminating the some of the issues people of color (particularly Indigenous people) encounter when entering feminist spaces. In honor of International Women’s Day, we are going to share short excerpts of some of the essays in the book.
Jessica Yee: “Introduction”
[W]e’re not really equal when we’re STILL supposed to uncritically and obediently cheer when white women are praised for winning “women’s rights,” and to painfully forget the Indigenous women and women of colour who were hurt in that same process. We are not equal when in the name of “feminism” so-called “women’s only” spaces are created and get to police and regulate who is and isn’t a woman based on their interpretation of your body parts and gender presentation, and not your own. We are not equal when initatives to support gender equality have reverted yet again to “saving” people and making decisions for them, rather than supporting their right to self-determination, whether it’s engaging in sex work or wearing a niqab. So when feminism itself has become it’s own form of oppression, what do we have to say about it? [...]
[I']ve lost count the amount of times I’ve been asked by others and asked the question myself, what is now the main title of this book, “But what is feminism, for real?”
The responses I received when putting this very question out there to create the book demonstrated resoundingly that people did want to talk about this notion of “the academic industrial complex of feminism” – the conflicts between what feminism means at school as opposed to at homer, the frustrations of trying to relate to definitions of feminism that will never fit no matter how much you try to change yourself to fit them, and the anger and frustration of changing a system while being in the system yourself.
Krysta Williams and Erin Konsmo: “Resistance to Indigenous Feminism”
E & K: What does it mean for an individual to be considered “liberated?” What does it mean for indigenous communities to be “liberated?” I think the pictures we think of as Native women are very different than the end goals expressed in a lot of feminist literature. In other words, there needs to be more space given to community-based solutions and the hard work that everyone, especially women in our communities do every day.
In academia (and in general) there’s still the problem of tokenism. Including one article or person of colour, or Indigenous person into feminist curriculum is not enough. This needs to be fully integrated into all women’s studies curriculum (which is still inherently racist).
E: One crucial element that non-Indigenous academia needs to accept is that no matter how much you read the journals of Columbus, a Native Chief, or through interviews of Native people, you do not have the blood memory that we have within us. Sorry, if this ruins your PhD on Native people but you don’t have the blood memory experiences that I do and so the internal “validity” of your research will never compare!
K: Internal validity has never been so literal…It also needs to be said that including folks after the fact just doesn’t cut it. White supremacy exists within institutions and this can’t be changed by just putting Indigenous bodies in chairs. There are structural changes that we have been calling for since forever!
Shaunga Tagore: “A Slam on Feminism in Academia (poem)
your ideal graduate student is someone who doesn’t have to experience community organizing because you’ve already assigned them five chapters to read about it
your ideal graduate student is someone who can’t talk about positionality or privilege without referencing some article
your ideal graduate student is rich enough white enough straight enough able-bodied and -minded enough to be given luxury of enjoying sitting in a corner reading 900 pages a week (with their fair trade starbucks coffee in hand and their lulu lemon track pants on ass)
your ideal graduate student IS NOT ME
so WHY did you let me through these doors in the first place if you were just gonna turn around and shove me out?
to fill some quote for affirmative action? to appear like a progressive program without putting in the effort of actually being one? Continue reading →
By Guest Contributor Ninoy Brown, originally published at FOBBDeep
Recently, a personal mission of mine has been to scour for Pinoy funk. Music from the Philippines, as well as from Filipinos living abroad. Having been exposed to more funk recently, since I’ve surrounded myself with lockers and boogaloo style dancers, I’ve been wanting to expand beyond Kano’s “I’m Ready” and Herbie Hancock’s “Ready or Not”. Rather than deciding to make this task easy for myself, why not create a challenge and find some funky ass Pinoy cuts?
The latest discovery: a pre-gentrified SF Mission District funk group named Dakila.
Dakila is a ’70s era group with which I had no prior knowledge. In a world where online commentary is a sea of ignorance and hatred, the last place one might try to find information about a group would be in the YouTube comments section. It appears I need to have more faith in this forum because this is where I found most of my information regarding the family connected octet, consisting of David Bustamante (guitar), Bert Ancheta (guitar), Fred Ancheta (bass guitar), Frank Magtoto (drums), Romeo Bustamante (organ), Carlos Badia (congas), Michael Gopaul (timbales).
Their only album, Dakila, was released in 1972 and recorded in San Mateo and released by Epic Records. With a Latin infused rock/funk sound reminiscent of Santana, Dakila also brought in Filipino influences, rockin’ in Tagalog on some of the tracks. I wish I knew more about this era and other Fil Ams doing music at the time, as it would be interesting to know who, and even how many, folks were singing Tagalog on a major label release.
On the protest chant inspired track “Makibaka/Ikalat” (dare to struggle/spread it around), Dakila sang for struggle along with unity. Considering that this album dropped in 1972, a year that lives in infamy in the Philippines as a year that martial law was declared, I can only wonder, at this point, whether or not the message was connected back to what was going on in the Philippines. “El Dubi” is nice 5 minute and 47 second instrumental track that features some hard breaks that scream to be sampled.
According to the YouTube comments, at least one of the members have passed, but it would be a blessing to see this group reunited, especially for folks who just got hipped to their flavor, such as myself.
Dakila – “Makibaka/Ikalat”
Dakila – “El Dubi”
All credit due to Wilfred for schoolin me on hella old school Pinoy music. He’s in a trippy band called The ElectricSonic Chamber. You should check them out.
In Black Identities, Harvard sociologist Mary Waters analyzes the racial and ethnic identities of first and second generation West Indian immigrants in New York City. At its core, Black Identities is a study of paradox. Waters eloquently states, “[For West Indians], America is a contradictory place…a land of greater opportunities than their homelands but simultaneously a land of racial stigma and discrimination. Immigrants readily buy into an image of American affluence, but are grounded in American racial and economic realities. One respondent noted despair that America is a “white world” in which “white people have all the money,” but in the same breath rejoiced in the fact that America is “a place where everyone has opportunity.” This is the inherent contradiction of the “American dream:” First generation West Indian immigrants must reconcile their lofty expectations of achievement with the myth of American social mobility as they grapple with structural and interpersonal racism in their day-to-day lives.
Second generation West Indian immigrants are also directly confronted with uniquely American race relations, resulting in contradictory immigrant identities. On the one hand, some immigrants embrace their Caribbean ancestry and construct social boundaries separating themselves from black Americans. On the other hand, many young, second generation West Indians (a plurality of her sample) buy into the uniquely American racial caste system and self-identify as black, abandoning other “ethnic options.” There wouldn’t be anything wrong with indentifying as “black,” if of course a slew of disadvantages and prejudices didn’t follow as a result. When race collides and interacts with social structure and culture, West Indian immigrant identity precariously wavers between ethnic loyalty and American assimilation. Paradoxically, the choice to remain loyal to their West Indian heritage affords these immigrants more social mobility than direct incorporation into American culture, as buying into American stereotypes often means downward mobility.