Tag: James Baldwin

October 23, 2013 / / Entertainment
September 5, 2012 / / academia

By Guest Contributor Lamont Lilly

The author (L) with Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas. Courtesy of the author.

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas is the Interim Chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at North Carolina Central University, where his interests lie in Transatlantic and Diaspora Studies. He is the author of five books, including The Africanization of Mexico from the Sixteenth Century Onward (2010) and Africa in Mexico: A Repudiated Heritage (2007). He is the founder and director of the Mexican Institute of Africana Studies. Read along as we discuss: Colonialism, Gaspar Yanga, Ivan Van Sertima and Mexico’s Little Black Sambo.

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.
Read the Post Afro-Latin And The Negro Common: An Interview With Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas

Members of the MelaNated Writers Collective. Courtesy: Kristina F. Robinson

By Guest Contributor Kristina K. Robinson

In the few years preceding my acceptance into a Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, I had been a Katrina refugee, had a baby, grieved the death of his father and more. I had a thick skin and a lot to say. I couldn’t think of a better time to dedicate myself to my writing. I felt prepared to be critiqued. I was self-aware and detached from taking criticism of my work personally. I had done this as an undergraduate; it was all constructive; I was ready.

A friend of mine from college, already waist-deep in an MFA program in New York, warned me …

“I was fine, till the day this guy said my work was didactic and particularly concerned with victimhood. I cried afterwards. They are going to get you,” she said.

We laughed and I waited for my turn.

It came. A rare poem of mine that features dialect, received the royal treatment from a professor. She decided to take command of the workshop by asking if anyone would like to discuss the dialect. I was aware of the consequences of writing a poem filled with dialect for a majority-white audience. I was prepared for all the most critical things I thought I would hear.

I was ready to listen to people debate whether or not it is acceptable to write something that is hard for white people to understand. I was ready to hear that a person who spoke that way wasn’t someone they imagined would have high-brow ideas or spend time meditating the on the meaning of life. I was even prepared to hear someone say that dialect didn’t belong in poetry.

I was not prepared to hear this:

“I’m going to go out on a limb,” the professor began, “and say that I found the dialect phony, and therefore I didn’t believe the rest of the poem. The dialect isn’t even consistent, sometimes this speaker says gon’, sometimes she says gonna’…didn’t buy it.”

Read the Post ‘Ain’t Is A Real Word’: The Rise Of The MelaNated Writers Collective [Culturelicious]

April 26, 2010 / / community

by Guest Contributor Renina Jarmon, originally published at New Model Minority

I think it was Chomsky who said that Democracies by their very nature are fragile.

But then again, isn’t any democracy stable? Isn’t it fragile, delicate, tenuous and exceptional?

Every time I think of a critique of the presidents lack of a “Black Agenda” I am reminded of both Baldwin and the founding fathers.

I am reminded of Baldwin for two reasons. The first is because during the sixties he was routinely called down to Washington, at the behest of President Lyndon B. Johnson, to discuss “the negro problem.” The second reason is because Baldwin was always really clear about how our fates and lives are interconnected in this country, across race, class and gender.

My love of Baldwin is rooted in my fascination with Democracy.

A democracy, with a huge portion of its citizens prevented from participating because of prior non violent drug offense related convictions, a democracy that saddles its young with tens of thousands of dollars with the school loan debt at twenty-one, a democracy where people are quick to criticize folks on food stamps yet are mute on the newly authorized one year trillion dollar budget for two wars, a democracy that has never dealt with economic and psychological impact of three centuries of forced free labor isn’t stable, nor sustainable.

You may say, Renina is doing to much, these things are not connected, she is on that shit again.

But let me ask you this? How can these things not be connected?

Don’t we live and survive here together? This is preciously Baldwins point and why I was moved to (finally) write this piece this morning. Read the Post Musing on a [Lack of a] US Negro Agenda