This blog focuses on issues and solutions to racism, culture, cultural difference(s), and social injustice(s) for Black and Hispanic students as they develop in families, schools, and communities. RACE (Racism, Achievement, Change, Equity) is a forum for exposing injustices, but also sharing stories, examples, practices, ideas, theories, models, and research for change.

Archive for October, 2013

Who Is Black? Rosa Clemente Speaks!

“Who is Black?”

Written by on October 30th, 2011 // Filed under Journal

 

By: Rosa Clemente

 

Yesterday, an interesting thing happened to me. I was told I am not Black.

The kicker for me was when my friend stated that the island of Puerto Rico was not a part of the African Diaspora. I wanted to go back to the old school playground days and yell: “You said what about my momma?!” But after speaking to several friends, I found out that many Black Americans and Latinos agree with him. The miseducation of the Negro is still in effect!

I am so tired of having to prove to others that I am Black, that my peoples are from the Motherland, that Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, Panama and the Dominican Republic, are part of the African Diaspora. Did we forget that the slave ships dropped off our people all over the world, hence the word Diaspora?

The Atlantic slave trade brought Africans to Puerto Rico in the early 1500s. Some of the first slave rebellions took place on the island of Puerto Rico. Until 1846, Africanos on the island had to carry a libreta to move around the island, like the passbook system in apartheid South Africa. In Puerto Rico, you will find large communities of descendants of the Yoruba, Bambara, Wolof and Mandingo people. Puerto Rican culture is inherently African culture.

There are hundreds of books that will inform you, but I do not need to read book after book to legitimize this thesis. All I need to do is go to Puerto Rico and look all around me. Damn, all I really have to do is look in the mirror every day.

I am often asked what I am—usually by Blacks who are lighter than me and by Latinos/as who are darker than me. To answer the $100,000, 000 question, I am a Black Boricua, Black Rican, Puertorriqueña! Almost always I am questioned about why I choose to call myself Black over Latina, Spanish, Hispanic. Let me break it down.

I am not Spanish. Spanish is just another language I speak. I am not a Hispanic. My ancestors are not descendants of Spain, but descendants of Africa. I define my existence by race and land. (Borinken is the indigenous name of the island of Puerto Rico.)

Being Latino is not a cultural identity but rather a political one. Being Puerto Rican is not a racial identity, but rather a cultural and national one. Being Black is my racial identity. Why do I have to consistently explain this to those who are so-called conscious? Is it because they have a problem with their identity? Why is it so bad to assert who I am, for me to big-up my Africanness?

My Blackness is one of the greatest powers I have. We live in a society that devalues Blackness all the time. I will not be devalued as a human being, as a child of the Supreme Creator.

Although many of us in activist circles are enlightened, many of us have baggage that we must deal with. So many times I am asked why many Boricuas refuse to affirm their Blackness. I attribute this denial to the ever-rampant anti-Black sentiment in America and throughout the world, but I will not use this as an excuse. Often Puerto Ricans who assert our Blackness are not only outcast by Latinos who identify more with their Spanish Conqueror than their African ancestors, but we are also shunned by Black Americans who do not see us as Black.

Nelly Fuller, a great Black sociologist, stated: “Until one understands the system of White supremacy, anything and everything else will confuse you.” Divide and conquer still applies.

Listen people: Being Black is not just skin color, nor is it synonymous with Black Americans. To assert who I am is the most liberating and revolutionary thing I can ever do. Being a Black Puerto Rican encompasses me racially, ethically and most importantly, gives me a homeland to refer to.

So I have come to this conclusion: I am whatever I say I am! (Thank you, Rakim.)

*First posted in The Final Call on July 10, 2011

*****

Rosa Alicia Clemente is a Bronx born Puerto Rican woman. She is a community organizer, journalist, Hip Hop activist and the 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate with the GREEN PARTY. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMASS-Amherst and is writing her first book entitled When a Puerto Rican Woman Ran for Vice-President and Nobody Knew Her Name. For more information about Rosa and her work, visit http://www.rosaclemente.org/

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Mothering from the Margins – and Other Side-Eye Assumptions

eclectic grits

Mother to Son … Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
 
Mothering has to be the single most important job that I’ve held in my life. But I am bold enough to say what some mothers may think but not want to say: Becoming a mother, especially at an age when I felt that I…

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Aside

An Open Letter to Journal Editors Who Silence Angry and Assertive Black and Hispanic Scholars… A Few Things I Need You to Hear and Understand

An Open Letter to Journal Editors Who Silence Angry and Assertive Black and Hispanic Scholars… A Few Things I Need You to Hear and Understand

 

Donna Y. Ford, PhD

Angry, Assertive, Brave, Equity-Minded, and Intelligent Black Scholar

 

 

October 6, 2013

 

Today, a co-author (who shall remain anonymous) and I received a ‘reject but revise and resubmit’ letter from a mainstream journal. The co-editors and four reviewers deemed our paper unprofessional. Below is some of the feedback from what I am calling ‘Mainstream and Status Quo Journal’.

 

Given the importance of the topic and the controversial nature of the article’s format, I wanted at least 3-4 reviews prior to making a decision… Also, I have read the article multiple times myself and consulted with the entire set of associate editors and editors.

 

The reviewers and the editorial staff were mixed in their reactions to this manuscript. Half of those consulted felt strongly that this manuscript be rejected outright.  The other half saw major problems with the manuscript, but recommended that the authors be offered an opportunity to revise the manuscript and resubmit it to the Mainstream and Status Quo Journal (MSQJ).

 

Therefore, I am offering you an opportunity to revise this manuscript.  However, you must understand that if accepted, this commentary will be an article within Mainstream Journal, and as such, it must abide by the same scholarly principles as any other article within the covers of our journal.  The most common theme throughout the reviews was in regard to the tone of the manuscript.  Words such as “inflammatory,” “disrespectful,” and “biased” peppered the reviews. I must agree with all four of the reviewers that the tone of this diatribe is not appropriate for a scholarly peer review journal such as Mainstream Journal.  I think that scholarly critique should be encouraged.  However, scholarly critique is thoughtful and tempered and considers multiple viewpoints.  The current version of this manuscript has an angry, one sided tone.  Unfortunately, this unprofessional tone occludes the message that you seek to deliver.  Therefore, the revision must be written in a tone that is appropriate for a scholarly journal.  We will not compromise on this point.  We will not provide Mainstream Journal page space for you to textually slap our authors.  You may disagree with ‘mainstream authors’, but I hardly think that their motive for publishing was nefarious.  Please treat the authors of this paper and other papers with which you may disagree with the professional respect that you expect to be accorded to you by your critics.

 

Clearly, I have not provided all feedback which I find chastising, belittling, and oppressive, choosing instead to get at the heart (maybe I need to use a different word) of the issue of silencing Black and Hispanic writers who are willing to take on the status quo and whose anger is unapologetically justified and justifiable.

 

Point 1. Angry in and of itself is not a dirty word, and neither does being angry equate to being unprofessional and unscholarly. As scholars supporting and defending our cultural group — too many of whom are disenfranchised by those in power – and as writers who are tackling inequities and seeking to enlighten the status quo, then anger can be quite appropriate and valid. Who are you to temper this anger, and to do so under the guise of what those in power deem and dictate to be professional etiquette? Yes, there are guidelines on professional conduct, most likely written by majority White decision makers who want to control the discourse. But consider this — opinions about tone are subjective. What you call inflammatory is your opinion (and fear?). Another person may have a different and even opposing interpretation. Who wins or has the final say? Who is right? Those in power (e.g., editors) often have the last word on how ‘tone’ and ‘behavior’ will be interpreted. By censoring Black and Hispanic scholars who are often ignored and discounted among the status quo, who are not members of your club, you are not only silencing those with less social capital, you are attempting to suppress and control our story, and you are keeping the readership culturally ignorant and gatekeepers by your biased agenda.

 

Point 2. Editors of Mainstream and Status Quo Journal(s) are likely to choose their reviewers with intent and motive. I doubt that names are selected randomly. Thus, those reviewers you select are not without bias.  Of the dozens of reviewers, how do you choose the final ones? Yet, you ask that we, who not in the club, write without bias. Let’s talk about double standards! Am I surprised that reviewers said exactly what you wanted them to say? By censoring Black and Hispanic scholars who are often ignored and discounted among the status quo, who are not members of your club, you are not only silencing those with less power, you are attempting to suppress and control our story, and you are keeping the readership culturally ignorant and gatekeepers by your biased and unprofessional agenda.

 

Point 3. Instead of calling Black and Hispanic scholars ‘angry’ and using this descriptor as an excuse and distractor to neither listen nor hear, try a bit of empathy. Open your hearts, ears, and minds to other realities. Give up some of your unearned and even undeserved privileges. Push your readers rather than placate them. Encourage and support those who can share not just complaints but also solutions. By censoring Black and Hispanic scholars who are often ignored and discounted among the status quo, who are not members of your club, you are not only silencing those with less social capital, you are attempting to suppress and control our story, and you are keeping the readership culturally ignorant and gatekeepers by your biased and unprofessional agenda.

 

Point 4. The silenced must be heard and will find other ways to be advocates and change agents. I learned decades ago that scholars silenced by Mainstream and Status Quo Journal(s) have other outlets to be heard.  Rule of thumb –- when Black and Hispanic scholars feel compelled (and forced) to dilute our anger, temper it, we should not submit to MSQJ. When we wish to be a real and unapologetically angry scholar seeking change, submit our work to Equity, Justice, and Change Journal(s) which is scholarly but not suppressive. By censoring Black and Hispanic scholars who are often ignored and discounted among the status quo, who are not members of your club, you are not only silencing those with less social capital, you are attempting to suppress and control our story, and you are keeping the readership culturally ignorant and gatekeepers by your biased and unprofessional agenda.

 

Point 5. Your suppression of our work is oppressive and biased and unprofessional. And that is your intent. Right? If not, then open the conversation! By censoring Black and Hispanic scholars who are often ignored and discounted among the status quo, who are not members of your club, you are not only silencing those with less social capital, you are attempting to suppress and control our story, and you are keeping the readership culturally ignorant by your biased and unprofessional agenda. dyford

 

 

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Black girls and (missing) self-esteem!

Black girls and (missing) self-esteem!

so sad and tragic and pathetic that non-White girls are brainwashed to hate themselves and fooled into thinking that White is right!

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