We typically associate Black History Month with African-Americans. Since this is commonly the case, what does Black History have to do with the Latinx community? There is a tendency to view “black” and “Latinx” as separate entities, as if they have nothing to do with each other. However, there are significant populations of Latinxs throughout the countries of Latin America who are of African descent. These African- descended Latinxs are commonly referred to or self-identify, primarily in the U.S., as “Afro-Latinxs”. With that said, what do African-Americans and Afro-Latinxs have in common? We are black! Yet there is not nearly enough mention of the Afro-Latinx experience in the U.S. during this commemorative month. Looking back into our history, African-Americans and Afro-Latinxs share a common lineage. The conversation about the
Seen at the 54th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade along Fifth Avenue Sunday, June 12, 2011 in Manhattan, New York.
history of the transatlantic slave trade and the experience of enslaved people is typically focused on those who came to the U.S., especially in the South. However, only approximately 400,000 out of the 10.7 million of the enslaved Africans who survived the Middle Passage came to the U.S. over the course of the transatlantic slave trade. Thus, the majority of the Africans who survived the voyage to the Americas arrived in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The Africans who arrived in the U.S. and Latin America left a significant impact on the African-American, Afro-Latinx, and broader communities. Their descendants continue to preserve, shape, and maintain the influence left behind by their ancestors. From the music to the food, from literature and the arts to religion, there is a notable African presence that exists in both cultures. Now, what does this all mean?
“Essentially, what differs us from each other is where our African ancestors landed during the transatlantic slave trade.”
So, why should Latinxs be included in the celebration of Black History Month? Firstly, we should honor the achievements and sacrifices of the African-American community and acknowledge the horrors they endured to fight for the rights that not only African- Americans have the freedom to exercise today, but rights that continue to benefit all groups, including the Latinx community.
Secondly, Black History Month should be a celebration of all African descendants and the contributions they have made to the U.S.; there are also notable Afro-Latinx figures that made their mark in American history who deserve recognition as well. Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a Puerto Rican of African and German descent, was a historian, writer, and activist during the Harlem Renaissance who raised awareness pertinent to the contributions African-Americans and Afro-Latinxs made in society.
Schomburg’s collection of African artifacts, art, literature, and narratives of enslaved people became the basis for the construction of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, housed in the New York Public library. Roberto Clemente, who was a Puerto Rican of African descent, became the first Latino player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Afro-Dominican Junot Diaz, writer and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and MacArthur Fellow. Celia Cruz, who was Afro-Cuban, is recognized as the one of the most popular and renowned Latin artists of all time. She is known internationally as “The Queen of Salsa.”
These influences are a few of the many examples of Afro-Latinxs making history in the United States of America. Let us proudly celebrate Black History Month. Let us celebrate our African roots. We need to stop differentiating ourselves from the African-American community, because we are all part of the black community. It does not matter if we speak a different language. That just shows how truly diverse we—the people of the African Diaspora— are. As we move forward, let us work on sharing our narrative as Afro-Latinxs during this month, because Black History Month is OUR month too; because black history is also OUR history. And we deserve a seat at the table.
As part of the Dominican Heritage Month celebration, DUSA has been pleased to present the work of Persio Minier, an active and respected member of the Latin American artistic community whose current exhibition, Ancestral Exploration, celebrates Dominican-American culture through abstract and figurative paintings.
Dominicanos USA’s latest citizenship workshop was a huge success! Huge thanks to our wonderful volunteers ranging from full-time students to full-time employees! Also a big gracias to our wonderful lawyers for attending and partaking in the pre-screening process and the Work Learn Grow program for helping the youth participate in the community’s overall growth by engaging with the legalization process. 48 people arrived and we managed to complete a total of 33 citizenship applications, which is a great turn out.
Community outreach has always been a main factor at Dominicanos USA. As a Graphic Designer and Web Developer filling in for our amazing blogger, I can honestly tell you that each and every corner of DUSA involves the community (trust me I’ve canvassed for these people). Our organization takes the community seriously I tell you! It’s a great and fulfilling experience overall, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
Creating a pathway to citizenship is a direct injection of new voters into the political system. We created a model and path to ensure individuals receive needed support. At a time when the nation is divided and anti-immigration at rhetoric, we at DUSA believe immigrants are the strong pillars of this nation. Thus, it’s important for us to provide these workshops to empower immigrants and the overall community. To support this program or other youth development and civic integration programs here at DUSA, donate here.
¿Sabe usted los beneficios de ser ciudadano estadounidense? Obtener ciudadanía americana no es tan sólo asunto de adquirir un pasaporte americano. Como organización dominico-americana, nuestro objetivo es incluir y movilizar a los dominicanos residentes permanentes que aún no se han hecho ciudadanos. Los beneficios de hacerse ciudadano estadounidense incluyen: votar en elecciones, obtener un pasaporte estadounidense, ser capaz de patrocinar a su familia para ser residentes permanentes, ser elegible para becas escolares y subsidios del gobierno, poder viajar al extranjero por largos periodos de tiempo, entre otros beneficios. ¡Comience el proceso de ciudadanía hoy! Llame a nuestra oficina al 718 665 0400 y pregunte sobre los eventos de asistencia para ciudadanía, o presione este enlace aquí.
By: Dinahlee Pena
On the morning of January 20th, 2018, in the heart of New York City, over 200,000 people attended the second annual Women’s March. The demonstrators held signs that came in waves of color as they marched. Etched on these signs were the concerns of many New Yorkers, including issues such as women’s rights, immigrant reform, and racial equality.
Dominicanos USA, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, stood at the outskirts of the Women’s March in New York City, with the goal of registering eligible voters.
The Women’s March did not only represent the shift women want to see in society but also encompassed the various concerns of the people. It ultimately became their platform to speak. From toddlers to senior citizens, the Women’s March became home to a diverse pool of people who united as one, regardless of age, gender, or race.
By: Dinahlee Pena
NOVEMBER 7 GENERAL ELECTIONS WERE CRITICAL FOR DOMINICAN AND LATINO COMMUNITIES
Dominicanos USA has always aimed to engage and empower the Dominican community. In fact, we have been able to register 150,000 people to vote since 2015. This past week we made sure to remind as many people as possible to go out and vote in the 2017 general elections in NYC and other areas. This election season Dominicanos USA sent out 55,000 texts and made 4,500 calls to ensure our people exercise their right to vote. We believe that through voting we can impact our community in a powerful way.
DUSA team calling and texting voters to remind them to participate in the latest elections.
Motivating the community to participate in these local and state elections has allowed our fellow Dominican and Latino politicians to represent us in throughout the U.S., including the first Latinas ever elected as state representatives in Virginia. Electing these Latino officials has greatly contributed to the empowerment of our community and our influence in the American political system. We plan on continuing to encourage our community to keep voting, and therefore make sure our voices are heard.
DUSA team engaging millennials in the electoral process by providing poll site location and reminding them to get out vote.
DUSA hurricane relief efforts
On October 7th, 2017, DUSA was honored to be part of the #UptownUNIDOS fundraising campaign for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and earthquake victims in Mexico. The event was sponsored by a collaboration of CUNY in the Heights, Bronx Free Press, Hispanic Federation, and Manhattan Times. Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Public Advocate Tish James were also in attendance supporting the relief efforts.
It was important for DUSA to be there and help out the Puerto Rican and Mexican community at a time when they did all the need they can get. The unfortunate circumstances being faced by the people from these countries is very heartbreaking. We are a non-profit based in the Bronx that has strong relationships with both communities. So when we heard about the relief efforts #UptownUnidos event, DUSA did not hesitate to lend a helping hand. DUSA encourages everyone to donate the best they can to these relief efforts because Puerto Rico and Mexico need our help. The Latino community is one that helps each other at all times. A catastrophe like this can unite us into becoming one big family. Dominicanos USA like to thank everyone who donated and helped with the relief efforts.