Thowback Post: Why Latinos Should Also Celebrate Black History Month

Thowback Post: Why Latinos Should Also Celebrate Black History Month

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.

Galeria Quisqueya


Bi-nationalism and Transnationalism in the Dominican-American Community

Bi-nationalism and Transnationalism in the Dominican-American Community

An important and (albeit controversial) theme in the Dominican-American community is bi-nationalism and transnationalism in which Dominican-Americans continue to show great pride in their homeland as you can see with the flags hanging from their fire escapes, or the habichuela con dulce lady on Burnside. And maintain strong ties to the Dominican Republic, and at the same time embrace and engage the United States. This is well known anecdotally when having a conversation or interacting with Dominican Americans, but the survey that we commissioned was able to quantify it. It looked at the extent to which these transnational ties remain as well as to assess how a sense of transnational connection may serve as a bridge to further engagement in politics in America. Dominicans are beating the stereotype and proving to the general public that the Kardashians are not the only public figures they follow- they also follow political figures. We can observe a pattern of higher levels of interest and engagement in politics in the U.S. among those with the higher levels of engagement with homeland issues.

To start, those with higher levels of transnational engagement have higher levels of following politics in the U.S. Among those with higher DR-engagement, 45% say they read/watch 4 or more news stories about issues and politics in the U.S. compared to just 26% who read/watch 4 or more in the lower DR- engagement category. This means that those with high transnationalism are also much more likely to reject the cynical view that “voting is just not for me” or “yo voto basura,” with 79% of those with high DR-ties rejecting that view compared to 57% among those with low DR-ties. Respondents with higher DR‐engagement are more likely to be persuaded by a chance to elect more Dominican Americans to office.

Not surprisingly, they are very likely to be motivated by Dominican advocacy groups and events that stress both Dominican Republic and Dominican American issues. Fully 91% of those with high DR-ties said they would be interested in participating in such transnational events in their city. However, we should note that even among those with lower DR-ties, the survey still finds that 71% are interested in participating in such transnational events, suggesting that even for those who may not be as actively engaged with homeland issues, there remains a powerful draw for transnational and homeland politics, especially if it is coupled with a focus on Dominican American issues.

DUSA Attends Dominican Heritage Night at the Barclays Center

DUSA Attends Dominican Heritage Night at the Barclays Center

The Dominican American National Foundation awards the DANF Blue Flame of Achievement Award to honor local community leaders and organizations working to advance and integrate Latinos into American society. Dominicanos USA attended the event as DANF honorees, in recognition of the work they do and how it has impacted the Dominican community. Eddie Cuesta, National Executive Director of DUSA, was there to receive the award on behalf of the organization.

The DUSA team also participated and engaged with the Dominican Heritage Night attendees. The team registered eligible citizens to vote, with the goal of further integrating Dominicans into American society.

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Marches Make News, Voting Makes A Difference

Marches Make News, Voting Makes A Difference

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 

DUSA is Now Hosting Free Civics Classes

DUSA is Now Hosting Free Civics Classes

This winter, Dominicanos USA has partnered up with the New York Historical Society to give free civics classes to green card holders in preparation for their naturalization interview. The series of classes will be hosted at our Bronx office and will be available to individuals who are permanent residents. These free civics classes are part of DUSA’s mission to help immigrants from our community become naturalized citizens.

The New-York Historical Society offers FREE civics classes for green card holders on the path to American citizenship. The 24-hour course prepares permanent residents for the civics test portion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization interview.

The interactive course covers all 100 questions from the USCIS Civics Test. Participants will explore the Museum and learn about American history and government using objects, paintings, and documents from our collection. Classes are taught in English and are accessible to English Language Learners.

The Citizenship Project is made possible by generous grants from the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The New York Community Trust, and in partnership with CUNY Citizenship Now!

“When I shared with my friends about the sessions, they asked me why not just memorize the 100 items for the citizenship exams?
My reply was: I’m a visual person and I usually internalize an info or issue with actual viewing and hearing, and that it is my intention to understand better the history of the United States.”

-Elsie, originally from the Philippines

New Courses Start This Winter

January 6 – February 3
Saturdays, 10am – 4pm
January 9 – February 15
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 – 8pm
February 17 – March 10
Saturdays, 10am – 4pm
Dusa busca empoderar a los dominicanos en Estados Unidos

Dusa busca empoderar a los dominicanos en Estados Unidos

manuel matos dusa

Dominicanos USA (Dusa) se define como una organización sin fines de lucro que busca crear “un puente institucional” que contribuya a mantener la conexión cultural y económica entre los domínicos estadounidenses y su patria de origen, afirma el presidente de su Junta Directiva, Manuel (Manny) Matos.

“En Estados Unidos se encuentran casi dos millones de dominicanos, 1.9 millones, con la más alta concentración en Nueva York, con una presencia destacada en Rhode Island, New Jersey, La Florida y algunas áreas de Texas”, pondera.

Explica que Dusa, nacida legalmente en 2014 como una organización no gubernamental registrada bajo el marco jurídico de Estados Unidos, se dedica desde 2015 a empoderar a los dominicanos para que se puedan registrar como votantes o tramitar su ciudadanía para acceder a mayores derechos.

Desde el punto de vista de Matos, con la llegada de Donald Trump a la Casa Blanca y la postura del mandatario ante los inmigrantes, muchos residentes en Estados Unidos entendieron la necesidad de convertirse en ciudadanos.

“El clima político ha motivado, definitivamente, a muchas personas elegibles para votar a convertirse en residentes, son personas que han cumplido con el requisito de cinco años residiendo de manera permanente”, dice. “Ayudamos a difundir la información sobre los requisitos para la naturalización”.

También cita entre las razones que motivan a los residentes a convertirse en ciudadanos, el hecho de que “muchos dominicanos han llegado a puestos muy altos en el Gobierno federal”. Entre los funcionarios electos y designados de origen dominicano, Dusa cita al congresista Adriano Espaillat y los senadores estatales José Peralta, Ana Quezada, Grace Díaz, Ramón Pérez y Marisol Alcántara. También a los concejales Julissa Ferreras, Antonio Reynoso, Fernando Cabrera, Ydanis Rodríguez, Jelmin Caba, Carmen Castillo, Sabina Matos, Franklin Solano, Kedrys Vásquez, Nilka álvarez Rodríguez, Jeovanny Rodríguez, Modesto Maldonado y Estela Reyes.

Otros funcionarios de origen dominicano son Diana Reyna, Emily Domínguez, Carmen de La Rosa, Aldrin Bonilla, Flavio Rivera, Luis Felipe Fernández, Héctor Lora, Dan Rivera, Franklin García, Claribel Martínez Marmolejos y Jimmy Zorrilla. La lista incluye a Robert Uribe, alcalde del poblado Douglas, en Arizona.

dominicanos este de estados unidos
Matos resalta, además, la importancia que tiene para los ciudadanos estadounidenses de origen dominicano el hecho de registrarse como votante.
Como ejemplo, cita el hecho de que el congresista dominicano electo en el Distrito 13 de Nueva York (Adriano Espaillat) ganó por 849 votos, “y en ese distrito nosotros registramos casi 30 mil votantes”. Resalta que “en campaña de registro tenemos un ejército, súper entrenado, guiado por la tecnología” para poder ubicar a los domínicos estadounidenses.

Dusa tiene el apoyo de varias empresas dominicanas, entre las que figuran INICIA, Grupo Punta Cana, Fersan, MARTÍ, Grupo Ambar y Banco Popular. En Estados Unidos ha tenido respaldo de universidades como Stanford, Yale y Georgetown, así como de la Fundación Naleo. La organización surge para crear un mecanismo que permita a la clase empresarial dominicana apoyar a la diáspora en Estados Unidos, como una manera de crear “beneficios mutuos” y mantener el vínculo con una población que, como resulta natural, se va desconectando en cada nueva generación de migrantes.

Matos, hijo de migrantes y padre de estadounidenses de origen dominicano, resalta la importancia económica y social que tiene para el país el mantener la conexión con su diáspora, sin importar su generación.

De acuerdo al Banco Central, el 70.22% de las remesas que recibió el país entre enero y noviembre de 2016 provino desde Estados Unidos y el 1.09% de Puerto Rico. Durante ese período entraron por ese concepto US$4,898.7 millones.

Dusa se propone impulsar un proyecto con el Gobierno y la clase empresarial, utilizando como modelo el Comité Americano de los Judíos, considerado “un maestro en el área de manejo de diáspora”.

Ventajas de la ciudadanía

Desde 2010 se estima que el flujo de inmigrantes dominicanos admitidos como residentes permanentes por Estados Unidos ronda entre 40 y 50 mil por año, según informaciones de Dusa. En 2014 fueron 44,577 y en 2015 un total de 50,610. Para 2014 se estimaban en 480,000 los dominicanos con residencia permanente, de los que eran elegibles para optar por la ciudadanía unos 300,000, indica la organización sin fines de lucro.

Para 2016 se naturalizaron 31,320 inmigrantes de origen dominicano, un número superior a 2015 (26,665), pero inferior a 2013 cuando fueron 39,590. Entre sus acciones, Dominicanos Usa recuerda a los inmigrantes las ventajas que pueden tener al ser ciudadanos, entre los que destacan el derecho a votar, a postularse a cargos públicos y a ser elegibles para empleo o beneficios federales.

El Dinero

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