Reflection- Hispanic Heritage Month- Embracing all of you
On this Hispanic Heritage Month, Encuentro Diaspora Afro would like to share our internal and external development and celebrate all of you during this time.
This has been an amazing gift that we continue to shape. The organization began as El Encuentro de Afro-Latinos in Boston but in my own internal and external growth and travels, I realized it was beyond that and bigger than that.
The word that stands out for us at this present moment is Equity.
We have celebrated Afro-Latino, Latino, Caribbean, African American culture in a variety of ways. We have engaged ourselves and the community on a deeper level. As we move forward, we find it necessary to reflect on our mission and vision. This is due in part, to what we have learned over the years that requires us to speak directly to the experience.
At the core of our presence, our need to keep moving, our development is Racial Equity. What does it mean to be a person of African descent in the 21st Century?
We recently began developing a new project where we will revisit the questions we posed when this all began when all I wanted was to bring people together. The intent is to add to those what we have seen, learned, and what we still see as unanswered questions.
To share a few:
Where do we get our message of Race?
How was it delivered to us?
How has it helped us or hurt us?
With the youth, we have seen that they are willing to engage but when the time arrives to go home and ask questions of family history, they get stuck. We learn that the message is so ingrained in them from their own families, that is, Latino good, Black bad, that they are confused and torn.
Sadly, this is causing a level of confusion to many Afro-Latino youth. To not walk across the room, as we have seen in our workshops, when asked if you are of African descent because you do not like being told you are Black, is painful to all.
Our experience has been the same among adults. We have met many from all walks of life and all different professions yet the conversation is the same, I still cannot talk about this at home. I have seen adults cry from the pain of their relationships with family members diminished because they have embraced their Blackness, have natural hair or brought a Black man/Black woman, Afro-Latino/a home to the family.
Our home shapes us. It was and is the space where words were first defined and attitudes shaped.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, go home sit with your family and engage in these questions. Cry, laugh and hopefully begin the healing process within, then when you come out, Encuentro Diaspora Afro will be there to move, walk, hold you, in the process as a community. Embrace your Afro descent identity. Honor your family, your ancestors in all their shades.
This also applies to African Americans, Africans and our allies. This is a time for all to return home to reflect on our past to know how we can be a part of the healing process of our society.
By embracing your full self, you can then embrace your African American, Caribbean, African, brothers and sisters. We will then be a community that heals itself and removes the shackles from our mind and our feet.
I pause here to share one of my, aha moment, quote from Assata Shakur: “Our desire to be free has got to manifest itself in everything we are and do.”
On this Hispanic Heritage month the Encuentro Diaspora Afro ask that you Celebrate and Embrace all of you. Say loud and proud, Negro Latino Presente!!!!!By doing so, we will begin healing as individuals and as a community.
This year we have two events on October 14, 2009. We are excited to collaborate with Community Change Inc. and The Cultural Café for the Hispanic Heritage Month Event. Please join us for a Brown Bag discussion from 12- 1:30pm, Seperated by Slavery, Reunited at Verse, with Marcos “Sese” Bellamy. Marcos will also join us for an evening event from 6:30-9pm at the Cultural Café. Marcos will speak on his time in Venezuela and share his very powerful, powerful music. See attached flyers.
In Celebration of All of you,