Thursday, August 28, 2014

Michael Brown is my Hermano

Chalk this up to, my internal voice needs to sing out loud. There is so much going on around us, so much to speak on. Our focus then becomes how we uplift the spirit of our people, our community. Although external peace seems difficult at this time our hope is that our internal strength will guide us.

Like many, my heart feels heavy as we face another senseless killing of a young black man. There is an urgency to pause and say, that could have been……..

When an Afro Latino with my complexion gets on the bus their experience is no different from that of an African American of the same complexion. That is the skin color experience that supersedes the Afro descendant experience. It is a fact that we will have experiences rooted in societal bias and negative stereotypes. In saying that, my Song during this time is, Michael Brown in my Hermano.(Brother)

Michael looks like a young man from Panama, Colombia and Santo Domingo. One of the things that would make this different for any young man from these countries is that, with Spanish being their first language they would have said, ‘Tengo las manos arriba, no dispare!’ My Hands are up, Don’t Shoot.!

While we continue to name it a Black- Brown issue, organizations like Encuentro Diaspora Afro and other Afro Latino organizations, stand up to say, in thinking about my complexion, it is a Black-Black issue from the moment we step out of our homes. At this point speaking Spanish does not exclude us from these experiences.

If we understand this position and how that should change this ongoing Black-Brown narrative the next question is, where is the Latino community on the issue of our young men having these deadly experiences not based on their cultural identity but their racial identity?

What would you need to know and see to feel the pain of Michael Brown's family and the people of Ferguson? What does it have to look like for you to make a strong statement in English or Spanish about the senseless killing of our young black men? 

The statement is just a beginning. When will the face of the leading Latino organizations look like my Hermano from Panama, Colombia or Santo Domingo? When will it look like Michael Brown?

By not showing up in force, is it speaking to the implicit bias that Latinos come in one way? Brown is a name in Panama if you are of African descent. The Brown’s I know are Proud Latinos.

We are in a crisis. It is time to address our biases, our deeply rooted state of racial hierarchy even within our own community.  Until that time comes, I will keep reminding you that Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner is my Hermano.

Rest in Peace my Hermano. You will never be forgotten by this Hermana.

In light and Hope,

Yvette Modestin

Encuentro Diaspora Afro

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