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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cultural Information

Latino culture in New York City has a long history. Latino culture deals with music, art, dance, politics, STEM fields, and other important parts of human expression.  There is the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education. This is an 80 year old South Bronx-based community arts and educational organization that outlines diverse, contemporary visual and performing arts and educational programming for empowering the youth (and their families). They are promoting a culture of learning. Casita Maria for decades has helped Hispanic families. They have worked with homeless services, violence prevention, drug rehabilitation, and other services. Tito Puente, Dave Valentin, Rita Moreno, and Tina Ramirez have been involved in Casita Maria and they are successful people. There is also the Nuyorican Movement. This is the cultural and intellectual movement of poets, writers, artists, and musicians (like Abraham Rodriguez Jr., who made music and wrote numerous novels) who are Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent who live in or near New York City. The cultural organizations of the movement are found in the Nuyorican Poets Café including the CHARAS/El Bohio in the Lower East Side, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Agüeybaná Bookstore, Mixta Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, El Museo del Barrio, El Maestro, etc. There are other Nuyorican cultural hubs in this new generation like, Camaradas El Barrio in Spanish Harlem. Music like salsa, reggaeton, Latin house, Latin rap, etc. are commonly expressed by Latin Americans in New York City. There are many Afro-Latino cultural displays of literature, music, and art too. Yes, many Latinos are of black African descent. Each year in New York City, there is the Afro Latino Festival. In 2015, they will have musicians like Cultural Profetica, Les Nubians, Kafu Banton, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto Danay Suarez, Que Bajo?!, and other people. One group Afro-Latino was Arturo A. Schomburg, who called himself an Afro-Borinqueño (black Puerto Rican). He worked throughout his life to record information of the rich history of the black African Diaspora. Sister Ynanna Djehuty also is an Afro-Latino who is expressing herself too. When asked how she feels about her journey, Djehuty said, “Discovering myself has connected me to my roots and a history that I’m proud of. It connects me to history before the middle passage. The more I embrace it, the more whole I feel. I encourage anyone ready to take the journey to follow that path. Know that you’re not crazy, that there’s a whole system that wants to support you. Once you can contextualize you’re experience, you can begin to heal. When you know your history and where you come from you can begin to help the world and future generations.” Sister Ynanna continues to write great literature like books and poetry. Therefore, the Latino experience is a diverse experience and it has inspired so many human beings all over the world.

Jewish culture in New York City has a very long history. Sephardi and Ashkenazi traveled into New York City from Recife, Brazil back in early September 1654 to escape anti-Semitism and religious persecution. For long centuries, we have seen the evils of oppression inflicted on Jewish people, black people, and other people of color. This is why we must show dignity and respect to the sojourner, to the refugee, and to all human life. One large part of Jewish culture deals with the synagogue. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other forms of Judaism flourish today. The synagogue is not just a place of religious worship. It is a place of cultural development, a meeting place for political activism, and a location where Jewish people can express their own ideals about society. Famous Jewish authors include Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Michael Gold, and others. Poet Louis Zukofsky displayed the atmosphere of New York City life.  One of the greatest places in NYC to witness Jewish culture is the Jewish Museum. It has tons of art and other exhibitions from Jewish people. Organizations like the Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, Chabad, and the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute have their headquarters in New York. There are Sephardic Jewish people including Syrian Jewish people, etc. who have lived in New York City since the late 19th century. Some Jewish communities are found not just in Riverdale (which is a middle class neighborhood today), but in Queens, south Brooklyn, and the Bronx. In 2015, an Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn had New York City’s highest birth rate. Borough Park, known for its large Orthodox Jewish population, had 27.9 births per 1,000 residents, making it “easily the city’s baby capital.” There is the growth of the more conservative Russian and Orthodox Jewish people. The progressive Conservative and Reform Jewish people have done many good things in advancing human rights and other progressive polices in NYC including throughout America.   One great Jewish activist for social change was Allard Kenneth Lowenstein.  He lived from 1929 to 1980. He worked in the Freedom Sumer movement, which occurred in Mississippi. The Freedom Summer movement was about multiracial coalition of human beings who were fighting for the human rights of black people in the Deep South during 1964. This Freedom Summer also wanted black people to have the right to vote, to get educational opportunities, and to experience total freedom and liberation. He wanted an independent investigation of the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He opposed apartheid, which existed in South Africa. He promoted human rights. Jewish people are diverse culturally and ideologically. The diversity of the cultural heritage of New York City is inspiring.

This is an important issue. When one black person is oppressed, then we are all oppressed. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. So, we are in solidarity with the Haitian people. Many in the D.R. have serious self-hated issues. Many Dominicans abhor blackness and some black Dominicans even deny being black, which is a total shame. So, we know the truth. The oligarchs are exploiting this issue also, so they can make huge profits at the expense of human rights. To deport many Haitians, who are even born in the D.R., is immoral, evil, and it is racist. Even Bill De Blasio to his credit has recently condemned the D.R. immigration policy as immoral and racist. International organizations like the UNHCR have condemned the mass deportations of Haitian citizens of the Dominican Republic. Many Haitians were born not in hospitals, so many of them lack birth certificates (not because they were born in another nation). We know of the racist mobs who have assaulted, and even lynched black Haitian residents of the D.R. too. Now, this doesn't mean that all Dominicans worldwide are racists as many Dominicans are in opposition to this abhorrent immigration policy as well. This does mean that we want members of the black African Diaspora to be treated as human beings. Sister Dr. Jemima Pierre has written great literature on this issue. I respect and love her work. Also, we must know about the late human rights activist Sonia Pierre. She was a Sister who fought against discrimination, which is going on against Dominicans of Haitian descent. She was active and she was awarded by many. Sonia’s story is an inspirational one. She was a strong defender of the human rights of Haitian people in the D.R. She passed away in the year of 2011. She has 3 children. Some have called for a boycott of the D.R. too, which I have no problem with. We reject xenophobia and racism. We want liberation.
RIP Sister Sonia Pierre.

DeRay has every right to execute activism, so racial justice can be a reality. This is a new generation. Many in the younger generation have used technology and various forms of activism in real life in order for real change to come. DeRay McKesson is a grown black man. He has the right to go into Charleston to speak his mind and to express his ideals. We, as black people, will not be intimidated. We will continue to speak out against the murder of black males and black females. We will continue to oppose the prison industrial complex and seek not only an end to the War on Drugs, but alternatives to help those who are suffering in our cities and in our towns. The Brother should keep on doing what he’s doing. We need more independent political activism and the growth of progressive consciousness. There is absolutely nothing wrong for any human being to have time to relax or to recharge their energy. Self-care is never equivalent to personal selfishness. I practice self-care by listening to music. Music helps with making my thinking more creative and I become more intelligent by listening to music. I do like to read, travel to places, and to have self-reflection about my life.

There are plenty of black African models who can present the beautiful hairstyles (in the magazine). Some people confuse dissent with hatred. When many Sisters express legitimate dissent over the lack of representation of black women wearing hairstyles in that cover, these Sisters do not hate those who are biracial or multiracial. Black is Beautiful. Others try to mimic us and our dark melanin. The Sisters are sick and tired of mainstream society (via many slick ways) whitewashing the beautiful image of blackness. There is no question that there has been a problem of a lack of representation of black people (especially of dark skinned black people) in various covers. This has occurred in America and in Brazil (which has been documented). Colorism and cultural appropriation are global phenomenons that must be addressed. Free speech is a right and people have every right to want blackness to be expressed not as a token measure, but as a way for us to express authentic, creative human expression. These corporations realize that it would wise for them eliminate any Confederate flag from what they sell. Amazon has eliminated Confederate flag from their products too. The journey for justice is not going to be easy. We can’t be naïve. The flag should definitely come down from the South Carolina State Capitol area without question. That Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, division, racism, and oppression. This is just the beginning. Also, we need those of South Carolina and for the rest of Americans to have adequate healthcare, to have full voting rights without discriminatory voter ID laws, and economic justice (that means that a higher minimum wage, the elimination of unfair subsidies for the super wealthy, a job creation plan, universal Pre-K, and investments in building up our infrastructure are necessities).
#Take Down that Flag.

By Timothy

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