via Wiki

The history of Puerto Ricans of African descent begins with the immigration of African free men called libertos, who accompanied the invading Spanish Conquistadors. The Spaniards enslaved the Taínos (the native inhabitants of the island), and many of them died as a result of Spaniards’ oppressive colonization efforts. This presented a problem for Spain’s royal government, which relied on slavery to staff their mining and fort-building operations. Spain’s ‘solution’ was to import enslaved West Africans. As a result, the majority of the African peoples who entered Puerto Rico did so as a result of the forced migration of the Atlantic slave trade, coming from many different societies of the African continent.

When the gold mines in Puerto Rico were declared depleted, the Spanish Crown no longer held Puerto Rico as a high colonial priority. It was used as a garrison to support naval vessels. Africans from British and French possessions in the Caribbean were encouraged to emigrate to Puerto Rico, thereby providing a population base to support the Puerto Rican garrison. The Spanish decree of 1789 allowed the slaves to earn or buy their freedom, however this did little to help their situation. The expansion of sugar cane plantations drove up demand for slaves and their population increased dramatically. Throughout the years, there were many slave revolts in the island. Slaves who were promised their freedom joined the 1868 uprising against Spanish colonial rule in what is known as the “Grito de Lares“. On March 22, 1873, slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico. The contributions of ethnic Africans to the music, art, language, and heritage have been instrumental to Puerto Rican culture.

Elementary Student Gets Bullied: Father Takes Action, Watch

Via Khari Toure

This particular girl has faced her fair share of bullying and her Dad was naturally not happy about it when he found out. Yet, he came up with a very unique solution.

Dad decided to write a hip hop song aimed towards the issue of bullying, but also directed towards his daughters with the goal to let them know how beautiful they are. This guy is talented too! The lyrics are excellent and positive, while his flow is smooth and consistent, making it clear how passionate he is about getting this very important message out there to all boys and girls who have been victims of bullying behavior.

I Am NOT Black, You are NOT White, Video

Who Would You Be If No One Put a Label on You?

Via my.happify.com

In this stunning spoken-word video from Prince Ea, we get a sense of how labels truly define our society instead of allowing who we are inside to shine through. When we raise our kids without barriers, and without society’s stereotypes, there’s no limit to how far they can go. Where would you be—and who would you be—if no one put a label on you?

prince-eaVia wikipedia.org

About Prince Ea: Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is an American rapper and activist, known for discussing topics like politics, sociality, environmentalism and life issues.

Early life

Prince Ea, born as Richard Williams on September 16, 1988 in St. Louis, Missouri, was the youngest of three children, and has resided there his whole life, and worked on the stage name “Prince Ea” when he graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an Anthropology degree and Latin honors, as “Prince Ea” is derived from Sumerian mythology meaning “The Prince of the Earth”.

Music career

In late 2008, Prince Ea released the mixtape “The Adolescence” on the internet for free download. A few days after the release, he recorded an amateur video of himself rapping and entered it into a VIBE Magazine contest dubbed “VIBE Verses”. Subsequently, Ea was declared the VIBE Verses grand champion and was awarded $5000 in music recording equipment along with a full page article in the VIBE Magazine, which held a total value of $50,000. In 2009, he won a Funk Volume competition, stemming from success on YouTube, which allowed him to become the first hip-hop artist to have a feature in Discover Magazine.[12] Ea has also been awarded the grand prize of a competition run by Trojan condoms entitled “Magnum’s Live Large Project II” hosted by rapper Ludacris in which he was flown out to Miami to perform with the platinum recording artist. In 2011 he won the Riverfront Times “Best hip-hop artist in St. Louis”.

In February 2011, Prince Ea independently released “The Compilation Mixtape”, a free digital compilation mixtape with selections from DJ Techne.

The “Make ‘SMART’ Cool” movement

In 2009, Prince Ea, who was upset at the present state of the music industry, decided to form a movement named “Make ‘SMART’ Cool”. The “Make ‘SMART’ Cool” movement (SMART is an acronym for “Sophisticating Minds And Revolutionizing Thought”) attempts to “promote intelligence to everyone, everywhere and integrate it with hip-hop. To create and nurture, without discrimination or preference, a community of free-thinking individuals under the singular purpose of promoting the ideals of education, intelligence, unity and creativity throughout the world at large.”

A successful underground clothing line for the movement, which includes t-shirts and sweaters, was released and has gained support from artists such as newly signed So So Def producer Mike Kalombo. Artists supporting the movement include TraphikBlack ThoughtImmortal TechniqueSha StimuliAugust Rigo.

Why I Think This World Should End

Dear Future Generations: Sorry

Why Most People Die Before Age 25

Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

Working to Live or Living to Work?


World Without Black People?

VIA www.jubileeproject.org by Eric I. Lu

These days it can be so hard to talk about race and racism. It’s taboo, polarizing, and nuanced. But it is also one of the most important topics of our generation. So we went to the streets to have a conversation about it. From Boston to LA, we heard stories that were raw and honest. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are proud to share with you “World Without Black People”, a glimpse into the conversation that we had about race and what it is like to be a black person living in America. We made this video to share these stories, stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters, and challenge you to have a similar conversation of your own. We made this video because #BlackLivesMatter.

World Without Black People: A Letter from the Director

Mustering up courage and overcoming any sense of anxiety, we went up to random strangers on the street to ask them one question. But this wasn’t just any question. This was a question people called “provocative”, or “crazy”, or “omg I don’t know how to answer this”.

But they did. And we were surprised how openly they shared. We heard some of the most heartfelt and raw stories.

We met men and women of all ethnicities embracing each other in solidarity. We met parents teaching their children what it means to stand up for love and justice. We met a gentleman who participated in the civil rights movement and is still going strong at the age of 81.

We believe this is one of our most important films about one of the most important movements of our generation.

Making this film has changed my life. Growing up I hung out primarily with Asians. Whenever families gathered for potlucks, they were all Asian. My best friends were Asian. Maybe I was just more comfortable within my own ethnicity. Sure I knew people from other ethnicities, but did I really know them that well? You could say my world did not really have black people. It was only when I got to medical school, 23 years into my life, that I became close friends with African Americans and other ethnicities. But even still, I had not really sought to understand what it was like to be a black person living in this society. Through making this film, I reflected and confronted my own racist thoughts.

One of the people I saw on the streets was a guy in a hoodie who just walked out of a McDonalds. I hesitated for a second, and later in talking with my friend I realized it was because subconsciously I had stereotyped him as a thug. But as you can tell from his answers, he turned out to be a very socially conscious guy who after the interview invited me to a community organizing gathering.

I believe we become better people – more understanding and less judgmental – when we get to know somebody different from us. That’s why we want to encourage you to do the same.

JP Love,
Eric I. Lu

| #WeCanDoBetterBy CAMPAIGN |

“Get to know somebody that doesn’t look like you, worship next to somebody who doesn’t look like you, share a meal with somebody who doesn’t look like you and come with no expectations…then you’ll see who we are.” If you are watching this video, this is your call to action. We want you to join us in our #WeCanDoBetterBy Campaign:

1.) TWEET US – In 140 characters or less, tell us what you can do to break down racial stereotypes and inspire others to do the same. Finish the sentence: #WeCanDoBetterBy….., and don’t forget to tag @JubileeProject. You can use this link: http://ctt.ec/QCqsU

2.) WATCH VIDEOS – We put together a short playlist of some of our favorite videos about race / racism. They have facts and practical advice on how we can do better. Check them out: http://bit.ly/1xn8j78

3.) TAKE ACTION – Meet up with a friend who is a different race than you and have a conversation about personal experiences of racism. Keep an open mind and loving heart. Break away from stereotypes of what it means to be a certain race. You never know what you’ll learn.

Created, Directed, and Edited by Eric I. Lu
Produced and Edited by Elaine Zhou
Edited and Shot by Jean Rheem
Additional Sound and Camera by Dru Chen, Albert Chen, Jackie Hsieh, and June-Ho Kim
Music thanks to Marmoset Music (https://www.marmosetmusic.com)
Special Thanks to Jason Y. Lee

Special thanks to everybody to shared their stories with us.


Please tell me WHY we are celebrating Black History Month?!

SOURCE by history1900s.about.com

Black History Month is a month set aside to learn, honor, and celebrate the achievements of black men and women throughout history. Since its inception, Black History Month has always been celebrated in February. Find out how Black History Month originated, why February was chosen, and what the annual theme for Black History Month is for this year.

Origins of Black History Month

The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to a man named Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950).

Woodson, the son of former slaves, was an amazing man in his own right. Since his family was too poor to send him to school as a child, he taught himself the basics of a school education. At age 20, Woodson was finally able to attend high school, which he completed in just two years.

Woodson then went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, Woodson became only the second African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University (W.E.B. Du Bois was the first). Woodson used his hard-earned education to teach. He taught both in public schools and at Howard University.

Three years after earning his doctorate, Woodson made a trip that had a great impact on him. In 1915, he traveled to Chicago to participate in a three-week celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of slavery. The excitement and enthusiasm generated by the events inspired Woodson to continue the study of black history year-round.

Before leaving Chicago, Woodson and four others created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) on September 9, 1915.

The following year, the ASNLH began publication of the Journal of Negro History.

Woodson realized that most textbooks at the time ignored the history and achievements of blacks. Thus, in addition to the journal, he wanted to find a way to encourage interest and study of black history.

In 1926, Woodson promoted the idea of a “Negro History Week,” which was to be held during the second week of February. The idea caught on quickly and Negro History Week was soon celebrated around the United States.

With a high demand for study materials, the ASNLH began to produce pictures, posters, and lesson plans to help teachers bring Negro History Week into schools.

In 1937, the ASNLH also began producing the Negro History Bulletin, which focused on an annual theme for Negro History Week.

In 1976, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Negro History Week and the bicentennial of the United States’ independence, Black History Week was expanded to Black History Month. Ever since then, Black History Month has been celebrated in February around the country.

When Is Black History Month?

Woodson chose the second week of February to celebrate Negro History Week because that week included the birthdays of two important men: President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14).

When Negro History Week turned into Black History Month in 1976, the celebrations during the second week of February expanded to the entire month of February.

What Is the Theme for This Year’s Black History Month?

Since its inception in 1926, Negro History Week and Black History Month have been given annual themes. The first annual theme was simply, “The Negro in History,” but since then the themes have grown more specific. Here is a list of the most current and future themes for Black History Month.

  • 2014 – Civil Rights in America
  • 2015 – A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture
  • 2016 – Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memory
  • 2017 – The Crisis in Black Education
  • 2018 – African Americans in Times of War

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.





EDITOR’S NOTE: The following except from pages 47-50 of Overturning the Culture of Violence, written by Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and printed by Burning Spear Publications, debunks the cynical and anti-black argument that “Africans enslaved themselves.” This argument points to the presence of Africans who collaborated with the European slave masters and “sod” Africans to them in order to shift the responsibility for the slave trade off the shoulders of the European colonial slavemaster and onto the backs of the colonized and enslaved African.

Today, as the voice of the enslaved African community asserts itself in the world and lifts up the demand for reparations, the blame-shifting “African collaborator” argument can be seen gaining traction in universities and bourgeois historical publications, not as an historical argument but as a political defense against the legitimacy of the reparations demand. As an organization of white people working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party to organize white people in solidarity with the African struggle for liberation and reparations, we in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement find it timely to publish this excerpt here:

HUMAN BONDAGE: Page 47-50, Overturning the Culture of Violence 

The terrible impact that slavery has had on the continent of Africa cannot be calculated: the destruction of magnificent civilizations, the break-up of family and kinship circles, the massive depopulation, forced impoverishment, famine and starvation, the ravishing of an environment which had been so conducive to human civilization for millennia. From open, educated, prosperous and democratic societies, African people now lived in sheer terror, never knowing when their village or town would be raided for human loot by these white invaders.

Some North American people cynically place the blame for the enslavement of African people on the shoulders of African collaborators who participated in the kidnapping of their own people. Impacted by the social destruction wreaked by invading Europeans, a tiny minority of the conquered people did find their own survival by participating in this treachery.

The setting up of collaborators among the colonized population has been a successful tool of domination in every instance of European colonialism around the world. Africa is no exception. Europeans attack societies in Africa, Asia, or the Americas, destroying their traditional economies and long-standing social relationships. A unilateral colonial economy, which starves the people and creates the dependency on the colonial power, is militarily enforced.

The European invader gets richer and richer through his bloodsucking relationship, and offers resources, guns and special status to a minority sector of the oppressed population. The selected “elite” or the colony can themselves become enslaved or carry out the will of white power. If they take any stand independent of the colonizer as have, say, Panama’s Noriega or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in today’s world, white power spares them none of its wrath.

This plan has worked well over the centuries. A few people in every colony have participated in the devious imperialist schemes of slavery, genocide, torture and exploitation of their own people, a collaboration which benefits no one more than the European or North American “mother” country.

The statement that “Africans enslaved their own people” separates out African people from other colonial subjects, all of whom have had their share of betrayal among their ranks. It is a statement of imperialism’s historic need to mobilize public opinion against African people.

Like the general white attitude toward the government-imposed drugs and dependent drug economy in today’s African communities, this statement lets the parasitic colonial economic system off the hook. It is an anti-black expression of unity with the oppression of African people, saying, “They did it to themselves.” Meanwhile all white people everywhere still benefit from the parasitic economic system which has as its foundation the enslavement and continued exploitation of African people.

Most Africans resisted enslavement with all of their energy. Rebellions on slave ships were common. According to one source, “Many deaths on slave journeys across the Atlantic derived from violence, brawls, and above all, rebellions. There was probably at least one insurrection every eight to ten journeys.”

For example, Africans successfully rebelled in 1532 aboard the Portueguese slave ship the Misericordia. The 109 Africans on board “rose and murdered all the crew except for the pilot and two seaman. Those survivors escaped in a longboat. But the Misericordia was never heard of again.”

Slave ship owners often three Africans off the ships just to collect the insurance money. One famous case was that of a ship owned by William Gregson and George Case (both former mayors of Liverpool, England). The captain threw 133 Africans into the sea because if Africans were to die naturally, the owners would lose money, but if the African people were “thrown alive into the sea,” supposedly for the safety of the crew, “it would be the loss of the underwriters.”

So many African people died en route that it has been said that sharks followed slave ships all the way from Africa to the Americas.

Africans who survived the notoriously brutal middle passage, as the Atlantic crossing was known, reached the Americas barely alive. If they were too ill, they were left to die on the shore. They were sold like animals on public auction blocks, naked or in rags, weakened and emaciated, having survived the months below deck with disease and malnutrition, not to mention the emotional ravage sof such an experience. Many Africans committed suicide to avoid enslavement, a practice otherwise unknown in African culture.

White buyers came to the market for slaves, “feeling the Africans’ limbs and bodies much as butchers handled calves. The slaves were often asked, as they had been told to do before leaving Africa, to show their tongues and teeth, or to stretch their arms.”

In the Americas, Africans were “broken in” by submitting them to inhuman terror in an attempt to crush out any resistance. The “breaking” process was psychological as well as physical, and included being forced to learn a version of a European language and to take a European name, something many Africans militantly resisted.

Under the domination of their white slave masters, African people of all ages were branded, women on the breasts. Africans were whipped until they were deeply scarred, and their ears or ear lobes were cut off. People were slashed in the face, and their hands and feet were cut off to prevent them from running away. Men were castrated; women were raped. Women’s babies were cut out of their bellies for “punishment” and any man, woman or child could be forced to wear iron collars on their necks for life.

Under such brutal conditions, normal human relationships between men and woman or parents and children were interrupted and nearly impossible. Mothers were forced to work the full nine months of pregnancy, often giving birth in the field. They were then forced to abandon their children, as they had to keep on working or nurse the children of the slave master.

READ MORE by purchasing Overturning the Culture of Violence, by Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee at burningspearmarketplace.com.

United Nations committee urges US government to pay reparations for slavery

A terra-cotta statue of a child slave inside the main house at the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana © Edmund Fountain / Reuters
A United Nations panel of human rights activists has urged the United States’ government to pay reparations to the descendants of Africans who were brought to the US as slaves. The committee blamed slavery for the plight of African-Americans today.

The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent’s preliminary report follows a year of aggravated racial tensions in the United States that saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose members rally against the deaths of unarmed black men like Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, the chairwoman of the committee, drew parallels between the police killings in the United States and racist lynchings that occurred in the South until the civil rights era.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynchings in the past,” Mendes-France told reporters. “Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The committee released its preliminary recommendations on Friday after an 11-day fact-finding mission in the US, meeting with black Americans and others in different cities across the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, the group said that Congress should pass the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, establish a national human rights commission and publicly acknowledge that the Atlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.

Mendes-France, who is the daughter of leading black intellectual Frantz Fanon, said that the group was “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African-Americans,” according to AP.

“The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” she continued.

While reparations are often envisioned in the United States as individual payments of cash, Mendes-France, a French woman, told Vice that she does not favor such a method. Instead, she recommended that the money be spent for the “full implementation of special programs based on education, socioeconomic, and environmental rights.”

The group will not release a full report of its findings until a September meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, but a preliminary statement said that issues such as mass incarceration and police brutality are proof that there is “structural discrimination” in the United States.

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of African-Americans today,” the report said. “The persistent gap in almost all the human development indicators, such as life expectancy, income and wealth, level of education and even food security… reflects the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights.”

While the group criticized a lack of strict gun control and the implementation of stand-your-ground laws in many states, they praised initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act, which they say allowed 2.3 million black people to get health insurance.

However, the panel said that “despite the positive measures…the Working Group is extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African-Americans.” Despite legislative work to change mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes, the committee said that the war on drugs has led “to mass incarceration that is compared to enslavement, due to exploitation and dehumanization of African-Americans.”

In 2008, the House of Representatives successfully voted to apologize for slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed, and a year later the Senate passed its own apology bill as well. However, the two chambers of Congress could not agree on wording that would prevent the government from being liable for future reparations lawsuits, preventing the bill from ever reaching the president’s desk.

The Noose: An American Nightmare-Warning Six Graphic Videos


noose is a loop at the end of a rope in which the knot slides to make the loop collapsible. Knots used for making nooses include the running bowline, the tarbuck knot, and the slip knot.

The noose, a symbol of hatred from America’s dark past, has resurfaced. Why is it back? CNN’s Kyra Phillips investigates the shocking history of the noose and its re-emergence across the United States.

Origins of Lynching Culture in the United States


A black American man killed by hanging in a lynching in 1925


Lynching is an extrajudicial punishment by an informal group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob, often by hanging, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a minority group. It is an extreme form of informal group social control such as charivari, skimmingtonriding the rail, and tarring and feathering, but with a drift toward the public spectacle. Lynchings have been more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and have often been a means for a dominant group to suppress challengers. However, it has also resulted from long-held prejudices and practices of discrimination that have conditioned societies to accept this type of violence as normal practices of popular justice. Though racial oppression and the frontier mentality in the United States have given lynching its current familiar face, execution by mob justice is not exclusive to North America, but it is also found around the world as vigilantes act to punish people behaving outside of commonly acceptable boundaries. Indeed, instances of it can be found in societies long antedating European settlement of North America.

The legal and cultural antecedents of American lynching were carried across the Atlantic by migrants from the British Isles to colonial North America. Collective violence was a familiar aspect of the early modern Anglo-American legal landscape. Group violence in the British Atlantic was usually nonlethal in intention and consequence but it occasionally shaded, particularly in the seventeenth century in the context of political turmoil in England and unsettled social and political conditions in the American colonies, into rebellions and riots that took multiple lives. During the Antebellum, assertive free-Blacks, Latinos in the South West and runaways were the object of racial lynching. But lynching attacks on U.S. blacks, especially in the South, increased dramatically in the aftermath of the Civil War, after slavery had been abolished and recently freed black men gained the right to vote. Violence rose even more at the end of the 19th century, after southern white Democrats regained their political power in the South in the 1870s. States passed new constitutions or legislation which effectively disfranchisedmost blacks and many poor whites, established segregation of public facilities by race, and separated blacks from common public life and facilities. Nearly 3,500 African Americans and 1,300 whites were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, mostly from 1882 to 1920.

Lynching during the 19th century in the British Empire coincided with a period of violence which denied people participation in white-dominated society on the basis of race after the Emancipation Act of 1833.

Today lynching is a felony in all states of the United States, defined by some codes of law as “any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person which results in the death of the person,” with a “mob” being defined as “the assemblage of two or more persons, without color or authority of law, for the premeditated purpose and with the premeditated intent of committing an act of violence upon the person of another.” Lynching in the second degree is defined as “any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person and from which death does not result”. To sustain a conviction for lynching, at least some evidence of premeditation must be produced, but “the common intent to do violence” may be formed before or during the assemblage.

The Origins of Lynching Culture in the United States

How did the practice of lynching begin and evolve in American history? How did Ida B. Wells, a black female investigative journalist, start to challenge some of the entrenched practices of the South? Watch Paula Giddings, professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College, explore one of the most challenging topics in U.S. history: the history and origins of lynching. Find out more:


As Scout and Jem confront the issues of difference and belonging embedded in their community, Harper Lee’s choice to tell the story through the eyes of Scout becomes more crucial to the story.  Scout’s wide-eyed naiveté heightens the impact of both the social expectations she resists and the injustices she sees unfold.  Indeed, one of the primary narrative arcs of the novel is Scout’s “coming of age” through these experiences.  At the same time, Scout’s lack of life experience and knowledge about the world she inhabits leaves readers with gaps to fill in their own understanding of several important events and characters in the book.

Scout’s reliability as the narrator is important to understand because of what it shows about both the value and limitations of attempting to “walk in someone else’s skin.”  As students simultaneously grapple with Scout’s limited perspective and observe it slowly expand as the story unfolds, they might reflect on the ways in which their own perspectives are limited, as are everyone’s. By wrestling with these challenges, students can begin to strengthen their understanding and practice of empathy. them to back down?

BBC’s Racism: History- A lynching in Texas in 1916

A vid from BBC’s Documentary racism this seen tells the story of a boy who was lynched and burned alive in Texas in 1916 it is very shocking! (I do not own this vid)

Coming Out As Black, When You Were Hispanic


Teen Elaine Vilorio spent years trying to make sense of her racial identity. She describes herself as Hispanic, but other people see her as black. Vilorio speaks to guest host Celeste Headlee about her recent HuffPost Teen blog, ‘Coming Out As Black.’


This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, a celebrity chef shares some tasty summertime recipes and juicy stories about his clients. But first, we’ll turn to the issue of race and identity. The question of, what am I, is one that a lot of teens ask themselves and the answer can be quite complicated for multiracial kids.

It’s something that Elaine Vilorio has thought a lot about. She’s a high school senior, originally from the Dominican Republic. Over the course of her life, people assumed she was black and that bothered her. But two years ago, after she stopped chemically straightening her hair, the change in her appearance made her rethink her roots. She wrote about that in a Huffington Post piece titled “Coming Out as Black,” and Elaine Vilorio is now here to tell us more. Welcome to the program, first of all.

ELAINE VILORIO: Thank you, I’m happy to be here.

HEADLEE: First of all, let me ask you, why did you phrase it that way, coming out as black?

VILORIO: Well, people have always asked me, you know, like you said, you know, if I was black consistently, and I’ve always denied that. So I thought that was a very fitting way, a very dramatic way to say that I finally have admitted, you know, this Afro identity, so to speak, when it’s always been there. Coming out, I finally can say it out loud, and I can finally explain to people, yes, I have African roots in me and that’s okay.

HEADLEE: Well, when you talk about racial identity, it’s something you’ve written about quite a bit as well.


HEADLEE: What is racial identity for you? Is it about the way you see yourself or how others see you?

VILORIO: I mean, it’s a combination of both. I think people perceive me and they separate Afro-descendancy from, you know, the Hispanic identity. Hispanic identity doesn’t really take into account that African racial root. You know, I see myself as a predominantly black Hispanic. And then other people, you know, they just see a mixed person, just mixed. Blackness isn’t really, you know, acknowledged.

HEADLEE: You know, the Dominican Republic has kind of an uneasy relationship with race and…


HEADLEE: …and the darkness of one’s skin. What did you learn about this issue, black versus Latina, during your time in the Dominican Republic?

VILORIO: When I came here, you know, I was really, really small. I never had gotten the question of what I was. I never really understood what that was. So when I encountered, you know, other kids who had grown up here more than I had and they asked me, you know, what was I?

And I was a little confused. I was like well, I’m from Dominican Republic and you know, they always said, oh well, you know, I thought you were black. And I had never gotten that. I’d never, for you know, for Dominican kids it’s always, you know, you’re Dominican. So national identity was placed above racial identity, whereas here I found that racial identity was pinpointed first.

HEADLEE: Although Dominicans, they identify – if you want to talk about black, they usually identify black as equivalent to Haitian.


HEADLEE: And that’s not seen as a positive thing. Being black is not considered to be positive in the Dominican Republic. How did that attitude affect the way you answered that question?

VILORIO: I had never consciously thought about it until a couple years ago when I stopped chemically straightening my hair. But I had always, you know, grown up with those subtle phrases like, stop being such a Haitian and you know, that’s an equivalent to, let’s say, stop being so stupid. The other day, I came home really, really tan and my mother was like, oh my goodness, you look like a Haitian, this is horrible. So you know, my mother was…

HEADLEE: What did you say to her?

VILORIO: Oh, I was like, oh my goodness, mother, you know, it’s not a big deal, I’m just a little tan. But I was – it’s something that I was used to. And I was thinking about this. I was like, man, you know, this just keeps coming up, this whole, you know, subtle racism type of thing. I’ve seen, you know, Afro-Latinos to use that phrase, Latinos who have obvious, you know, Afro descendancy separate themselves from blacks by putting them off, you know, using stereotypes like, oh my goodness, they’re so uneducated and blah blah blah.

And I’ve always thought, well, you look like them. And they’re referring to, you know, American blacks. I’m just thinking, so you look like them. You’re putting these people in, you know, this category but what about you? And that’s always been something that’s bothered me.

HEADLEE: Well, when you say you acknowledged it, last year you actually wrote an article, “Another Latina Nerd Tells Her Story.” In that, you talked about the confusion you’ve had over your racial identity and you identified very proudly, very firmly as Latina and Hispanic.


HEADLEE: This year, you wrote another very firm, very confident, again, article, again in the Huff Post, in which you say, I am black.


HEADLEE: So what changed?

VILORIO: I mean, I still identify strongly as a Hispanic because, you know, that is my culture. I – you know, my parents raised me on the values that they grew up with. And then also I had, you know, growing up in America and in the American school system. So I had, you know, that bicultural influence. But racially I’m black. You know, I can say that I’m black. And being black and being Hispanic, Hispanic being a culture and black, you know, being associated with a culture, yes, but also with a race, you can be racially black and you can be, you know, culturally Hispanic. And that was something that I wanted to combine and that I want to explore further and talk about more.

HEADLEE: I’m glad to hear you say explore this more, Elaine, ’cause, I mean, as a 40-something mixed race person, I can tell you that your journey into the world of racial identity is just beginning. Where do you go from here? What’s your next step in kind of determining this? Or is there going to be a point at which you say, look, call me what you will, I know who I am?

VILORIO: I would like to educate people and breaking down, you know, a little bit of the stereotyping and the racism that goes on with people that are Hispanic and are racially black but then try to separate themselves from, you know, other black people here in the United States.

HEADLEE: Are you about to graduate, Elaine?

VILORIO: I am, yes. This June.

HEADLEE: Well, congratulations.

VILORIO: Thank you.

HEADLEE: Moving on to college?

VILORIO: Yes, that’s right.

HEADLEE: Well, good luck in the future.

VILORIO: Thank you.

HEADLEE: Elaine Vilorio, a high school senior, for just a few more days, from New Jersey. She was kind enough to join us from our New York bureau. Thanks so much.

VILORIO: Thank you for having me.

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