“Who is Black?”


rosa

 

Written by yaba on October 30th, 2011 // Filed under Journal (from the site http://1nedrop.com)

By: Rosa Clemente

Yesterday, an interesting thing happened to me. I was told I am not Black.

The kicker for me was when my friend stated that the island of Puerto Rico was not a part of the African Diaspora. I wanted to go back to the old school playground days and yell: “You said what about my momma?!” But after speaking to several friends, I found out that many Black Americans and Latinos agree with him. The miseducation of the Negro is still in effect!

I am so tired of having to prove to others that I am Black, that my peoples are from the Motherland, that Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, Panama and the Dominican Republic, are part of the African Diaspora. Did we forget that the slave ships dropped off our people all over the world, hence the word Diaspora?

The Atlantic slave trade brought Africans to Puerto Rico in the early 1500s. Some of the first slave rebellions took place on the island of Puerto Rico. Until 1846, Africanos on the island had to carry a libreta to move around the island, like the passbook system in apartheid South Africa. In Puerto Rico, you will find large communities of descendants of the Yoruba, Bambara, Wolof and Mandingo people. Puerto Rican culture is inherently African culture.

There are hundreds of books that will inform you, but I do not need to read book after book to legitimize this thesis. All I need to do is go to Puerto Rico and look all around me. Damn, all I really have to do is look in the mirror every day.

I am often asked what I am—usually by Blacks who are lighter than me and by Latinos/as who are darker than me. To answer the $100,000, 000 question, I am a Black Boricua, Black Rican, Puertorriqueña! Almost always I am questioned about why I choose to call myself Black over Latina, Spanish, Hispanic. Let me break it down.

I am not Spanish. Spanish is just another language I speak. I am not a Hispanic. My ancestors are not descendants of Spain, but descendants of Africa. I define my existence by race and land. (Borinken is the indigenous name of the island of Puerto Rico.)

Being Latino is not a cultural identity but rather a political one. Being Puerto Rican is not a racial identity, but rather a cultural and national one. Being Black is my racial identity. Why do I have to consistently explain this to those who are so-called conscious? Is it because they have a problem with their identity? Why is it so bad to assert who I am, for me to big-up my Africanness?

My Blackness is one of the greatest powers I have. We live in a society that devalues Blackness all the time. I will not be devalued as a human being, as a child of the Supreme Creator.

Although many of us in activist circles are enlightened, many of us have baggage that we must deal with. So many times I am asked why many Boricuas refuse to affirm their Blackness. I attribute this denial to the ever-rampant anti-Black sentiment in America and throughout the world, but I will not use this as an excuse. Often Puerto Ricans who assert our Blackness are not only outcast by Latinos who identify more with their Spanish Conqueror than their African ancestors, but we are also shunned by Black Americans who do not see us as Black.

Nelly Fuller, a great Black sociologist, stated: “Until one understands the system of White supremacy, anything and everything else will confuse you.” Divide and conquer still applies.

Listen people: Being Black is not just skin color, nor is it synonymous with Black Americans. To assert who I am is the most liberating and revolutionary thing I can ever do. Being a Black Puerto Rican encompasses me racially, ethically and most importantly, gives me a homeland to refer to.

So I have come to this conclusion: I am whatever I say I am! (Thank you, Rakim.)

*First posted in The Final Call on July 10, 2011

*****

Rosa Alicia Clemente is a Bronx born Puerto Rican woman. She is a community organizer, journalist, Hip Hop activist and the 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate with the GREEN PARTY. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMASS-Amherst and is writing her first book entitled When a Puerto Rican Woman Ran for Vice-President and Nobody Knew Her Name. For more information about Rosa and her work, visit http://www.rosaclemente.org/By: Rosa Clemente

2 thoughts on ““Who is Black?”

  1. I no longer have the strength to “convince” Africans that they are black. Either you are…or you’re not. And to be frank, if you need convincing, well…that says quite a bit on your Knowledge of Self.

    I used to have discussions with our brethren on their roots. You know, the Filipinos, the Spanish-speaking Negroes of various countries, the Samoans and the many tribes of the America’s a.k.a. the Indigenous RedMan. All for naught. They wanted NOTHING to do “with our kind.” The Euro-Satanic brainwashing did a number on them.

    Now…my quest is for myself. I learn something new every day.

    Like

  2. Great post! Anti-blackness is worldwide. A lot of black Latinos are in self denial. It shows how far reaching white supremacy can be. I once dated a beautiful Puerto rican girl years ago. I remember once we were out having dinner. She told me she really liked me and had never been in an “interracial” relationship until she started dating me. I was a bit confused to say the least. I told her “Sweetheart I understand your complexion is very light. And your hair is pretty straight. But most people who look at you can plainly see you’re of African descent.” She was not very pleased at this statement. We had a long discussion on who is and isn’t black. It got pretty heated at times. Needless to say,we broke up not too long after. It’s kind of sad but I look at it as a learning experience. Thanks for this post. Hopefully it will wake up those still suffering from negrophobia.lol

    Like

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