A Little About Me…

coqui-taino-tattoo

I feel the need for a little reintroduction. There is so much newness around me that has sparked an array of inspiration so far in 2013. New Office, New Apartment, and New Blog; I have to admit this is going well especially since I am getting new followers. This makes me think about the fact that many people are probably wondering what I am about…and even of you aren’t I should just explain anyway.

First and foremost, I consider myself a Latino man. More importantly, I consider myself Afro-Latino. I know that this term has gotten popular over the years and as plotted out my digital identity, I came up with the name Latinegro (which is something I did not invent). I got the name from Marta Cruz-Janzen who wrote some articles that lead me to write a major research paper for a graduate class I took a few years back. In my mind, she coined the phrase Latinegro and I have been using it every since.

It is important for me to state this because I believe that identity is important. It is one of things that makes us who were are. I cannot tell you how many college student I have run into over the years that simply do not know who they are…or perhaps they do know, but just have trouble accepting it. The acceptance of oneself is so very important in a lifetime because it is that catharsis that will really lead to success. That is why I have made sure I spend much of my blog about race and Afro Latinos in particular.

I define Afro Latino as someone who has African and Hispanic bloodlines (this does not exclude Haitians or Brazilians). This can include just about all Latinos, however, the real difference is their own acceptance. There are many of us who feel that Latinos are not Black or African American. Some will defend this point based on whatever facts they can try to dig up. There is a stigma to be being dark skinned and it a shame, but not all that surprising. What so many Latinos do not understand is that the plight on of the African American is also their plight because we live in a black and white world where you are either one or the other (based on skin color) in most cases.

Of course, Latinos have issues specific to them when it comes to immigration and places like Arizona that have made racial profiling a reality. Unfortunately, Latinos are used to this fight. We have been dealing with immigration and access issues well before World War 2. The commercialized version of Latinos look very much like the typical Mexican images you tend to see when we talk about immigration issues in the South West. The idealized version of Latinos tends to be the more the Rick Martin look; light skinned, dark (good) hair, light eyes, and over-sexualized. The less idealized look tends to be the David Ortiz look which is dark skinned, heavy accent, and wool hair (pelo malo). The great thing about understanding race is that Latinos are all three of these which can lead to a lot of scratching heads. The Census Bureau barely knows how to categorize us which leads us not understand what it is we are.

This is why the Latinegr@s Project had to be created. When I co-founded this group it was with the purpose of educating people about Afro Latinos and showing pride in what we are. This where we have lead to the discovery of and within ourselves as well as help people like us discover what they are. This is not just to say that we solely deal with Afro Latinos either. We champion those who are oppressed which is why posts can range from homosexuality to Native Americans.

Well, that seeed like such a long reintroduction, but I figured this is something I need to put on here now. As I get along in my new location here on wordpress, I am sure there will be other things I will feel the need to reiterate. While this blog is mostly about my life, there will be other things that will bleed into my posts. Just wait until I start writing about my other love…comic books.

Advertisements

Why I do What I do.

I am taking this opportunity to write while I am in a relatively bad mood. There are many things going on in my life that are just annoying on a personal and professional level. It also does not help that the Knicks just lost to Miami Heat which just puts me closer to edge.  With this aggression, I want to write about why I do what I do because as this blog gets older, this becomes something that I can point back to time and time again.

My day job has not been really stated. I work at Syracuse University as a member of student affairs that handles events that occur primarily in the student center. I advise 5 student groups ( 2 Latino student organizations, 1Multicultural Frat, 1 Latino Frat, and co-advise NALFO). I donate my time to students and try to guide them in the right direction. I have written several letters of recommendations for awards, employment, graduate schools, and internships. I have become a supervisor, mentor, advocate, psychologist, friend, brother, and in some cases, another dad. I can also be the bad guy, the asshole, and the sarcastic dude that never smiles.

My love for students never dies because I know what it is like to be in their shoes. I know what is like to almost not graduate. I know how it feels to be bored with classes and to be distracted by outside forces like girls and family. I know what it is like to be the only person of color in a class filled with white students and the loneliness that is felt when you have to speak for your race (in my case it seemed I was speaking for Blacks and Latinos). I went through many things and never understood who to go or if there even was someone that I could talk to.

When I was hired 10+ years ago, I wanted to be that person. While I think that I have achieved that goal, I found it difficult to just stop there. I wanted to create something that made Latino students proud. With that came the Latino Listerv (that barely gets used now), I began to advise my first student organization, and then there was the creation of Fiesta Latina. With all that, I was not done. I wanted to do anti racism work because pride of a culture comes from understanding it’s struggle.

The Latinegr@s Project was born 2 years ago in a joint effort between me and Bianca. Everyday since then I have been grateful for joining forces with her. My view of educating students broadens to educating the masses (or whomever will listen). Each of these things become extremely hard while not being mutually exclusive. Not all my students are Latino. My adviser role reaches a diverse amount of students just like the blog posts I write.

Yet, I get annoyed when students do not see the full scope of their potential. While, I was there once, the amount of resources has increased; the amount of programs promoting diversity increased and there seems to be very little care shown. As if there is this sense of entitlement where they may be glad programs exist for the sake of existing but not really interested in going. Never is there a thought of what might happen if things like Latino Heritage Month would cease to exist.

I get annoyed when the images of Afro Latinos are never properly shown, which is why I press on with the Latinegr@s Project and its expansion last year. One can never show too many positive images of black and brown people. There is no such thing as being too educated, but what if there are people who just don’t want to listen anymore? When I see imagine above I realize that Afro Latinos are truly invisible. When I see things like the video below, I know that racism is an issue (even if you consider your to be a high class Cuban).

It makes me thing of my students who do not recognize that having bad grades because they rather bag “hoes” and smoke weed just makes them a statistic. I do what I do because I have to fight the good fight. I want to show students that their voice matters.

Mid-Februray Free Write

Let me just cut to the chase. I have been busy taking classes and reading. Work has always been the same and I am also taking the time to go to the gym. I will also mention that I have been making the best of efforts to change my diet. Much of this takes up large amounts of time and yet, I still manage to find time to do things like see my awesome girlfriend for a weekend. I am very proud of myself.

Which brings me to this free writing type of update. While I have not written in a while, I have been busy making sure that Afro-Latinos have a voice this month. On Twitter, there was a broad discussion about 2 weeks ago hosted by #latism. The subject was the racial mosaic that is Latinos. I am glad to have been apart of that because the timing seemed to be right for me to be interviewed by Voxxi. It is not all the time that I get to interviewed by an online magazine.

Then, Team @beingafrolatino was invited as guests on the Vanessa Oden Show which is a internet radio show based out of Oakland, California. Along with fellow co-founder, Bianca, we talked about Afro Latino identity and how other people view us. The show was so successful that we did a part 2 this past Monday where we talked more about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. In these instances there are so many things to talk about that you cannot begin to squeeze into 2 one hour shows. I was told that the podcasts for those shows will be available soon and once that comes out I will share it.

I am also excited to be able to see yet another Salsa Artist come to Syracuse University. One of the groups that I advise called La LUCHA manage to get enough funding to bring up India! This is yet another thing that I have on my plate in my on going quest to promote Latinos. I want to point out here that while I champion the cause of Afro Latinos, I still consider myself to first and foremost a Latino. We all share the same culture although I cannot say the same about social standing within the community.

I also feel that there is just not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. The problem with not making anymore excuses is that free time becomes limited. The reading from this class alone takes up so much time that I can barely watch television. While that is not a bad thing, it just amazes me how I can just forget to watch shows that I am normally used to. I can say thank goodness for the DVR but I barely watch that either because I have so much to read.

Team @BeingAfroLatino

I always find it interesting when putting a team of individuals together. I feel like I am forming the Justice League which makes the little nerd in me smile. But, I do not think that I am too far off from this. Team @BeingAfroLatino is all about justice. We have banded together from our corners of the internet to promote Afro Latinos.

We are of the mind set that neither of us can educate alone. All of us on this team believe that alone we can only reach just a few people, but together we can be extraordinary. So when we formed, it was out of the belief that @beingafrolatino was bigger than all of us. Over that last few months we have been working together on twitter and over tumblr to educated awareness and show the injustices of discrimination. I think it is about time that I formally introduce us all:

Anthony Otero is Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian that was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and currently a staff member at Syracuse University. He is one of the co-founders of The LatiNegr@s Project. A constant writer, he is currently working on his first book of poetry called “My Twisted Life Through Lines of Poetry” set to come out in 2012 and created the blog Inside My Head.

As one of few Latino administrators at Syracuse University, he become an adviser to many Latino students and Latino student organizations. Anthony also helped create the Latino Heritage Month celebrations that still occur today. He took graduate courses in Cultural Foundations of Education and finally understood that what it means to be Afro-Latino after soul searching through research papers. This sparked the creation of all his blogs including the newly retitled Tumblr site: Black, Brown, and a little Mestizo. He also created the @beingafrolatino twitter account as a way to promote and unite Afro Latinos.

Bianca I. Laureano is a first generation Puerto Rican sexologist living in NYC. Raised in the Washington, DC area in an activist environment, Bianca is the daughter of an artist and educator and a product of the public school system. In the field of sexuality for over a decade, Bianca has worked with and taught youth of Color, working class communities, speaks at national and international organizations advocating sex-positive social justice agendas. She has presented both locally and internationally on various topics concerning activism, Latino sexual health, feminisms, youth and hip-hop culture, Latinos and race, Caribbean cultural practices and sexuality, dating and relationships, curriculum development, reproductive justice and teaching.

She’s a board member at the Black Girl Project, doula with The Doula Project, co-founder of The LatiNegr@s Project, and Monster Girl. Bianca is an instructor and a freelance writer and was awarded the 2010 Mujeres Destacadas’ Award (distinguished woman) from El Diario/La Prensa for her work in sexual health. She hosts the website LatinoSexuality.com and identifies as a LatiNegra, media maker, radical woman of Color, activist, sex-positive, pro-choice femme. Find out more about Bianca by visiting her website BiancaLaureano.com.

Violeta Donawa is a Detroit native, born to a Panamanian father and African American mother. As a doctoral student, she examines racial ideologies and paradigms, as well as the impact of social media on identification processes. She has two publications, entitled, “Exploring the Afro-Latino Presence: The Afro-Panamanian Experience in Michigan” in the journal, Negritud: Revista De Estudios Afro-Latinoamericanos and “Defining and Documenting Afro-Latin America” in the journal, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.

Raising visibility of the AfroLatin@ community has always been a passion. She has found multiple ways to integrate this passion into her everyday life through academia and social media. As a freelance writer and emerging blogger, she has contributed to the Voices from Our America ™ project, volunteered with The AfroLatin@ Forum, written for www.vidaafrolatina.com, and runs her blog La Republica de Detroit

Kismet Nuñez is a black and Puerto Rican woman of color insurgent who deploys 21st century forms of art, autobiography, and performance against the discursive terrain of race, sex and personality. With the help of new media, Kismet breaks herself into pieces to become more than her parts in a revolutionary act of defiance, affirmation & self-care. Kismet is a blogger, writer, student, teacher, researcher, historian, fangirl, lover, sister, daughter and everything in between. In 2008, she founded iwannalive productions, a social media collective specializing in radical black gyrl media, political education, sex positive empowerment and complete and utter disruption of the archive, academy and hu-MAN-ity as we known and understand it. iwannalive productions manages #AntiJemimas, a social media performance project.

Begun in 2010 out of an earlier blog project exploring self love (and hate) titled Self Care: Revise, Revise, Revise, the #AntiJemimas project is about infinite literacies, multiple beings and the conundrum of trying to build a real black gyrl in a world of 21st century digital engagement. The project’s goal is to circumvent the oppressive power of the iconic that traps woc bodies, sexualities and genders into roles labeled Only or Never. Today, #AntiJemimas has evolved into an online universe of blogs, Tumblrs and Twitters committed to the very hard work of building a real gyrl of color in a world of new media. You can find Kismet fomenting rebellion at Zora Walker, making gris-gris in the WOC Survival Kit, living on a distant star as the Sable Fan Gyrl, stroking her thighs as Pretty Magnolia, or twiddling her thumbs on Twitter. Kismet also blogs at Nuñez Daughter, the base blog for #AntiJemimas. Founded in May 2008, Nunez Daughter is an experiment in digital autobiography and archive. It expands on thoughts formulated in a research paper titled, “‘I’m On to You:’ Troubling Performances of Race, Gender and Class.” 

We are Team Being Afro-Latino. You can follow on Twitter or on Tumblr. Buckle your seat belts, it will an exciting ride.

The Birth of @BeingAfroLatino

There are times in which we all have to make our mark in whatever fashion we choose. I, for one, believe that we all find our passions in the things we love to do. I love to write and it is with that I know I can have my voice heard on a platform that I choose. Of course, I choose to use this blog as my platform for a range of things that I am passionate about. As we all know one of the things that I strive to do is to promote awareness of Afro Latinos.

So it may come to no surprise that I have recently created a Twitter account called: @beingafrolatino. This takes me beyond my normal twitter realm of @latinegro to something that is much larger than me. With this brand new twitter account I can help raise awareness better than with my very own handle. The reason for this is that I have help. In the past, I have teamed up with @BiancaLaureano to start the Latinegr@s Project. This only made sense to have her help and link my newly created twitter account with the Latinegr@s blog. This ensures that Afro Latinos have some voice on some corner of the Internet. Not to say they do not exist, but most of those voices are scattered.

Of course, the question to be raised by some is that other people may feel slighted by this new creation. Being Latino is movement that was started a few years ago by guy named Lance Rios who had a vision to unite Latinos over the Internet. I have seen this vision from the twitter account @beinglatino to the Facebook page and now the blog. There are numerous amounts of people who volunteer to make this movement a force and I think that that is awesome. I would say that there is no reason to feel slighted because @beingafrolatino has a different vision that will not interfere or compete with @beinglatino.

Afro Latinos seems to be the unknown factor these days. There are documentaries this year that will show how difficult is being a black person in a Latin country can be. Black in Latin America has given us all a glimpse of what that looks like, but the upcoming AFROLATINOS: The Untaught Story is rumored to give us unfiltered look we have never seen before. With that being said, we all have so much to learn since history books in the country fail to tell us all we need to know. I am concerned that Latinos in particular feel that denying their African ancestry is acceptable.

With that being said, last week there was an incident that sparked off this whole issue. I wrote about my disgust for Peru and its treat of their Black population. Often times, when I write something that I feel is important for other people to know, I will make the extra effort to promote. One of those things is to post my blog on the Being Latino Facebook page. This is something that I have done before so imagine my surprise when it was deleted. I check about 5 times to make sure that I was not legitimately buggin out.

So, I sat and thought about this. I was not happy about it and decided to take it to Twitter and Facebook and called out Being Latino. I wanted to know why they decided to delete my post. Now, before I continue, let me just say that issue is already resolved. The responses to this notion on Twitter alone were unexpected. I didn’t expect people to tell me how they felt about @beinglatino. Apparently, there were many people who felt that this was not a surprise bases on the content of my blog. I got the same type of affirmation on Facebook. There was almost a universal feel that Afro Latinos were not represented.

I started to think that I needed to create a space that would funnel the type of information that would help spread awareness of Afro Latinos. I made it a point not to criticize Being Latino or Lance. But, he responded he told me that it was their policy to not have another blog besides their own on their Facebook page. That is a policy that I totally understand and will adhere to. My point was that this policy was not posted anywhere on their page (and as of this writing…still isn’t). People are allowed to post articles and promotional stuff that has to do with Latinos, but not other blogs (even though I saw one when I was just on their page).

I know that I upset him for the controversy but as we all know that Latinos can be very emotional when it comes to things they are passionate about. At the end of the day, he offered me a contributing writer position for Being Latino, in which I accepted. However, I think that creating the @beingafrolatino account will create the type of awareness that I cannot do alone. I will need help as this may become bigger than me.

Color Blind Latinos

I am thinking that I am justified in my thinking that some people just don’t get it. I know that I am not an expert nor am I a historian but I do read, which means that I have knowledge in several areas. When I can sit here and write blogs about being Afro Latino I am only a reflection of things that I have read, seen, or experienced. I know that in my style of writing there is quite a bit of emotion as well. That is just me, take it or leave it.

Naturally, I will feel obligated to give my opinion when needed about Afro Latinos and it is not a surprise that I always feel like I am teaching someone something  new. So today was no exception by having a disagreement about Afro Latinos on the Being Latino Facebook page.

Being Latino is a blog that celebrates…well being Latino. There is a team of blog writers that post material everyday about various topics. One of today’s topics was about Afrolatinos: “The Untaught Story” (video below). It was a very good post by Eric Cortes which can be found here. Of course, on the Facebook page you can make your comments and click “like” if you did indeed like the post. I was a bit intrigued to see any of the feedback, not because of the nature of the blog content, but just to see what people have to say about the topic itself. So, to save time you can view the discussion here.

There were some thing said by a few people that I found interesting. There was the suggestion that the social issues in Latin America was more of a class issue rather than a race issue. That perhaps articles and documentaries like this were promoting division rather than unity. I have heard arguments like this before, on this blog in fact, that pointing out racism creates more divisions. I personally do not beleive this is the case. The fact is that Latinos as a body of people are not unified at all. The color of skin complicates things even further.

As I argued on that site, I think that suggesting that classism is the real issue instead of racism is misdiagnosing the problem. Sure, in most countries like Colombia and Mexico, most Afro Latinos are poor. That is not because of some caste system that was created by the elite like in India. This simply the fact that people are oppressed because of the color of their skin. Unity does not help this because most privileged Latinos simply do not care enough to unify.

Such thoughts about unity and the “let’s all get along” mentality simply means to me that many people are color blind. While that sounds ideal on surface because no one sees color because we are all human beings, the fact is no ones sees color! I want you to see my color. I want you to see my culture. I want you to acknowledge that there is a blackness within our culture. Once you get people to acknowledge this, then there is a possibility to unify.

Then there was a comment that Afro Latino blood was not all that prevalent within Latin America with the exception of Colombia, Brazil, and “tiny” islands in the carribean. This was something that set something off in my intellect considering that the same person said the Black Mexicans barely exist in Mexico since they are less than 1% of the population.

I am totally not sure about that speculation of the 1% in Mexico but I doubt that is true. There are whole cities like Vera Cruz and Oaxaca that are in Mexico where a large numbers of Black Mexicans. However, are they recognized as citizens? Afro Latinos live in every country within Latin America and the fact that this person cannot recognized that is just lack of education on his part.

Conversations like this is why I press on. There are people that refuse to really see the African side of their heritage. I mentioned that we can all move our hips to salsa with the congas and the zulu beat but there is no way in hell that most privledged Latinos will admit their roots back to Africa. I think it is time for a history lesson…

Latinegr@s 2011: Laz Alonso

Yet another person that I cannot believe that I did not highlight last year was Laz Alonso. While, I certainly wrote a blog about Zoe Saldana (and they were in the same movie), I clearly missed that opportunity last year. Now, I follow this gentleman on Twitter and I kinda put it out there to see if he would be down for an interview but that was not meant to be. So, like a true blogger, I will write about him anyway…lol

I first saw Laz in a movie called Miracle at St. Anna. This was was Spike Lee joint that came out in 2008 in which Alonso actually played a Afro Latino. The story is about four Black American soldiers who are trapped in a small Italian village in 1944 during the heart of WWII. This move was done very well and I am surprised it did not get more acclaim.

At that point I figured he was bound for something good. Laz Alonso is Afro Cuban and was born on March 25, 1974 (a great year). He is an alum of Howard University that graduated with a degree in Marketing. After working at Merrill Lynch for a little bit, he went after his heart’s desire: acting. Laz has been in a number of movies in his career that started in 2000. However, the role that has made him famous comes from the blockbuster move, Avatar, where he played the character, Tsu’tey.

I have to admit, I should have known who he was in this movie and I was just astonished to know it was him. I hadn’t seem many movies that he has been in nor much of his television roles. What I do find amazing is that Alonso seems to do his best to play Latino characters in many of the roles he plays. Perhaps not all roles are meant to be Latino, but some is good for me. Like playing Detective Gil Puente in Southland or Detective Ray Di Santos in Captivity. These are the type of characters that are not often seen on television.

When I talk about the fluid identity of Afro Latinos, I am reffering to the ability to go between the worlds of African American and Latinos. It is totally understandable how Laz Alonso becomes valuable in the diversity of roles he could be offered. It is important to note that he is one of very few Afro Latinos in Hollywood.

I think Laz Alonso is an up and coming actor that has not reached his pique and it will be very interesting to see how his career unfolds

Celia Cruz: The Queen of Salsa

It has been such a long week for me and yet the days keep flying by. After the last post, I started searching for pictures of Afro Latinos and I came across the one above. I cannot believe with all the posting that I did last February that I did not write anything about the great Celia Cruz.

Growing up in my house would have never been the same without hearing music from Celia Cruz. It seemed like every family cookout we were serenaded by her various albums. I feel like she had a greatest hits album when I was just a kid. There were so many songs that I could sing when I was kid that I had to search for them when I was adult. I could remember my father making tapes from vinyl and her music was always on heavy rotation.

When I think about the golden age of salsa, which is clearly before I was born, one of the people I think about was Celia. What struck me the most about her music was seeing her perform on tv. I was not used to seeing someone who looked like they could be a member of my family performing salsa on television. I was awe struck almost expecting someone who looked completely different. After all, from what I saw from on Univision, Telemundo, and any album covers were light skinned Latino men with light skinned Latinas.

While I am not too educated on her entire life I do know that she was born on October 21, 1924 in Havana, Cuba. She spent most of her life performing and has earned 23 gold albums. She has won 7 Grammys and while that is impressive in itself, I can only imagine how many she would have one if they recognized her contributions to music early on. I counted over 60 albums to her name and in my research I hear that number could be as high as 80. In any case, she a woman that loved music deeply.

I think about that. Over 60 albums! I personally have 45 of her songs. That is a mere fraction of her collection. That can be so hard to fathom when I think about all the other artists I follow in which I have all their albums. Not to mention that I have none of her recent songs because most of what I have is from what I remember hearing as a kid.

Celia died of a brain cancer New Jersey on July 16, 2003. Her title has not been and will never be revoked. She is the Queen of Salsa.

Latinegr@s Project 2011

I feel that this project is in phase two of it’s existence. My partner in crime, Bianca, and I have been talking about what do with this month and what are the next steps to keep this going. Unfortunately for her, I have been so slammed with work that this continues to be an ongoing conversation.

For me, I am going to do what has worked for me. I will continue to weigh on issues that revolve around the blackness of Latinos. I have also decided to use my tumblr to highlight images that will enhance the Afro-Latino experience. This will not take away from the Latinegr@s site either, which is a shared site that anyone can contribute to. 
This is a short month with lots to do and talk about. I cannot guarantee that I will write everyday but I will say that my contributions to this project will be substantial. I think I want to focus more on images of Afro Latinos because as much as I am good with words, pictures can speak louder if used correctly. My point with this is that I do not know everything and I certainly do not want to fake it. I want to explore images that are insightful and post ,on this blog, the ones that make me think the most.
I also plan on doing some interviews with people who are out there doing great work carrying the Afro Latino banner. I may just sit here and write about the culture but there are people out there that promote it in ways that I never could. 
This is about sheer awareness. Black History Month should always be a time when people just become more aware of the things around them. Lack of pride in what we are is one of the main reasons why it is so hard for people to make it.
So in the end, I plan on doing my part in educating myself. I am no where near an expert but I will say that what I learn, I plan on sharing with the rest of you. 

As a reminder.. the submission page for the Latinegr@s site is: http://lati-negros.tumblr.com/submit

Black History Month or African American Month?

Once again we are here. The start of Black History Month where we get to learn about the past and be hopeful for the future. Last year, I dedicated this blog the Latinegr@s project that, in my opinion, was a great success. Now we turn the page to a new year and the project is still intact. While I will be participating in this project, I will not do it in the same way as I did last year. I will be weighing in more using my own opinions on this month as well as highlighting things and individuals that I did not get to last year.

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and we were speaking about how her son had to pick a black person to do a report on for Black History Month. This is not that easy of a task if you think about it. There are so many historical figures to choose from that can be quite cliché. However, the choice that her son made (mostly likely with the help of his mother) was Roberto Clemente. Of course, I am all in favor for this choice. Here you have a hero who excelled in baseball as well in his community. I have documented his legacy last year.

He was told that Roberto Clemente cannot be chosen because he is not African American. Really? How much sense does that make? Do not get me wrong, this month is all about celebrating African Americans but I was also under the impression we were celebrating being black. Skin color is something that you cannot change (although Sammy Sosa and Vybz Kartel would disagree with me on this). So my question, is Black History Month strictly about being African American?

Sure I am Latino, but the color of my skin automatically puts me in a group that other poeple consider to be Black. So, I am forced to identify with this group. My skin is very much a part of me as my culture is. So does that mean that Afro Latinos should not be recognized even a little bit? What about Caribbean people in general? Some to the darkest people I know are from the islands. Of course, if we are making it exclusively for African Americans then you are excluding Africans. Is that really the point here?

I am not disputing the validity of this month. I think it is needed, but if any one person or institution is going to put limits on such things then they need to be aware that Black is very encompassing. If it is that hard to understand then make it African American Month. However, I consider this month to be very much like Latino Heritage Month in which explores all different aspect of being Latino. Black History Month should conceivably do the same thing.

I would hate to think that the word black is strictly reserved for a certain people because the Black experience does not have such limits.