The Diaspora


I just read a very interesting essay entitled: “Why it is Necessary that all Afro-Descendants of Latin America, the Caribbean and North America Know Each Other More.”  I found this essay on the Black in Latin America website.

See the full essay here.

The author, Tomás Fernández Robaina, is a researcher and professor of the National Library of Cuba.  In his essay, he talks specifically about the struggles of Afro-Columbians against their social, political and economic oppression.  He points out that all of us should be cognizant not only of their particular struggle, but how their struggle relates to similar battles across the African diaspora in the Americas.  He notes that knowledge of said struggles empowers ALL of us, and gives us insight into why African religion, music and culture is more prevalent in some countries and not in others.  It also gives us insight into how European and African culture have merged and continue to influence each other around the globe.

What struck me about this is how timely and for me, spiritually affirming the theme of connection and interdependence is.  As a man born of a Puerto Rican father and an African-American mother with Prussian, Jewish, French, Cherokee and Apache roots, I have been broadcasting this theme by posting salsa videos from Cuba, Son Fo videos from Senagal (the root of salsa, rumba, etc. – it’s AMAZING how similar the music is!), posting notes about yinyang on Facebook and Twitter, and making similar posts here on Champions’ Blog.  The point of my doing this is to broadcast to anyone who would listen that we are ALL inextricably connected to one another and are by definition interdependent.  One of the central themes of yinyang, a Chinese philosophical concept, is that opposites only exist in relation to each other.  Is that not ALL of us?

I am reminded that it is our DIFFERENCES that cause us to rotate in the circle of yinyang, and that we all have elements of our opposite within us.  We exist only in relation to each other.  Our connection is spiritual by nature, and well beyond the concepts and false walls of our limited thinking.  Expand your heart, your spirit and your mind.

The struggles of Afro-Columbians to gain recognition in their society and culture is no different than the struggle of Afro-Peruvians who asked my  Fulbright colleagues and I for assistance in doing the same thing in their country.  They didn’t just see us as black and white, they saw us as Americans, with a particular history and struggle of our own which could inform them and guide their actions today.  One of my colleagues wrote an essay of his own entitled: The Disappeared,” which documented the nearly complete disappearance of Afro-Peruvians from popular culture and mainstream society.  Henry Louis Gates depicts the story of African descendents throughout the Americas in a recent PBS documentary that explores these themes.  Tomás Fernández Robaina writes an essay about the disappearance of Afro-Columbians from their popular culture and society.  This is karma.

There is no cause without effect.  The fact that we are almost never conscious of the full impact of that effect doesn’t bar us from the RESPONSIBILITY for it.  You don’t have to have brown skin to read the article mentioned here.  You don’t have to have brown skin to learn from it.  REACH OUT.  Know your roots.  Where do you fall within the circle?









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