Afromexico: Children of the moon

Originally published by laphoenikera.com written by 

 

Afromexico: Children of the moon

Queen Muhammad Ali and Hakeem Khaaliq, two local visual anthropologists have made it their mission to demystify preconceived notions about black and indigenous communities around the globe.

This is no easy feat since they’re against a historical propensity to blaze inaccurate information about communities of color (at this point we’re all misinformed about everybody else, really), erase or undermine their cultural relevance and contributions to humanity. In our good ol’ AZ we even banned the study of said groups. But they have two powerful tools: art and technology.

A few days ago I was walking down Roosevelt after getting some grub at one of the eateries and inside MonOrchid there was an awesome photograph of a girl’s face, a huge print of one of the most piercing eyes I’ve ever seen… a future Bruja if you will. These eyes have a story, a history. I went in, Invisible Mexico was the title of the exhibit and to its creators, it’s an anthropological portrait of the African Diaspora of settlers in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas, Michoacán, and other Mexican states.

A crowd was already hurdled around the artists, it was almost inappropriate not to eavesdrop on their narration. It wasn’t just an explanation, they had some techie stuff –augmented reality–, which blew my mind immediately.

My thoughts exactly when I saw the first picture. Photo credit: Jimaral Marshall.

Queen and Hakeem have been going back and forth to Mexico since the 90’s for different projects (some we can mention, others not so much). They’ve traveled all over, too many places to list in this poor excuse of a paragraph. However, it is important to mention that their voyages have taken them to places with large Afromexican communities, which are sadly unknown.

Hakeem, originally from South Central L.A. and Queen from L.A. (her ancestry is actually American Samoan royalty), would tell an anecdote behind the picture, where it was taken, the context. With their tablet they would create an interactive environment that immediately connected with the audience, establishing a learning space for everyone.

Attendees get mind-blown with the experience! Photo credit: Jimaral Marshall

The actual explanation of augmented reality is quite techie but for the purposes of detailing this exhibit, it means that when you hold your mobile device over one of the photographs, the pictures become animated and provide further information about the image hanging on the wall. This is ain’t magic stuff, though ancient curanderos would freak the f out! This augmented reality experience is a collaboration between Queen, Hakeem, the University of Arizona and Associate Professor Bryan Carter. This effort produced an app for mobile devices which could expand the experience of a gallery to a much broader space, immersing the audience into a different kind of reality: the subjects’ realm.

But beyond the augmentation of an experience, its bi-dimensional reality has a unique depth and behind the photographs displayed, there is a history that has been ignored for a minute or deux. I was confronted with my own ignorance about Afromexican communities in Mexico and here in the U.S. (there’s a large population of Afromexicans in Califas as depicted on this  awesome short).

Hakeem says it is rare for Afromexicans to be photographed because they consider themselves ugly. Photo credit: Hakeem Khaaliq

Hakeem explained the history behind Yanga (Nyanga or Gaspar Yanga), a man from the state of Veracruz whose photograph hangs on a wall of the exhibit. He awoke a whole town and lead them to resist their oppressors. The sound of his name resonated with me, then it hit me. There’s a region in Bolivia, Los Yungas, in the state of La Paz. I’m Bolivian, and my heart has a special place for Saya, a dope Afrobolivian beat. So naturally when he said his name I was curious. There has to be some connection, especially when this Andean tropical forest extends from northern Peru and Argentina, passing through Bolivia and all the way up to Colombia and Venezuela.

What is known about Yanga is that he was apprehended somewhere in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana and disembarked in the coast of Veracruz in the 1500’s. He was briefly enslaved until he escaped and lead a 30-year crusade against the Spaniards…¡toma! Actually, he was the first great liberator of the Americas. Way before El Libertador did his thing in South America, Nyanga sealed a treaty with the Spaniards that would allow freemen to live in a sovereign, gachupin-free land in the early 1600’s. Also, the meaning of the word Nyanga will blow your mind, but I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Nyanga, the first libertador in the Americas. Photo credit: Hakeem Khaaliq

Queen and Hakeem were really impressed with his story, but also realized that a lot of African descendants felt a void in their roots, their history; that there wasn’t an accurate representation of them.

“If we don’t change these stories and the perception people have, no one will,” Said Hakeem.

That is the main reason why they’ve put up this show, a collection of photographs made over a decade of travels through Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tepoztlán, and Costa Chica. Queen explains how the perception that these communities have of themselves has affected their collective self-worth in respect to other Mexicans. I mean, it wasn’t until an internal census in 2015 that they could self identify as Afromexicans. Up until then they didn’t have a box to check. This is precisely why there isn’t a knowledge of the prevalence of African cultures settled in Mexico, because everything was focused on indigenous people or mestizos. Also, Afromexicans aren’t even a considered a minority because, according to the government, they don’t have a native language or dialect. As a consequence, their history has vanished.

Some Mexican archaeological sites have shown the presence of African descendants. Photo credit: Hakeem Khaaliq.

The good thing is that there is a new found pride in being Afromexican and now they can identify with their blackness and own it like the woman in this short-doc. Also there are visual artists and anthropologists that constantly travel to these regions and others in the Americas where there are large populations of African descendants and their stories aren’t represented.

Queen and Hakeem’s Invisible Mexico will be at MonOrchid located at 214  E Roosevelt St. until this First Friday 4/7. Check out the space, approach the artists, ask them questions. They’re awesome at sharing knowledge and have a truly keen eye for stories.

Now, are you ready for the meaning of Nyanga? Well, the short answer is witch-doctor, but it’s too generic and whitewashed. Now, Occult Zulu has an interesting interpretation and we kinda like it better. It basically means moon-ritual-person. It turns out that some plants’ properties react to the lunar cycles and in ancient Africa there were special humans that knew when to conduct rituals based on this to increase effectiveness. These special people were viewed as saviors and they called them Nyanga.

You can pay a visit, check the exhibit and feel a little less ignorant about the world you live in. In this case, ignorance is not bliss, it is a sin. Also check this jam, it’s pretty awesome!

What If Mexico built the wall first?

Before the inauguration Trump already started to build and distribute a negative stereotypical view of Mexican immigrants and border security. Many Americans that share the new president’s philosophy don’t know the history of US and Mexico, don’t care or are too arrogant to see the wrong they are mentally constructing. What if Mexico had erected a wall to keep European colonist from entering Mexico in the early 1800’s? Actually before they can legally build a wall America may need to reopen an old wounds like the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo originally exposed by a Mexican activist who Marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and had meetings with Malcolm X’s teacher, The Hon. Elijah Muhammad.

Reies Lopez Tijerina
LT: Tijerina & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. RT: Reies Lopez Tijerina, Bobby Seale and members of the the Brown Berets.

Reies Lopez Tijerina, activist, and catalyst for the land grant movement among Mexicans in northern New Mexico. Although born in Texas, Tijerina spent much of his adult life in New Mexico, where he moved after becoming a pastor. There he learned of the plight of the Mexicans whose land the forest service, American industrial interests and the railroads had stolen. It is there where he joined the movement to return the Tierra Amarilla land grant to the residents of the town of San Joaquin de Chama.

Mexico in 1824
Mexico in 1824

In 1966, frustrated with the government’s lack of a response to his appeals, he led the occupation of the Echo Amphitheater, which was within the pueblo’s land grant, and asserted their right to the land. This incident marked the beginning of Tijerina’s legal troubles, and the state tried for years to send him to jail, finally succeeding in 1970.

trump_oval
United States President Donald Trump

Released in 1971, his incarceration had already made him a symbol of political repression in the US, and he continued to speak out against the crimes of the government. Tijerina preached a message of unity for Chicanos, while also working with Black Leaders and other activists throughout the United States. He has become one of the most well-known and dedicated leaders of the Chicano Movement.

If Trump continues to push his wall agenda. Mexico and Mexicans could legally take possession of the stolen areas of California, NEW Mexico, Arizona, and Texas to name a few. The wall would need to be erected north of these states and lets not even begin with what was stolen from Hawaiians, and Native Indigenous people including Dakota.

Authentic Piece Of The Berlin Wall.
Authentic Piece Of The Berlin Wall.

Another interesting fact is the Mexican flag and the Palestinian Flag both share the same color scheme. Unfortunately the people share the same story of European colonization, genocide, oppression, illegal land seizure and negative propaganda. – Nation19 Magazine
mexico_palestine

We Beg Your Pardon Ex President Obama.

As we watched the last two presidential terms fly by we reminisced on how we were so hype to see the first Black Man take the highest office of the United States of America. But something is troubling about the blatant disregard for issues that affect Black, Native people, Muslims and Immigrants. President Obama, being a former community organizer on the southside of Chicago with a beautiful black wife and daughters just seemed like the real CHANGE we all longed for. But increased killings of black youth by police during his watch and more cops were not charged although video evidence existed. What happened Obama? We can’t forget what you did to The Great Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was referred to as the hope of Africa. How could all this happen…we don’t know but we are sure there is a hidden hand.

Below are a few people we hoped Obama had granted clemency, pardoned, or commuted because we are sure this will never happen under Trump.

Marcus Garvey

The iconic black nationalist and civil rights advocate died in 1940, but his son and several black activists have been in recent weeks urging Obama to issue a posthumous pardon for Garvey’s 1923 conviction for mail fraud, which they say was trumped up. “The point is the injustice has been allowed to sit for [almost] 100 years. It is a continuing injustice that needs to be corrected,” said his son Dr. Julius Garvey.


Mumia Abu-Jamal

Jamal had his death sentence for murdering a Philadelphia police officer commuted to a life sentence. But his supporters have always argued about the circumstances around his conviction, including whether there was sufficient evidence to prove he shot the officer, whether all potential witnesses testified and the racial makeup of the jury.
Abu-Jamal became a cause célèbre when he was facing execution and has even written books from prison.
Obama, however, does not have the authority to commute state convictions, according to the Department of Justice. Abu-Jamal would have to be pardoned by the governor or some other state panel.


Assata Shakur

Shakur was convicted of killing a New Jersey State Trooper 43 years ago. Born Joanne Chesimard, she was a leader in the Black Liberation Army. Shakur was serving a life sentence when she escaped from a New Jersey prison 1979.
Activists such as Angela Davis have argued that Shakur was prosecuted “under highly questionable circumstances.” The National Lawyers Guild, which represented Shakur in her final trial said five members of the 15-person all-white jury had personal connections to state troopers.

“The judge cut funding for additional expert defense testimony after medical testimony demonstrated that Ms. Shakur—who had no gunpowder residues on her fingers, and whose fingerprints were not found on any weapon at the crime scene—was shot with her hands up and suffered injury to a critical nerve in her right arm, making it anatomically impossible for her to fire a weapon,” the National Lawyers Guild said in a statement on a now shuttered Change.org petition to pardon Shakur.


Leonard Peltier

Peltier is a Native American activist who has spent more than 40 years behind bars for killing two FBI agents during a shootout on a South Dakota reservation. He has maintained his innocence. After two other members of the American Indian Movement were acquitted of the killings, Peltier’s supporters believes others were coerced into testifying that Peltier was the shooter. They also say that ballistics evidence that would have cleared Peltier was withheld. “The only thing I’m guilty of is struggling for my people. I didn’t kill those agents,” Peltier said in an Amnesty International video.


Undocumented Immigrants / Muslims

Donald Trump has threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the Mexican border and possibly force Muslims to join a registry. According to experts, Obama could pardon undocumented immigrants for a variety of crimes such as overstaying a visa and crossing the border illegally. The pardon would not grant undocumented immigrants citizenship, only Congress can do that, but it could help put them on a path to citizenship.


Ramsey Orta

Mr. Orta came to us at Nation19 Magazine to spread the word about his case…we did what we could on social media but Obama could have wiped it all away.
Here are the facts: Two years ago, Eric Garner died in Staten Island after officers wrestled him to the ground, pinned him down and applied a fatal chokehold. The man who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner, Ramsey Orta, is now heading to jail for four years on unrelated charges—making him the only person at the scene of Garner’s killing who will serve jail time. The Police were never charged for Mr. Garner’s death. Orta took a plea deal on weapons and drug charges. He says he has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by cops since he filmed the fatal police chokehold nearly two years ago.


Bonus: Edward Snowden

Experts believe Obama could issue a pre-emptive pardon for Snowden as some have urged him to do for his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in case she is indicted for her e-mail scandal.

More than a million people signed a petition asking Obama to pardon the former NSA contractor who revealed a massive U.S. intelligence surveillance operation to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Swowden has been granted asylum in Russia and faces the death penalty if convicted of stealing government secrets. But in a letter to Obama seeking a pardon for Snowden, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, and Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, all said Snowden was a “human rights hero” who had acted “to hold governments to account when power is abused” by turning the information over to journalists.

“As you well know, Snowden disclosed information to journalists revealing that the NSA had overstepped U.S. statutes, the Constitution, and international law by engaging in widespread, warrantless surveillance. In response, we’ve seen a global debate that has changed government policies and profoundly affected how people think about personal privacy,” the three leaders wrote.


Hillary Clinton

Sike…just kidding. lol

Watch the the Fall of America! issue #07

Indigenous cultures are ofttimes portrayed as a primitive people of the past, when in reality they are a people of pride, articulate manners, elaborate courtesy, and spirituality that had a love and respect for the land. There was no need to teach these people the importance of self sustainability, for that was the foundation of their well being. These people did not disappear, in fact each one of us represents in someway, shape or fashion an indigenous culture. Find out how you relate to these forgotten and sometimes belittled civilizations in the Nation19 Magazine Fall of America Issue #07. Watch and share our true history! #APDTA


 

 

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Do you really want to know the real Columbus?

Christopher Columbus is and was one of the architects of white supremacy. A system employed by europeans upon kind, helpful indigenous, black aboriginal people thru out the world. Nation19 Magazine / APDTA

Do you really know who Columbus was? Every second Monday of October in the US is marked by a national holiday called Columbus Day. But surprisingly most don’t know this day was conceived by the Knights of Columbus which is a secret Masonic organization. Also most Americans know nothing about what Christopher Columbus did to the original people of the Americas. So today Nation19 researchers have prepared the uncut pure facts about Mr. Columbus. The facts we uncovered are so bad we ask that you brace yourself while reading them.


Columbus’ first meeting described the original people as beautiful and not warlike, and naive:
“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things… They willingly traded everything they owned…  They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”


To paint a different picture of the people, Columbus, who had originally described the Natives as gentle people he wrote:
“(they are) evil and I believe they are from the island of Caribe, and that they eat men.” He also described them as “savage cannibals, with dog-like noses that drink the blood of their victims.”
This made up cannibal story is taught as fact in some of today’s schools in the US.

After his first trip Columbus later returned to Spain leaving behind 39 men who began the process of killing the men and rapping the Native women. When Columbus came back 1,200 (or more) of the native men were killed. Columbus returned with more soldiers, and rape and pillaging became rampant as well as tolerated by Columbus.
1280px-Primer_viaje_de_Colón.svg


Michele de Cuneo journal excerpt (a close friend to Columbus) wrote the first disturbing account of a rape and torture between himself and a Native female sex slave given to him by (Lord Admiral) Christopher Columbus.

“While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me, and with whom, having taken her into my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears.”


Columbus also raped 9 and 10 year old native girls and gave them to his men as sex slaves.
In addition to putting the Natives to work as slaves in his gold mines, Columbus also sold sex slaves to his men—some as young as 9. Columbus and his men also raided villages for sex and sport. Aside from rape Columbus and his men gave the women Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

In the year 1500, Columbus wrote: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”


columbus_was_evil2_APDTA
Christopher Columbus presents Native Americans to Queen Isabella.

Gold ruled everything around him. 
Upon returning to Spain Columbus told Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand about all the gold. So what did they do? They sent him back with more ships (17 ships) and he was given more men to go steal the gold for Spain.

Columbus forced the Natives to work in gold mines until exhaustion. Those who opposed were beheaded or had their ears cut off.

In the provinces of Cicao all persons over 14 had to supply at least a thimble of gold dust every three months and were given copper necklaces as proof of their compliance. Those who did not fulfill their obligation had their hands cut off, which were tied around their necks while they bled to death—some 10,000 died handless.

In two years’ time, approximately 250,000 original native people on Haiti were dead. Many deaths included mass suicides or intentional poisonings or mothers killing their babies to avoid persecution.

According to Columbus, in a few years before his death, “Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise.”


Columbus feeding a child to Dogs
Columbus feeding a child to Dogs

Columbus’ men fed Native People to dogs regularly.

In the early years of Columbus’ conquests there were butcher shops throughout the Caribbean where Indian bodies were sold as dog food. There was also a practice known as the montería infernal, the infernal chase, or manhunt, in which Indians were hunted by war-dogs.

These dogs—who also wore armor and had been fed human flesh, were a fierce match for the Indians. Live babies were also fed to these war dogs as sport, sometimes in front of horrified parents.


So from all of us at Nation19 we pray his descendants suffer from every disease on this planet for all the evil he did to those beautiful giving original native people. Lastly,  …F^@! Columbus Day. APDTA!

 

Invisible Mexico Exhibit by Nation19 Magazine / APDTA

Invisible Mexico by Hakeem Khaaliq and Nation19 Magazine / APDTA

Check out a sneak peek of our first exhibit entitled “Invisible Mexico” by Nation19 Magazine / APDTA. The exhibit features a wide variety of photos of people, places and cultures of Mexico while spotlighting on the Afro Mexican townships of Costa Chica and Veracruz. Invisible Mexico features the work of Nation19 Creative Director Hakeem Khaaliq and spans many years of researching black and indigenous cultures in Mexico and Central America. The exhibit is a display of 10 selected photos from the book of the same name which will be released in May. After seeing the exhibit, Univision the largest Spanish speaking television network selected Nation19 and Hakeem Khaaliq to co-produce a two part mini documentary special with famed News Anchor and Television reporter Sergio Urquidi. The television special will air in June -July nationally and internationally on Univision.

Want to know more? Contact us at get@nation19.com

Los afro-mexicanos son ciudadanos voluntarios e involuntarios de las míticas zonas fronterizas donde negocian sus identidades, verifican sus lealtades, y se definen a los demás y a sí mismos mientras trabajan para aceptar las complejidades de las múltiples capas de su identidad afro-mexicana. No son simplemente mexicanos o simplemente gente negra; son ambos mexicanos y negros de una manera que personifican la idea del mexicano como “la raza cósmica.” Son tan indígenas a México como el mexicano más pálido con ascendencia estrictamente europeo. Sin embargo, el estigma social y el racismo internalizado asociado con ser negro y tener la piel oscura les hace a muchos afro-mexicanos sentirse avergonzados y con el deseo de negar su negritud en lugar de aceptarse y sentir orgullo por su piel oscura, pelo rizado y rasgos africanos. Los afro-mexicanos son los rostros invisibles de México como resultado de la amnesia histórica y de la historia oficial que prácticamente ha borrado la presencia africana y sus contribuciones a la nación mexicana. Mientras la historia del africano en México ha sido omitido, esta colección de fotos rinde homenaje a la gente negra de la Costa Chica en México y sirve para llevar la presencia del negro en México de la oscuridad a la luz, de la opacidad a la transparencia, y de la invisibilidad a la visibilidad de una manera que respeta la historia y la lucha mientras muestra la belleza y la fuerza de México Negro.

-Jameelah Xochitl Medina, PhD