We represent the Collegewide Latinx Affinity Group at Bank Street College, and are writing to express our solidarity with all Black and Afro-Descendant people in the centuries-long international struggle for Black liberation from White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
The systemic oppression of Black people in the US is inseparable from that of Black people who have been colonized by Spain and Portugal in Latin America, the Caribbean, and its diaspora. All are products of institutions, policies, practices, attitudes, and values rooted in White Supremacy, anti-Black racism, and settler colonialism. Countries in Latin America mimic the structure and operation of the Spanish racial caste system, which grant disproportionate institutional power to those racialized as White, non-Black, or non-Indigenous to this day. These Latinxs often carry anti-Black racism across borders, and wield it consciously and subconsciously against Black people of all ethnic backgrounds.
“Latinx” is not a race; it is an ethnic affiliation. There are Black, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern, and White Latinxs. Some are monoracial, some are multiracial. In Latin America and its diaspora, White and non-Black Latinxs of color frequently exclude those who identify as Black, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Descendant from mainstream conversations about who Latinxs are. And like our Black colleagues with roots in the U.S. and the West Indies, Blackness in Latin America is not monolithic, encompassing multiple cultures and experiences.
We object to the systematic erasure of Black/Afro-Descendant people and Blackness from our mainstream politics, academies, media, literature, and histories (among others), and the violent oppression of Black communities that it attempts to conceal. Consequently, we call on you to support/join us in committing to the following:
- Help advance the policy demands articulated by Black and Afro-Descendant organizers and communities in the US by donating our time, money, and/or other resources. It also means centering the voices, experiences, expertises, and the physical and mental health and safety of Black people across the diaspora as the movement for Black liberation continues to be visioned and organized. To start:
- Educate ourselves and those around us (including students) about the political and cultural histories of our country/ies of origin or heritage, including the US This means we must:
- Prioritize and visibilize the research, organizing, narratives, and testimonies of Black and Afro-Descendant people across the Americas.
- Recognize and internalize how White and Non-Black Latinxs/Latin Americans of color participate in whitewashing those histories, as well as appropriating and monetizing the cultures and labor of Black and Afro-Descendant people in Latin America and its diaspora.
- Lean into requests to racially identify (for White and non-Black Latinxs of color). When we do not, we uphold at least three destructive myths: 1) that people in our communities do not claim and/or are not assigned a racial identity (we do/are); 2) that we are racially mixed, or mestizos (most of us are not); and 3) that race does not play a significant role in the histories, life trajectories, or experiences of people in Latin America or its diaspora (it does).
- Expose and disassemble anti-Black racism in our spheres of influence and in ourselves. Diana Lugo-Martínez has a lot of ideas.
Lastly, we underwrite Cabinet’s commitment to intensify the College’s anti-racist efforts, as declared in its June 2nd letter. We agree that these efforts must extend beyond gatherings, conversations, self-education, and expressions of solidarity–important and foundational as they are–into formal structures and policies. They must equitably redistribute power and resources at Bank Street, prioritize the demands of Black people in our community, and fairly compensate those–Black women in particular–who have been at the vanguard of antiracist work thus far. By institutionalizing this work, the progress that has been made can be built upon in ways that outlive individuals.
And so we challenge ourselves and our community to lean into and live our credo by working, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas–even when they are in fact long-established needs, problems, and ideas like anti-Black racism, White Supremacy, and Black liberation. We challenge ourselves to use gentleness when appropriate while standing and speaking truths that must be heard. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and recognize how anti-Blackness has been internalized and pathologized by non-Black people of color. In our communities, non-Black people of color have at times caused harm to Black people–including colleagues, families, and friends–especially those with common ancestry: Afro-Latinx-identifying Black folks. We know there is much work to do in dissecting and preventing this harm in order for all of us to share in the goal of anti-racist liberation.
The Bank Street College Latinx Affinity Group
List of Resources (Expanded):
- A Hemispheric Approach to Contemporary Black Activism (Larnies A. Bowen, Ayanna Legros, Tianna Paschel, Geísa Mattos, Kleaver Cruz & Juliet Hooker for NACLA, 2017).
- bell hooks–Cultural Criticism & Transformation (Media Education Foundation, 1997)
- Why America’s Protests Resonate So Deeply in Brazil (Thiago Amparo for Americas Quarterly, 2020)
- The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes (Andrew Kahn and Jamelle Bouie for Slate, 2015)
- How Afro-Colombians Are Standing up Against Racial Violence (Ana Luisa González for Remezcla, 2020)
- Las Castas – Spanish Racial Classifications (Native Heritage Project, 2013)
- When it Comes to Latinidad, Who Is Included and Who Isn’t? (Janel Martinez for Remezcla, 2019)
- The Afro-Latino Story of Latino Anti-Blackness (Tanya Kateri Hernandez for Al Dia News, 2020)
- Sharing What #BlackLatinasKnow & What #WeBeenToldYou (Black Latinas Know Collective)
- Op-Ed: This Is Why We Need Afro-Latinx Added to the Dictionary (Melania-Luisa Marte for Remezcla, 2019)
- Anti-Blackness in Latinx Communities is Systemic and Reinforced by Deliberate Cultural Policy (Quinn Smith-Matta for AfroPunk)
- Activists Across Latin America Are Marching in Solidarity With 'Black Lives Matter' Protests in the US (Dash Harris for Okay Africa, 2020)
- Vision for Black Lives (Movement for Black Lives)
- Agenda to Build Black Futures (BYP100 [Black Youth Project])
- The Statement (Black Latinas Know Collective)
- #NYCBudgetJustice: Take Action Now (ChangeTheNYPD)
- #DefundNYPD Public Commitment Tracker
- Support #OccupyCityHall & Join the Movement to DEFUND NYPD (Vocal New York)
- Defund NYPD; Fund Our Schools (Flier for 6/27/20 Action)
- Tell Mayor de Blasio: Defund the NYPD and invest in schools! (Alliance for Quality Education and New York Communities for Change)
- Uncovering the history of school policing in Oakland to move our vision for police free schools (Jackie Byers and Manuel Criollo from the Black Organizing Project for the San Francisco Bay View, 2020)
- What is Mutual Aid? (Big Door Brigade)
- Black Trans People Have Been Modeling Mutual Aid Before It Became a Buzzword (Bailey for Autostraddle, 2020)
- Mutual Aid NYC
- #MAP4Youth: Mutual Aid Projects for Youth
- Upper Manhattan Mutual Aid
- Actions for Solidarity: #BlackTransLivesMatter
- Mutual Aid Toolkit (SurvivedAndPunished)
- Founders, Explorers, and Other Afro-Latinos in US History (Jennifer Patiño for Gozamos, 2016)
- Arturo Schomburg Was Vital to the Harlem Renaissance, But His Latino Identity Is Often Forgotten (Sabia McCoy-Torres for Remezcla, 2018)
- Honoring L.A.'s Black Founders (Cecilia Rasmussen for The Los Angeles Times, 1995)
- Triple-Consciousness? Approaches to Afro-Latino Culture in the United States (Juan Flores and Miriam Jiménez Román for Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 2009)
- Black Social Movements in Latin America: From Monocultural Mestizaje to Multiculturalism (by Jean Muteba Rahier, 2012)
- The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States (Edited by Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores, 2010)
- Black in Latin America (PBS Documentary Series)
- Afro-Latin@ Forum: Stories
- A Black Latina Reading List: Social distancing readings by or about Black Latinas (Black Latinas Know Collective)
- Let’s Talk About Race (in Latin@ Communities) (Melissa M. Valle for NACLA, 2014)
- AfroLatin@ Forum
- La historia de Puerto Rico: un relato impregnado de racismo (Pulso Estudiantil, 2020)
- Pigmentocracy in the Americas: How is Educational Attainment Related to Skin Color? (Edward Telles and Liza Steele for AmericasBarometer)
- Racial Apartheid Persists in Latin America (Wilda Escarfuller and Adam Frankel for Americas Quarterly, 2013)
- Recursos antirracistas en español (Anti-racist resources in Spanish)
- 17 Afro-Latino Children’s Books to Read to Your Kids (Tanvier Peart for Essence, 2016)
- How young people are combating anti-black racism in their immigrant communities (Terry Nguyen for Vox, 2020)
- What does Addressing Anti-Blackness in the Latinx Community Look Like in the Age of Trump? (Diana Lugo Martínez for Medium, 2017)