“Who is Black?”

Written by on October 30th, 2011 // Filed under Journal


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/

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120 Responses to ““Who is Black?””


    As a Black American, it’s bizarre to me when people let their ignorance replace common sense. Fact: 95% of all enslaved Africans were shipped to places OTHER than what would become “the United States of America.” Ninety-five percent. Only 5% came here to the U.S. So it’s ironic that Diasporans who are in the minority would question the blackness of those who come from where the majority of slaves were unloaded, basing their assumption on the language of the oppressor (c’mon, folks are Black no matter whether they speak English, Dutch, French, Portuguese, or Spanish!) And it’s ironic that some Latinos will deny the abject impact of Africa on Latin American countries, especially considering what you see when you actually GO to some of those places. (I was in Cartegena three years ago, and I may as well have been on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn with all the cornrows I saw!)

    Anyway, keep up the good fight. I’m not even Latina and I have to explain this often!

    Grace & Peace.

    Posted by eveReply
    • Maybe you shpuld get on a bullhorn and let the rest of the latins in america know this!!!! Especially here in NYC. Dominicans{or should I say Haitian blend or Hispanolans?}Are the most Racist of all. More so than europeans. Perhaps you need a platform. But not just to be down with our’swag,style,culture,or beliefs. How about our struggles. That even in this so called color free and tolerable society is the one reason why the economy and the shape of the country overall is as it is now

      Posted by D.S.PhelpsReply
      • Good point. I think the disconnect is this: Oftentimes when those of us who are considered Black overall connect with our Spanish-speaking or Portuguese speaking brethren, they do not identify themselves as Black.

        Or as someone stated on another site linking this article… If we are indeed all Black, then it should not be a moniker of convenience, but one of unity. If we are Black in culture, why not in struggle? Black in blood, but why not in hard times?

        Color lines is a murky murderous mess. I take no issue with folks accepting all of who they are nor with folks who only accept one of who they are… It is who YOU are…not I nor anyone else. I don’t determine anyone else’s identity. I guess what naysayers are saying though is…if you are with me in the celebration, be with me in the struggle.

      • We (Dominicans) aren’t all racists, and we aren’t all mixed with Haitian. I personally am. And to just bunch us all up from your own personal experience at the hands of only a handful of Dominicans just highlights our differences.

        Posted by LuisReply
    • The line about understanding White Supremacy applies to why 5% of the African Diaspora is qualifying what Black is in America. It is because the racial designations and the social rules relating to us in America are different than in the French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish systems. Though these designations were points of societal stratification. That was not so in America. In America, the “one drop” rule applies and relegates us beneath humane consideration. The different gradations of color (and familial ties which produced them) were not formally recognized by Whites here in America, but were exploited in divisive ways to keep us fighting amongst each other on the “wrong” side of the Color Line. The tendency toward xenophobic reactions to fellow diasporians is but a direct reflection of White examples of the expression of power–the subconscious motivation of all ill evolved Americans of African descent.

      Posted by Jean Francois JeanReply
    • Sojourner Truth, born and reared in the enslaver state of New York, initially spoke Dutch. Her principal enslavers were Dutch speakers in the area of what is now New Paltz, where the (New York) State University College is.




      Now that I have finished raving stupidly, let me say something meaningful.

      I’m living in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. What stumps me and silences me is a person who does not know he or she is Afrikan. What do you say to someone like that? I genuinely don’t know what to say to that person. He genuinely does not have a clue he is Afrikan. To me, It seems impossible to understand. I grew up knowing I am Afrikan because my mother told me I was. And further, my education at university level did not permit me NOT TO KNOW.

      I guess he didn’t get that kind of home or school training. Who rewards black people for being themselves? I don’t know anyone who does that. Any way, that’s to be expected under white supremacist domination.

      Be an enemy to yourself. Be alienated from yourself. The better to keep us all down.

      Afrikanness is super-national. The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke said that what connected Afrikans is our Afrikanness, our identity as originating from Afrika.

      Posted by Ahati N. N. ToureReply
      • While I agree with you it seems that others from island known as Puerto Rico do not. I have not met one Puerto Rican yet that identifies himself/herself as being ‘Black’. I was quite surprised to read Rosa Clemente’s declaration of Blackness. Further, in West Africa diasporans are considered ‘White’ because we lack African culture. In Ghana, I am called ‘Obruni” (white woman) by children and adults, men and women, illiterate and educated. We are not black enough for them. Of course we are accepted like any other White person because of our money. This argument reminds me of the one Black Americans have amongst themselves of light and dark skin, house and field while the European American see and treat us all as niggers. We can argue amongst each other about who is Black or not Black enough but once we touch down at an African airport we are viewed as non African/non Black.

        Posted by ObaheemaReply
      • I strongly disagree with the above comment that Africans do not speak Spanish only English. I am an Afro-cuban-american and I, as well as my family, speak Spanish. We do however, consider ourselves black, compared to other “latin” countries. Besides latin america however, one can easily find black spanish speakers in Morroco, West Sahara, Equitorial Guinea, and the Canary Islands; which are all part of AFRICA. The amount of ignorance from the statement about those of us of non-english speaking post enslaved africans only shows how little you know, and how much more you need to study.

        Posted by Matteo JamalReply
        • You’re not very good at recognizing obvious sarcasm it seems.

          Posted by drinaReply
    • I Truly Relate to this Article. It is something I have gone through for 60 years…I am Proud to Be of African Native American descent. I get questioned everyday and Mostly by My own people….I use to be offended…now I Just Stand Proud….

      Posted by Sharon Griffin-AllenReply
      • You go sister. Knowledge of self is a start. Loving your self is the ultimate.

        Posted by The Minister DCXReply
    • With only 500K African slaves deposited in America, African Americans are the least African of all. Blacks in the U.S. are primarily Black Europeans, and Blacks in Latin America are primarily Paleoamericans: with the exception of Black Brazilians, who are primarily of African extraction.

      Posted by Kim BoReply
  2. Big thanks to Sister Clemente for sharing that with us!

    The “enlightened ones” do share this level of frustration, not so much with Whites/Anglos, but with our own Brothers and Sisters who continue to take part in the division of the Diaspora. As English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese speaking BLACK people, we continue to not understand the SYSTEM in which our oppression occurs, so that further keeps us enslaved in the modern era.

    Thank you for liberating our minds and spirits! I teach high school, and this article has reinvigorated my duties and life’s work to free the minds and spirits of our young people. Thanks!

    Posted by DuffyReply
  3. Beautiful piece. Knowledge of self is the key. Peace.

    Posted by Sharif MuhammadReply
  4. If you were black I would start this with a “negro please” but you are NOT and it has nothing to do with your primary language or the fact that you are Puerto Rican. You are clearly no more African than European and probably more European than anything. Face this fact and move on. A real black woman is instantly identified as one wherever she goes.

    Posted by Real black womanReply
    • Wow…someone just stated that “a real black woman is instantly identified as one wherever she goes.” Honey, let me educate you….I have 2 African-American parents and I had to go natural so people would stop asking me if I am biracial…anything from are you Asian and Black to are you Cuban (which could clearly be black even if I was Cuban…but ignorance lives on). Please stop assuming that alllll black people look a like…sad sad sad and ridiculous. And let me tell you something else Ms. “real black woman”….my husband is African and if you really want to break it down…a real black woman is his mother and sisters! Why do you feel like you have a monopoly on blackness?

      Posted by tstoudReply
      • The idea that someone light skinned can’t be considered of African descent is pretty silly, especially today when most countries are filled with people of mixed ethnicities whether they are aware of it or not. One of my best friends has a father from Brazil. While he appears to be a white Latino, his father was black African. My friend’s other parent is from Peru. My friend has a complexion dark enough no one would consider her white, but since she is from California, everyone assumes she is Chicana.

        Author Mat Johnson wrote a book titled “incognegro” about Walter White, a light skinned black man working with the feds in apartheid-era American South to infiltrate hate groups like the KKK. Mr. Johnson is light skinned and grew up with people questioning his blackness (in Arkansas, if memory serves). He married and his wife had twins–one light skinned, the other dark skinned. These experiences made him interested in Mr. White.

        That there is a question of color means that whether our mentality has or not, our genetics have moved passed a color-based idea of nationality, heritage or class. When our brains catch up with our genes, most of these issues will pass away. In the meantime, be proud of who you and your ancestors are. Don’t question someone’s identity. Odds are the person worked really hard to figure out their place is this complicated world, just like you did.

        Posted by Brian WoodsReply
    • Real black woman, you sound real stupid. You honestly don’t deserve a decent response.

      Posted by AmandaReply
    • I am a sister with dark-skin, black hair and brown eyes. My sister is blonde haired and green eyed. She’s often passes for white, but is far from it. So your argument falls flat.

      Posted by EmeReply
    • Real Black Woman, you are so ignorant, No one shall excuse U for thinking your are intelligent. Idiot’s like you R useless. And U don’t no squat about the history of African people and Spain or the Caribbean.
      Do REAL Black people stay out of our business, because you sound like a REAL White Woman!!

      Posted by WhyyReply
    • Hopefully one day you will go to Africa and see very light-skinned Africans whom the darker ones might refer to as “the white one!” Until I went there I assumed that light skin meant you had a white ancestor. A lot of people believe this. I spent five months in Guinea studying the music of the djembe and came back with this thought, “Now I’m positive that white people came from us!” That trip changed a lot of my views which until then I didn’t know were false and at the same time negative. I’m glad I’m able to offer some eye witness help!

      Posted by TonyfromteeohReply
    • @Real black woman: If you are black you are more than likely jealous of this woman’s features, if you are white, you are only here to divide and conquer. You are clearly delusional and have no concept of diversity of black people. You believe that in order for a person to be black, they most have bones in their nose and plates in their lips. All of these a racist descriptions imbedded into you by the Albino Europeans. Please allow me to educate you. There is only one race and that is the black race because, “White mans division of the worlds people into the three Human races (Black, White and Mongol) is false and self-serving. When a group member of a species with a great variety of physical attributes – such as Black Humans – who exhibit ALL Human attributes: Black skin, White skin (Albinos), Broad noses, Narrow noses, Full lips, Thin lips, Wooly hair, Straight hair, Hair of all colors, Hair of all textures, Very tall people, Very short people, People with Mongol features – breaks away, and forms a “Supergroup” of ONLY those with a “Single” particular distinct attribute, and through some type of isolation – forced or otherwise, breed exclusively among themselves, thus producing offspring with only that one attribute. They create a Sub-species containing ONLY that attribute!

      So when isolate members of a species ALL share a common trait, such as (White Skin – Albinism). They do not form a “New” Race, they form a SUB-SPECIES. Thus Whites are NOT a RACE, they are a SUB-SPECIES!

      So when isolate members of a species ALL share a common trait, such as (Mongol features). They form a SUB-SPECIES. Thus Mongol is NOT a RACE, it is a SUB-SPECIES!

      So when isolate members of a species ALL share a common trait, such as (extreme small stature – Pygmy) . They form a SUB-SPECIES. Thus the Pygmy is NOT a RACE, it is a SUB-SPECIES!

      Therefore, there is only ONE RACE – the “All Encompassing” Black skinned Human race: all others are Sub-species.”

      Posted by Kim BoReply
  5. Dear real black woman…. although you are 100% percent wrong, we are all entitled to our opinion. Luckily we have the One Drop conversation, it has never mattered to me if people are defensive because I talk about race, and about being who I am, a Black Puerto Rican Woman, I am who I am, and no one can tell me different, I think you may be thinking about phenotype, peace

    Posted by Rosa ClementeReply
  6. Blessings Sis Rosa….Its amazing to me the refusal to acknowledge the connection and the long-line of history “we” as “Afrikans” have…… as I refuse to now be identified by others….I am an (Afrikan Woman) born in America……I respect and acknowledge the educated that you are reflecting. I love the way you broke it down, it really takes an unconscious mind or a closed mind not to acknowledge truth when it is so obvious. Blessings, Peace & Light!

    Posted by UrthEagle TishaReply
  7. I’m from an island right next to Puerto Rico and I visit there often. I know what you struggle against and it’s refreshing to hear you say that you are black period! (a rare statement coming from a Puerto Rican from my experience). Personally, I wouldn’t miss your blackness in a crowd but it is clear from your lighter skin (phenotype) that you have white and ?native american/Taino heritage (geneotype) also as many blacks in Latin America, the Caribbean and the U.S. do. I’m dark-skinned myself but I have white and ?native american/Asian heritage too proving that black comes in many shades . Please, ignore the haters and just continue being proud of how special God made you. But instead of educating doubters of the black diaspora/African presence in P.R. through books, you should take them all to a tour of hair salons there. Be prepared to see at least 40-50% of female Boricuas chemically relaxing all traces of their African “roots” from their hair. Ditto for the Dominican Republic, Panama, Brazil… Girl, if hair relaxers were ever abolished, no one would doubt the black/African Diaspora among so called “Hispanics”.

    Posted by blessedReply
    • Please educate yourself. Black people do not owe their diversity in skin colour and hair type as a result of their admixture with Albino Europeans. Black/Africans are the most the most diverse when it comes to phenotype and genotype. Black people gave birth to the planet and they code for every DNA. Most of you brag about your white DNA as it is a honour badge. Why would you want to associate yourselves with murders, rapists and thieves? Please watch this video on how the so called races were made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk4SdqmDISg

      Posted by Kim BoReply
  8. It’s a trip because I am Puerto rican,Portuguese and black and my friends joke and call me wetback as if I’m Mexican.A lot of people just be talking just to be talking and don’t even know what race they are them damn selves!And 4 all idiots (real black woman)who walk aroud thinkin u r pure anything black or white u really ignorant.Ain’t nobody out here whole nuthin no mo we all mixed up out here thx to Spaniards and all sorts of Caucasians.All those islands by Puerto Rico are supposed to be Indians or black anyway not Spanish or Latin nuthin cause at the end of the day they raped and killed the original people and forced them to convert to Spanish ways.Me,I’m black or Indian decent and still Spanish (can’t change what I am)but to embrace my Latin side more than black makes me fill like I’m embracing the fact people were killed and raped and that my friends I’m not proud to be apart of that history. I’m proud to be black and Indian more than any race that I am.

    Posted by clint pruittReply
  9. I really do not have any words for those who believe that “blackness” is confined to one skin color, hair texture, country, language, etc. Jim Crow would be proud my dear (real black woman). I travel ALOT! Mostly to Spanish speaking countries and if there is one thing I’ve noticed is there are more people who look like me than look like all of these “ethnic” celebrities we glorify. I am lighter skinned black woman. It is obvious that somewhere my ancestors lost their pure black blood. But I’m still black. My grandmother is pale skinned with green eyes and shes still black. My family is Jamaican so we have every color of the rainbow in my family. We look Asian and European, Spanish, etc. And though we all have different tones and looks, we have the same common denominator…our ancestors are Africans and Arawak Indians. Our ancestors were slaves, raped, killed, and forced into the Blue Mountains of Jamaica to hide from the Spanish and then the British. My father is American and we know how that story goes. Please release yourself from mental slavery people and acknowledge the fact that ALL people stem from Africa. Every land mass was at one point connected to Africa so how can one not be African?

    Posted by Ms. MReply
    • Rosa Clemente, test have been done, the majority of Puerto Rican have a Boricua bloodline. The word Boricua is not just a blanket statement, it’s a bloodline, it’s real. That’s the reason why we identify ourselves as Boricuas.

      Posted by JoseReply
      • Boricua is a person who is from “Borinquen”, which is the name originally given to Puerto Rico by the Taino Indians. Puerto Rico has had three names. 1. Borinquen. 2. San Juan 3. Puerto Rico.
        The first people to ever live in the island where the Taino Indians. Then The Europeans came bringing slaves with them from Africa. Therefore, Puerto Rican are a mix or Taino indians, Europeans and African. Not all Puerto Ricans are white and not all of them are black. We are one of the few latino countries that are truly a melting pot.

        Posted by sadReply
  10. Well Rosa, it is ok to state what you believe, but a Puerto Rican, no matter how Black they may look on the outside, are also spanish, European, and Taino Indian. All those years have past , and everybody mixed. If you didn’t mix with. Black, you did with a White, or Brown, and the rest is history, but I love the fact that you spoke up about our Black roots. I got to go see you one day speak.

    Posted by Efrain Gonzalez IIIReply
    • Efrain:

      Just like American Blacks, all Africans that went through the slave trade are “mixed” with something, somewhere down the line. That does not take away from our racial identity. Spanish is not a race, it is a language spoken based on what country colonized them. Just as Americans speak English. Black is not simply about skin color, it’s our identity that allows us to identify with those Africans dispersed all over the West. I’m happy to see when Black Latino’s take pride and understand that.

      Posted by AmandaReply
    • I’m entitled to my opinion and here it is…..Black is a color, a race, a culture. Ask a Puerto Rican, “what are you?” No matter how dark or light, the answer is Puerto Rican or Boricua. We are a mix of Taino, European and Black. I am proud of being PR and I don’t care what people may mistake me for. I know what I am and who I am. p.s. I really wanted to leave this to Rosa Clemente but didn’t know where!

      Posted by vickyReply
      • Completely agree! We’re Boricua. Puerto Rican’s not a color! She is buying into the American idea of race and that is a shame! If she really knew who she was as a Puerto Rican, she wouldn’t identify herself as anything other than Puerto Rican! We are a mixed of all three cultures and proud. This speech she made doesn’t made me proud at all.

        Posted by P. F.Reply
        • I’ve always acknowledged the fact that African DNA runs in my blood, but, I also acknowledge the fact that Taino,white European and yes some Arabic DNA runs in my blood. So I celebrate being interracial, and I’m proud of it. I don’t adhere to the American classification of “ONE DROP” . If anyone wishes to classify themselves as such than that’s their prerogative (One drop)! Yes, there’s a classification that’s the best of all worlds, it’s called an Interracial human being, who I believe, can play a vital role in facilitating peace, love and harmony amongst all races.

          Posted by antonioReply
      • I agree as an African american it bothers me when we attempt to make people our brothers and sisters. I have have been mistaken for a latino, based more on the neighborhood I was in than how I look, and it bothered me. So when a darkskinned Dominican or a brown skinned PR wants to be other than black I support it. Your brothers and sisters are those that treat you as such. If the mirror cannot teach than how dare anyone else try.

        Posted by MacNupeReply
      • If you ask a Puerto Rican, “What are you? They will say: “I’m Puerto Rican”. Of course, what do you expect them to say. “I’m black” or “I’m white”. No, the correct answer is Puerto Rican. If you are born in Puerto Rico, then you are Puerto Rican. However, if you are born outside of Puerto Rico but your parents were born in Puerto Rico, then you are Boricua. I don’t understand what the argument is. Why should we be forced to called ourselves black. I was born in NY. My grandmother is from Spain, white with blue eyes, My other grandparents were, one from spain and the other from France. Also, white, with blond hair and green eyes. My parents were born in PR. They are both white skin and have green eyes. My dad has blond hair. Are they supposed to call themselves black because they were born in PR? I don’t think so!!!

        Posted by sadReply
  11. Thank you Rosa for your commitment to conciousness. I’d like to add that there are still some hints of denial in a few of the comments here. If people knew really about their Africaness they would never want to deny it. The fact that it was the Moors who ruled the Iberian peninsula for 800 yrs. and disseminated all kinds of knowledge that allowed for Spain and other European countries to rise to power and then perpetrate the African Diaspora. African self deniers should realise that their ancestors are the actual source of the Europeans knowledge and abilities. There is no reason then to attribute any kind of superiority to them when one is armed with such knowledge. Also, the African blood/gene is geneticly the most dominant of all human genes. The “White Supremacy Establishment” knows this, that’s why there is so much energy in tyring to turn everything about Blackness or Africaness negative. Everthing that the un-enlightened believe about blackness is actually the opposite of the truth.

    Posted by WzOneReply
    • What about the Taino blood? Where does the One Drop Rule apply, with regard to them? After all, it was there land to begin with. The natives of Puerto Rico should get some love. Hmmmmmmm

      Posted by Efrain Gonzalez IIIReply
      • embracing blackness does not mean negating our indigenous Taino blood. It only means that we are embracing blackness. As Black-Dominican I’m very well aware that identifying as only “Taino” is a way to separate ourselves from the pain associated with Blackness because of the internalized racial biases we hold towards Black bodies. Calling ourselves “Taino” “Mixed” “Spanish” “Hispanic” encompasses Taino culture but it negates our Blackness.

        Its not about not being Puerto Rican, it’s about being Puerto Rican AND BLACK. Puerto Rican isn’t a race brother and the struggle that we have as Black people doesn’t change based on what island our African ancestors landed on.

        brother, our Black and Taino bodies have endured too much pain and suffering for us to be having a conversation about being Puerto Rican and not Black like those two things are different.


        Posted by KendraReply
      • I agree with you Efrain. That is correct. The island of PR first belonged to the Taino indians not to the Africans.

        Posted by sadReply
  12. BRAVO! We need to stop allowing our discussions of racialization and racisms to remain centered on the United States. The genocide against indigenous peoples of America and the enslavement of/genocide against African peoples happened ALL OVER the Western hemisphere from Canada to Brazil to Puerto Rico to Mexico.

    Posted by Ben FisherReply
  13. Rosa, De acuerdo con todo. Gracias por tus escritos. “Until Lions have their historians and HERstorians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter!” African proverb.

    Please allow me to share something from brother Carlos Tortolero, President of Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art. This comes from the text entitled “The African Presence in Mexico – From YANGA to the Present. Yanga in Mexico was the FIRST African-Mexican state in Mexico. Yes, there were Africans in Mexico, check the front and the BACK of the OLMEC heads (which by the by had cornrows). This book is bilingual English and Spanish and worth every penny.

    “The greatest failure of the human species has been its inability to celebrate the commonality and diversity between cultural and racial groups. All of the world’s problems pale in comparison to the human problem of discriminating against people because of cultural and racial differences. If we as humans would truly treat each other in an equitable fashion, there isn’t any challenge facing our species that we could not overcome. Our collective will to improve the station of others and the world around us would be able to surmount any crisis that we face.”

    “El error más grande de la especie humana ha sido su incapacidad para celebrar la concordancia y la diversidad entre los grupos culturales y raciales. Todos los problemas del mundo son menores al contrastar el problema humano de la discriminación debido a diferences culturales y raciales. Si como especie nos tratáramos unos a otros verdaderamente de una forma equitativa, no habría ningún desafío que nuestra esecie no pudiera superar. Nuestra voluntad colectiva para mejorar la situación de los demás y el mundo alrededor nuestro permitiría superar cualquier crisis a la que hagamos frente.”

    And to “Real Black Woman,” get it together. Get some therapy or read Dr. Francis Cress Welsing’s book “The Isis Papers, The Keys to the Colors.”

    Posted by FátimahReply
  14. Thank you for the message! As an African American born in Georgia and married to a Puerto Rican of the African Diaspora, I would add that the “Father of Black History” is a Puerto Rican: Arturo Alfonso Schomburgo/Arthur Schomburg!

    Posted by Dr. Askia DavisReply
  15. The problem is that we (some of us) have so much hate for ourselves that we can’t grasp or appreciate anyone when they identify as black. I’m black and I’m proud and I won’t apologize for any of it. I watched the PBS special with my sons last night so they could continue to learn about our history and culture. Keep doing what you are doing. That’s how they keep us oppressed and many blacks buy into the B.S.

    Posted by GingerReply
  16. I have been moved…profoundly! Thank you.

    “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.”

    I will keep this in my pocket and share it.

    Posted by CF1Reply
  17. I am just a little confused on your motive to prove your “blackness”. What does it accomplish? Is it a pride thing? If so, racial pride to me is racist. Pride should be reserved for something you accomplish. You did not choose to be black and you certainly didn’t accomplish being black, so why be prideful of it? It’s racist in that weather consciously or subconsciously your racial pride is saying that your race is superior to another. Hence the pride. Also, the focus on race only divides us more instead of uniting us as one human race.

    Posted by BobReply
  18. Now that this knowledge has been dropped with such eloquence, who is going to step up to the mic and drop another bit of knowledge concerning Christianity and Black folks’ *nearly* unwavering support and continuation of European-based oppression? Or are we going to pretend that we have adopted the bible of the oppressor and have ‘made it our own’?

    Posted by JustinReply
  19. Dear Rosa,
    I’m so happy to see your words in print. I am an African American woman also who has two sons with a man of Black and European Heritage. They have two brothers who share the same Dad and have Puerto Rican mothers. I want them to all see their similarities and not dwell on the differences. So we must start with this dialog that you have started. Secondly, for the entire audience of readers check out the”National Geographics -Genographic Project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/ because we all come from the same place—Africa!! Now that you know–spread that word and maybe all of our wars will STOP!

    Posted by KatherineReply
    • Actually Aboriginal people were found to be the oldest race of man… Weather or not they came from Africa originally is up for debate.

      Posted by BobReply
      • Actually it is not up for debate. Africa is the motherland of all man kind.

        Posted by RebeccaReply
  20. I feel ya sistah!!!

    Posted by JuanaReply
  21. Sister, you are always one of us but you already knew that! One Africans in diaspora unit, there will be no stopping that powerful locomotive! Though some people may pretend to hate what you stand for, deep down, they wish they have your fortitude! Keep up the good work of enlightenment!

    Posted by IntelligentiaReply
  22. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjYFmWr8cJ4

    Neely Fuller
    Author of:

    The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept
    a textbook/workbook for though, speech and/or action for victims of racism (white supremacy)


    The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept
    A Compensatory Counter-Racist Codified Word Guide (an addition to the first book.)

    Posted by ZenobiaReply
  23. You are not a color. You are a person. You are a person whose ancestors came from Africa, Europe, and the Americas. (forgive me if I inadvertently left out a continent)

    And you look like what you look like. You are you, a unique human.

    It bugs the hell out of me when people say President Obama is “black.” It’s enormously disrespectful of his mother, who is of European ancestry.

    How about we respect all of our ancestors, and each other as well?

    Posted by ScottReply
  24. Well said!

    Posted by John TReply
  25. All of humanity is of the African diaspora; some just wandered off earlier than others. What’s the point in perpetuating that there is some sort of difference between us? Is breaking into teams and clubs some unknown backdoor route to harmony?

    Racial divides don’t even exist. Biologically, we are all the same. This has been scientifically proven beyond any doubt. Why run around perpetuating a myth?

    Posted by Christian_XReply
  26. All I can say, is I am in line with everything you said in the article and keep up the good work. I have posted your article in every FB group that I am a part of and that is a lot.

    Posted by Art BlairReply
  27. You Go Sister Rosa!

    This is one Black American who is not confused about your Blackness or the Diaspora.
    I am not confused about my own Blackness. I am African Ancestored with all of the pride and responsibility that comes along with it.

    Peace & Blessings,
    “Guided by the Ancestors”

    Posted by GeorgeReply
  28. Thank you for speaking loud and proud of your African Ancestry sister Rosa and for educating those continually wallow in miseducation. Africa or the association with being of African ancestry has unfortunately had such supreme negative connotations within the structure of white supremacy that you find so many individuals of African descent consciously and unconsciously running as far away as they can from their inescapable blackness.

    Posted by CharlesReply
  29. I greatly appreciate your enlightening piece here Rosa. I am an American of mainly African descent (as well as European, Asian, and Native American). Nevertheless, I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. I am forever educating people of all backgrounds about the inherent element of Blackness of Puerto Rico and Latin America, as a whole. I learned to speak, read, and right Spanish because I made a conscious decision to do so, in part, to have a closer connection with my Puerto Rican hermanos y hermanas) brothers and sisters). I am often asked what I am because I live in a city with a large Puerto Rican/ILatino) population and because I am fluent in the Spanish language. I must say that I have to control my frustration when I hear Latinos and Americans of African descent denying the Blackness of Latin America. I have been to Borinken and Santo Domingo and have witnessed and felt the strong, inescapable Afrikan cultural influences. The African Diaspora is alive and well throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Many of my friends are Boricuas (Puerto Ricans) who I constantly remind of our common African connection. More and more Puerto Ricans and Latinos are starting to accept their Blackness, though very gradually. I think they are beginning to realize that denial is a self-demeaning attitude and that they should take pride in their African heritage as well as that of their Indigenous and European ones. I think that all people should be able to acknowledge and accept all of who they are and that they should not necessarily have to to choose one ethnic group over another, unless they specifically chooses to do so. In addition, I think the term “Race:” itself should be eliminated and no longer used because it inherently implies division and superiority/inferiority among people. This, in turn, perpetuates the “Divide and Conquuer” theory. The African Diaspora, in particular, needs greater enlightenment concerning this issue. White people, in general, have no problem decreasing the Black Diasporic population of the U.S., or world, for that matter, because it plays into their maintenance (conscious or unconscious) of all types of power and domination. I am fascinated with Latin people and culture, Afro-Latin, specifically. The immense African cultural legacy of Puerto Rico and Latin America never ceases to amaze me. In many respects, Latin American culture is more African than that of North America. This is largely because of the slave trade that started in the Caribbean basin, including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba, among others. Thank you Rosa for your clear commitment to being who you are and who you call yourself. I see a strong, beautiful, enlightened, Black Puerto Rican woman. .

    Posted by BruceReply
  30. Thank you for this insightful post. I am proud of my African Heritage as well and refuse to feel shame. I know that everyone of my Ancestors, Native, European, and African originated from Africa. She is the motherland where the first humans were before populating the world. Africa is the root that holds the tree solidly in the ground, black, white, Asian, and all in between. Civilization was born in Africa and spread throughout the world, as did all religions. However, this is not the truth that is being taught in Schools and Churches throughout the world. I don’t know how the people of Puerto Rico were divided by here in the United States it was through the Church, beginning with the Episcopalian Church. My father spoke Spanish and we shared our house with a Puerto Rican family when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. We were learning their culture and they ours, but things changed. They were white Puerto Ricans, and the two daughters, who we called Eta and Charlie, only attended public school for a while. They were accepted into the all white Catholic School. Their family moved to the area known as White Hill and although we visited once in a while, the connections ended. That was my first real contact with racism, and how it divides people according to skin color. My dark skinned nephew married a Puerto Rican young lady and they married in Puerto Rico. There were Puerto Ricans who moved into the community and intermarried with African Americans (women and men). I see brown skinned Dominicans, and Cubans who will not say they are African. It is no more so with them then with African Americans. Every-time we deny our ancestory we are giving away a piece of our soul.

    Posted by alaniReply
  31. Thank you for this insightful post. I am proud of my African Heritage as well and refuse to feel shame. I know that everyone of my Ancestors, Native, European, and African originated from Africa. She is the motherland where the first humans were before populating the world. Africa is the root that holds the tree solidly in the ground, black, white, Asian, and all in between. Civilization was born in Africa and spread throughout the world, as did all religions. However, this is not the truth that is being taught in Schools and Churches throughout the world. I don’t know how the people of Puerto Rico were divided by here in the United States it was through the Church, beginning with the Episcopalian Church. My father spoke Spanish and we shared our house with a Puerto Rican family when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. We were learning their culture and they ours, but things changed. They were white Puerto Ricans, and the two daughters, who we called Eta and Charlie, only attended public school for a while. They were accepted into the all white Catholic School. Their family moved to the area known as White Hill and although we visited once in a while, the connections ended. That was my first real contact with racism, and how it divides people according to skin color. My dark skinned nephew married a Puerto Rican young lady and they married in Puerto Rico. There were Puerto Ricans who moved into the community and intermarried with African Americans (women and men). I see brown skinned Dominicans, and Cubans who will not say they are African. It is no more so with them then with African Americans. Every-time we deny our ancestry we are giving away a piece of our soul.

    Posted by alaniReply
  32. Its interesting. When I was in Guatemala I saw alot of African culture and things of African origin. the native people knew there were Blacks there and nobody questioned it. Most if not all enlightened blacks know for a fact that Africans are everywhere in the world. Mostly due to the slave trade and the Arabic slave trade.

    Nonetheless, the TRUE problem lies in that these enlightened individuals do not understand how truly diverse our people are. Some of them get caught up on skin colors and if they are too light they believe they can not be black etc…

    The African diaspora spread very far. Its interesting though that when I speak with black people in Portuguese they get the picture very clear. When it comes to the lighter skinned individuals they tend to get a little offended. But, no matter how light your skin is… if you are Black, if you have Black ancestry you are Black. Case and point.

    P.S. Black is a term that is used by many African Americans but does not mean African American. Egyptians are refered to as Black but America did not exist back then.

    P.S.S. Africanisms in the Spanish of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican republic can be heard in their speech much the same as Africanisms in the Portuguese of Brasil. For example, cutting the s at the end of words or the es at the beginning of words is not poor pronunciation but an Africanism carried over from the Yoruba language.

    Posted by DanielReply
  33. It is a shame that we continue to find a way not to unify. We seem to find way to deny our family

    Posted by The Minister DCXReply
  34. I’m Puerto rican and I know that my ancestors come from the native American tribes…so are you saying that the indigenous people are also from Africa? So you’re basically saying that every single non-European or American person comes from Africa? All the indigenous people that was on our land before the Africans got there do not count? Or do indigenous descend from Africa? We are all descendants of Africa? there were no other people on our land until the Africans got there? That’s debatable. I’m all for our ancestors but they could have come from anywhere…

    Posted by AndyReply
    • Stop hating on Africans. It has been proven that everyone descended from Africa. There were black indigenous tribes here too in the Americas and not just the mongoloid Natives. Who the hell looks at an Olmec and see a mongoloid person? This is pure brainwashing and delusions.

      Posted by Kim BoReply
  35. A great and simple post. I am often questioned about my race because of how I look. Though my grandfather is Puerto Rican and my grandmother a hodgepodge of Italian/Black/Native American…I still feel uncomfortable trying to break down why I look the way I do. It’s always been easier to claim my race because that experience is one that I’ve been most well-versed in.
    It’s just a far too complicated explanation beyond, “I’m Black.”

    Posted by slsimmsReply
  36. Peace and Blessings be with you my Black Boricua

    Posted by Aqiyl AniysReply
  37. I believe that a crucial point to bring up in this discussion is the education of many African peoples today. The word itself “African” almost brings a look of disgust when I talk to people about race, especially with a person who is in fact- African. I say the word African referring to someone who is of my own race and people become offended. They believe there is a separation.

    I am also very careful on how I break my reasoning down to these people, I cannot attack a person who is miseducated because we were all brought up and conditioned to believe that just because we were American, Puerto Rican, or even of Caribbean descent – we were not African. But what is actually being done to educate our fellow brothers and sisters about this? Are we all not then left to be ignorant?

    I agree with a few of you in these comments, but honestly, many of you sound the same, throwing the name of a country around as if we do not all suffer under the same racial and social prejudices. So many arguments as to why and how- but it’s so very simple. In this system of racism and the people who control and benefit from it we have forgotten how to love ourselves. By ourselves I mean one another in the African race.

    Why does no one love me, when I am you?

    Being born with a deeper more rich complexion allows many children to endure teasing from their class mates about their skin tone and be judged throughout their life because of it. Many teachers do not stop this because they too were brought up in this same messed up system that tells you if you are lighter- you are better. I have friends who are Nigerian, when attending school in America would endure taunting from other African (black) students calling them an “African Booty Scratcher” In dating for example, can many of you honestly say that you wouldn’t rather date a light-skinned sister or brother than one who is dark skinned? When you look at me, realize that I am you, regardless of my skin tone and if you hate me because of my skin tone light or dark – you hate yourself and who we are as one people. I am not verbally challenging anyone with that statement but I am challenging them mentally to really think about the prejudices that we all hold against people of our own race.

    So that leaves us with, well what can we all do as a solution to this. Obviously a discussion puts it out there, but are we actually doing anything to change this perception within our communities? I read the Willie Lynch letter after college, by way of a friends mother handing the book to me. I cried and was angered, but not because of it’s contents- but because no one had ever- in in all my studies given be the book beforehand. I also cried for all my other African brothers and sisters who not only didn’t know about it, but would never get the chance to read it. I learned more about European history in school, than I did of my own. That book alone opened my eyes to our current situation as African people worldwide. It gave answers to actions, choices and lifestyles I did not understand. I began to understand the slaughter of our own culture, beliefs, education- we cannot even love one another. It’s a system set up so that we fail.

    I do believe it is up to each and every person to break their way out of this system- but how many of us have made it? And out of those of us who have– how many of us look back & pull another up?

    Posted by LysiiReply
  38. Kudos to Rosa! The only thing I would add is that all people have got to stop substituting ethnicity/national origin for race. Being Puerto Rican doesn’t make you any less black if you are indeed black. In America, yes we are all Americans but that doesn’t replace race. Interestingly, when I lived in NYC, I was struck by the number of Dominicans and a few Puerto Ricans who would ask me why identify as black. I’m African American, light complexion, curly hair, and hazel eyes–but that’s still black in America. I would ask them “what should I say?” The takeaway for me was that they were saying if we look “blacker” than you and you are saying that you’re black, then we have to be black. Lastly, race means something anywhere there was a slave trade…don’t get it confused:)! Best to all!

    P.S. There is a lot of chatter about this article on FB!

    Posted by LynReply
  39. Hey what about Brazil?? The lovely Miss Rosa forgot to mention our Brasilena bros and sis’s. But being an African American currently living in DR I completely and totally relate to this, and LOVE the message. I feel a sense of solidarity with the people here that I never felt before, and everyday I go against the grain and walk all around Santo Domingo proudly displaying my natural hair texture because I know it’s beautiful, and I wish more of them did too. A small protest, but a protest none the less. I love my people, no matter what continent their ancestors happened to be shipped to.

    Posted by ModernDayIsisReply
  40. I’m sorry. I’m a Puerto Rican woman who comes from a family of many shades. We cannot say we are black. We are a mixture of three races….Taino Indian, African and Spaniard. When Columbus first “discovered” Puerto Rico it was inhabited by the Taino Indian. Many were enslaved but many more killed themselves rather than be slaves. The Spaniards then brought in African slaves to work the island. We cannot say we are either of the three, but we are a beautiful mixture.

    Posted by LisaReply
    • http://www.realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/South_America_2.htm Educate yourself, some of the Natives in the Americas were actually blacks. “Most of the earliest black immigrants to the Americas were born in Spain and were not slaves, men such as Pedro Alonso Niño, a navigator who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his first voyage, and the black colonists who helped Nicolás de Ovando form the first Spanish settlement on Hispaniola in 1502. The name of Nuflo de Olano appears in the records as that of a black slave present when Vasco Núñez de Balboa sighted the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Other blacks served with Hernán Cortés when he conquered Mexico and with Francisco Pizarro when he marched into Peru.”

      Posted by Kim BoReply
  41. Great article. I agree that Blackness should be the prevalent assertion but it also should be balanced with the Hispanic/Latino side of self. Don’t dilute to “fit in with the ‘black folks.’” Be your ENTIRE self. You are different & that’s totally fine. Speaking as an African-American who attended a predominantly Latino/Hispanic high school, I get the disconnects and misconceptions. However, there must be some clarity driven home in order for there to be appropriate, valid respect given. The truth is that most African-Americans do not know. We are oblivious but the consistent education is not given or shared. It is automatically expected or required. No. As Afro-Latinos or whatever you identify yourselves to be, it is YOUR jobs to educate and enlighten. Assert & never stop asserting. Make it crystal clear for folks.

    Posted by K. HarrisReply
  42. Racial purity is not something typical of the Puerto Rican identity, be it Black, White, Indio or anything else. While the struggle of our dark-skinned Boricua sisters is undoubtedly existent, both because of skin color itself AND because of cultural identity dilemmas, it is not something that exists in a vacuum of uncut Blackness. As others have pointed out, as a people, we are primarily a blend of Taino, Spaniard, and African, with sprinklings of lineage from other countries such as France. In any ONE Puerto Rican family, you are likely to see strong representations of any and all of these racial/ethnic groups. It is not uncommon for one family to have a range from chocolate brown abuelas to blonde haired titis. To solely claim blackness is to toss aside your Taino-ness, your Spanish-ness, in essence, 2/3 of what constitutes Puerto Rican culture. Unless your family stayed in Luisa and never left, chances are your “blackness” was probably swirled with “whiteness” or “brown-ness” somewhere along the way. Even so, whether or not your specific family members exited a boat coming from Spain or Africa (or never boarded a ship at all) did not stop your family from becoming Puerto Rican. We speak the Spanish of Spaniards, all of us, “black,” “brown,” or “white.” We eat many delicious dishes adapted from the native Tainos, all of us, not just the “indio” Boricuas (pasteles, anyone? :-) ). We all swing our hips to the beat of “Spanish” music saturated with African influence, not just the “black” Puerto Ricans. We must not allow ourselves to be tricked into playing the very game of color we think we’re outsmarting; it feeds into the very system you claim to be bucking. At the end of the day, the “White Supremacists” want us to be having this discussion right now. It’s called divide and conquer. Please don’t get this misconstrued as I am not seeking to diminish the heavy burden born by my morenas or any persons of African descent..the struggle is real. Pero ud. no es sola, porque es BORICUA primera.

    Posted by Latina MuslimahReply
  43. As a mixed race person from South Africa whose parents left to get away from apartheid,the racial division, and conquer of all races, I know how they divide, they make one group of people feel that they have more privelige/rights than the other, and so the in fighting begins.
    I have light skin and green eyes, so I have been told many times, Im not really black, or not really African, and it is very sad that people feel the need to exclude others to say they are the only real black people. I can understand where this comes from if people want to get technical about skin colour, thats their choice, but it doesnt address the underlying problem of people putting labels on each other based purley on skin colour. Lets not disregard how we are all connected, as our rich cultures share similarities.
    Our experience of economic/social exclusion are issues we all face, and can change with unity, not division. Lets not repeat the mistakes of apartheid, where we divide ourselves into groups based on the labels that where thrust upon us by racists.
    And one other thing, if someone identifies with being black/african when they have it in their blood, what is the real issue, that its not visible in their skin tone? I mean fair enough to question or ask respectfully their background, but if the person is genuine, why exclude them when they are embracing their heritage?
    Mixed race people are always told you could “pass” as this or pass as that, wouldnt it be easier?
    Please acknowledge and respect the people who choose not to “pass” as anything, and are proud of their african/black descent, as there is nothing more heartbreaking than resisting societys pressure to deny your roots, so youre not accepted by certain white people, and then told by certain black people (not all), youre not accepted there either. Accept and embrace each others differences. Lets break the cycle people.

    Posted by Muma DoesaReply
  44. By the way, has anyone ever wondered why/how 80% of Puerto Ricans identified as “white” on the 2010 U.S. Census? Yet, the average Boricua is obviously a person of color with Taino Indian and African ancestry (as well as Spanish). Food for thought.

    Posted by BruceReply
  45. I appreciate the commentary.. Only have one question. With all of the respect given to African Ancestry is there some denial? “My ancestors are not descendants of Spain…” clearly, by looking in the mirror daily, are those ancestors not seen in the bloodline as well??

    Posted by JeannineReply
  46. That’s my point exactly. I think that people should be able to acknoweldge every part of their ancestry. I only mentioned the “one drop white rule” that pervades Latin America from colonial times because it is the exact antithesis of the “one drop black”rule” that pervades North America.

    Posted by BruceReply
  47. By the looks of some of these comments, I think that people are compounding the issue and overthinking it. This is truly out of control. Some people are claiming that “Blackness” should be identified amongst those who speak Spanish while others are saying “no, it should be Taino or PR or whatever. Not Black.” Word of Advice: Make Up Ya’ll Damn Minds & Quit Whining When You Don’t Get Your Way. The more confusion you create and perpetuate, the more ignorance would settled upon instead of education. I agree that the whole bloodline and ancestry should be culturally acknowledged but face it. If you have “Africa and African” in your bloodline, then You = Black. Period. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Brown-skinned. Asian looking. White/Caucasian looking. Whatever. Be proud & celebrate your diversity. Stop scapegoating & diluting. It’s not right…at all.

    Posted by Kamilah HReply
  48. I am an African woman who was born in South America and now lives in North America. I am so impressed by the article written by Rosa Clemente. It is not often that Africans in the Diaspora recognize and are proud of their Africanness. I really enjoyed reading what she wrote here.

    Posted by Murphy BrowneReply
  49. Even more important and Im not sure if anyone has mentioned yet, is that Afrikans travelled the world ALL BY THEMSELVES prior to the slave trade. They had boats and knew the trade winds and currents all across the world. See the ‘olmec head’ in South America, there are verified heiroglyphs in a cave in Australia from a North African travelling party as well as one of the pharaohs was buried with gold-plated boomerangs (presumably a gift from a tribal elder/king from the indigenous people of Australia).

    Countless more instances of Afrikans having far superior knowledge, wisdom, understanding and even technology (!) than so-called modern science and history will ever give credit for.

    Posted by jamesReply
  50. This is screaming to become a spoken word poem. Screaming.

    Posted by MelissaReply
  51. For all those trying to get the OP to deny being black remember 3 things:

    1. If you have African ancestors you are Black. Period.
    You don’t have to be 100% Black to be considered Black. Hell, there is not a single African american that is 100% black. Most African American genes are composed of anywhere between 33%-40% European (mostly Portuguese and Spanish because slaves were shipped to Cartagena and other south american ports before going to the US) ancestry and 10-15% American Indian Ancestry.

    For this fact alone Blacks in America can by your own definition call themselves white, or Spanish, or Portuguese. But, they choose not too. If the OP wants to consider herself Black she has the ancestry to prove it just as valid as any African American.

    2. Africans (negroid and non-negroid originals) come in many shades. there are albino negroid, their are extremely Dark skinned Negroids their are lighter skinned (caramel colored) negroid. this is all natural. therefore, saying based on skin color alone that one may not claim black heritage is ludicrous. Their are Blacks with natural red hair in Africa. Africa is a large continent. but, even if you were to speak specifically about west Africa the diversity in African skin tone and facial structure is enormous (this excludes features introduced by Europeans in the later half of the 19th century).

    There are common facial features and a generally darker skin tone but these cannont be the sole basis to judge whether one is black or not.

    3. Divide and conquer. Whether one is Black or not, claiming to be black and loving black heritage adds yet another ally to the struggle for equality. In the end Black moors (moor meaning dark skinned) occupied europe from 714bc to 1429bc if I remember correctly. so all europeans in a way have Black in them. not to mention Hannibal and his invasion of Sicily. There are more metizzo and Black people in the world than you think. Rosa clemente here however, is clearly black.

    Posted by DanielReply
  52. You know some of us who are white feel more black than white, and are not accepted in either community. Try that for color.

    Posted by EmilyReply
  53. Ms. Clemente,

    Although you’re comfortable with your African ancestry, the majority of the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who move to the United States do not identify with their African ancestry.

    This article would be more effective if it was placed in a Hispanic news journal, particularly one published in Puerto Rico.

    You don’t need to educate African Americans about color, we have accepted people of all colors. We’ve done it since the inception of this country, when we founded it through slave labor.

    However, the question is, do you feel entitled to the benefits and programs that have been allocated for African Americans? The so called “Blacks.”

    The problem that African Americans have, it isn’t your color, it is the lack of consistency demonstrated by Afro Latinos. For every article published like this, there are another several thousand who’ll state that they’re Indio or that they have roots in Spain. This is accompanied by a hatred for African Americans.

    You don’t need to proclaim your African ancestry in the United States. You need to start with the education of Puerto Ricans.

    In addition, although you’re of African ancestry, you’re NOT entitled to the programs that have been allocated for African Americans.

    It would be like me moving to Puerto Rico, and writing an article proclaiming to be Latino because I speak Spanish. Then demanding that I’m entitled to programs allocated to Afro Latinos because I’m of African ancestry and I speak Spanish.

    African Americans, were classified as ‘Black’ and a counter culture was formed. You’re not Black.

    You’re definitely of African ancestry! Definitely not entitled to any of the scholarships and programs allocated towards African Americans, who you refer to as Black.

    The miseducation of the AFRO LATINO is in effect.

    Posted by Clarke IllmaticalReply
    • Clarke, That is the most dumbest, bigoted post on this topic that I have ever read. You are misrepresenting African-Americans and people of African ancestry. Let the truth be told. You are no authority or expert on who is considered legitimate or illegitimately “African-American.” That’s #1. Second, Afro-Latinos are also Americans. If they were born on American soil and are of both African and Latin/Hispanic descent, that’s makes them American. Thereby, being entitled to all things African-American because they just as much African-American as we are. Such a BS claim like the one you made is like saying, “you are not of Native American ancestry so you are not entitled to American anything because you are technically not of native descent.” That’s stupid.

      Third, African-Americans are just as bigoted as everybody else and to claim that “African-Americans don’t need education on color” goes to demonstrate the very idiocy that Ms. Clemente was talking about. Ditzy crap. Everybody born on American soil is entitled to all things American. Yes, including African American scholarships and programs. Ever heard of the “non-discrimination clause?” By the looks of it, you are ignorant to that, too. All in all, the only miseducated one about anything African-American, of African ancestry, and that which is Afro-Latino is you. Miseducation from the Village Idiot is in full effect.

      Posted by Kamilah HReply
      • @Kamilah H

        Instead responding with a barrage of pejoratives, identify what makes you an authority?

        Afro Latinos; the ones in the United States, they’re Americans. Does this mean that they’re entitled to programs and scholarships allocated to another ethnic group?


        Are they American? Absolutely.

        African American’s don’t need an education on who is Black. African Americans come in all colors; high yellow to dark brown.

        What is needed is consistency from the Afro Latino community. In addition, what is also needed is Pan Africanism. No one in the African American community would doubt that the writer is of African descent. The problem, is that too many members of the Afro Latino community (Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans) deny their African ancestry.

        Instead of name calling, I suggest that you do more reading. Try the following publications:

        Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic (New World Diasporas)
        Black behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops
        Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico

        These books are a good start; identifying the fact that many Afro Latinos deny their African ancestry.

        When you find the time to stop name calling and actually perform research, you’d come to understand that in North America; the word “Black” was specifically and intentionally used for African Americans. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the media still referred to African Americans as nubians.

        I suggested that the author of this article, she enlighten the Afro Latino community. Although this author is somewhat conscious; she is targeting the wrong group. This article would be of greater service for the Afro Latino community, preferably newspapers in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic where dark skinned Afro Latinos endure sustained racism.

        As as African American who has lived amongst the Afro Latino community for nearly a decade; lived in Brazil and speaks Spanish at an intermediate level, there is a strong resentment for Morenos and African Americans in general. I’m not exaggerating, but after performing my own research, I’ve learned why. Again, those books I’ve shared, they’ll help.

        However, African Americans have to adjust their thinking. We’re not the sole authority on Blackness. But you have to understand, that in North America, we are. No group of Africans was more influential than the AMERICAN NEGRO during the 20th century. Our struggle was known worldwide. Our story still hasn’t been fully told because we’re still learning so much about who we are.

        The author speaks about the slave trade, but she and so many hundreds of millions of people fail to realize this: There were Africans already in what is known as the Caribbean and the Americas.

        African Americans know you guys are “Black!” We know this, but this message needs to be disseminated in New York City, in the Dominican and Puerto Rican neighborhoods where young men and women; whose skin is dark chocolate, they’ll tell you that “they’re not Black; they’re Indio.”

        Where things become ambiguous; or the problem that I’ve had with Afro Latinos is a lack of consistency.

        If government programs are allocated to a certain ethnic group, then that specific ethnic group should be the beneficiaries.

        Since you’re American, you’re entitled to scholarships allocated for African Americans? At African American universities? You have the right as an American to attend; but this qualifies you as an African American?

        If President Obama allocates funding for Latinos; does this mean that African Americans who speak Spanish have a sense of entitlement for Latino programs?


        The “non-discrimination clause” has absolutely nothing to do with funding allocated for specific ethnic groups.

        It’s obvious that my reply to the author, it struck a nerve. However, I agree with the last sentence. You identified yourself — perfectly.

        Afro Latinos: African Americans already know who you are. We’re just looking for consistency, solidarity and unity.

        Are you Black or of African Ancestry. Absolutely, and be proud. This is something that makes you special and is something that can strengthen the bond between African Americans and Afro Latinos.

        Are you African American? Negative.

        Where African Americans the most visible and influential group of Africans in North America? Yes. We still are.

        We’re the cofounders of the United States of America.

        • No. It’s not a “barrage of pejoratives.” It’s simple fact based on the crap you posted as if you were authority and expert when clearly you are not. That’s first & foremost.

          Secondly, you clearly do not know what a “non-discriminatory clause” is. It does not matter if a program (scholarship or otherwise) established is geared towards 1 group or another. Americans of all colors are entitled to the opportunity to apply and be awarded or granted membership and/or reward if eligible and qualified. That’s for anything including African-American scholarships and programs.Nobody can discriminate. I don’t care what you think or believe but that’s law.

          Third, clearly African-Americans need education on who is Black and who is not. You are a clear example of someone needing that education because an Afro-Latino American is still African-American. You just proved my point by saying that “African-Americans come in all colors; high yellow to dark brown.” Heck, you proved Ms. Clemente’s point. If Latin, White, or any other ethnicity/heritage is in an African-American’s lineage and bloodline, that does not strip them of their blackness. Having African and Hispanic ancestry, blood along with being native to the USA makes them African-American. Period.

          Next… All of the following is contradictory to your original post. Very. “What is needed is consistency from the Afro Latino community. In addition, what is also needed is Pan Africanism. No one in the African American community would doubt that the writer is of African descent. The problem, is that too many members of the Afro Latino community (Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans) deny their African ancestry.” You never said or implied this. You made the claim that if they are American, then they are not African-American. You also stated a false claim that “too many Afro-Latinos deny their African ancestry.” What makes you so sure considering that you are quick to strip Afro-Latino Americans of their blackness? You have yet to prove me wrong.

          Further on…Reading your suggested reading will not be proof that you’re right. In fact, I may find out how much more wrong you are. Don’t assume that I need to read more because I have read enough to know how wrong you are already. It’s not “name-calling” when you are actually embodying the named called through everything you say and think in real time. Also, books are written by humans with biases. I doubt that your sources are objective on this. They are quick to make such claims, assertions, dictations, and assumptions about people just like you have done here.

          FYI: I can read for myself. I don’t need your commentary or opinions on what you claim the authors were saying through their writings. Thank you very much.

          “As an African American who has lived amongst the Afro Latino community for nearly a decade; lived in Brazil and speaks Spanish at an intermediate level, there is a strong resentment for Morenos and African Americans in general. I’m not exaggerating, but after performing my own research, I’ve learned why. Again, those books I’ve shared, they’ll help.” You call this “help?” Really? The guy who says that African-Americans with Latino backgrounds should not be entitled to all things African-American. Laughable.

          Next part I’m replying to….”If government programs are allocated to a certain ethnic group, then that specific ethnic group should be the beneficiaries.

          Since you’re American, you’re entitled to scholarships allocated for African Americans? At African American universities? You have the right as an American to attend; but this qualifies you as an African American?”

          That assertion is simply opinion. That’s what you think. Do I think this? No. I agree with the law. There should be no discrimination, period. In answer to your questions, 1) Yes and No. I’m not entitled allocation automatically. What I am entitled is the opportunity to apply and be eligible for reception of allocation. If the entities award me that allocation whether I am African-American or not, I should receive it as advertised the receiver would. 2) Wherever. HBCUs or Non-HBCUs. 3) No but the case at hand is Afro-Latino Americans. Thus, African-Americans. If I am of African descent and ancestry born in the USA no matter what I am mixed with or color my skin is, that constitutes me as African-American. Period.

          “If President Obama allocates funding for Latinos; does this mean that African Americans who speak Spanish have a sense of entitlement for Latino programs?” Well, they should. They are just as entitled to apply for those allocations. Whether or not they actually receive them is another story but the entitlement is there and if they receive those funds or entry into those programs based on qualification/eligibility and acceptance, then so be it. Good for them.

          “The “non-discrimination clause” has absolutely nothing to do with funding allocated for specific ethnic groups.” That is a lie because application and eligibility/qualification is key. If all of those things are met, then based on the clause, the applicants cannot be denied without just cause. It cannot be due to the fact they are of a different demographic, psychographic, or geography especially under federal law. Requirements and criteria, themselves, may vary where people could be weeded out, so to speak, but if the requirements and criteria do not, then that clause absolutely is enforced no matter the ethnic or other group. Thus, the entitlement.

          Lastly, my reply to your last part … “It’s obvious that my reply to the author, it struck a nerve. However, I agree with the last sentence. You identified yourself — perfectly.

          Afro Latinos: African Americans already know who you are. We’re just looking for consistency, solidarity and unity.

          Are you Black or of African Ancestry. Absolutely, and be proud. This is something that makes you special and is something that can strengthen the bond between African Americans and Afro Latinos.

          Are you African American? Negative.

          Where African Americans the most visible and influential group of Africans in North America? Yes. We still are.

          We’re the cofounders of the United States of America.”

          Listen, it struck a nerve because you misrepresented African-Americans. I am African-American and you are no authority on this at all. You came on here and showed bigotry. It was not a name call. It was clearly an observation of an issue that had to be addressed and the person behind it, you, had to be called out.

          No, African-Americans don’t know who Afro-Latinos are on average. That is a false statement. Stop lying. We don’t know it all. We are not experts on the cultures of Afro-Latinos, their plights, etc. No, you are not the ambassador of all African-Americans and cannot speak for all African-Americans. You can only speak for yourself.

          “Are you Black or of African Ancestry. Absolutely, and be proud. This is something that makes you special and is something that can strengthen the bond between African Americans and Afro Latinos.”

          Funny how you tried to question me on whether or not I’m an authority but here you are making claims, assertions, assumptions, and dictations. You keep proving me right. Afro-Latinos don’t need your stamp of approval in order to be Black and proud. They don’t need your semantics in order to be Black or of African ancestry when all proof and evidence clearly shows that they are. Get over yourself.

          “Are you African American? Negative.” I rest my case. Continued to be proven right. Yes, they are. If an Afro-Latino is native to the USA, then he/she is African-American. Period. Don’t care what you think and where you got your notions from. Your opinion is simply belief/faith, meaning assertion with no evidence/proof that exist or supports it.

          Yes, Africans, not just African-Americans, considering that we came here via the slave trade actually help co-found the United States of America. No need to think Afro-Latino Americans are oblivious to African-American history/chronology. Yet, you keep showing yourself to be bigoted and arrogant. To you, I continuously say you have proven me right about you.

          Posted by Kamilah HReply
  54. Throughout my years of studying and reading up on one of the most progressive periods in U.S. history 950’2, 60′s & early 70′s) besides the Reconstruction period for Blacks, OUR plight has been revealed as identical as we are ONE. The more I have read, is to realize that we are interconnected. To be anything other than that, shows a complete ignorance as to one’s identity. Which subsequently places us further from our ultimate objective of uniting. Rosa, continue to agitate, empower and enlighten, as this message resonates with us as a movement and is tried, proven and battle tested. Peace Sis!!!

    Posted by Ricky "G"Reply
    • Well said

      Posted by The Minister DCXReply
  55. To tell the truth everyone on the planet has African-Black DNA. Tests have been done on all types of people in the world and the third element in everyone’s DNA is African and it cannot be erased no matter what your ethnicity this information is the true case in all cases. I am not trying to be smart, but through my studies I learned this information through research as an African American and African Studies graduate and degree person.

    Posted by QueenJeanneReply
  56. Thank you for saying this. I grew up in Chicago and went to high school with primarily Mexican & Puerto Rican Americans. It was very obvious to me in high school, that there was a difference between the two; the features, the skin complexion and figures. However, Puerto Ricans continually felt like they were not blended one bit. THere was not other ethnic influence in their culture whatsoever. While Mexicans praised their Native American culture, there was no acknowledgment of the African influence in Puerto Rico and it was confusing to me.
    For a while, I had to understand that similar to Dominican’s there is a greater need to embrace their nationalism. Maybe that is why they have so much pride in their country while at the same time, not acknowledging the various historical influences that played a significant part. I”m part Guyanese (African/Indian) it is abundantly obvious in my genes, my complexion, my thick but curly (African) hair. However, I enjoy embraces it all. I hope somebody other groups, like Puerto Ricans will be comfortable doing the same.

    Posted by jdReply
  57. These comments are empowering and although I don’t agree with many of the comments or some of the author’s perspectives I appreciate the dialogue.

    I am a brown skinned woman and my daughter is light skinned. She is asked all the time if she is bi-racial or mixed with something. Her Dad’s family is from Trinidad but what difference does that make, they are black people too. Our people suffer from a intense form of low self-esteem and when we look at other nationalities that could be considered black, hair texture is curly or resembles ‘white hair’ African American blacks don’t consider you black because of that. To be fair, those particular attributes are favored in our society and has a lot to do with why Puerto Ricans, Latino’s etc. aren’t associated with being black. I agree with one of the posts that this argument needs to be had in the Puerto Rican and other communities that deny their black ancestries.

    Unfortunately the post in which the woman says she was a “real black woman” wan obviously insensitive and in poor taste there is some truth entangled in there. The sentiments of this statement is that when a brown skinned woman walks in the room and here hair is a certain texture and the inflections in your voice or different than the main stream you are automatically seen as “black” and of course those sentiments aren’t positive.

    That is why a lot of black people aren’t accepting of the author’s ideas because of the indifference we are shown by these communities. It’s a complicated situation and hopefully the next generation will become less polluted with these dysfunctional generational ideas.

    Posted by JeneReply
  58. Great article Ms. Clemente. Knowledge is POWER! I read and watched a great documentary by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr called Black in Latin America that shed a great degree of light in the African Diaspora. I higly recommend it.

    Posted by JOSEReply
  59. I’m going to agree with you regarding the slave trade and you are of African decent…. That is as far as you may have anything in common with the African in America…. You may have experience some racism and prejudices, but non like the African in America…. Before you say we have all experienced the same… Stop and THINK, FEEL and attempt to RELATE to the DESCENDANTS of those SLAVES…. What you see in the STREETS TODAY, the HURTS and the PAINS of OUR BROTHERS ans SISTERS are EVIDENT…. There is NOT ONE Group on the PLANET Experiencing this SELF HATRED because of SLAVERY in AMERICA. The White Supremacist has WORKED OUR MINDS OVER to the POINT MOST FEAR that the DAMAGE is IRREVERSIBLE.

    Posted by Terrance MasseyReply
  60. The only problem is that there is to much racism in America(from both blacks and whites). I com from Suriname and the only thing i can say is that being BLACK is not being a NEGRO. The word Black go for all that is NOT white. All the Latino islands have African diaspora!!

    Posted by JessicaReply
  61. Thank you! Ashe

    Posted by Andre L. SmithReply
  62. This is an important discussion of solidarity, black is a term we use that is all-inclusive unlike African American, or Afro-American, when all black people are not American. The term black includes people from all over the African diaspora. Black is earthy and natural, it is not about skin color, it is the color of fertile earth, and it depicts people who are indigenous to the earth and who are rooted in it. All around the globe there are black people of all shades, the term black encompasses all of us as one community, no longer separate tribes. Although I never ask a person how they choose to self-identify, we are all human and I don’t judge, personally like you I am proud to be black. It is also the best term that describes our “experience” in the diaspora, it is through this bleak experience we have become survivors! We have made what was bad, good. We have changed ashes into beauty, Black is beautiful! My sister.

    Oh and my maternal mtDNA full sequence maternal DNA test matches Puerto Rico too!

    Posted by vickieReply
  63. Puerto Rico represent a cultural and racial mix. During the early 18-century, the Spaniard in order to populate the country took Taino Indian women as brides. Later on as labor was needed to maintain crops and build roads, African slaves were imported, followed by the importation of Chinese immigrants, then continued with the arrival of Italians, French, German, and even Lebanese people. Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States in 1898 and many American expatriates came to the island. Long after Spain had lost control of Puerto Rico, Spanish immigrants continued to arrive on the island. The most significant new immigrant population arrived in the 1960s, when thousands of Cubans fled from Fidel Castro’s Communist state. The latest arrivals to Puerto Rico have come from the economically depressed Dominican Republic.

    Ethnic Composition:

    White 75.8%, black/African American 12.4%, other 8.5% (includes American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, and others), mixed 3.3%
    99% of the population is Latino (2010 est.)
    The racial composition of Puerto Rico’s population has not changed significantly. The first census by the United States in 1899 reported a population of 953,243 inhabitants, 61.8% of them classified as white, 31.9% as mixed, and 6.3% as black.

    Posted by sadReply

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