AFRICANGLOBE – Black-Americans and Afro-Latinos share a common history that is rarely discussed yet stands visibly connected and untouched. Throughout the United States there are Black-Americans that can pass for Afro-Latinos physically and throughout the afro-populations of Central and South America are Afro-Latinos that can pass for Black-Americans.
Culture, nationalism and language have kept them separated over a five hundred year span through colonialistic rule and indoctrination. The rich history of Black-Americans is highly documented, discussed and revered by the world but their Afro-Latin counterparts in Central and South America still stand as an untold story and mystery to most. A connection of the ancestral dots between Black-Americans and Afro-Latinos is easy; it starts on the western shores of Africa, which is widely known as the continent of modern man’s forefathers.
Elmina Castle, Goree Island, and James Island are all slave ports or “doors of no return” that the ancestors of Black-Americans and Afro-Latinos passed through before their horrific transport across the Atlantic to the Americas and the Caribbean. Some, still standing today, have become tourist attractions but still remain tainted with the blood, sorrows and tears of millions of Africans who had no idea where they were being taken nor for what purpose.
Today, few Black-Americans nor Afro-Latinos remember this ancestral commonality but its there and can’t be refuted, misplaced or debated. Their individual contributions to their cultures have stuck out like the quintessential sore thumb and shed light on the African roots they both possess.
Like a fork in the road, the maritime paths of the ancestors of Afro-Latinos and Black-Americans split when slave ships entered what is known now as the Caribbean Sea. Human cargo was shipped north to the shores of Savannah, Georgia or New Orleans, Louisiana two of the biggest entry points of newly shipped slaves. Others, were dropped in “every” country in the Caribbean where sugar production was amassing unseen wealth for European countries.
Brazil received the largest influx of enslaved African labor in South America because of its massive cultivation of sugar. It’s estimated that Brazil alone received over five million enslaved Africans between the 16th and 19th centuries which was almost half of the entire expatriated population. This is probably why Brazil has the highest Black population in the world today outside of Africa with the United States as third followed closely by Colombia as fourth.
The spreading of Africans all over, or the African Diaspora, helped create peoples that are known today as Afro-Colombians, Afro-Peruvians, Afro-Chileans, Afro-Venezuelans, Afro-Paraguayans, Afro-Uruguayans, Afro-Puerto Ricans, Afro-Bolivians, Afro-Ecuadorians, Afro-Mexicans, and yes Black-Americans. All, have contributed overwhelmingly to the monetary gain and establishment of their perspective countries but still remain at the bottom of its social order financially, politically, and educationally.
It’s hard to fathom that’s coincidental.
Both, Black-Americans and Afro-Latinos, were denied education for centuries to keep them from social progress in any form; evidence of this denial is easily seen by the condition of barrios and ghettos throughout the Americas and the people who reside within them. One uneducated generation has nothing to pass to the next but its language, culture and religious beliefs which are the basics we learn in life.
Today, we know education to be the route to success financially and socially so in a sense it’s easy to see why today these groups remain in poverty and subject to the status of lower classes in their societies. Many, not all, Afro-Latinos remain oblivious to their own history or its connection to Black-Americans due to poor education and a disassociation from Africa coupled by an association to the nationalistic pride of their own country.
The individual histories of Black-Americans and Afro-Latinos remain miniscule in the educational curriculums of their countries. Yet, both remain intricate parts of their societies and its social order throughout the Americas. A dialogue between the two groups seems appropriate considering the almost identical tribulations both have endured throughout history. The barrier of language can be broken given a concerted effort between both parties to address their almost identical issues and similar triumphs.
By: Reginald Jones