20% European, 50% Black, and 100% False
Dr. Henry Louis Gates undoubtedly has made some profound contributions to black studies, thus making him a premier scholar. However, he needs to go somewhere with his reification of biology as a signifcant indicator for ethnicity/identity. Such arguments or foci will continue to stimulate (as it has historically) problematic notions of racial purity or impurity à la social darwinism and eugenics.
According to his series on PBS, “Finding Your Roots,” Boricua-Dominicana Michelle Rodríguez is allegedly “African-American.” Um, no, her ancestors, like many from the Caribbean and elsewhere in this hemisphere, were probably enslaved West or Central Africans or black maroons. Simply put, Africa-descended peoples in Latin America, even after they migrate to the United States, do not automatically become “African-American.” Such is a U.S. construct to describe those who are descended from enslaved peoples from Africa or those who are either migrants from that continent or Latin America who assimilated and identify with the latter group (e.g. Marcus Garvey and Stokley Carmichael). The history of identity formation in the U.S. that either challenged or accepted the imagined black-white racial binary is more complex than my presentation, but ya’ll get the gist.
I also find his quantifying of ethnicity problematic. What exactly is a “20% European 50% Black” person? Again, such statements assume that there is this racial purity with a temporal origin that was somehow diluted by external factors. We must remind ourselves that who we might consider European today would not have been centuries ago, like Sephardic Jews or the Turks.
Identity, race, and ethnicity are all social constructs often explained by biology, however, it is a dangerous vehicle used in order to justify social, economic, and political exclusion. This is not to ignore that biological inquiries might present to us some interesting patterns in human migration and settlement, but make no mistake, we - as communities of people - produce the meanings, symbols, and narratives that construct a sense of cultural identity that sometimes become synonymous with ethnicity and race (depending on the geographic and historical context). In other words, Michele Rodríguez is a Boricua-Dominicana from New York City - a woman of multiple diasporas - and imposing a racial numerical value flattens and falsifies her identity.
All the rubbish that had accumulated along East 110th St. was dumped into the middle of the street. At 111th and Lexington Ave., the people turned over several abandoned cars and set them afire.
Hundreds of nervous cops arrived on the scene. When they dragged Ildefenso Santiago out of his car and took him to the precinct house, reportedly on suspicion of burglary (they found a screwdriver in his car), the people retaliated by filling the streets with more trash, cars, old refrigerators, and any thing else they could find. It began to look like a repeat of the 1967 summer riot in which at least two people were killed and scores injured in street fighting with cops.
At this point, members of the YLO stepped in to work with the people. They organized a march to the precinct house where Santiago was being held. Chanting “Viva Puerto Rico!”, “Power to the People!”, and “Off the Pig!”, nearly 300 people marched to the 126th St police station to demand Santiago’s release. Within half an hour, he was free and the crowd carried him back to his car on their shoulders.
The way Felipe put it at the rally was that we’re building our own community. “Don’t fuck with us. It’s as simple as that.”"
The 13 Point Program of the Young Lords
I’ve been making posts about organizations that focused on organizing the lumpenproletariat this week, with several posts on the Young Lords and Black Panthers. I wrote a comparison of the Young Lords 13 point program with the Black Panthers on my blog, as well as a short history of the role of women in changing the program:
Here is the 1970 revised program:
1. We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans—Liberation of the Island and inside the United States.For 500 years, first spain and then united states have colonized our country. Billions of dollars in profits leave our country for the united states every year. In every way we are slaves of the gringo. We want liberation and the Power in the hands of the People, not Puerto Rican exploiters. Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
2. We want self-determination for all Latinos. Our Latin Brothers and Sisters, inside and outside the united states, are oppressed by amerikkkan business. The Chicano people built the Southwest, and we support their right to control their lives and their land. The people of Santo Domingo continue to fight against gringo domination and its puppet generals. The armed liberation struggles in Latin America are part of the war of Latinos against imperialism. Que Viva La Raza!
3. We want liberation of all third world people. Just as Latins first slaved under spain and the yanquis, Black people, Indians, and Asians slaved to build the wealth of this country. For 400 years they have fought for freedom and dignity against racist Babylon (decadent empire). Third World people have led the fight for freedom. All the colored and oppressed peoples of the world are one nation under oppression. No Puerto Rican Is Free Until All People Are Free!
4. We are revolutionary nationalists and oppose racism. The Latin, Black, Indian and Asian people inside the u.s. are colonies fighting for liberation. We know that washington, wall street and city hall will try to make our nationalism into racism; but Puerto Ricans are of all colors and we resist racism. Millions of poor white people are rising up to demand freedom and we support them. These are the ones in the u.s. that are stepped on by the rules and the government. We each organize our people, but our fights are against the same oppression and we will defeat it together. Power To All Oppressed People!
5. We want equality for women. Down with machismo and male chauvinism. Under capitalism, women have been oppressed by both society and our men. The doctrine of machismo has been used by men to take out their frustration on wives, sisters, mothers, and children. Men must fight along with sisters i the struggle for economic and social equality and must recognize that sisters make up over half of the revolutionary army: sister and brothers are equals fighting for our people. Forward Sisters in the Struggle!
6. We want community control of our institutions and land. We want control of our communities by our people and programs to guarantee that all institutions serve the needs of our people. People’s control of police, health services, churches, schools, housing, transportation and welfare are needed. We want an end to attacks on our land by urban removal, highway destruction, universities and corporations. Land Belongs To All The People!
7. We want a true education of our Creole culture and Spanish language. We must learn our history of fighting against cultural, as well as economic genocide by the yanqui. Revolutionary culture, culture of our people, is the only true teaching.
8. We oppose capitalists and alliances with traitors. Puerto Rican rulers, or puppets of the oppressor, do not help our people. They are paid by the system to lead our people down blind alleys, just like the thousands of poverty pimps who keep our communities peaceful for business, or the street workers who keep gangs divided and blowing each other away. We want a society where the people socialistically control their labor. Venceremos!
9. We oppose the Amerikkkan military. We demand immediate withdrawal of u.s. military forces and bases from Puerto Rico, Vietnam and all oppressed communities inside and outside the u.s. No Puerto Rican should serve in the u.s. army against his Brothers and Sisters, for the only true army of oppressed people is the people’s army to fight all rulers. U.S. Out Of Vietnam, Free Puerto Rico!
10. We want freedom for all political prisoners. We want all Puerto Ricans freed because they have been tried by the racist courts of the colonizers, and not by their own people and peers. We want all freedom fighters released from jail. Free All Political Prisoners!
11. We are internationalists. Our people are brainwashed by television, radio, newspapers, schools, and books to oppose people in other countries fighting for their freedom. No longer will our people believe attacks and slanders, because they have learned who the real enemy is and who their real friends are. We will defend our Brothers and Sisters around the world who fight for justice against the rich rulers of this country. Que Viva Che Guevara!
12. We believe armed self-defense and armed struggle are the only means to liberation. We are opposed to violence—the violence of hungry children, illiterate adults, diseased old people, and the violence of poverty and profit. We have asked, petitioned, gone to courts, demonstrated peacefully, and voted for politicians full of empty promises. But we still ain’t free. The time has come to defend the lives of our people against repression and for revolutionary war against the businessman, politician, and police. When a government oppresses our people, we have the right to abolish it and create a new one. Boricua Is Awake! All Pigs Beware!
13. We want a socialist society. We want liberation, clothing, free food, education, health care, transportation, utilities, and employment for all. We want a society where the needs of our people come first, and where we give solidarity and aid to the peoples of the world, not oppression and racism. Hasta La Victoria Siempre!