Afro-Latinos at TransAfrica - Washington
Keepers of the
culture from Columbia and Venezuela were in Washington last Thursday to
talk about the current conditions of African descendants living in the
two South American countries. “Language has
separated us,” said Marino Cordoba of Columbia to the mostly
Anglo-African (English-speaking Black) crowd at the K Street, NW
offices of TransAfrica,
the leading African-American lobbying group for the African diaspora.
“We need to learn each others language,” he continued.
Photo: African-American Nicole C. Lee, TransAfrica Executive
Director with African-Columbian Marino Cordoba
also called for the support of U.S. House Resolution 618, sponsored by
Congressional Black Caucus member Donald Payne (D-NJ). The
resolution calls for the Columbian government to do more to end the
discrimination, marginalization and violence against Columbians of
African descent. Cordoba, who had to flee his birth country after
being threatened by the paramilitary, now works for a Latino advocacy
group in suburban Washington.
Cordoba were Jesus Garcia, the editor of the journal Africamerica, and
Geronimo Sanchez-Garcia, a faculty member of the Instituto Universitaro
de Barlovento, one of the few historically Black institutions in Latin
America. The later two are from Venezuela, whose President
recently made an historic announcement that indicated the historic debt
Venezuelan society owes the descendants of enslaved Africans.
Unlike the American constitution that defined Africans as 3/5 of a
being (in ancient Egyptian logic five represented a whole human), many
Latin countries never legally defined race. Thereforem Garcia
sees this as an “advance,” and, ironically, is seeking constitutional
recognition of African-Venezuelans.
group of more than 40 who gathered for the session included several
multilingual Howard University professors and Jonathan French who had
just arrived from Paris for the opening of a photography exhibit that
includes his work and featured in past issues of Port of Harlem. Also, in the
audience were French, Spanish, and Wolof speakers from Trinidad and
Tabago, Panana, Senegal, and several other countries, who dined on
African American cuisine. The light menu included fried chicken,
fried fish, green beans, cornbread, sweet potatoes, and macaroni and
cheese. “The food was good,” added Cordoba.