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 December 5, 2016   Issue #15
Es Mi Cultura wishes you the best during this season. 
May you experience lots of love, laughter, and joy!
Aleichia Williams is a writer, student, traveler, and lifestyle blogger. She blogs for HuffPost Latino Voices and her website aleichia.com. Aleichia also maintains a Youtube channel which she updates regularly. Aleichia will be featured in Oxford University's Introduction to Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Book in 2017. Her upbringing in New York plays a fundamental role in her career as a writer and in her understanding of culture. She is a Honduran Garifuna and a proud Afro-Latina. This fuels her writing and her identity in an ever-changing world.

Aleichia is currently working on her novel, while blogging often and updating her YouTube channel regularly.
"As an Afro-Latina in the U.S. I have had a very unique experience compared to that of my friends who aren’t afro-latinos. My identity allows me to connect and empathize with various groups who are often overlooked in our society. For example, because I am American born and black I am marginalized in similar ways as other African Americans. I've been discriminated against by those who only see me for the skin I live in. But I’m also the child of an immigrant, which means I know firsthand about the struggle of leaving your home country to work towards a better future and an ‘American dream.’"
Joel Maisonet Photography
Dominican born, Puerto Rico and Chicago raised blogger Anyiné (ann-yee-neh) “Angie” Galván-Rodríguez, identifies herself as an Afro-Latina. Her journey as a blogger began in 2013 when she decided to share her experience as she transitioned from relaxed hair to fully natural hair curls. What began as a “naturalista" bilingual blog about her natural hair journey inspired by her daughter and hair product reviews, flourished into a pathway to embracing and confirming her identity as an Afro-Latina. Her blog, AfroLatina Natural, is a personal exploration of her personal experience of being an Afro-Latino/a in the USA. In addition to sharing hair product reviews for natural curly hair and encouraging more Latinas to go natural, she continues to share her experiences through an Afro-Latina lens.  Ultimately, she hopes to increase awareness of the Afro-Latino community in the USA and Latin America.
 
Anyiné is a writer at heart and a teacher by day. With a B.A. in Spanish literature and Latin America studies as well as a Master’s in Education, she is able to share her passion of Latin American Culture and the Spanish language with students from various backgrounds. When she is not teaching, spending time with her loved ones or writing for her blog, she enjoys writing poetry and monologues. She is currently working on a project which soon will be her first book published book.
"It was summer 2012, during one of my visits to "Los Tres Brazos", one of the most impoverished communities in the city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  For many, it may not seem like the most pleasant place to be - compared to all the beautiful tourist sites in Dominican Republic. However, to me it’s home away from home.  

School had already started and while sitting in the front steps of my grandmother's house, I asked my cousin why there were children hanging out in the streets rather than being in school. He mentioned to me that many poor families don't have enough resources to send children with backpacks and school supplies so they’d rather not send them until they gather the money. Being a teacher, I knew I had to do something! I looked at how fortunate I was to have had the opportunities in the US. I saw myself in those kids and it broke my heart because I knew I could have been one of them. It was at that moment when this journey of giving back began. 

At the moment, Two cities One world became my personal community service project. My hope is to one day officially develop it into a non-for-profit organization. This will allow it to grow and help service more kids in Dominican Republic and other urban cities in Latin America. It’s definitely a hard task but with the help of others I believe it’s attainable." 
"My preference to use Afro-Latina to represent my ethnic background. To me, using the term Afro-Latina as means of defining my identity is a political and cultural statement. To say I am Afro-Latina is to proudly give tribute to our African ancestors in the Americas. It is a tribute to Afro-Latinas in the history that worked tirelessly to be recognized even when the world was not ready to deem them worthy of praise or recognition solely because the color of their skin.

To say I am Afro-Latina is to intentionally share with the world I embrace my strength, resiliency, intelligence and beauty as a black Latina. To say I am Afro-Latina is to say I am proud to showcase my big lips, kinks, brown skin and the inability to control the excitement when I hear the beat of a drum. I identify myself as an Afro-Latina because I refuse to conform to labels that do not truly define me as a whole. I am naturally, proudly and unapologetically… Afro-Latina." 
I was born and raised in Manhattan, specifically Washington Heights. I grew up primarily around Hispanic/LatinX people so I always identified myself as a "Spanish person"- until I move to Harlem in 2005. I changed schools as well, so I was no longer surrounded by Hispanic/LatinX people, but Black people. My classmates treated me differently because the texture and length of my hair were different than theirs; I did not "speak" like them, and they never identified me as Black because I was "Spanish". So throughout grammar and middle school, I tried my best to "act Black". My parents put me in a rites of passage program for young Black men and women (ages 11-17) to cultivate their growth, their faith and their character. After the rites of passage program, I almost let go of my "Spanish side" entirely. My parents did not like that I identified myself solely as Colombian, and they truly believed I had issues of self-hate and ashamed-ness. Looking back, I think it was just pure ignorance on my part- I did not know what claiming my Blackness meant. 

I went to an all girls Catholic preparatory high school in Greenwich Village, and majority of the students were white. I was again battling the Black vs. Spanish side. For my Black friends, I was Spanish. For my Hispanic/LatinX friends, I was Black. On state exams, when asked to only choose between bubbling in "Black/African/African-American" or "Hispanic/Latino", it was nerve wracking. I used to think, "If I circle Black, then am I not Hispanic? I look Black, so I guess it would make more sense to put Black. But I grew up Spanish." And I would end up not circling anything at all until the teacher said I had to choose one. I had to pick between being Black and being Hispanic; more than just a question on a state exam, I was being told a person cannot be both. 

After high school, I spent my first year of college away from home for the first time. I went to a Catholic university primarily made up of white students. Sometimes, I would be the only person of color in a class. Since I lived on campus, the racism and the prejudices became more and more apparent as the year went on: comments on Facebook, Yik Yak, Twitter of hate for Black people, Mexicans, Muslim terrorists, etc. In person, there were subtle hints of prejudice. Students asked me if I was on scholarship (which I was) or if I knew gangs in Harlem, or "You're so pretty for a...." Other students felt the same discrimination. When incidents like Eric Garner's shooting happened, or other police shootings of Black people were happening, many white students on campus voiced their opinions through social media- it became clear that a person like me was not really welcomed on campus. 

I eventually transferred to a school close to home for my second year of college. Now I am surrounded by all kinds of students from all ages and backgrounds.  I went to class with people who looked like me, come from similar backgrounds and speak my language. I immersed myself in learning about my history, and I found books and articles about Afro-Latin civilization and culture. I spoke to different women and men who identify as Afro-Latino, as well as people who identify differently. I met with a group of women over the summer at a Afro-LatinX summit. I have taken a great interest in social justice work and movements, which has pushed me into learning more about Black and Latin history. I take a great pride in who I am and where I come from, and I want to help others who are like me do the same. ~ Tabitha-Anne Bloodsaw

I am from …
By Anyiné Galván Rodríguez

I am from ocean breezes warm to the soul
From salsa caliente with sazón.
I’m from “pelo malo”, big hips, and big lips.

I’m from family reunions in which
the main dish consists of pork chops, plantains,
rice, and beans.
I am from a mixture of African rhythms,
Spanish boleros,
and indigenous beats.

I am from islands that dance
with each other through their similarities.
I am from abuelitos wearing guayaberas
and grandmas walking around with old chancletas.

I am from a place full of melancholic
daydreams of a white sand beach.
I am from a revolving door between
the Caribbean and the windy city.
I am from
Sammy Sosa
and
Roberto Clemente
combined.
I am from where by five you know how to master Dominó.
I am from flags that consist of white blue and red,
yet they have so many different tones and shades.

I am from where amor de familia is number one.
I am from this collage composed of pictures of
La CTA, Humboldt park, and downtown.
I am from here, there, everywhere.
“Ni de aquí ni de allá”

I am from ocean breezes warm to the soul
From salsa caliente with sazón
I am from so many places
that at times I feel I’m from nowhere.
But what I’m sure of is that I AM
el Español
el Taino
y el Negro.

¡Yo soy yo!

TO BE BLACK AND FROM DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
will focus on raising awareness about black women that hails from the
Dominican Republic.

We want to get as many Afro-Dominican women to use their voices so that they can share their story on how they embrace their blackness. With heavy appreciation for the Dominican culture we must end this corruption.  

If you would like to contribute or be a part of this project please email us at hashtagiamenoughblog@gmail.com with subject line Project: TO BE BLACK AND FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  or DM us on Instagram @hashtagiamenough.
Deadline: 12/16/16

Penned  By, About, and For Us!




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Divas Don't Yield ~ What starts out as a pilgrimage to a women’s conference turns into an unexpected journey toward self-awareness for four dynamic, sexy women. Jackie confronts her vulnerability as she falls for a handsome lawyer, while Hazel makes the toughest confession of her life. Lourdes stands up to her conservative mother, and Irena faces her demons. As they make their way from town to town, laughing, fighting, crying, and bonding, they learn more about one another, and themselves, than they ever bargained for–and turn plenty of heads along the way. . . 

Es Mi Cultura is published every first Monday of the month by Tamika Burgess. Tamika is a Afro-Panameña, NYC- based Writer and Educator. Learn more about her by visiting TamikaBurgess.com
View past issues of Es Mi Cultura: HERE
Follow Es Mi Cultura on Instagram & Facebook
Copyright © 2016 Es Mi Cultura, All rights reserved.


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