Being Black…enough? Rep. Adriano Espaillat

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Soooooo, my dude Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican American (formerly undocumented immigrant) elected to Congress this past November and it was a celebration yall. He won over Charles Rangel’s seat in the NYC 13th Congressional District.

Quickly after his election, Espaillat joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and then began feeling out the possibility of  joining the Congressional Black Caucus.

Sacrebleu!

Let’s spill some tea here:

  1. Charles Rangel was a founding member of The Congressional Bimages.jpglack Congress.
  2. Charles Rangel is NOT a fan of Espaillat because the homie ran against him in 2012 and 2014 and called him out on all his ethics violations.
  3. Espaillat considers himself a “Latino of African descent”
  4. The Congressional Black Caucus has a long history of rejecting members of Congress who apply who are not “African American.”
  5. The CBC is also deep in their feelings because someone dared to challenge the unhonorable Charles Rangel and they can’t let the petty go.
  6. Charles Rangel is half, hear me, HALF Puerto Rican.

So, this Black Latino, who represents a formerly Black Harlem and a very Latino “Spanish” Harlem and gentrifying Washington Heights, is making the argument that he is Black enough to be apart of this organization.

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Now let me tell you, when I heard this Dominican man was repping Blackness, I thought, quick! Let him in. Because anyone who had contact with the legacy of Rafael Trujillo and the way he tried to whiten the Dominican Repubulic and still claims his blackness deserves to be Black.

But, I know I am biased because that’s where I grew up in the Bronx, where everyone was some version of Black-rican-mincan. For me, we were all Black. Some of us spoke Spanish and some of us spoke Spanglish.

imgres-1.jpgNow, we here at CREAD have talked extensively about the Afro Latino identity here, here, herehere and here, along with our woke spotlights on Dr. Marta Moreno Vega,  Nadia Lopez and Arturo Schomburg. Now we’re asking you to have this conversation in your classroom.

Should Espaillat be able to join the Congressional Black Congress? What makes one Black? What makes one Black enough to be considered Black? Are there competing agendas being both Black and Latino, and must those agendas end in conflict? Finally, in times like this, with the Cheeto-in-Chief driving us towards our own apocalypse, don’t we need to find ways to work together and align our causes rather than divide them?

Because let’s be honest, at the heart of whether or not Espaillat can join the Congressional Black Caucus is White Supremacy and Anti Blackness and of course deep levels of petty. The Latino identity is so complex that these poor CBC members don’t know or can’t figure out if you can be both Black and Latino. Mostly because their context of Blackness lies only in America and not in the Diaspora. But that’s just my tiny little opinion.

One more thing. The Cheeto-in-Chief’s ban on Muslims was just given a possible death blow. We should be having these conversations with our students, conversations about intersectionality, because Muslims are also Black, immigrants are also Black, members of the LGTBQ community are Black, there are even Black Asians.

We’re surrounded by Blackness and it is our duty as educators of the African Diaspora to engage in deep and thoughtful conversations with our students about the intersectionality of our Blackness.

So while the CBC tries to get their life together and decide if Espaillat is Black…enough, why don’t you get your life together and survey your students about what makes one Black. After all, it is Black History Month.

In solidarity!

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Posted in #election2016, Community Building, education and politics, Teacher as Activist.

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