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Monday, May 28, 2012

Expanding the Movement

So as you know last year we finished our 1st ever TV series and are now in talks with networks to have it broadcasted this Fall. We are uber excited with its success and we have a few other projects set to role out.

My one woman show, Black Latina: The Play, is back with a spin. For the first time ever it will be broken down to an ensemble cast and directed by an well known theater director whom last project starred Lauren Velez (another fellow Black Latina). We are shooting a t-shirt campaign with an amazing array of Black Latinas in the industry and will have a reading for our first feature film.

We have set to push quarter incentives and put our money where our mouth is. The first quarter of the year we acknowledged African American AIDS Awareness and this quarter we're focusing on Autism Awareness within our communities. These diseases are hitting us all hard and it us important we take action against them. We will be unveiling video campaigns of projects, behind the scenes of shows, rehearsals and many other fun company goodies giving you a window into what we do and how
we operate.

My sister company, Shaniece Entertainment, has one of its films due to go up this Summer and one of its plays this Fall. We continue to get people who believe in and want to help out the Movement because the cause touches home for them.

We also have some college performances pending which would truly be a dream come true for us!

The more people we touch the bigger the cause gets and that is what we want; for the world to know we are here and are ready to show and prove!


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Assimilate vs being Ethnocentric

I love being a Black Latina on many different levels it means a lot to me and I wear it with pride.

But when is it too much or is it ever too much? states to assimilate is "to conform or take in as ones own" but being ethnocentric is "the belief in superiority of ones ethnic group or culture".

There has truly been a shift in our communities from being forced or willingly assimilating in periods such as slavery and the surge of Hispanic/Latino immigration in the 20s-50s . We were force to change our names as depicted in Alex Haley's "Roots" to just taking in American culture and yearning to fit in. The flip side of the shift started with the 60s Black is Beautiful Movement and research proving life began in our homeland of Africa to now the Black Latina Movement ;).

Where do we find the balance.

I am not apologetic towards my outward love for my race, people and culture but because I was born in the US I didn't have a say on assimilation; that decision was made before my parents were even born.

I whole heartedly agree with Dr. Dubois teaching of double identity and embracing both. Learning to live with this duality that runs throughout my entire body. Would I love to do what my Jamaican forefather the incomparable Marcus Garvey suggested and create schools and communities for our people... hell yes! But it would also be denying our American birth rights so there's definitely a fine line many of us must follow. It is not at easy as it looks but our complexities make us that more intriguing as humans.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Masters Food?

Diabetes and heart disease is killing our people!

The numbers within our community is daunting and I have heard many claim it is due to the food we eat. On one of my many food shopping sprees I went to the meat/fish market and as I waited on line the wheels in my head started turning. Beef ribs, pig feet, ox tail, pig ear and tongue, tripe, if you're reading this you have indulged in at least one of these items as some of the most delicious meals you have ever had! But looking at it from a health standpoint aside from these pieces being extremely fatty they are far from the best cuts of meat.

So in doing some research the theory is slaves and poor people couldn't afford the best of the best and were given left overs and scraps of an animal after the prime pieces went to those in charge.

I gotten say for a moment this put a smile on my face... damn my ancestors are something else. To make ribs or pig feet taste good and not look disguising is talent!

But with limited resources and cooking items salt and sauces became the key elements of many of these dishes. I watched an interview with Whoopie Goldberg where she said she refuse to eat foods with sauces on them because you lose the flavor of what you are eating. Also that sauces originate from the French who used sauces to disguise rancid meat being that at that time there was no refrigeration. So although we were able to make due with what we had and develop foods that are now classic family dishes we have also pass down unbeknown to many bad eating habits that now have heighten high cholesterol and high blood pressure, leading to diabetes and heart disease.

Both plaque my family but whether or not these diseases are hereditary or you are the first in your family to develop them you really are what you eat. Now I don't discourage us from one day to the next to stop eating things we know and love but lets eat and cook a little bit wiser. Less salt, fat, sauce etc and remember everything in moderation is fine ;).


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Friday, April 13, 2012


People who know me know my facial expressions tell it all, but there are times that I can’t facially express what I am feeling because it’s just pure nonsense. I am a Haitian American and very proud of it. I’m proud because I love how my people have such a beautiful culture whether it’s the food, language, look or just the country itself.

Coming up as a little girl in Brooklyn, NY I always had an “either you like me for who I am or you don’t” approach. I wasn’t going to change myself for anyone else’s approval, even if it was something a lot of other younger Haitian Americans around me were doing. A lot of them changed because of negative stereotypes associated with Haiti. Whoever knew me knew I was Haitian and at times my background surprised them; why I don’t know. I constantly heard “Oh you’re Haitian? You don’t look like it”. That’s something that always upset me. Please someone explain to me what exactly a Haitian looks like? I am proud of my Haitian background but being a Haitian American is still hard. There are people that feel I'm not Haitian enough, possibly because of the fact I wasn’t born there and I don’t speak fluent creole. My parents made sure that their 1st generation Haitian American daughter learned to speak English as best as possible so even though I can speak it, my comprehension of the creole language is about 1000 times better than my speaking ability.

Realistically this all goes back to one main point: We all came from the same issues and struggles and have used our strong will to overcome them. I’ve often felt like my community looked at Haitians as a poor people from an ugly country. I have not seen it for myself but the pictures that my parents have show the beautiful mountains and beaches of Haiti. That side is what needs to be shown and not just the poverty that it's been plagued with. We need to see the strong, proud Haiti; the same Haiti that was the first country to gain independence in the Caribbean.

Fernande Deolus- Assistant at The Black Latina Movement
Guest Blogger

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where Are You From

"Do you mean where do I live?” “No. Where are you from?”
“Do you mean where was I raised?” “No. Where are YOU from?”

“What hospital was I born in? Where is my family from? What is my background? What are you asking me?”

Why has that question become one that can never get one straight answer? Why does it take so long for most of us to actually answer it or to get the answer we’re looking for? What about thinking of it this way: what if there isn’t just one straight answer? What if the answer we’re looking for has more to offer than what we originally thought?

You can’t possibly deny that at least once (and that’s at a bare minimum) you’ve been asked the question “Where are you from?” How do you respond? Do you say where your hometown is? Do you say where you are currently living? Do you respond with your birthplace or the nationality you most closely identify with? What if the answer were as simple as stating your race? Are you Black, White, Asian, Hispanic etc.? Is that enough?

We have all grown accustomed to being classified into different sets of groups. The groups of race, nation we identify with or were born in, language we speak, or place where we currently live. For example, I’m from Queens, New York. I’m Hispanic or Latino (which is an entirely different debate on its own). I’m Spanish (another argument to be discussed). I’m Dominican, I’m Puerto Rican. But where are you truly from? Do you ever stop and take a moment to really think about this. Well, whatever your answer to that question may be, take a second or two now to answer this one. Before you, before your parents or their parents were ever born, where were your ancestors? If you trace your lineage all the way back to the first people who created your family tree, where did they grow their roots?

This doesn’t only pertain to our Black Latino community. This pertains to every race, color, creed, nationality, gender, community, individual, person, and human out there. If we choose to close our minds and center them solely on the minute details of our origin, we are depriving ourselves and others of all the knowledge and understanding they can gain from learning about where we are truly from. We are not just a number in the archives of a government, or a name in the files and paperwork of a hospital. We are not just a color amongst a rainbow of colors. We are not just a him or a her. I believe, we are not just from one land.

Throughout history, humans have been known to intermingle, if you will, and interconnect with others resulting in creations of new generations of mixed people and heritages. I believe we can all go back and find at least one family member who has had children with someone other than one of their own race or nationality, regardless of what anyone’s feelings are about that. Wouldn’t this mean that the generations to follow are more than just what their mother is/was? Are you not part of both parents’ families? So where are you from?

We must educate ourselves to find the real answer to that question.
Rosa Soto- Administrative Director of the Black Latina Movement
Guest Blogger

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I am not my hair, but I have been known to LOVE my hair.

When I was younger I wore it curly (of course), in high school I was finally allowed to relax it, and now I am just wondering what the easiest way to maintain its unruliness. I have for a while thought about locking it to once again follow in the footsteps of my amazing mother, but then again that might be too drastic a change for me. So my issue is this: I feel I am choosing a side by choosing a hairstyle.

It may sound silly but a lot of women (and I'm sure men as well) have these image issues. As a little girl I wore my hair curly but I remember following what my mom did to her hair as well. I remember when she got her hair braided, she would sit there and box braid my curly hair until I had a full head of braids. Then back to the curls, which I loved but dreaded washing, conditioning, and packing with gel to maintain its curliness. I also remember getting my hair blow dried for my eighth grade prom and being made fun of by this one cruel kid because no one had ever seen it straight, and it was HUGE. Then in high school when I finally was allowed to relax it I loved it, and never looked back for my curls.

One thing I have grown to associate with choosing a side in regards to my hair is if I wear my hair curly people almost automatically assume I am Latina, whereas if I wear my hair straight, people won’t. It sounds like I want people not to think of me as Latina but I assure you that is not the case. No, appearance isn’t everything but in a sense isn’t it? I am very proud of both of my sides but the fact that I have not worn my hair curly in years makes me wonder how it will look. From time to time I do see a woman who looks amazing rocking her curls but then I assure myself that mine won’t look as awesome. But if I decide to lock my hair, does this discredit me from being a Latina (quite plausable in the eyes of other Latinas) and make me "more Black"? I have also seen some great looking locked styles with women and men alike wearing them beautifully, but again there’s always that doubt that I won’t look as hot.

I think for now my happy medium in wearing my hair straight keeps people guessing and I am ok with that!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

My Light-Skinned-ness

I have always wanted to fit in as a Black girl and now that I am a woman the pressure to “fit in” is even greater. Usually I tend to describe myself in writing as a light-skinned Black woman; this is mostly because that is how I am portrayed in others opinions.

What does being a Black woman mean, let alone look like?

The beauty of being a Black woman is that there is no one way one we are supposed to look. We all come in different shapes, sizes, heights, and weights and we all have different features and hair types.

Why then is my Blackness always questioned, or in my opinion “downgraded” to being “light-skinned”? Why can’t I simply be a Black woman?

On several occasions I have been reminded of my light-skinned-ness; one recent incident was a bit of a wake-up call that just got me to thinking. While prepping makeup for a show I was with a colleague who commented on the red lipstick I was wearing. Being the “light-skinned” woman that I am, I didn’t really think too much about skin color when I purchased the lipstick, just that I thought it was a pretty matte red that could work for me. When the two of us started talking about lipstick, my dark-skinned friend said it was a pretty red but Black women like her couldn’t wear it. I immediately took offense to her comment. In retrospect, I realize she was trying to explain how certain shades are for certain skin tones but initially I was stopped in my tracks.

The words that have always been in my head found their way out of my mouth: “what do you mean; I’m a Black woman too”. In an effort to explain what she meant her voice fell upon deaf ears as I was ready to defend my Blackness yet again. Before commenting and letting my frustrations out I thought and decided it was a battle that, no matter how much I fought I wouldn’t be able to have a victory. I simply said “when I look at you and then at myself, I feel like we are the same color”.

Maybe that is ignorant of me.

My mother is a Black woman; therefore I thought I was a Black woman too.

A similar situation involving a male coworker justified yet again the fact that I have to defend my Blackness. My mother came to my job one day and one of my coworkers did not believe she was my mother. After introducing them, he told me he didn’t picture her being a “real” Black woman. He described her as a “strong Black Panther type woman” and mentioned that he loved her locks, but was expecting to see someone that looked more like Paula Patton.


These are but a few experiences, there are plenty more. No I am not a dark-skinned woman but how does that discredit me from being a Black woman at all?

The identity struggles I have within myself are enough to keep me occupied but as a whole, we as Black people tend to also disregard our own. The same persecution we receive from others for being Black, we are passing on to others for not being “Black enough”.

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