For The Field (Negros Americanos benefit show)

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so i believe it was about 2006 when my partner in rhyme- (and also fellow blog contributor with riveting posts such as “How far would you travel for love” and “whats crawling on my face“)-mc enigma decided to start a book scholarship. This, of course is years before Negros Americanos was even thought of, but it just shows the type of philanthropic ways of this brotha even before we really had much. Realizing how expensive it is to buy books in college, he would pay for the scholarship out of his own pocket. Fast forward some years, we have graduated from university, and worked several odd jobs. We moved to Panama, traveled to a couple different places, and came back in 2012 as Negros Americanos...A bilingual group that make music for different groups of people, in a style that has never quite been seen. Its only right that we throw a show that’s so purpose is to fund this scholarship, and help to ease the anxiety and stress that already comes with the college life. Trust me, been there done that. I say this all to say-IF by any chance you find yourself in the Plainfield/Newark NJ area on the 24th day of April, come through and show some support for Negros Americanos, the youth and a the prospect for a better thriving community..AND IF you so happen to not be in the area it will be filmed and uploaded onto youtube…BLESS

 

 

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After Armageddon- How to survive

Yes Yes, I know this is a travel blog! But the story does take place in LA if that makes a difference. In all seriousness, most people know that I am involved in the schools in Plainfield New Jersey. I often show this program, which aired on the history channel “After Armageddon” to my students…This movie/documentary is about a fictional pandemic that could very well happen in our world. To me things like this need to be taught in schools–

The Plague of Justinian which lasted for more than 2 centuries in waves from about 541 to 750 was the first outbreak of the plague recorded in history. At it’s height this pandemic killed up to 1/4 of the known world’s population. The Black Death in the 14th century is estimated to have killed more than 75 million people. The spanish flu of 1918 was an especially cruel pandemic, and one more indicative of what could come. First off, it is the Spanish Flu that ties this post to my last post on El Ratoncito Pérez. The King of Spain during this time fell ill to the disease but survived. Because moral for the war was to be kept during The first world war, the media outlets focussed on Spain, which was neutral in the war, the spanish king’s becoming ill-giving this plague the nickname of Spanish Flu.

The point is, with the Spanish Flu there was no part of the globe that wasn’t touched. The President of Brasil during this time-Rodrigues Alves died from the disease before he could start his second term, Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie before emperorship fell ill to the disease, but did not die from it. It is scary because, we are so much more connected now. If a virus that powerful is to re appear, we are going to be in some seeeeerious trouble. And there are situations that can be prevented if people would learn to survive, as I have been trying to. Programs like this help a lot, as there is acting but real experts telling you what to do in certain situations. Something good to watch…Bless!

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El Ratóncito Pérez: The Tooth Fairy of Latin America

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So I decided to make this post because the other day I talked on the phone with a very special little girl in Costa Rica.  She was so excited to tell me about her tooth that came out.  Her whole premise for the excitement was the gift that she would receive from the famous Ratóncito Pérez. “Who is this?”, I asked. She was so surprised that I had not heard of this popular legend.  I asked her to put  her mother back on the phone.  “You’re daughter was talking about some tooth mouse, what is that about?”  “Duh,  El Ratóncito Pérez, you know- when a child loses a tooth they put it under the pillow and El Ratóncito will come in the middle of the night and take the tooth and put a small gift there,” she responded.  Hmmm This was strange to me.  I told her that in my country, we are more accustomed to the tooth fairy.  She had no idea what the word fairy meant in english, and I don’t know the word in spanish, so I described her as a tinker belle-ish type of being.  “Well that’s stupid! Why would it be a fairy, they don’t even exist,” she tells me-as if there is some species of mouse that is realistically so generous that he would actually collect the tooth from under your pillow to give you gifts.  Now that we both understood that in our different cultures there exist two different tales for children to look forward to losing teeth. I would like to get to the bottom of the origin of this new phenomenon, which I found exists in almost every country in Latin America.

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So you guys know that I am always on the quest for historical knowledge.  Apparently there had already been a little mouse named Pèrez as early as 1877 in spanish literature, however it wasn’t about a tooth collector.  It wasn’t until the 1890′s when the then child king of Spain Alfonso XIII lost his tooth. (Alfonso XIII’s father died the previous year, making him a King at birth.  His mother Maria Christina, who was actually of Austrian origin became the queen until the young ruler came of age.  She was the subsequent ruler during the Spanish-American War of 1898 where Spain lost Cuba Puerto Rico and The Philippines.) A writer named Luis Coloma was contracted to write a story for the young King who was about eight years old at the time, after he lost that tooth.  The story became a big legend in Spain and later spread throughout the entire Latin America.

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There is even a high budget-Argentine 3D Movie about the little mouse! Click the link below to watch the trailer 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQsXTEv9sXU

 

 

 

 

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Learning a New Language eh, Have you tried Italki?

To know me is to know that there are certain things that I am into. I like animals, I like to study them and sometimes catch and release. I love the beauty and sensuality of a woman’s foot. I also enjoy traveling to different places around the globe when given the opportunity. Even when I can’t travel, I travel mentally by studying places and learning languages. I LOVE to learn languages. Most people know that I have been learning Portuguese. I mentioned in a previous post that I often learn from using duolingo.com, watching interesting Brazilian movies, and listening to the music. With the music I usually grab the lyrics and read along with the song-highlighting every word that I don’t understand. Then I come back and learn the words and re-sing the song with clarity and understanding. Of course skyping with beautiful women doesn’t hurt, and once again, I have mentioned the beautiful Eliane Chalmeres before, as she has helped me so much with maneuvering this language. Up until about 2 months ago she seemed like my special secret. The one I went to on Skype almost nightly to converse in a new language, and her knowing great English and Spanish made it way easier when I got lost. Well now my dear friend Eliane decided that she wanted to expand her services. I must admit, at first human emotion came into play, and I was a little jealous. Now that she is on italki she has all these followers and different individuals from around the States and Europe now write with her and Skype with her. She has been expanding so fast because she is a great teacher that truly loves what she does, and it shows. Now that I have reached the point in my maturity that I can actually help her to expand even further with her lessons, as it is all about building a support network where we can all lean on each other. Who says that I have to keep hogging her to myself, she has wings and needs to fly. Click here to learn Portuguese with Eliane

Also, my interest with italki may be to learn Portuguese, but there are also many other languages and individual teachers on there. It works as a language learning social network site where you can follow people and be followed. The end result is finding the right teacher and organizing Skype sessions.

Go to Italki.com and check it out!

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A tale of Two Cities: Race Poverty and Wealth in Colombia

 

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Some people have the belief that when a country, or city for that matter become more wealthy it benefits a large portion of the population.  A belief that money will somehow trickle down into the more marginalized segments of society.  Now there are some Utopian places that exist out there I’m sure, but I am just personally not familiar with this happening.  In many of the countries that we are trained to call third world, there is some form of economic growth, but it never touches the people.  In the case of Cartagena, Colombia(one of Colombia’s biggest tourist pulls)-Unesco (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared the city a world Heritage site.  This made tourism boom in the city at the rate of a 10% increase from 2012, but mostly in the Colonial Walled City.

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“They don’t really see the Cartagena that is out there struggling-The Cartagena that they see is only about 25%”-Alex Rocha.   Remember Alex Rocha from an interview that I did with him a while back.  CCTV America did a Special on Cartagena called A tale of Two Cities.   He talks about how even events and festivals that take place in the Colonial Walled City are not extended to the local residents of the city, and how they were never educated to even want to take part of the goings-ons on that part of town.  This new understanding that I have of Cartagena acts as an interesting example of what happens when a place experiences a large boom in tourism.  It doesn’t trickle down to the poorer people that live in these cities.  With this huge boom that Cartagena has seen , a larger portion of the population-more than 2/3rd is facing extreme poverty, some people surviving off of about 2 dollars every day and many of the people bin these neighborhoods are Black, and the tourism money has even worsened their plight due to gentrification.

TO WATCH the short CCTV America special click the link below

http://www.cctv-america.tv/2014/03/28/cctv-insight-a-tale-of-two-cities/

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Problems with ID Cards for undocumented immigrants in Plainfield NJ

A couple of weeks ago Negros Americanos sat down with community activist Carmen Salvarrieta at her nonprofit Angels for Action.  She is one of the most exemplary individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  The way she fights for her people is awe-inspiring!  To think that all this time we lived in the same community, and I never knew her.  She fights hard for undocumented and documented immigrants to have simple human rights.  Rights that until we sat down and talked to her, I didn’t even know were being violated at this rate in my own community of Plainfield, NJ.  We are talking about sexual abuse from employers, assaults rape and murder of undocumented immigrants here with absolutely no repercussions.  Until Carmen gets involved, that is.  This woman is like a Lion, she is the person you want fighting for you.

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“In many of those cases Latino immigrants were targeted by robbers not out of hatred, but because they are more likely to carry large amounts of cash. Many undocumented immigrants do not open bank accounts and prefer to be paid in cash to avoid government scrutiny.”-Plainfield Police Director Martin Hellwig 

We actually met Carmen because we were looking for a statistical expert to talk about the Latino community for the Negros AmericanosLost In The Wilderness” Documentary.  We were sent by my Tia Ingrid to speak with her, and we wanted to talk about Black and Latino relationships in Plainfield NJ.  As a Substitute Teacher in this district, I even hear some of the students talk about “Papi Hunting”, and I am just left in shock by the complete disregard for human life and worth.  I googled the term Papi Hunting after hearing the kids talk about it, and Plainfield came up first, which shows me that this act (with the name Papi-hunting) is a regional phenomenon, and one that Negros Americanos had to be a part of stopping!

The ID program that Angels for Action has started was an answer to the problem that many undocumenteds face-having to carry around their passports.  Now I have been an undocumented immigrant in another country, but my American Passport gives me privilege.  Coming from a poorer Latin American country to a mixed North American city filled with racial tension and senseless violence, many undocumented immigrants found themselves in a tough predatory situation where they can’t open a bank account for lack of a second ID.  To start a program where undocumented Latinos can get their own idea cards, so they don’t have to lug around their Passports and risk getting robbed for their complete identity seems like a great idea right???? who would be against i?  Well only the good old Mayor of Plainfield NJ Adrian Mapp.  Now the old Mayor was great in my book!!!! she knew what time it was and she accepted the program, it was running and functional. But January gets here and this guy gets inaugurated, and starts changing things around.  He cut the program, and started to make bogus allegations about Angels for Action stealing people’s money and passports and giving false hope to people with the ID cards.  Thats BULLSHIT! The program has been back up and running for a few weeks now and trust me I am a 3rd party spectator in this, but guess what!  Negros Americanos gets down and dirty, we know many undocumented workers and just real people in the city.  Everyone LOVES Carmen! She charges 10 dollars for the cards, yes.  But that is for Machine maitenence, and she is not taking anyone’s Passports!!!! I saw the process happen for several people, and I actually went ahead and got myself an ID card too, why not!

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Carmen is who the police call when someone gets murdered or ran over in the street.  She has to take photos of the body and show to all of the immigrant community until they are recognized.  With the cards she wont have to see so much death.  She is the one they go to when some one dies to find the money to ship their bodies back to the country.  She is the one that people go to when they get assaulted and have broken bones.  They have no medical care, she finds ways for them to get treatment.  She is who they go to when someone gets deported and their children are left alone in the city.  No one can say anything about this woman! She is a Lion!

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Carnaval may be over in 80% black Salvador, but apartheid remains the rule

Bishop The Eastside Nappyhead:

Very informative post by one of my favorite blogs “Black Women of Brazil”. I never knew that the Carnaval in Salvador, Bahia Brazil went this way. An interesting display of racial hierarchy in a an city of eighty percent Afro Brazilians. Great read!!!!!

Originally posted on Black Women of Brazil:

Apartheid in Salvador's Carnaval: blacks hold the ropes that protect the white VIP sections

Apartheid in Salvador’s Carnaval: blacks hold the ropes that protect the white VIP sections

Note from BW of Brazil: Yes, the Carnaval season has once again come and gone in Brazil. And while the party will no doubt continue its image of the greatest party on Earth, one can’t help but notice a glaringly obvious example of racial politics in the city known as “Roma Negra” or Black Rome. Although the term apartheid is usually associated with a period of legally sanctioned racial separation in South Africa, in one of Brazil’s blackest states and the center of its vibrant black culture, this time of year is perhaps the most visible example of how white domination of a black majority is a rule in most areas of influence in the city and the state of Bahia as a whole (and arguably Brazil as a whole). Need proof?…

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Lost in the Wilderness moves on, speaks with Steven Hatcher and Carmen Salavarrieta

Bishop The Eastside Nappyhead:

“Lost In the wilderness” has been something we have talked about for eons. We made sure that most of our time living abroad was filmed, there are hours upon hours of video from that year and the situations in Plainfield NJ that prompted the move there. Now about three years after returning to Panama and performing and spreading the name back here in thee states, we are ready to tell the story like it has never been told. Many people come up to me and say things like, hey you are those Dominican guys right!!! Or those Panamanian rappers, or those Reggeton singers.-They don’t get it, and its understood, how could they? In this world of musical over saturation what incentive to they really have to listen to our stories. This documentary, however is much bigger than the music we create, its stone thrown in the pond that will ripple worldwide!!!!

Originally posted on Plainfield View:

You may have noticed I’ve posted a little less over the last week or two.

Part of the reason is because the upcoming Negros Americanos documentary, Lost in the Wilderness (see Plainfield View’s video preview here), has evolved into something a lot bigger than its scope only a month ago. It’s a Panamanian story of adventure. It’s a Latino, and Afro-Latino, story. It’s a story of struggle, and music. It’s a story of race. It’s a story about Plainfield.

This weekend, for Lost in the Wilderness, MC Enigma, Bishop the Eastside Nappyhead, and I conducted two local interviews – one with Steven Hatcher of the People’s Organization for Progress and another with Carmen Salavarrieta of Angels for Action.

Readers might be interested to know that we also talked at length with Angels for Action about their recently restarted identification card program. Much of the video content will be released later…

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Poor Musicians Are Innovators!!

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I Ran into this interesting individual at Parque Vargas in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica.  I was intrigued by his  contraption and had to converse with him.  I see an engineer here, A true craftsman if you will.  While many will ostracize people like this from society, these are the types that I cram to understand and learn from.

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First off, it appears that he is wearing  a Toga of sorts with a chain, all of which he put together himself.  But just take a better gaze at his homemade guitar!  There is an old record at the bottom, while the body appears to be the  back of a wooden chair.  Look at the way he has it strung up and  strapped to his person.  It shows a level of creativity that can only be manifested through poverty.  A Tica that I spoke to about him thinks that from first glance everyone can see he is a Stoneman or Piedrero .   But maybe it is because I am a Northern boy that I just cant see it.  He commands respect, he is majestic.  I would hang with this guy any day, we would  talk about life and injustices in the black community.  Check the video below to see 30 seconds I shot of him playing his guitar in Parque Vargas.

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Negros Americanos documentary coming soon (with video preview)

Bishop The Eastside Nappyhead:

So we did a documentary with Plainfieldview.com about the story of Negros Americanos. It is an in depth look at our story, in a way that it has never been told or seen. We will take you on a visual journey -explain the conditions that prompted us to leave and move to Panama. Also show how we lived and the conditions we found there that enabled us to form the group through stuggle and trying situations. The Doc will be called “Lost in the wilderness” and what you see here is just a snippet….the enhanced audio hasn’t been added yet…The field footage also has not been added-but you can get a sense of what you may find with this doc! thanks for your time.

Originally posted on Plainfield View:

Until the wee hours of this morning, I was in my living room with Plainfield’s hip hop duo Negros Americanos as they filmed a few portions of a soon to be released documentary, most likely to be called  Lost in the Wilderness . The documentary, which you can expect to see in March, will feature a lot of footage from their year abroad in the barrios of Panama and travels to other countries in the area, as well as from around the city of Plainfield. I’ll let you know when it comes out, but here’s a bit of their banter about Plainfield from last night. This is raw footage – the audio, etc will be greatly enhanced for the final.

After that, how could you not want to see the rest?!

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