Monday, April 07, 2014

Drop the “Latino” and Re-Adopt the Indigenous Label for Indigenous People: This is Our Idle No More Movement

Drop the “Latino” and Re-Adopt the Indigenous Label for Indigenous People: This is Our Idle No More Movements

By Santy Quinde Baidal
Indian Country Today (April 5, 2014)

Late last night, my father and I talked about how the ethnic term Latino mislabels Indigenous and mixed-Indigenous people from Mexico, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, etc. For a long time, we believed Latino and Hispanic correctly defined the Spanish-speaking mixed-Indigenous and Indigenous people in Latin America.

As we crossed the George Washington Bridge, I wondered, Why is this so? I mean it's true. We do speak Spanish and we practice Spanish culture. But we also come from a land that is still governed by our Indigenous relatives. I thought hard about how to politely counter argue his belief. His opinion. His Latino identity.

"So I guess this means Filipinos are Hispanics or Latinos, too, right?" I said. "Think about it, they have Spanish names. They speak Spanish. They probably dance to Spanish music, too."

He laughed at me. He said, "They are Asians, though. You can't confuse their race with Spanish."

"Exactly, so why are we the only ones considered Latino or Hispanic? Some of us are Indigenous, right? Think about it, papa. We are Guayakos and ManabĂ­tas. We come from family clans that stretch back for thousands of years of Indigenous tradition."

"Well.." he stammers. "I would say, we're Ecuatorianos."

Latino or Hispanic is a term coined by the United States to identify Spanish-speaking people coming from south of Mexico. The reality is Spanish-speaking people from Latin America come from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. We are like a rainbow.

However, since 2011, Latinos or Hispanics now start to identify as Native American, census shows. Even the New York Times features their article on the cultural change and perspective of Indigenous identity among mestizos, mulattos, and Indigenous people.

Also, Latino comes from the root word Latin which corresponds to the nations that used to form the Roman Empire: Spain, Portugal, Romania, Italy, and France. According to El Boricua, " The word Hispania thus refers to the people and culture of the Iberian peninsula, Spain in particular. The term Hispano (Hispanic) later was used in referring to Spain and its subsequent New World - New Spain, conquered territories which covers most of Latino America." The white-mestizo society or descendants of Spanish relatives can claim these labels to themselves.

But Latino is not a person who only looks Mexican and speaks Spanish. Many of us come from mixed-Indigenous heritage and some of us are Indigenous, too. For example, Ecuador is home to 30+ Indigenous nations and a home to 8 million descendants of the Quitu-Shyri and Spanish ancestry. It's also home to 1 million Euro-Ecuadorians and 1.3 million Afro-Ecuadorians. However, the 8 millions Ecuadorian mestizos form part of the rainbow colors of the Indigenous race mixed with the Spanish and the African cultures. In Ecuador, we say "tenemos la pinta ecuatoriana" (we have the Ecuadorian look) because some of us are brown, have black hair, and some, more than others, inherit the Atahualpa face, our last Tawantinsuyu King in 1535. We also dance to merengue and reggaeton, but we blast to Indian music and do the round dance, stomp the floor, swing the skirts, and chirp like the Curiquingue and Quinde birds.

Ecuadorians make up the majority of mixed-Indigenous and Indigenous population, among other groups like Afro-Ecuadorians and Euro-Ecuadorians, who re-invent a fusion of all cultures, languages, and religions, yet preserve their Indigenous ethnicity, traditions, and roots simultaneously.

The Idle No More Movement is an excellent example of how Indigenous people in North America unite to stand up and fight for their culture, land, and identity against a people who think it's okay to walk over Indigenous people with mascot names and Halloween Indian costumes. I also think the Idle No More Movement should include Indigenous people and mixed-Indigenous people from Spanish-speaking nations as an effort to collaborate, unite, and support one Indigenous people across both continents.

Do we call an African-American a Britannic because he or she speaks English? Do we call an Arab an Amish because he or she looks white? Why don't we call Euro-Americans "mixed" or "mestizos" because they also have Irish, Italian, German, African, and Indigenous blood, some more than others? However, there is no debate about our differences. We come from different nations, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and so forth. But the key point is to co-exist in peace and respect each other. The principle is to not step on people's sacred space without asking their permission. The Indigenous space has been repeatedly trespassed and disrespected in the Americas.

I can only speak of what I've seen in Ecuador. In Ecuador, the label Mestizo provides an opportunity for Indigenous people to climb the social ladder. In order for them to not be hated, insulted, harmed, put down, ashamed, physically assaulted, and to some extent, massacred in ethnic and cultural genocides, the ethnic label "mestizo" provides a convenient strategy to avoid all of the aforementioned complications. However, Indigenous people should not feel obliged to make the switch from Indigenous to Mestizo because of the shame with their Indigenous identity. Their culture is as beautiful as that of the African-American, European-American,and Asian-American.

In Santa Elena, Ecuador, we identify as Indigenous people. We go by "cholo comunero," and some, more than others, by "Wankavilka" to emphasize their ethnicity. The Ecuadorian government sends us a census that provides three options: white, black, and Mestizo. We are forced to put mestizo even though in our hearts we know we are Indigenous to our ancestral lands and cultures, but this mislabel affects new generations of youth who start to distance themselves from their Indigenous heritage and encourage outsiders to expropriate our lands because we do not "voluntarily" identify as Indigenous. (Original Source in Spanish). Therefore, in this case, the mestizo concept does not equally glorify two cultures, but only the dominant European one. It serves to disenfranchise Indigenous people in Latin America. In a parallel comparison, there are Latinos, (Indigenous Spanish-speaking people from tribal nations in Latin America who migrate to the United States), who do not want to identify as Latinos and Mestizos but are forced to because it's the only option.

Appropriating a local tribe that is not yours is also NOT the respectful manner to go about this either. However, US census should provide an ethnic label that speaks for Mexican, Central, and South American Indigenous people. This also gives an opportunity for mixed-Indigenous people to learn from their culture via Indigenous groups in United States settings. Because as mixed-Indigenous people from Spanish-speaking nations, we have a right to learn about our Indigenous past that includes everything before 1492. Our nations started way before the colonial contact.

Imagine what would happen if mixed-Indigenous or Indigenous Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Peruvians, Bolivians, among other Spanish-speaking nations re-identify with their Indigenous roots, how would that cause a chain reaction in Latin America and how would that redefine our culture, our history, and our thought process?

Santy Quinde Baidal, blogger of The Quinde Journey | Wankavilka Nation (, speaks about his experience of re-identifying with his Wankavilka Comunero Indigenous identity as an Ecuadorian-American citizen in the United States. He recently graduated from Middlebury College with a Bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing. Thanks to oral tradition and extensive independent research, Santy learns about his Indigenous culture, identity, and traditions that stretches back to 12,000 years, to the first people of Santa Elena, Ecuador.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where did "Hispanics" come from?
By Claude Fischer, professor of sociology
Berkeley Blog (March 24, 2014)
Cross-posted from Claude Fischer's blog, Made in America: 
Notes on American life from American history.
Oldsters may well wonder where the term "Hispanic," and for that matter, "Latino," came from. The press and pundits are all abuzz about the Hispanic vote, Hispanic organizations, and Hispanic cultural influences. Back in the mid-twentieth century, however, they wrote about Mexicans or Puerto Ricans or Guatemalans, not about Hispanics.
Of course, people of Latin American origin have become far more numerous in the United States since then and the immigration itself brings more attention. Nonetheless, the labels have changed. Starting in the 1970s, the media rapidly adopted the "pan-ethnic" term Hispanic, and to a lesser degree, Latino, and slowed down their use of specific national labels.[1] So did organizations, agencies, businesses, and "Hispanics" themselves.
As recounted in her important new book, "Making Hispanics," sociologist (and my colleague) G. Cristina Mora tells the story of how people as diverse as Cuban-born businessmen in Miami, undocumented Mexican farm workers in California, and third-generation part-Puerto Ricans in New York who do not even understand Spanish were brought together into one social category: Hispanic-Americans.
Politics, Business, and Government
Mora describes an alliance that emerged in the 1970s among grassroots activists, Spanish-language broadcasters, and federal officials to define and promote "Hispanic."
Activists had previously stressed their national origins and operated regionally - notably, Mexicans in the southwest (where the term "Chicano" became popular for a while) and Puerto Ricans in the northeast. But the larger the numbers they could claim by joining together, the more political clout, the more governmental funds, and the more philanthropic support they could claim. Pumping up the numbers was particularly important given their latent competition with African-American activists over limited resources and limited media attention. Some pan-ethnic term promised to yield the biggest count.
Spanish-language television broadcasters, notably Univision, looked to expand their appeal to advertisers by delivering them a national market. Although the broadcasters faced obstacles in appealing to Spanish-language viewers across the country differing significantly in programming tastes and dialects, they managed to amalgamate the audiences by replacing content imported from abroad with content developed in the United States. They could then sell not medium-to-small Mexican-, Cuban-, or Puerto Rican-American audiences to advertisers, but one huge Hispanic-American audience.
Making the term official as a census category helped both activists and entrepreneurs. Previously, the Bureau of the Census classified Latin Americans as whites with distinct national origins, usually poorly measured. The activists pressed the census bureau, as did some politicians, to provide as broad a label as possible and count everyone who might conceivably fit the category, including, for example, the African-origin Dominicans (although not the French-speaking Haitians nor the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians). This pressure led to the 1980 formulation, used ever since, in which the census asks Americans whether or not they are "Hispanic" separately from whether they are white, black, Asian, or Indian.
The three interest groups worked together to publicize and promote the idea and the statistical category of "Hispanic." As Mora explains, leaving the label's meaning somewhat ambiguous was useful in both expanding the numbers and in selling the category - as a large needy population to the government and as numerous, affluent consumers to advertisers. The three parties also campaigned to get other institutions, such as state vital statistics bureaus and big businesses to adopt Hispanic as an official category.
Many so-called Hispanics preferred and still prefer to call themselves by their national origins; Mora quotes a 1990s bumper sticker, "Don't Call Me Hispanic, I'm Cuban!" But the term has taken over.
And, so Hispanic-Americans matter a lot now.
Categories of people that we take to be fixed - for example, our assumptions that people are old or young, black or white, male or female - often turn out to be not fixed at all. Social scientists have documented the way the definition of Negro/African American/black has shifted over the generations. There was a time, for example, when the census bureau sought to distinguish octoroons and a time when it could not figure out how to classify people from the Indian subcontinent.
In "Making Hispanics," Mora lets us see close up just how this new category, Hispanic, that we now take to be a person's basic identity, was created, debated, and certified.
One lesson is that it could have been otherwise. If the pace and sources of migration had been different or if the politics of the 1970s had cut differently, maybe we would be talking about two separate identities, Chicano and "Other Spanish-speaking." Or maybe we would be classifying the darker-skinned with "Blacks" and lighter-skinned with "Whites." Or something else. "Making Hispanics" teaches us much about the social construction of identity.
[1] Based on my analysis of statistics on New York Times stories and the nGram data on words in American books. Use of "Chicano" surged in 1960s and 1970s, but then faded as "Latino" and, especially, "Hispanic"

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Stupid in America

This is a very interesting report from 20/20's John Stossel. It is an excellent report on the status of education in the US.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


MashAllah, this is a good poem that invokes conscious thought about the true purpose of life. May Allah reward the brother, amin.~ khalil

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lauryn Hill on Racism, Slavery, and the IRS

The following represents the views of Lauryn Hill and do not necessarily represent my views:

The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labor of black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-white peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.
The initial claim by the oppressors, followed a moral imperative (so they said) that people outside of Occidental and European birth were in savage and cursed conditions, and that God justified the captivity of these people, and the rape and pillage of their lands.
Ironically, these oppressors would try to discard this same God, who supposedly justified this brutality, in the name of Darwin, whose famous line ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify criminal behavior once the Bible could no longer be used as a hiding place for economic domination and evil intention.
Spirituality and morality were replaced by capitalism, and with it a conscious shift of focus toward the exploitation of the vulnerable.
In order to justify reverse racism one would have to first create an even playing field, undo the generations of torture, terror, and brutality, and then judge whether or not a non-white person is in fact a racist. This approach would require people to examine the need/addiction to feel superior to someone else for no justifiable reason, and the myriad policies: Spiritual, political and social, that it bore. True dominion is self evident and not the result of sabotaging another in order to achieve it. That would be an illegitimate as well as a fleeting position. The Universe, will eventually seek to right/balance itself.
Of course there are white people who live transcendent lives, not exploiting ill-gotten privilege or perpetuating the sins of their ancestors who used violence and deceit as a means to gain advantage over others. Humanity in proper order is obligated to acknowledge the Truth, whoever it comes from, be they Black, White or other. Righteous indignation is simply a response to long-standing evil.
Much of the world is still reeling from the abuses of Imperialist selfishness, misunderstanding, ignorance and greed. Black people remain in many ways a shattered community, disenfranchised, forcefully removed from context and still caged in, denied from making truly independent choices and experiencing existential freedom. Their natural homes, just like their natural selves, raped and pillaged of the resources and gifts God has given to them. Interpreted through someone else’s slanted lens and filter, they remain in many ways, misrepresented. Taxation without proper representation, might I remind you, was the very platform of protest that began the Revolutionary War, which gained this country its independence from England. Anger is not only the natural response to the abuse of power, but is also appropriate when there is no real acknowledgment of these abuses, or deep, meaningful and profound change.
If we took all of what we deem horrible regarding the criminal abuses that black people have committed over this country’s history, and add it all up, it still does not compare to the hundreds of years of terrorism, violent domination, theft, rape, abuse, captivity, and beyond that black people have suffered under the ideologies and systems of white supremacy, racism, and slave based paradigms. I say this only to say that abuse unresolved begets or creates abuse. How then does the chief offender become the judge? Might does not necessarily mean right. Right is right. People forcibly reduced to sub-human existences, so that they behave in sub-human ways, helps a system to justify itself or feel less guilty about its blood saturated foundation and gross crimes against humanity. People, like plants, grow where the light is. When you enclose a plant and limit its light source, it will bend itself toward the light, for the light is necessary for its survival. This same thing happens to people locked in communities where little light and little opportunity is allowed them, survival then forces them to twist and/or bend toward the only way of escape.
There is good. And I both acknowledge and encourage the good. Instead of throwing out the Baby with the bath water, we do well to expose the intentionally poisoned water the Baby has been forced to soak in since its origin in these lands. America’s particular brand of hypocrisy is gross (double entendre).
I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term ‘make the IRS whole’… make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalities. The entire time, I thought, who has made black people whole?! Who has made recompense for stealing, imposing, lying, murdering, criminalizing the traumatized, taking them against their wills, destroying their homes, dividing their communities, ‘trying’ to steal their destinies, their time, stagnating their development, I could go on and on. Has America, or any of the nations of the world guilty of these atrocities, ever made black people or Africa whole or do they continue to sit on them, control them, manipulate them, cage them, rob them, brutalize them, subject them to rules that don’t apply to all? Use language, veiled coercion, and psychological torment like invisible fences to keep them locked into a pattern of limitation and therefore control by others. You have to remain focused to cease from rage.
The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.
When you are beaten and penalized for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept. Anyone forced to live so incredibly diametrically opposed to that which is natural to themselves, will end up in crisis if they don’t successfully find a way to improve or transcend these circumstances! All of which require healing. It is only by the Grace of God and the resilience of the people that things haven’t been worse.
Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.
We have no desire to create humanoids, turn people into machines, or dumb them down so that they remain dependent longer than necessary to an antiquated system in denial of its many inadequacies and need to evolve. Instead we seek to educate and shed light on the snares, traps, and enticements that people set up in the name of business that are intended only to catch the sleeping and/or uninformed.
Why would a system, ‘well intentioned’, wait until breakdown or incarceration to consider rehabilitation, after generations of institutionally inflicted trauma and abuse on a people? To me it is obvious that the accumulation of generational trauma and abuse have created the very behaviors the system tries to punish, by providing no sufficient outlets for the victims of institutional terror. Clearly, the institution seeks to hide its own criminal history at the expense and wholeness of the abused, who ‘acting out’ from years of abuse and mistreatment, reflect the very aggression that they were exposed to.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

What's Up With Conversion Stories?

I notice that a lot of websites/youtube channels focus a lot of attention on conversion stories. You know someone tells how he/she became Muslim. I like to hear such stories and I find them quite interesting. However, I  do not know of this being a way of daw'ah among the early generations of Islam. Also on the practical level - who really converts to Islam because of hearing such stories?

The only real example of someone who has really inspires other as a result of his conversion and more so on how he lived his life (or at least the myth we have of it) is Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X).

May Allah reward those people who have a good intention in doing this, but perhaps more time and effort should be put somewhere else - like learning the religion. One area to start is with learning tawhid, its right, and what nullifies it. Just some food for thought. I hope I do not offend anyone. What do you all think about this?