Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Africans in Peru


Dr. Jorge Ramirez Reyna, Executive Director of the Black Association for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (ASONEDH), and a Civil Rights and Social Change activist in Peru, walked into the African American Cultural Center and the embrace of people eager to better understand the plight of Africans of Peru.  

He was the featured guest at the African American Cultural Center's Kwanzaa Umoja Reception on Sunday, December 7.

With the assistance of three translators, Dr. Reyna discussed how people are suffering due to racism, which plays out in negative media images, education, and a lack of political representation, much less political power.  But the people are organizing and fighting back.  The cultural artists are becoming more militant and using their art in the struggle, but they need more work, he said.

Part of their strategy has been to teach their true culture and heritage to the women so that they can teach the children.  (Sisters, sound familiar?  Seventy-five percent of the work........)

"Our people don't have a knowledge of their ancestors.  We need our young people to know everything beautiful about Africa and not think of Africa as a place of savagery, but as a country of kings and queens," Dr. Reyna said.

He certainly walked into the right place, courtesy of his host, Hasani, a member of the Organization Us (meaning us and not them).  Every Sunday it hosts a Soul Session at the Center, which highlights local, national and international issues, scholars and events.  Often, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor, Department of Africana Studies at Cal-State Long Beach, Chair of the Organization Us, and the founder of Kwanzaa (the seven-day African American and Pan African holiday) is the featured lecturer.

The next day I had the pleasure of conducting a one-on-one interview with Dr. Reyna for more insight.  We sat down, along with Sis. Hasani, at another L.A. cultural icon, Simply Wholesome restaurant on top of the hill.  Afterwards, we took photographs and when Sis. Hasani asked one of three gentlemen sitting nearby to shoot for us, a simple favor turned into a family reunion.  

Also above is a photograph of Dr. Reyna and Justo Mena (far right), his son Jaime Mena (2nd right) and his brother, Victor Loredo (far left) all of Garifuna in Central America.  They have family members back home who've received assistance from Dr. Reyna and ASONEDH on various issues.

Look for more on Dr. Jorge Ramirez Reyna and Africans in Peru in the Final Call!



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