This article is reproduced entirely from the AfroAmerica XXI Newsletter #2
In response to the continued lack of investment, economic marginalization and human rights violations, leaders of African descendant communities from Latin America have created AFROAMERICA XXI (AAXXI). This is a coalition with chapters in thirteen (13) countries in the Americas and partnerships in Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and Europe.
Of the approximately 540 million people in the Latin America, 150 million are Afro Latinos. Similar to others of African descent, Afro Latinos have suffered the ravages and devastation of slavery and continue to suffer from persistent acts of racism. Politically and economically isolated, most Afro-descendants throughout Latin America do not have legal protection, political representation, land rights, human rights or access to quality healthcare.
Brazil (52%) and Colombia (26%) are the countries with the largest Black populations in South America. Fortunately, Brazil and Colombia have both recently developed the most extensive anti-discrimination legislation for African descendants in Latin America.
AFROAMERICA XXI (AAXXI) is a coalition of African Descendant organizations designed to provide solutions to the various issues plaguing African descendant populations in their respective localities and on the international level through which African descendants from the Americas [a] have defined their goals for this century [b] have an Action Plan to attain these results [c] collectively fight the problems of racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion [d] advocate for their interests nationally and internationally and [e] form links worldwide with the African Diaspora and support one another.
With our acquired experience and focus on accomplishing our action plan (1998-2021), we continue to strengthen our organizations and build new and innovative programs to improve the living conditions of African descendants from Latin America. We hope, with your support, to continue this work.
WHAT WE DO
*Bring visibility to African descendants on the local and international levels.
*Strengthen African descendants' human resources, raise levels of self-esteem, improve community organizational capacities and increase participation in the democratic process of governance, improve the administrative, financial and programming abilities for the development of Afro-descendants' Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and interconnect the Black organizations and communities in this hemisphere.
*Find support for projects of the African descendants' civil society organizations that target solutions to the high-priority problems that African descendants from Latin America face.
*Obtain support from the governments of the region and international agencies for programs that are a high-priority for African descendant populations, such as those that work toward the reduction of poverty.
PROGRAMS IN LATIN AMERICA
Democratic Participation: Our programs look to enhance the roles of Afro-Latino representatives and organizations and to advocate for government responsiveness to the needs of their communities. We work to promote local political participation of Afro-Latino organizations and leaders. We build roundtables with representatives of the government to collect feedback from representatives of the Afro-Latino community on the greatest challenges they face in their respective countries. Even though these goals are important, only a few Afro-Latino organizations have experience in working towards achieving them. We have identified experts that travel to different countries on behalf of AAXXI and meet with local organizations to develop training methodology that is participatory, dynamic and based on the realities of the particular communities. Also, we work with legislators and other leaders to introduce legislative proposals.
Education: AAXXI is lobbying on the local and national levels to re-design school curriculums and incorporate Afro-Latino historical content that is appropriate for the different levels of the educational system. We are also working to increase access to middle, secondary and higher education, particularly for the rural, and low-income urban sectors. We are promoting and establishing scholarship funds for Afro-Latino students from low income families.
Health: AAXXI has designed and implemented effective campaigns and programs in the areas of preventive, reproductive and sexual health care among young people and adults. There are special programs for the prevention of AIDS, a disease that has had an alarming increase in the Afro-Latino population in the past 10 years. We are also working to recover and use natural medicines and traditional medicinal practices of Afro-Latino culture. Equally important is the effort to advocate for the improvement of physical infrastructure and professional staff at the health centers in Black communities.
Economic Empowerment: AAXXI is building methodologies to foster the creation of new micro-enterprises and to strengthen those already existing among African descendants in Latin America. This will be done by providing technical support, lobbying and advisory services. The principal characteristics of this effort are: respect for the culture and increasing the participation of the communities in these initiatives. With the help of our different tourist programs, we are also supporting Black businesses and stimulating the growth of markets.
Human Rights: AAXXI is promoting the defense of human rights in the Afro-Latino community by developing and trainings groups of Afro-Latino lawyers and leaders. These groups are helping with issues of land protection, identifying cases and victims of racial discrimination and racially motivated police harassment.
We are also developing materials to distribute in the community and among Afro-Latino organizations. These materials include, "Compendio Normativo de Acciones Afirmativas a Favor de las Comunidades Afrolatioamericanas" and "Los afrodescendientes y los mecanismos de protección nacional y regional contra actos de discriminación racial, racismo, xenofobia e intolerancia." The first of these books contains all of the legislation supporting the rights of African Descendant peoples in Latin America, as well as international agreements on this subject. The second book is a hand book addressed to leaders in Latin America to help them identify cases of racial discrimination and police harassment and to know the legal action to take in those cases.
AAXXI is advocating for Afro-Latino issues at the Organization of America States (OAS). We are also registered at the OAS.
Media: AAXXI is producing a TV program in Colombia called "Sello Negro La Voz de los AfroColomianos." The TV program encourages discussing and educating the public on Afro-Colombian issues and racial discrimination. AAXXI is preparing to expand its website to include information about AAXXI activities, educational materials, and training methodologies. Finally, AAXXI is preparing a series of articles and reports on human rights and AAXXI's activities for Afro-Latino publications throughout the hemisphere. For this last initiative, we are calling on African-American organizations and international agencies to help us disseminate this information by requesting our published material and including it in their organizations' literature.
In all programs, we ensure the participation of women and youth. We also conduct focus groups in order to promote their ideas and activities.
PROGRAMS IN THE USA
Our office in the USA is integrated by an active group of Afro-Latinos and African-Americans. We are creating new ways to bring visibility to the Afro-Latino population, exchange experiences and solutions between Afro-Latino and African-American communities and to identify consortium organizations and promote and facilitate joint ventures.
Tourist Program: We have developed a program where US citizens can come and discover the Black Communities of Latin America through trips. You can learn about the Afro-Latino history, culture and the work that is taking place in Black community organizations. At the same time, you will be supporting Afro-Latino businesses, and enjoying traditional festivals, food, beautiful beaches, music and dance of African descendants in Central and South America.
Youth professional attachment: This program will begin in 2008, through which young Afro-Latino members from an organization in Latin America serve for three (3) months as temporary staff interns at Afroamerica XXI - USA, acquiring knowledge in English, while learning about international agencies, and lobbying. Also, these youths will be building links with African-American youth and universities.
Forums/Conferences: AAXXI prepares and conducts educational presentations during each year about the conditions of the African Diaspora from Latin America. This presentations help to build a dialogue with the international community, organizations and agencies in the USA.
WAYS TO HELP
Individuals and/or organizations can:
Volunteer to translate articles or proposals from Spanish to English.
Support new or existing programs and conferences developed by Afroamerica XXI.
Sponsor or support the visit of an Afro-Latino leader to your country or another country.
Participate in our educational rours to African descendant communities of Latin America.
Give a donation and help us to combat racial discrimination, exclusion and marginalization in the Americas.
Contact us with your suggestions or comments to improve our work.
AFROAMERICA XXI - USA
P.O. Box 3072
Washington DC 20010
Phone: 202-460-6446 / 202-269-1586