I just wanted to share this discussion from last week on the controversial film, Django Unchained, that was hosted by Al Elliott. Al Elliott will be having regular discussions on Google+ hangouts about important issues, so stay tuned and get involved.
This week I watched the new documentary film, “” by Eugene Jarecki, that highlights the impact that the War on Drugs has had on economically marginalized communities. Although I was thoroughly impressed with the film, it is not the only documentary out there that has dealt with this issue. The documentary “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and The Crack Generation” by Ice-T is another powerful film that has also examined this topic.
The New Jim Crow, a term coined by legal scholar Michelle Alexander, describes the oppressive segregation that has resulted from the war on drugs, mandatory minimum sentences and the continued criminalization of African-American communities. This film features Hip Hop legends such as Chuck D, Rakim, Raekwon, RZA, Pepa, Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), Too Short, B-Real and others. A number of leading scholars contribute to the film such as, Michelle Alexander, Todd Boyd, Paul Butler, Nelson George and more. There is also powerful commentary from two former drug dealers, “Freeway” Rick Ross and Azie Faison along with stories from individuals, who experienced crack cocaine addiction themselves. Planet Rock weaves all of these stories together through the lens of Hip Hop, the urban American phenomenon that emerged in the South Bronx in the 1970s.
The film highlights how Hip Hop has responded to the War on Drugs and the introduction of crack cocaine into our communities. The film discusses the Hip Hop community pre-crack cocaine, the influence of the film “Scarface“, the efforts of Hip Hop to combat crack addiction and economic realities that pushed many into the drug trade. This film definitely tells a sobering and nuanced story that will help us all realize the tremendous devastation that crack and the war on drugs have had on our community. We need to continue to raise awareness and encourage action to combat the New Jim Crow, the most pressing civil rights issue in our nation today. Let’s share, comment, connect and keep building!
Proper Education Always Corrects Errors
Tonight I had the fortune of watching a documentary about one of, if not the most, significant issue facing our society here in this “Land of the Free”. The title of the documentary I am referring to is “The House I Live In” by Eugene Jarecki which based solely upon the cast and executive producers makes it a most see for every citizen of this nation and any concerned world citizen. The films executive producers are Danny Glover, John Legend and Russel Simmons, none of whom are featured in the film. The documentary includes candid contributions by many people most notably, Michelle Alexander, William Julius Wilson, Charles Ogletree, and David Simon to name a few. The film also covers the story of many people within the periphery of our society, individuals actively involved in the drug trade, those who have been victimized by the War on Drugs and mass incarceration and those fighting against the War on Drugs, many of whom are behind the shield, gavel or prison walls and know first hand the cruel and unjust human cost that this war is inflicting upon the masses from historically oppressed communities.
It needs not be a secret or an obscure reality that the War on Drugs, most recognizably instituted and enacted by the Nixon and Reagan administrations, has resulted in both a de facto (matter of fact) and a de jure (law based) system of racial and class oppression that is destroying the fabric of urban and rural America.
This film outlines the political, social/cultural, racist, classist and economic histories of the War on Drugs in great detail, providing viewers with a deeper understanding of the realities on the ground in our society. This film sheds light on why we as a society are so blindly complicit with millions of humans being systematically oppressed by the legal machinery that has effectively instituted a New Jim Crow in this third the beginning of the millennium of the Common Era.
For all lovers of justice, humanity, peace and good conscious, this is a must see film. The scholars in this film are top notch and the narratives of those beyond the margins and enforcing the margins are tremendously honest and shockingly vivid. If after watching this film, you are not better informed and motivated to take action no matter how seemingly infinitesimal, than you are existing a life on the wrong side of truth and history.
I am encouraging everyone to see this film, disseminate its message and take interest and action to rectify this inexcusable and intolerable injustice. Lastly, I would ask that you move forward in life with a greater sense of purpose and passion for ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and the criminalization of economically disadvantaged communities. As one of the documentary’s contributors eloquently stated, “you don’t treat pneumonia by treating the cough,” but you treat the actual inflammation of the lungs, which is causing the coughing. I have also heard it explained that throwing police and prison at the drug problem in the United States is akin to throwing ambulances at cancer. This is in effect what has been going on in the United States since the 1970s and the resulting crisis in African American, Latino and rural communities has been no less problematic than cancer and arguably worse. The solutions to the United States’ drug problem do not lie in the criminal justice system as we currently know it but rather lies in abolishing and amending current legal codes related to the sale of narcotics. The cure also lies in truly recognizing the humanity of marginalized communities and individuals by creating dynamic educational programs that empower members of these communities to know the historical narratives at play in their lives and realities and provide them with tangible access to livable and gainful employment. I do not have all of the answers but I am willing to think on possible solutions, share my ideas, dialogue and connect with others committed to this “the most pressing civil rights issues” of our time.
Below is a trailer for the film and a link to its website that has information about where the film is begin shown. I want to thank the creators and cast members of this film for there service and for raising awareness regarding the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. I am a fan of the Maya Angelou quote that, “when you know better, you do better.” I trust that this film will result in us all collectively DOING better.
Proper Education Always Corrects Errors
On Friday, August 17th of 2012, as I watched my Twitter timeline, my eyes were drawn to a tweet by Bakari Kitwana (@therealbakari) that read, “we spend 2 much time in mainstream national discourse letting racists define what racism is. those who know, call it what it is #noapologies.” Mr. Kitwana prefaced and followed this tweet up with a number of links to a recent MSNBC political discussion regarding controversial comments made by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney’s comments and the ensuing discussion can be viewed here.
MSNBC contributor, Touré, of post racialism fame, and co-host S.E. Cull, engaged in a brief, heated and racially charged debate. Mitt Romney’s comments that were called into question are as follows, “This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like…Mr. President take your campaign and division and anger and hate back to Chicago…”
MSNBC co-host, Krystal Ball then stated that these comments “seem loaded” and she elicited feedback from the panelists. Touré then provided his assessment of Mr. Romney’s political rhetoric; “That really bothered me. You notice he said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us. I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization.’ You are not one of us and that you are like the scary black man we’ve been trained to fear.” Touré went on to explain how the use of the descriptor, angry in reference to the President was antithetical to “No Drama Obama’s” political methodology, training and philosophy.
Co-host S.E. Cupp took offense to Touré’s assertion that Romney’s statements were a veiled attempt to niggerize President Obama. In making her point, Ms. Cupp alluded to Vice President Biden’s recent “Back in Chains” comment, which Touré called “divisive.” She continued by posing questions regarding a double standard, “…because he [Romney] used the word ‘angry,’ now his is the racially charged comment. Do you see how dishonest that is?” Touré clarified that he did not call anyone racist while S.E. Cupp continued to assert, “Certainly you were implying that Mitt Romney and the base will respond to this dog-whistle, racially-charged coding, and hate Obama, the angry black man?” She completed her assault of Touré’s assessment stating matter-of-factly, “that is so irresponsible Touré.” At this point Touré begins to lay out some historical allusions as to how the GOP (the Grand Old Party a.k.a. the Republicans) used racial coding going back “perhaps as far as Nixon.”
I want to end the synopsis about the discussion here, and add that racially coded language is a cornerstone of American politics, history, culture, life and reality. Furthermore racially coded language does more than date back, “perhaps as far as Nixon.” Racially coded language has been in play on both sides of the popular political discourse in these “United” States for as long as her creation, and that may in fact be what truly unites us.
Law and Disorder in Philadelphia
This BBC series examines the state of the street violence and the drug trade in Philadelphia. For me, this piece is important because I work with young men mainly from Philadelphia already knee deep in the juvenile justice system. I want to warn you that the journalist, Louis Theroux, is more of a comedian and sensationalist than a sincere journalist. However, I do think that some valuable discussions take place in this documentary including: the exploitation of the youth by higher level drug dealers, police brutality, the role of drug dealers as community figureheads, the impact of the drug trade in these neighborhoods, the lack of cooperation and understanding between police and citizens and the issue of ‘No Snitchin.” Philadelphia is one of America’s incredible cities with incredible people but it also has some significant problems that need to be addressed more effectively. What do you think can be done to make a difference? As always, watch, enjoy, learn, comment and share.
- That Ain’t Gangster…That’s Mental – The Philly SEPTA Bus Shooting (amilcook.com)
- Tattooed Teardrops: The Tragedy of The Tattoo Fad in Hip-Hop (amilcook.com)
- A Critical Film on Hip-Hop – Beyond Beats and Rhymes (amilcook.com)
The 1990s Era of Hip Hop and Me
I was fortunate enough to come of age during the 1990s when Hip-Hop was taking a firm hold of urban culture throughout our nation. There was Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, Heavy D, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Queen Latifa, Das FX, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Kriss Kross, MC Lyte, Positive K, Naughty By Nature, Yo-Yo and scores of other groups featured on TV Shows like BET’s Rap City and MTV’s Yo! MTV Raps. This was the cultural world and energy I experienced each and every day that I left the confines of my home. My parents were older and were deeply into Jazz, RnB, Blues and of course Michael Jackson, which was probably the closest thing to Hip-Hop for me during my early childhood. There was clearly a disconnect between what my parents were listening to and what would eventually take the neighborhood and the world by storm.
This generational gap continued to widen as the nineties commenced. There was a new flavor of Hip-Hop emerging that not only scared my parents and elders but actually scared me as well. I remember being nine years old and having one of my teenage afterschool counselors play a track off of one of N.W.A or Eazy-E’s albums. All I know was that I heard Eazy-E’s unmistakably high pitched voice ordering a restaurant full of people to hit the floor, while he proceeded to rob the place. At that exact moment I remember experiencing a feeling of tremendous excitement that include adrenaline running through me but this feeling was followed by feelings of shame and guilt. I almost felt as if I had just witnessed the fictional but dramatically realistic robbery with Eazy-E. I remember the ease at which he threw around the F-word and other curse words as if no one cared or was listening. It was lawless and extremely violent and deserved the “parental advisory” sticker that was placed on its cassette jacket. I also think at this particular moment, Hip-Hop lost some of its innocence for me. It was no longer something I viewed as completely benign and cool but it became something with a dark side and that dark side scared me. Little did I know then how much of a turn Hip-Hop would take towards the dark side.
As I finished Elementary School, Hip-Hop was officially our thing. The ‘Fab Five’ of the University of Michigan had made it to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship two years in a row. They wore the iconic baggy golden or navy blue shorts and had attitudes to match. Tupac Shakur’s Keep Your Head Up was a street anthem. Nas had hit the scene with If I Ruled the World (Imagine That). The intergenerational conflict over Hip-Hop hit the front pages of newspapers and it also was a top story on the nightly news. I remember watching C. Delores Tucker and other leaders condemn the lyrics, imagery and music of Snoop Dogg, Too Live Crew and Tupac Shakur. It was an all out war over the viability of Hip-Hop. All of us young people were unequivocal in our support of Hip-Hop. Why not support it? It was talking to and about us. The young people were tired of the Civil Rights era elders who seemed to be attacking our culture and who were at the same time ineffective at tackling the problem of police brutality and racial profiling that had reached a boiling point with the Rodney King Case and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. By this time, I had become accustomed to hearing the arguments for and against the raw and explicit lyrics in the rap. Whenever I got the chance I would try to listen to some of the contemptuous artists of the day. Of course, my parents tried their hardest to censor the music I heard and it worked, while I was home. In the house, I would have to listen to Shaquille O’Neal’s album Shaq Diesel or one of Kris Kross’ albums, which I actually found genuinely enjoyable. Nonetheless, I looked forward to going to school and hearing the latest, hardest and most ostracized sounds from my boys, whose parents either did not know, did not care or were listening to the same music. Despite the presence of this controversial element in Hip-Hop during this time, there was still a great deal of light and love. The films Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee had come out and Public Enemy was on the scene with Black Power insignias, black barrettes and the Fruit of Islam stepping in unison on stage. I vividly remember the impact the film, Malcolm X had on the city of Boston. It felt as if everyone from the babies in their strollers, their mothers to the winos on the corners had some “X” paraphernalia on. It could have been a hat, t-shirt, sneakers, key chain or gold necklace but people were representing a certain consciousness about what was going on in society and I could feel the power of the people. The darkness of hip-hop had cleared away and was but a distant memory.
Entering middle school, I was thrown into an environment with older kids, who were so much bigger and tougher than I had imagined them to be. There were no “X” hats or t-shirts to be found. I can vividly remember as a sixth grader, a fight between two sixth grade students and the remarkable thing about it was not the fight at all. I had seen plenty and had my fair share. What struck me about this fight was that one of the combatants was wearing an extraordinary gold chain that consisted of hollow golden links shaped into tiny crosses only to support a much larger and more pronounced golden cross pendant. Class was dismissed and the two young men began cursing and fighting and then this remarkable piece of jewelry exploded like a fourth of July firework with tiny shimmering pieces of gold floating in the air, announcing a new era in Hip-Hop; the era of what Chuck D calls, black animosity. These two sixth graders went at each other with everything they had, as members of the crowd kneeled down to pick up these fragments of gold spread across the school’s dusty hallway. I remember kneeling down and picking up a handful of these golden crosses. I stared at them and wondered, “how did this kid my age afford this chain?…What could I get for these pieces?…what does his family think about this chain?” While in the middle of my thoughts, he appeared before me still panting from the fisticuffs. He still had adrenaline flowing through him because he was trying to pick up these tiny crosses but his hands were shaking too much and he struggles to find his equilibrium and his damaged necklace. I generously extended my hand to him, passing him about five of these flattened and crushed little fragile crosses. He took them nodded agreeably as if to thank me and he went about his business, probably headed to the principal’s office or out of the school. The good old days of decency were over; the dark clouds were back and this time they were here to stay.
It was during middle school around 1996 that I was thoroughly introduced to the darker side of Hip-Hop music. I was turned onto Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s Thuggish Roughish Bone and Mr. Ouija. I remember the macabre intros and preludes on the E. 1999 Eternal album as I hid in my room at night, listening to this music that I knew my parents would not approve of. I still remember the lyrics, “more money, more money, more murda…now.” The rhythmic and harmonious flows of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were choral and yet paradoxically demonic. It was the demonic side of the music that both intrigued and frightened me. Ironically, I was entering the phase of adolescence where young men deny their fears and assert their masculine identities in more forceful ways. I forced myself to enjoy these feelings as I graduated from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die.
The introduction to the Ready to Die album was incredibly powerful, chilling and unforgettable to an impressionable and curious 13 year old mind. It was as if a motion picture was being displayed in the depths of my cerebral cortex, with a vividness High Definition has yet to capture. I remember feeling the same uneasiness and mixed feelings I had from hearing Eazy-E’s skit years prior. Nonetheless, it was time from me to hear these voices from the street that were supposed to be speaking for and to me. So…I listened…and listened…and listened. The lyrics began to make more sense to me as I tried to understand the changing times in the Unites States. I was realizing that the world was a tough place, where the fierce were respected, feared and dominant. The New York Knicks represented this on the basketball court, while Johnnie Cochran, the lead of the O.J. Simpson defense team represented this in the court of law. It seemed as if Hip-Hop culture was fighting back. The days of apologetics and political rallies were over. It was an era of black animosity, animosity towards society, the police and each other. This animosity manifested itself in a feud between the Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur. This feud sparked a bicoastal war of words that seemed to further validate the need for young people to be fierce and aggressive. The music represented this as the artists and groups that captured our attention shifted towards those telling stories of the dark side. Gone were the likes of Kris Kross, Heavy D, Run DMC, Queen Latifa and even Naughty by Nature. In their place rose artists and groups like, the Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Nas, Master P, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jay-Z, UGK, Big Pun, D.M.X and others. This movement of Hip-Hop music and culture towards a more aggressive, criminality laced and hardcore style of music tragically served as the backdrop for the deaths of Hip-Hop’s two most influential stars, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., who were murdered in 1996 and 1997 respectively. This was once again one of the emotional moments when Hip-Hop’s darker side was all too real and I wondered if things were ever going to change.
It was these interactions with Hip-Hop that allowed me to begin to recognize that although the era of yesteryear was gone, the roots of Hip-Hop were still alive in the music if I listened hard enough. I found that there was a balance between the dark side and the light of love in Hip-Hop and that I had to find a balance that spoke to me and my soul. I found the light of love in the music of Lauryn Hill, Dead Prez, Mos Def, The Roots, Talib Kweli but now I had the maturity and understanding to begin extracting life lessons and experiences from the dark side as well. I realized that the harder side of Hip-Hop, although dangerous and controversial, was just as insightful as the overtly positive side. I had finally found a balance, a yin and yang that would continue to guide me through the 2000s allowing me to never get too deep into the conscious stream but likewise never too deep into the streets or too commercial.
Hip-Hop music and culture has definitely played fundamental role in shaping and informing my experiences. It has served to uplift me, fight for my rights, encourage me and educate me but it has also served to scare me, warn me and inform me about the pitfalls and character flaws of men and women. I am thankful for both the divine and demonic elements of Hip-Hop, which have informed me about the duality of existence, the hypocrisy of man and the power of our ability to define ourselves through our own words.
- A Critical Film on Hip-Hop – Beyond Beats and Rhymes (amilcook.com)
- The Wu-Tang Clan Is Looking for an Unpaid Intern (newsfeed.time.com)
- DJ Cool Cook’s Song of the Week (amilcook.com)
- Beat This!: A hip hop history (dangerousminds.net)
Bring Your A Game, released in 2009 and directed by Mario Van Peebles, is a motivational documentary about the realities facing America’s inner city youth. The great thing about this documentary is not that it features the likes of, Geoffrey Canada, Lupe Fiasco, Ice Cube, Sean Combs and others, but that it provides constructive solutions to the problems facing America’s inner city youth. The solution is bringing your A game through education. If you work with young people, or are a young person yourself, take twenty minutes to watch this film and be inspired.
AfroLatinos is a stunning new documentary coming to viewers in 2012. This film is going to highlight the presence, history, experience, cultural impact and problems facing AfroLatinos. Many people from the United States and the other places, including myself, never realized that so many Africans were brought to Latin America during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade era. I find it remarkable that we in the United States have known so very little of our African relatives in Latin America.
- Brazil – Discovering My Other Southern Roots (amilcook.com)
- Henry Louis Gates on Black in Latin America (repeatingislands.com)
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Black In Latin America (huffingtonpost.com)
- Afro-Descendants Forum in Caracas (Haiti Comm. and Solidarity Fund Established) (hcvanalysis.wordpress.com)
- Fourth International Forum of Afro-Descendents held in Caracas (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Danny Glover Visits Cuba To Support People Of African Descent (harlemworldblog.wordpress.com)
Brazil – Discovering My Other Southern Roots
I have a distinct passion for learning and documenting the history, implications and lessons of contact and interaction between Afro-Brazilians and African Americans. Growing up in America it is often times perceived that African Americans are the quintessential African community outside of Africa. As a matter of fact, this is the case in terms of economic, political and social status, with African Americans enjoying a special place of prominence within the African Diaspora. This interest was sparked as I matriculated through my undergraduate degree in African American Studies at Morehouse College, where I was stunned to discover that 38% of those enslaved in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade were exported to Brazil. I took a trip to visit Brazil, in 2004, as a member of a student delegation from Morehouse College and other Atlanta University Center schools to the first Afro-Brazilian University of its kind, Universidade Zumbi Dos Palmares, to highlight the meaning, implication, and importance of the largest African-American population, Afro Brasileiros. Traveling to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, I was in awe of the numerous shades, faces and infusion of Afro-Brazilian culture within the larger Brazilian society. I was also tremendously shocked that I had been ignorant of this for so long, since I considered myself a student of Africa, African-Americans and the African Diaspora.
In the Brazilian cuisine, Candomblé, Samba, Umbanda, Brazilian Hip-Hop and other cultural expressions, I heard another African-American story. A story not widely disseminated here in the United States among African Americans. This led me to wonder, why? Was I alone in my ignorance? Was there a history of interaction and support and between these two societies of Africans in the Americas? I began to read books like, Brazil: 500 Years of Change by Thomas Skidmore, which floored me when it referred to Brazil as home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Nigeria. I remembered that Pelé, the soccer great, was Afro Brazilian. Then I remembered the film, Only the Strong starring Jean Claude Van Dame, who played a character who learned Capoeira from an Afro Brazilian Mestre. I realized that there were pieces to the puzzle all around but no one had put them together in a clear and concise manner for my generation. Many of us undergraduate students and our elders as well, looked to the Caribbean, Africa, and the American South to connect with our African “roots.” Never had it dawned on me to look to South America to learn more about the African experience.
As I met more Brazilians and self identified Afro-Brazilians, I would ask them about their struggles against racism and oppression that resulted from the legacy of slavery in Brazil. Time and time again, I was told that Afro-Brazilians looked towards the African-Americans in the United States for inspiration, both culturally and politically. Mala Hutn confirms that, “Brazilian activists were also influenced by non-white Third World nationalist movements and the U.S. civil rights movement.” There was clearly a great respect for Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., R & B music, Soul music, and Hip-Hop. Despite the admiration for African Americans’ historical movements, figures and cultural manifestations, I found out that in Brazil, “race-based collective action has been relatively rare, but not absent entirely.” It appeared that Afro-Brazilians were entering their own civil rights era, which further sparked my interest, curiosity and desire to get involved.
As our student delegation visited universities and met with Afro Brazilian student delegations, it became clear that the historical inequalities that resulted from slavery in the United States were alive and well in Brazil and markedly pronounced. I wondered as to why Afro-Brazilians were so seemingly far removed from the political, social, and economic advantages and visibility in these arenas that resulted from the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. As Mala Hutn explains, there is an Afro-Brazilian “absence among political, business, and media elites, and cultural practices known to all such as the use of terms like boa aparência to exclude dark-skinned people from employment.”
There were vibrant Afro-Brazilian movements for the establishment of affirmative action in the state university systems of Brazil. The Brazilians involved in these movements expressed that their movements looked to the accomplishment of African-American in the United States with affirmative action as proof that affirmative action policies were a benefit to society. Ironically, these conversations were taking place at the same time that affirmative action policies and quotas were being repealed stateside, which served as fuel for those in Brazil opposed to the establishment of affirmative action policies in Brazil. The passionate Afro-Brazilian voices explained that Brazil is now experiencing the start of its “Afro-Brazilian Civil Rights Movement.” This excited and saddened me simultaneously. On the one hand, I was excited that the struggle to tackle the problems associated with disproportionate socioeconomic circumstances of the Afro-Brazilian community and the legacy of slavery were being addressed on larger scale. On the other hand, I was saddened that these issues were only recently being brought to the attention of the masses in Brazil. There was also a strong push back against these passionate Afro-Brazilian voices by those in who believed that Brazil’s “social democracy” did not need measures used by African-Americans in North America, down in South America. As Mala Hutn highlights opposition movement in Brazil speak of, “fears that quotas are a policy based on U.S. race relations and history and will consequently introduce false racial divisions to Brazil and end up generating greater injustice (Pinto de Góes 2001).” The eroding policies of affirmative action in the United States juxtaposed to the nascent affirmative action movement in Brazil highlighted that there was still fertile grounds where social change was necessary and vulnerable.
In general the African-American community has largely conceded that affirmative action is waning in political feasibility, despite continued many who continue to advocate for it. Many arguments have been made that affirmative action in the United States has served its purpose and is no longer necessary, as minorities have entered the higher realms of society in education, politics, business and the media. America is moving away from the “one-drop rule” with many people who previously would have exclusively considered themselves as black or African-American, opting to identify themselves by their many ancestries. In Brazil an opposite trend is developing. As Hutn notes, “at the same time that the United States seems to be moving away from its historic “one-drop” policy and toward a recognition of mixity, evinced by the ability of residents to identify with multiple racial categories in the 2000 census, Brazilian quota advocates seem to be pushing Brazil in the direction of greater fixity in identities.”
Ironically, as a minority student in high school, I was witness to one of America’s largest debates about affirmative action and quotas in particular, the case of racial quotas at Boston Latin School. This case was filed by the parents of Julia McLaughlin, who was denied admission to Boston Latin School despite scoring higher than dozens of minority students on the schools entrance exam. This case reverberated around the nation, Boston and the lives of students, minorities and non-minorities alike. The federal appeals court decided to rule in the favor of admitting this young student, despite the city of Boston’s policy of racial quotas at the prestigious Boston Latin School.
It is my desire to further study and analyze the linkages, struggles and approaches of Afro Brazilian experience and the African American experience. It is my belief that there much benefit in this discourse for all parties privy to it. I look forward to making major contributions to the struggles for improvement of African descendants in both Brazil and the United States. The writing above is only the beginning of my scholarly work.
 Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and David Eltis, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research, Harvard University. Based on “records for 27,233 voyages that set out to obtain slaves for the Americas”. Stephen Behrendt (1999). “Transatlantic Slave Trade”. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.
 Skidmore, Thomas. Brazil. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1999.
 Htun, Mala. “From “Racial Democracy” to Affirmative Action: Changing State Policy on Race in Brazil.” Latin American Research Review. 39.1 (2004): 60-89. Print.
 Htun, Mala. “From “Racial Democracy” to Affirmative Action: Changing State Policy on Race in Brazil.” Latin American Research Review. 39.1 (2004): 60-89. Print.
 “African descendants make up 33.7 million of 53 million poor Brazilians. Of 22 million indigents, African descendants are 15.1 million. Among the 76 million African descendant Brazilians, 48.8 million of them live in subhuman conditions of poverty and indigence” Beato, Lucila. “Inequality and Human Rights of African Descendants in Brazil.” Journal of Black Studies. 34.6 (2004): 766-786. Print.