Spotlight of the Month: Bonaverense

A few months ago, I stumbled upon an awesome project in on my Instagram.   After reading the post introducing the organization, I was immediately struck by the passion and mission of this organization and I just knew I had to share it with you all!  Black Girl, Latin World is all about passion, purpose and changing the world.  We love to support and recognize people and orgs doing great things.

Bonaverense.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

Bonaverense, a non-profit dedicated to providing youth on Colombia’s pacific coast with educational resources, was founded during the summer of 2014 by Jor Alexis Arcila.  Its focus is encouraging youth of the Colombian Pacific through soccer and education.  By providing opportunities for the young folk in this area to play soccer and have a better education, Bonaverense is helping the community to empower themselves.  One of Bonaverse’s goals is to build a soccer academy in Buenaventura, Colombia.  Many in the population of the Colombian Pacific are Afro-descendants and that is why this project struck a cord with me.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

Why is this work important?

It’s a proven fact that health and wellness are important to everyone.  Bonaverense understands that soccer brings health and fitness mentally and physically.  An individual with positive health has a better social, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual state.  Soccer gives youth the avenue to build bonds, gain pride in their community and stay healthy.

Off to a great start

Bonaverense may have started a few months ago but it has hit the ground running!  Already making connections with other orgs, developing a steady presence at local events and receiving nonprofit status!  One of the most recent accomplishments was a youth book drive for the youth of Buenaventura, Colombia.  The book drive reached out to communities in Houston, New York and other cities to provide books for youth overseas.

Over 500+ books here, along with roughly 100 pairs of shoes for the Thankful for education bookdrive. These donations will help communities in Bonaverse empower themselves! PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

How can you get involved?

Follow Bonaverense on social media for opportunities to volunteer and get involved with the non-profit.

Keep up the awesome work, Bonaverense!  We are looking forward to the continued progress of this project. 

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Diaspora Dialogues: We Are Familia

Last month, I had the chance to connect with writer/creator James Jones about his amazing project “We Are Familia”.   As a writer myself, I was really excited to connect with the creator of the show and get his insight, inspiration and story.

What is “WE ARE FAMILIA”?

In the style of A Different World and East Los High, “We are Familia” details the untold story of Latino students at historically Black colleges.  One of the few television shows featuring the stories of Black Latino characters, “We are Familia” is set to expand our thoughts on race, ethnicity and culture.

The cast of hit 90s show: A Different World PHOTO: http://www.boldaslove.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/A-Different-World-tv-02.jpg
The cast of hit 90s show: A Different World
PHOTO: http://www.boldaslove.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/A-Different-World-tv-02.jpg

Besides Romeo from The Steve Harvey Show, I don’t remember seeing many Afro-Latino characters on my television screen growing up.

Yes!  Excitement feels my heart.  Finally.

Summary:

“When a Historically Black College gives scholarships to twenty incoming Latino freshmen, the campus falls into a cultural uproar, as the African American and Latino students struggle to coexist. The campus is further disrupted when a Latino student of Afro descent is awarded a scholarship, which in turn challenges everyone’s thoughts on race, ethnicity, and culture. In the end, the students learn that what unites them is stronger than what separates them and that “family” extends past all color lines and language barriers.”  (Synopsis from the blackbalancemedia.com website)
Check out the video of a Latino student at an HBCU sharing his story.

The Inspiration

Talking with Writer James Jones, I was curious about his inspiration for the show.  He wanted to explore the side of HBCUs that had not been touched on media.  Jones brought out the example of A Different World and how there were characters of Latino descent.  That got him thinking: What about the stories of Latino characters in this space? It’s an important question as we explore the relations between Latino/Black/Afro-Latino communities.

James Jones’s learned about the diaspora by chance in his ROTC group in grade school.  He noticed certain students were being promoted to superior cadet and which according to Jones “largely had to do with them being bilingual”.  One student who received the scholarship  that Jones had known for many years was a Black young woman with the last name “McDonald”.  Jones was surprised to learn that she was Panamanian and there was a community of students who identified as both Black and Latino in his school.

Why now?

It’s obvious why a television show like this is needed.  Jones noted that images of Latinidad on television very seldom include Black people.  I agree and by supporting this show we can place more of the stories that matter on screen.  Let’s be real.  The images that we see on screen provide knowledge about the world and projects like this reflect diverse experiences.  I am stoked to see this take fold!

The Advice

Jones gave some great advice about writing for film and getting your work out there!

1. Get internships in the industry.  If you want to work in the industry, get a job in the industry.

2. Keep a blog because you never know who is looking at you.

3. Submit to agents! Name Recognition is your friend. The more they see your name, the more likely they are to look at your work.

4. Take a writing class!  You don’t need to get a degree in Film but you do need to hone your craft.

5. Become a script reader.

6. Work on multiple projects.  If you submit something have another project that you are working on!

Check out this Social Media Skit by the We Are Familia Supporters!

This hilarious skit was created by supporters of the show for the social media fundraising campaign.  Although it is not a preview for the show, it diffidently gets me pumped for “We are Familia”.

This skit reminded me of my experience growing up in Houston, Texas.  In a few minutes, they touch on key issues between Black and Brown communities like who owns certain hairstyles, intercultural dating and diversity within communities.  I liked the line “I’m China Latina” because not many people know about Latino communities of Asian descent. It’s awesome how a cute, funny and short skit can share a story in a creative way!

SUPPORT THE SHOW

Check out the gofundme page and contribute to the making this show happen!  More info on: http://www.gofundme.com/wearefamilia

I would like to thank James Jones for talking with Black Girl, Latin World and offering advice on the film industry.  I know we will see this project on screen soon!

You understood what I said?: The Spanish Speaking “African American”

One time I was sitting in class assisting the Spanish Teacher Jesus and one of the Spanish speaking students came in talking to him about going to the beach.  Without thinking, I replied to the question.  “You understood what I said?” the student asked.

Dang, I blew my cover. 

Ever experienced this?  Replying to Spanish-speakers as a Black body in Texas provokes questions.  My professor, an Afro-Puerto Rican man, told me that people give him strange looks when he speaks the language.  And he’s PUERTO RICAN.  I guess, that’s life.  I believe that most of the time it’s more out of curiosity though. I haven’t met many Afro-Latinos in Texas.  In Texas, most of the hispanic/latino population is Mexican American or of Mexican descent.  Sadly, the Blackness in Mexican culture is not widely known.  So I can understand when someone takes a double look when I speak spanish.  Shoot, I do it too.

Luckily, there are a wealth of Spanish speaking African Americans who share my passion for the language.  One is one of America’s sweetheart Ms. Huxtible who learned Spanish when her family moved to Mexico during her childhood.  She is one of my favorite actresses.

The One and Only Phylicia Rashad of the Cosby Show

I recently connected through my blog with another Spanish aficionado, rapper Bishop the Eastside NappyHead.  He’s an African American who learned Spanish in Panama.  Check the first 30 seconds of this video where he raps in Spanish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM3qJatWMiM

I encourage my African American brothers and sisters to learn Spanish and Portuguese to connect across the diaspora.  There are more Black people in Latin America than the United States.  Through language, we can understand our common experiences and linkages to Africa.  I understand more about my history as a person of color by studying Black Brazilians and Black Mexicans.  In  In Rio, I wish I spoke portuguese so that I could have understood more.  Learning a language opens up a new world of business and romantic connections.  But most importantly it opens up a world of fun.   Bust out the Rosetta Stone!  Hit up the Salsa Club!  Flirt with a spanish speaking person!  Speaking spanish is where its at.