Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

“I got Indian in my family” is a phrase not foreign to Black folks, especially Southerners. It quickly rolls off the tongue as an explanation for phenotypic attributes such as keen noses, high cheekbones or “good hair.” Often dismissed as cliché, the notion is brushed off as foolish banter, but once upon a time Native American and Black communities did merge. With everyone so quick to claim “Indian blood” has anyone really questioned why and how this historic alliance came to be and why it dissolved?

William Loren Katz, a former public school teacher, wrote Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage to turn one dimensional accounts on their heads, shine a light of shame on American “heroes”and fill in where the blatant omission of textbooks fail us. While it is an insightful read targeted at middle and high schoolers, don’t be ashamed to walk into the young adult literature section of your local bookstore or library and pick it up. This factual work is a great resource for adults who have been deprived of this history, too!

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The Racial State of Puerto Rico

Demonstrating for statehood, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Demonstrating for statehood, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

With the structure of race, ethnicity, and culture in the United States, Afro Latinos often have a difficult time maintaining and celebrating both sides of their racial identity. From assumptions based on skin color to strict categorization in surveys and standardized testing, those of mixed heritages are often told that they need to pick a side. A study by the State University of New York at Albany found that “Hispanics who define themselves as ‘black’ have lower incomes and are more likely to reside in segregated neighborhoods than those who identify themselves as ‘white’ or ‘other.’” Even in multi-ethnic states, such as California, Afro Latinos feel pressure to choose sides or find themselves lumped into one category or another instead of being accepted as both Black and Latino.

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