Las Castas

Image Courtesy of NegroDocumentary.org

Image Courtesy of NegroDocumentary.org

Quadroon is a term used to describe the amount of African ancestry a person has. It stems from the Casta system of colonial Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Americas. The casta (caste) system was used to delineate a person’s racial identity. In Spanish America, it was believed a person’s character was based on their birth, color, race, and ethnic origin. Concomitantly, the castas system was used to determine a person’s place in society and controlled several aspects of their social and economic life (including taxation). Charts, like the one pictured above, were created to illustrate a social hierarchy, with “Peninsulars,” Spanish-born Spaniards, at the top of the social ladder, and “Negroes,” people of pure African decent, at the bottom.

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They Came Before Columbus

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Photo courtesy of whosworld.org

Ivan Van Sertima was a literary critic, linguist, anthropologist, and the author of the Holte Prize winning book They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America. Van Sertima believed that mariners from West African nations such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhay landed in North America long before any European and had a persistently ignored influence on Indigenous American culture.

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Negr@ y Orugullos@, Black and Proud

Model Joan Smalls Rodriguez in Black Power for V Magazine. Image Courtesy of

Joan Smalls Rodriguez Models Black Power for V Magazine. Image Courtesy of Alasdair McLellan

Happy Autumn! On our blog this month we highlight AfroLatino culture and history in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. There are vibrant and distinct Black communities throughout Mexico, Central and South America as well as the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. The term AfroLatino refers to people with Latin American heritage who also identify as descendants of the millions of Africans who were forced to work as slaves on sugar, tobacco and rice plantations in the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. AfroLatinidad is the tradition of struggle, rebellion and overcoming obstacles, which this community continues today.

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