Chávez, Salsa and AfroVenezolanos

AfroVenezuelan group "Eleggua." Photo courtesy of newsamericamedia.org

AfroVenezuelan group “Eleggua.” Photo courtesy of newsamericamedia.org

In honor of AfroLatin@ Heritage Month, I want to pay tribute to two of my great loves: Salsa music and racial justice! Two dynamic personalities empowered a nation of AfroVenezolanos (AfroVenezuelans): Oscar D’León, one of my favorite salseros, and Hugo Chávez, the late president of Venezuela, who died at age 58 in March 2013.

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Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery

During his career as a musician and activist, Robert Nesta Marley focused his efforts on confronting and rectifying oppression through song. Much of his music is influenced by the unjust living conditions in his Jamaican community, Trench Town. His legacy as an activist is due to his ability to identify universal symptoms and efforts of social injustice. His songs detailed the systematic results of cultural imperialism and powerlessness in impoverished communities.

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Building Venezuela’s Future

Construyendo Futuros

For the past six years in Venezuela, the non-profit organization Construyendo Futuros – or Building Futures – has been positively changing the country one school, family and person at a time.

With a team of young college students, Construyendo Futuros plans, builds, equips and opens public schools. I helped found the organization when a group of my peers realized that public schools in our country were in unacceptable conditions. Similar to lower-income communities in the United States, Venezuela’s public education infrastructure is highly under developed. Most school buildings are totally damaged, some lacking roofs which leads to flooding when it rains, or having tin roofs that create unbearable heat. Other common issues are sewage spills, water shortages and lack of adequate space to teach in. In addition, teachers are poorly paid and classes are held irregularly.

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