Yvonne Phillips

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Staten Island, 1972 – 1991, I was treated like I was Black, I knew that I was different but I did not know why. In school I always felt a growing shame while looking at the pictures of slaves. When the paragraph or two covering slavery was passed by: relief. I was relieved that the teacher did not elaborate on those poor people who looked like me. Those pictures of the slaves always made me feel embarrassed to be Black. As a family we saw Roots, we cried, we held on to our own prejudices and then, finally, nothing. Years would pass; 1996 graduation from college. Higher Education! During my undergraduate, maybe because of Gil Noble, I read, Before the Mayflower. This book allowed me to embrace my African Heritage. Taking me further to understand my Puerto Rican heritage and at long last! I became familiar with the African Diaspora. Fast forward to Black In Latin America! Hallelujah! The education was medicinal to my personal development. Latin is not Spanish speaking. Spanish is not outside of Europe but rather limited to people born in Spain. People who speak Spanish or a dialect of Spanish does not make them Spanish. Spanish like Latin is reserved for Europe and Europeans. Being mixed-blood, primarily or identifiably Black, meant I could never be anything but Black. With education, I know the meaning of being Black in these United States is a testimony of perseverance. The modern world was built on the backs of Africans in the Americas and the Caribbean. WE stand on the shoulders of giants! These giants spoke many languages, prospered on many lands, and came from AFRICA.

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