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On April 27, the island of Hawaii passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth as a day of acknowledgment and commemoration for the end of enslavement in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union Soldiers alerted enslaved Black Americans that the Civil War was over and that they can now be free. 156 years later and there are still two states in the United States that don’t recognise June 19 as an official state holiday.

The complicated history Hawaii has with its Black locals may prove to be why the island nation is still considering the Juneteenth legislation. Black people only make up 3.6% of the island’s population of over 1 million residents. In 1852, the kingdom of Hawaii signed their Constitution that outlawed slavery on the island.

Although, this is a major historical event that showcases progress towards racial equity, Black people still feel like outsiders on the island.

Earlier this year, South Dakota’s Senate passed a measure that would do just that, but the bill didn’t make it through the House. In North Dakota, the governor signed legislation on April 12 making Juneteenth a ceremonial holiday.

Dr. Akeimi Glenn is a Black expat on Oahu and has experienced the small but mighty force of the Black population that inhabits the most populated island. She explains how racism still exists in Hawaii, although it has been previously seen and debunked as a paradisaical escape from the prejudiced history of the United States.

Glenn founded the Popolo Project, a nonprofit based around building visibility for Black people in Hawaii. Through her community engagements, she can get a sense of how the culture is shifting and how it can be propelled forward.

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Juneteenth has become a popular annual acknowledgment within recent years because of the countless acts of police brutality that has left the United States even more divided. The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have marked a pivotal moment in history where unlawful police officers are finally being charged for their misconduct. There will most likely be a push for Juneteenth to be recognized countrywide when Hawaii passes their bill entirely and the lasting pressure will be on South Dakota.

Source: Travel Noire

 When it comes to Black History, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Muhammad Ali are often mentioned and rightfully so. But what do you know about other Black history heroes across the diaspora like Yaksuke of Japan or Jamaica’s Queen Nanny and David Fagen from the Philippines? If their names don’t immediately ring a bell, you’re not alone. There are several global Black figures that made their mark in this world, and their stories are only now coming to light.

Here Are 6 Black History Figures Across the Diaspora that you should know.

Arizona native Chanice a.k.a. Queenie is a New York State agency employee and the CEO of Fly With Queenie, a company specializing in curating worldwide experiences for travelers.

The 32-year-old mother of one is of Jamaican heritage and has traveled all over the world. Her most recent trip to Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya however, has been her most memorable trip to date.

“My first experience in Africa was in Morocco, but I didn’t feel like I was in Africa and I didn’t get that feeling of connection when I was there,” she told Travel Noire. “I spent a week in Kenya, where I saw animals I’ve never seen before on the safari, ate delicious Swahili food, and swam in beautiful clear water.”

In Kenya, Queenie also visited a Maasai tribe in a remote village about a four-hour drive from Nairobi. There she had the opportunity to learn about their culture and daily lives

“I learned that Masaai men have multiple wives and got to meet all three wives and the husband, which was pretty cool. It’s funny because although the family dynamics are very different from how we do things in the United States, when it came to marriage everybody was happy. The wives and all the kids were just so happy.”

“The Maasai people rely on very little to survive, which taught me the importance of simplicity. Unfortunately, the Maasai are a dying tribe. The dry seasons in East Africa are becoming longer due to climate change, and they are suffering from droughts and drying crops.”

Queenie encourages others to visit the Masaai tribe and support them to aid in their survival. A conscious traveler, she also visited an orphanage during her time in Kenya.

“I feel like there’s no way I can be blessed and not bless others, especially, in the land of my ancestors and where my brothers and sisters reside. I wanted to do an act of kindness so the kids could know that they are loved. It really takes a village and I want to be part of that village. Meeting the kids made me feel complete in a sense.”

Photo courtesy of Queenie.

“I danced and sang with the children and gave them lots of hugs. I told all the girls how beautiful they were and how nice their hair and skin was. Little Black girls often struggle at some point with their self image, so I wanted them to know that they were absolutely beautiful. My friends and I passed out items we brought with us from the States, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys, school supplies, hair items, candy, and more.”

Queenie returned home feeling like she needed to do more for the children. After receiving many messages from people who also wanted to give back to the orphanage, she decided to do a fundraiser.

With an outpouring of love and support, Queenie and her friends raised over $1,000 within 72 hours. This was enough to pay two months worth of rent, and purchase food and personal hygiene products for the children.

Queenie says one of the reasons she loves Africa is because of the sense of belonging she feels there.

Photo courtesy of Queenie.

“In Kenya I didn’t feel Black, I just felt human. I blended right in and I didn’t have things like people and systems constantly reminding me every day that I was Black. I could just exist as a human being.”

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She encourages all Black people to visit Africa to learn more about their history and to dispel any misconceptions they may have about the continent by seeing and researching for themselves.

“When you mix the controlled media with the lack of true education in the school system you get ignorance. People are sponges who listen to the media and believe it because they assume a news outlet must be telling the truth. The failure to take initiative and do one’s own research is the reason people are so miseducated.”

As someone with a passion for studying and learning about Africa and Black history, Queenie was well aware that Africa was not what the Western media portrayed it to be long before she even booked her flight.

Photo courtesy of Queenie.

“I was just excited to showcase Kenya’s gems and show people that it is a luxury travel destination and more than just slums. To be honest, though, I never knew ‘hakuna matata’ was a real Swahili phrase. I thought it was a phrase that was made up for The Lion King movie.”

That is part of the beauty of traveling. You learn more about not only the world, but yourself as well. Queenie says she never realized she had a soft spot for animals until she experienced the Kenyan safari and saw animals such as zebras, giraffes, and warthogs up close.

For this year’s travels, Queenie plans to focus on seeing more of Africa. She has a trip every month and is most looking forward to exploring Ghana in August. You can follow her at @flywithqueen

Did you know Afro-Bolivians are still around today?

Afro-Bolivians are descendants of the enslaved West Africans brought by the Spanish between the 16th and 19th Centuries to work in the mines of Potosí, a city in south-western Bolivia that was more populated than London in the early 17th Century. According to Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano, the mines are notorious for claiming the lives of roughly 8 million enslaved indigenous South Americans and Africans over a 300-year period – many of whom died as a result of being overworked, underfed and suffering in the region’s extreme cold.

It is believed that the natives thought that darker skin was more attractive, which is why they were impressed with the skin of the Africans when they first began arriving to Bolivia. For this reason, it is no surprise that many of the Afro-Bolivians would intermarry with the Aymara, adopt many of their cultural elements such as their style of dressing, and even become an Aymaran speaking subculture.

Afro-Bolivian Royalty

According to the latest Bolivian census in 2012, more than 23,000 people identify as Afro-Bolivians and most of their roots and even King Pinedo are in the Yungas.

The Afro-Bolivian Royal House is referred to as a ceremonial monarchy. It wasn’t until 2007 that the tribe was officially recognized by the Bolivian state as a kingdom and Piñedo was finally acknowledged as king— despite a history that spans more than 500 years.

Piñedo discovered that he was a descendant of Bonifaz, a tribal king from Senegal. Before Bonifaz was Prince Uchicho, who is regarded as the founder of the Afro-Bolivian monarchy.

The trajectory of Prince Uchicho’s life changed after he was enslaved by the Spanish. He was a prince of the ancient Kingdom of Kongo, a kingdom that has a history from the early 1300s and survived until 1914.  When the kingdom came in contact with Portuguese traders, it became a source of African slaves.

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Prince Uchicho became enslaved in Bolivia after a struggle for the throne with competing sons and chiefs. When he arrived, he was quickly recognized by other slaves because of his body decoration.  The royalty of the Kongo Kingdom was known for their royal tribal markings on their torso to set them apart from others.

Uchicho was chosen as the leader among Enslaved Africans and recognized as a king in their new home of Bolivia in 1823, which ultimately, began the lineage of the Afro-Bolivian monarchy. He was succeeded by his son, Bonifaz Pinedo: a name he took from the plantation owner. It’s the name still used by the Afro-Bolivian royalty today.

Julio Piñedo is a different kind of king. He isn’t dressed in a silk robe giving out orders. In fact, he’s a farmer and like so many others in Mururata, you will find him tending to his crops.

King Piñedo and Queen Larrea have a son, Prince Rolando—  a law student at the Universidad de Los Andes in La Paz. His major is reportedly influenced by his father’s impact and potential role as the future king.

 “I would like to keep pushing forward to make the Afro-Bolivian community more recognized and visible, the way my father has done until now,” he said in a statement.

Your parents, grandparents, or distant relatives could be your ticket to dual citizenship.

Several countries around the globe will grant citizenship if your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents were born in said country. Not only will you become a citizen of your family’s native land, but it allows you to have a variety of opportunities such as living, working, voting, and even owning property without the need for a visa.

While a number of countries including France, Australia, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, South Korea, and the Philippines—require applicants to have at least one parent who was a citizen of the country at the time of the applicant’s birth, others are a bit looser when it comes to demonstrating jus sanguinis, or the right of blood. If you can dig up the birth certificates and other required documentation that proves your family ties are legitimate, and you are willing to pony up the administration fees, you could be looking at dual citizenship between six months to three years, which is still far more expedient than if you were to seek citizenship through naturalization.

If you’ve been looking to acquire dual citizenship, here are five countries that will issue you a secondary passport if you meet their requirements.

Brazil

Brazil was one of the most frequented destinations during enslavement. Its culture and history are deeply rooted in African and Portuguese ideology.

Requirements: Have at least one parent that is a Brazilian citizen at the time of your birth.

Ghana

When Ghana declared 2019 the Year of Return, one of the major goals of the program was to inspire members of the African diaspora—specifically Black Americans descended from victims of the transatlantic slave trade—to embark on a birthright journey to their ancestral homeland. The country granted citizenship to more than 100 interested African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans as part of the initiative. Now Ghana is following up its successful Year of Return with a decade-long project called Beyond the Return, aimed at promoting tourism, bettering economic relations between countries, and carving out a clear pathway to citizenship for people of African descent whose parents or grandparents are not Ghanaian. This expands upon the country’s pre-existing Right of Abode law passed in 2000, which allows a person of African descent to apply for the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely. Those with a Ghanaian parent can currently apply for dual citizenship by providing proof of the parent’s nationality through a birth certificate or passport, as well as the names and addresses of two relatives residing in Ghana.

Learn more here.

South Africa

South Africa extends citizenship opportunities to people born abroad who have at least one parent that was a citizen at the time of their birth. The law also applies to people whose adopted parents are or were South African citizens. South Africa also extends citizenship to children whose parents were in the service of the South African Government, an associated individual or an international organization to which South Africa is a member

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Ireland

Ireland, also known as “The Emerald Isle” for their deep peaks and valleys of greenery, have over 32 million descendants living in the United States.

Irish descendants are mostly found in cities like Boston, New York and New Jersey.

Requirements: Must have at least one parent or grandparent with Irish citizenship.

Italy

In Italy, descendants of Italian citizens are often eligible to become citizens themselves — and there is no limit on how many generations ago your ancestors left the country as long as they maintained their own Italian citizenship until they had kids of their own, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. You can prove this lineage through things like birth and marriage certificates.

 

A Mississippi school district is facing criticism after a class assignment asked middle schoolers to put themselves in the shoes of an enslaved person, and write letters to friends and family.

The assignment given to eighth-graders at Purvis Middle School told students to “pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation,” according to a screenshot of the assignment that Black Lives Matter Mississippi posted to Twitter.

Other tasks in the assignment included: “You may discuss the journey to America, as well as the day-to-day tasks you perform [as a slave]” and “You may also want to tell about the family you live with/work for [as a slave] and how you pass your time when you aren’t working.”

More than 12 million enslaved Africans were shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean during the Middle Passage – what the assignment supposedly refers to as the “journey.” Over two million of the enslaved Africans who were forcefully packed into the ships for that arduous and dangerous journey lost their lives.

Following the backlash after the details of the assignment were made public, Lamar County School District Superintendent Dr. Steven Hampton claimed the aim of the exercise was to “show our students just how horrible slavery was and to gain empathy for what it was like to be a slave,” KCRG-TV reported. “We do not discriminate against race. We want to be sensitive to what happened in the past,” Hampton added

The principal of the middle school, Frank Bunnell, also sent an email to parents apologizing for an assignment of such nature to happen under his watch. In his apology, however, Bunnell claimed the assignment was taken out of context as the slide in question was part of a PowerPoint presentation, according to the Daily Beast.

“A person could read just the assignment and draw a very unrealistic view of the true tragedies that occurred. That was not intended,” Bunnell wrote. “However, intent does not excuse anything. There is no excuse to downplay a practice that (even after abolished) spurs unjust laws, unfair economic practices, inhumane treatment, and suppression of a people.”

Activists who spoke to the news outlet expressed their dismay behind the assignment and questioned the logic behind it. “I don’t know how a logical person teaches this,” Jeremy Marquell Bridges, the social media manager for Black Lives Matter Mississippi said. “Like someone who went to school to teach children could think this exercise was helpful in any way. It’s not helpful, it’s hurtful.”

Jarrius Adams, the president of Young Democrats Mississippi, also referred to the assignment as “extremely tone deaf”, adding that it was also “inappropriate to have Middle Schoolers put themselves in the shoes of slaves without proper context.”

“It does not matter what the intention was, the impact is the only thing that matters,” Adams continued. “If I were a parent of a student in the classroom, I would be pissed. There are proper ways to educate students about the history of this nation—this was not one of them.”

Anna Acheampong’s daughter came home upset from school one day in The Netherlands, after questions came up about her race. What was most shocking to Anna was that her daughter insinuated that she would have more friends if her hair was straighter and her eyes were blue.

“My daughter started noticing that she was different from the rest of her classmates and when the questions came up, I asked myself, ‘do I want to raise my kids in this environment?’” said Anna to Travel Noire. “For me growing up in a white neighborhood with white people around me in The Netherlands, I have what I call a ‘race radar.’ I felt racism so much, and I don’t want that for her.

 

Anna and her husband have Ghanaian fathers and Dutch mothers. They decided to use their daughter’s experience as a teaching moment and moved to Ghana to teach their two-children more about African culture and heritage.

The Acheampongs began their journey during the Year of Return campaign in 2019. It was only supposed to last one year

“I remember our immediate circle saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ ‘Why would you go to Ghana for a year?’” said Anna. “That’s why we started documenting our time here in Ghana on YouTube.”

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Through their family YouTube channel, the Acheampongs hope to change the narrative of what it’s like to live in Africa. Anna admits that she was exhausted from the hustle-and-bustle in Europe. In Ghana, the family spends more time on their mental health and wellness and spending quality time together. Anna tells Travel Noire that the best part of living abroad is the fact that they are celebrated in ways they were not in The Netherlands.

“It’s still a very strange thing that we’re learning to deal with. We’re coming from receiving racism to being celebrated. When we tell people that we’re Ghanaian, we came back, people are genuinely happy to be to meet us. It’s amazing,” she said.

You can follow along on their journey on Instagram or the family vlog on YouTube.

Source: Travel Noire

At the age of 22, poet Amanda Gorman is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She is the author of the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough (2016). Her art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She has a history of writing for official occasions and has been asked to read her poetry at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Gorman, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard, became America’s first-ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. According to US reports, it was president-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who recommended her as his inaugural poet. Gorman will be performing on Wednesday alongside Lady Gaga, who will be singing the American national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.“I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It’s been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it’s just for a night,” says Gorman. The Los Angeles resident has written for everything from a July 4 celebration featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra to the inauguration at Harvard University, her alma mater, of school president Larry Bacow.

When she reads tomorrow, she will be continuing a tradition — for Democratic presidents — that includes such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. The latter’s “On the Pulse of Morning,” written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than 1 million copies when published in book form. Recent readers include poets Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, both of whom Gorman has been in touch with.

“The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she says.

Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings,” comes out later this year.

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Gorman says she was contacted late last month by the Biden inaugural committee. She has known numerous public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, but says she will be meeting the Bidens for the first time. The Bidens, apparently, have been aware of her: Gorman says the inaugural officials told her she had been recommended by the incoming first lady, Jill Biden.

She is calling her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” while otherwise declining to preview any lines. Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead” over the departure of President Donald Trump.

As early as the 1600’s, enslaved men and women were brought to Bermuda on ships in route to the southern states of the United States. They worked mostly in the the maritime and tobacco industry, but often fought back and rebelled.

During Bermuda’s period of enslavement, Black men and women would come together in the wee hours of the morning to build their own structures and community buildings. While it was all illegal, they never stopped creating and laying the bricks that would later inspire Black Bermudians of present day.

Before it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from British rule in November 2021, the prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year. The Caribbean nation will be the first country in nearly 30 years to make such a move, but they are more than ready.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason said in a speech on Tuesday. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

The plan is to be fully sovereign by the country’s 55th anniversary of its independence next November, and it is something that can definitely be achieved.

According to CNN, a spokesperson for the royals informed them that the process is in the hands of Barbados and its citizens. Such moves have been made in the past, with Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.

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Why Barbados wants to become a republic

After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.

However, the decision to not sever ties completely was not without controversy, and even the first prime minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, said that the country should not “loiter on colonial premises”. In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic. Before Prime Minister Mottley, the move was also championed by her predecessor Freundel Stuart.

So, this week’s announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.

The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.

The Governor-General of Barbados, who represents the Queen at formal events, said in the Tuesday speech on behalf of the nation’s ruling government, “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”