Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Monday, March 29, 2010

Giovanni’s Vegetable Gumbo Soup

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Gigi was inspired to make a soup yesterday and came up with this recipe. She cooked it last night (with a little help from her mom) and it was a tasty delight!

Recipe for Giovanni’s Vegetable Gumbo Soup:

Two large potatoes (diced)
One and a half cup baby carrots (sliced)
A cup of mushrooms (sliced)
Two onions (diced)
Two tomatoes (diced), or one can of diced tomatoes
About 1/4 cup olive oil

As much of the following seasonings as you want: oregano, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, cilantro, parsley, curry and basil.

About 40 ounces of vegetable or chicken broth.

Place the vegetables in a big pot. Sprinkle the spices on the vegetables. Stir the spices and vegetables well before you put the chicken broth in the pot (that’s how Gigi likes to do it). Pour the broth in the pot. Stir some more and turn on the heat. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower to medium heat. Cook for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

We had it for dinner last night and boy, was it good! I’ve got a little chef on my hands who says she may want to open her own restaurant one day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chequea Las Dos: Black and Latino

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Here's an example of the power of uniting. (This video and text were created by the Afrolatinoforum Channel):



[Afro-Latinos have been grossly undercounted in previous census drives.] Such an undercount not only denies the African aspect of Latino identity, it deprives organizations of resources they need to improve the lives of this community.

By proclaiming Check Both!/¡Chequea las dos! the bilingual media spots highlight the importance for Latinos of African descent to self-identify as such on the Census.

The implications of the count are far-reaching, determining how $400 billion in federal funds are distributed to local governments each year. Over 10 years, a community could lose a projected $1.2 million of federal funding for housing, health and education programs for every 100 persons that are not counted, according to the NAACP. Studies have established that despite a higher educational level, Black Latinos have the highest rate of unemployment and are more likely to live below the poverty level than other Latinos.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare: A Civil Right and Moral Issue

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Finally – with the passage of the healthcare bill, I’ll get some healthcare coverage, along with millions of other uninsured residents of this country.

“Health care is not only a civil right, it’s a moral issue,” said Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, who invoked the memory of his father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and a lifelong champion of health care for all.

(From Obama Hails Vote on Health Care as Answering ‘the Call of History,’ New York Times, March 21, 2010)

This is also a moment of history, a culmination of the legacies of Truman and Franklin Roosevelt.

On Nov. 19, 1945, Truman stated facts that are true to this day. "People with low or moderate incomes do not get the same medical attention as those with high incomes," he said. "The poor have more sickness, but they get less medical care. People who live in rural areas do not get the same amount or quality of medical attention as those who live in our cities."

The nation, Truman added, needed to resolve "that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed" and "that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the Nation." Nearly 65 years later, Truman's wish has come to pass.

This is also a moment of history, a culmination of the legacies of Truman and Franklin Roosevelt.

On Nov. 19, 1945, Truman stated facts that are true to this day. "People with low or moderate incomes do not get the same medical attention as those with high incomes," he said. "The poor have more sickness, but they get less medical care. People who live in rural areas do not get the same amount or quality of medical attention as those who live in our cities."

The nation, Truman added, needed to resolve "that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed" and "that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the Nation." Nearly 65 years later, Truman's wish has come to pass.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our Dominican Brothers and Sisters

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When I read about Los Angeles Angels baseball player, Torii Hunter’s comments regarding some Latinos posing as “black imposters” in the Major League Baseball association, I was not surprised and somewhat amused.

During a 5-day USA Today panel, formed to discuss how to improve professional baseball, Hunter said the MLB reaches out to Latino players from places such as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, instead of giving more attention to African-American players in urban areas of the U.S.

“People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African American,” Hunter said at the USA Today event. “They’re not us. They’re impostors,” he said. “Even people I know come up and say, ‘Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?’ I say, ‘Come on, he’s Dominican. He’s not black.’ ”

Guerrero, a Texas Rangers right fielder, hails from the Dominican Republic. Take a look at Mr. Guerrero:


Is he black?

The whole discussion about whether some people from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, and other “Latin American” countris are black, could and has prompted lively debates, scholarship, and investigation. The subject is complex. The African slave system brought Africans, not only to the shores of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and other places here, but also to lands such as, what is now known as Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Colombia, etc., and enslaved. Did the Africanness of those people somehow disappear? Of course not.

Isn’t it obvious by the very look of many African Americans and “Latinos” that we are multiracial? We were brought here and there, brutalized and oppressed, and eventually were mixed with the whites (by force or otherwise), and the indigenous people (American Indians in this country, Tainos in places like the Dominican Republic).

So when people like Hunter contend that people who obviously have African ancestry, are not “black,” you wonder where the disconnect comes from. For the most part, I think it comes from a lack of education about the history of slavery in this country, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. Sadly, the U.S. education system often fails to educate students about African-American and/or world history in an in-depth and insightful way.

Yesterday, assistant editor of the L.A. Watts Times, Nadra Kareem, wrote this about Hunter’s comments:

I don’t know how Guerrero racially identifies but to suggest that he’s not black simply because he hails from Latin America is ridiculous. Do black people solely exist in the United States or in Africa?

Hunter’s statement is even more preposterous when you consider that the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. No one questions whether or not Haitians are black, but time and time again, it seems that Americans have difficulty grasping that one can be both black and Latino.

This becomes more perplexing considering that even the U.S. government designates Hispanics as a group that can be of any race — black, white, Native American, etc. Clearly, there are cultural differences between blacks from the United States and blacks from Latin American countries, but to suggest that the latter aren’t actually black presents a myopic view of blackness.

And given that many blacks in Latin America still practice customs directly tied to their pre-slave trade West African roots, while black Americans have lost many of these traditions, makes the suggestion that Afro-Latinos aren’t authentically black doubly offensive.

I asked my friend Ironelly Mora, a Nashville, Tenn. resident, who is from both Brooklyn and the Dominican Republic, to comment on Kareem’s article. Here’s what Ironelly had to say:

This article doesn't surprise me at all -- especially when many Latinos do separate themselves from the African American community. I guess being Latino and brown-skinned means being black for some people, but it doesn't serve a larger purpose because there are so many differences between the Latin American countries. Many times even the way we speak Spanish is different. So I think it is convenient to lump Latinos and blacks into the same minority group, but the issue is very complex. I disagree with Hunter saying black Latinos are imposters. I don't think Dominicans, especially the baseball players, describe themselves as blacks. We as Dominicans have issues with the idea that we descended from slaves and not the Taino Indians.

So my two cents worth is this article doesn't bring to light the fact that Latinos don't often acknowledge their black heritage and the colonization by the Spanish encouraged us to forget the relationship to Africa even existed. There is so much to say, where do I begin.



My reply to mi hermana:

Ironelly,
That's the point. There is so much to say, and you started beautifully. Now to get other Latinos and African Americans to do the same!
As you say, “The issue is very complex.” We’ve got to start somewhere.

(Along the lines of this conversation, check out my previous post about Africans in Mexico .)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pacific Peace: Photos by Cheryl Noel

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Thanks to mi amiga Cheryl in Los Angeles, we get to see the plush waters of the Pacific Ocean and the brilliant rays of the sun going down. Cheryl took these luminous shots at the Santa Monica Pier with her cell phone camera. (Do your thing girl.)

We can’t wait to see the beauty in person chica!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder

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I wandered aloud if I can do all the things that are in front of me, and my dear friend Cheryl reminded me that I can, because God WILL make a way, just like he's done thus far. Thank you sister Cheryl and thank you Lord for making a way and allowing me to use my gifts.

Praise God!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Reprise: Bennie Benjamin was a Man!

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Here is my grandfather’s biography, written by his son (my dad), Bobby Benjamin.

My name is Bennie Benjamin. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a man. If you want to compare me with anybody in this world, compare me with John Henry, the “Steel Driving Man.”

I was born in Sardis, South Carolina. My father, Peter and my mother, Isabella owned a big house that set on several acres of land. Some said the property looked like a plantation. My parents taught me and my brother and sisters to work hard “having something” like them.

The third grade was as far as I got in school. It was through the help of my dear mother that I learned to read, write, and “figure.” I owe it to my dear mother (God bless her soul), that no one could ever cheat me. Mr. Carriway, the man I was sharecropping with tried to do just that. I worked hard, year after year, and was further and further in debt with Mr. Carriway. One year I had to tell my wife Lizzie that we had cleared just $300. That is the reason I left South Carolina and moved north. I was not worried about making it because God had blessed me with a strong, powerful body like John Henry. First, I went to Quantico, Virginia then Washington, D.C., got work in both places and was soon laid off. I decided to write my wife’s brother, Fulton McElveen, who lived in Norwood, North Carolina. I asked Mac to look out for me a place to move my family. Mac answered right away and said Andy Horne was willing to sell me five acres of land with a house on it for $500. Mac loaned me $50 for a down payment.

Believing as I always did in “having something,” I applied for a job right away. I was hired in the “Pot Room,” at an Aluminum Plant in Badin, North Carolina. I also did a little farming on the side. I added a room to my house and bought a nice 1939 green Pontiac. I think people in the community was a little jealous of me because someone was overheard to say, “How can Bennie get so much and have a house full of children?” They did not know the power of hard work!

When I die, let my epitaph read these simple words:

BB Benjamin was a MAN!
May he rest in peace.

Monday, March 01, 2010

All Together Wonderful

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Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that YOU'RE my God
You're altogether lovely
All together worthy,
All together wonderful to me.

-- from Chris Tomlin's song, "Here I Am to Worship"