feature: afro brazilians to afro iranians. black is everywhere

May 15, 2015
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Last year I went to Puerto Rico. What did I expect? Warm weather, great food, late nights, but not black people. I thought that if I saw black people they’d be tourists just like myself. That was the moment when I realized that I forgot that slaves weren’t just taken to the U.S but all of the America’s across the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, Brazil took the most slaves from West Africa. Again, when I think of a Brazilian person, I wouldn’t automatically think of someone displaying African features. Now even further from my presuppositions, I wouldn’t think of an Asian person with African descent. When I think of the slave trade I only think of the trade across the Atlantic Ocean to the America’s, and when I google the term ‘slave trade’ I get the ‘Atlantic Slave Trade’ as the first results and not much on the trade across the Indian Ocean. Therefore, I’m not too hard on myself for not realizing that there could be black people in India or Pakistan if google doesn’t quickly acknowledge it either. Then again, I should never find comfort in a mass lack of knowledge. It makes me feel more eerie than self-assured. The whole African diaspora should be recognized, which are the communities around the world with people of African descent.

By Yvette Mushimiyimana, AFROPUNK Contributor

.Now, Brazilians all the way to Indians of African descent makes sense, but how come my American mind can’t always picture that as a possibility? How come I didn’t make the connection that my old Dominican friends had hair more coily than usual, which was from their African heritage? I didn’t see African descent because the media only shows the lightest skin closest to the white man. Representation is everything and when I can’t see people like me, I don’t know that there are other people like me.  This lack of representation or exposure can make the black person feel more alone in this world. The struggle and oppression can make us feel and seem so little but the struggle is global and so are we.  


We are everywhere, and unfortunately we are hidden gems not by choice but by force. Now, I wouldn’t say it’s your fault if you didn’t know about the vast amount of people with African descent in other countries, but it is your fault if you don’t look into it and learn more. When we enlighten ourselves on how many of us there are, we may find a greater comfort in our humanness. The media may lock the doors but we have to sneak around and find a way to see our faces. And because of this lack of representation we may feel that there are no means of sharing our individual talents with the world. Therefore, we must create our own way, create our own fashion lines, create our own websites, create our own law firms, create our own shows, and create our own businesses. If they won’t give us the time of the day, we will make the time.


Now, what inspired me to write this piece were the beautiful photos embedded in this post of black Iranians by Mahdi Ehsaei. If you love these photos, you can preorder them here, view the project here, and help him fund his Kickstarter fund, which is you can learn about it in this video here. Seeing these photos lit my heart and installed some sort of hope that I didn’t know I lacked, some sort of hope to let more of my people to be seen. Overall, I challenge you to make yourself seen and heard; more people need to know about the beautiful human you are behind that beautiful skin.


Photo Credit: Mahdi Ehsaei