Miriam Jiménez Román

scholar, activist, and author of Afro-Latinx culture

Miriam Jiménez Román (June 11, 1951 – August 6, 2020) was a Puerto Rican scholar, activist, and author on Afro-Latino culture

Quotes edit

Interview (2012) edit

  • we’re not in a post racial state. Race is still a very important part of how all of us – globally – live our lives. African-Americans and Latinos need to get together, create change that will benefit not just Latinos and African-Americans but all people of color.
  • The way ideology is constructed in Latin America –if you claim Blackness or talk about race, it’s because you have some kind of complex; you just can’t seem to deal with the world the way it is. It’s a good way of silencing any kind of protest against discrimination because people think you’re saying because you have a problem, it’s your personal problem not collective discrimination.
  • Whether we look at race as a fixed notion or culturally constructed concept it is very real. Race itself is an invention, a creation. Many people feel race is something that’s fixed, rigid and doesn’t have variances. By looking at Afro-Latinos, you kind of get a better sense of how fluid race has been. People have constructed it in different ways depending on conditions and circumstances.
  • This kind of book should have been around when I was a kid because blackness was equated with being African-American. This limited view left me concerned about my blackness because I grew up as a Black Puerto Rican and I’m very conscious how race and ethnicity have both impacted my life.
  • ("Are there any countries working to acknowledge the historical and cultural impact of their African roots?") Every single country in Latin America and the Caribbean is doing that, including places you would never imagine like Chile and Uruguay and Paraguay, all have Black advocacy organizations. The only exception is El Salvador. And I think we can contribute some of the reluctance to organizing to El Salvador’s civil war. The political instability works against organizing.
  • struggling for racial equality [in Latin America] is far behind the United States.
  • In Latin America there is this general concept that because we are all racially mixed, somewhere back in everybody’s family tree there is an African or Indian then we are incapable of being racist because that would be being racist against ourselves. Since most of these countries became independent that has become the guiding line that we are all mixed and because we are all mixed we cannot be racist.
  • We keep denying the importance of race because white people are becoming the minority.
  • Afro-Latinos serve as bridges. The most obvious example would be Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. The Schomburg Center for Black Culture [Harlem, New York, USA] is probably the premiere institution for any type of serious scholarship and research on Africans and their descendants. Schomburg was a Black Puerto Rican who came to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1891 at 17. He became an integral part of the Black community – African American and Caribbean; most definitely he served as a bridge. Most of his writings were about Black Latinos, whether in Spain, the Caribbean or South America.
  • In the process of putting the book together, we discovered a whole series of people who were identified as being African-American because they appeared—Black. There was no real attention to their [Latino] ethnicity even if they spoke Spanish; they served as bridges. Afro-Latinos function in two worlds: African [Black] and Latino.

Quotes about Miriam Jiménez Román edit

  • In their introduction to the Afro-Latin@ Reader, the first major academic effort about Latin@s of African descent in the United States, editors Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores struggle to define the term Afro-Latin@, asking within a North American context, "What's an Afro-Latin@? Who is an Afro-Latin@? The term befuddles us because we are accustomed to thinking of 'Afro' and 'Latin@' as distinct from each other and mutually exclusive: one is either Black or Latin@"
  • Jiménez Román and Flores write: "Afro-Latin@ is at the personal level a unique and distinctive experience and identity because of its range among and between Latin@, Black, and United States American dimensions of lived reality. In their quest for a full and appropriate sense of social identity Afro-Latin@s are thus typically pulled in three directions at once and share a complex, multidimensional optic on contemporary society." Taking a cue from W.E.B. Du Bois, we might name this three-pronged web of affiliations "triple-consciousness." To paraphrase those unforgettable lines from The Souls of Black Folk (1903) in studying the historical and contemporary experience of United States Afro-Latin@, one ever feels his three-ness, -a Latin@, a Negro, an American; three souls, three thoughts, three unreconciled strivings; three warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. Du Bois's reference to strength and resilience bears emphasis: the multiple experiences and perspectives including the contradictions, pain, and outrage-does not necessarily translate into pathological confusion. As many of the contributions to this volume suggest, embracing and celebrating all the dimensions of one's self has not only been possible but has also resulted in significant innovations at the personal and collective level.

"¡Pa’lante, Siempre Pa’lante! Remembering Scholar-Activist Miriam Jiménez Román" by Will Guzmán edit

  • She was an influential pioneering architect of the Afro-Latinx Studies movement.
  • She received all of her formal education in public schools and universities during the early years of ethnic studies, saying, “I owe my less formal but likely strongest intellectual, professional and personal development to the African diasporic community of scholars and activists,” whose worked inspired her for a lifetime.
  • Prior to graduating high school, Miriam wrote, “Each new mask is put on, tested, and finally disposed of…Just who am I?” adding, “It should not matter who your parents were. The product is what is of importance. It should not matter!” This introspection and insightfulness would serve her well in future endeavors.
  • She authored dozens of seminal works that challenged racial democracy, Taíno revivalism, blanqueamiento, and the U.S. census
  • As a Research Coordinator and Curator of Exhibits and Special Programs at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Miriam worked closely with SNCC activists Roberta “Bobbi” Yancy, professor Zita Nunes, and director Howard Dodson to produce dozens of widely celebrated international Africana exhibits (1987-1997).
  • Influenced by the Civil Rights, Black Power and Nuyorican movements, Miriam often asserted, “African Americans have always been in the vanguard. Everything that’s worthwhile in this country has come about because African Americans have pushed it. We all benefit everyday, white people as well as people of color, from the struggles of African Americans.”

External links edit

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