Not in our name: A Puerto Rican White Supremacist in Charlottesville – By Rosa Clemente

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UPDATE 8/18/2017: I have confirmed that is was not Alex Ramos who was in the Vice News video climbing into a van with David Duke, but it was a man with a Puerto Rican flag. Additionally, it was Alex Ramos who assaulted teacher and artist DeAndre Harris.

I am a Black Puerto Rican woman.
Alex Ramos is a Puerto Rican white supremacist.

Two days ago, while watching the Vice News report on what happened in Charlottesville, I noticed a man getting into a van with David Duke and I saw the Puerto Rican flag folded in his hands.

All day, I kept watching that clip and then when my husband came home, I asked him and he said, “Yeah babe that is the Boricua flag.” I got up and went outside and screamed. I was physically sick, hot all over my body and infuriated.

Alex Ramos was a participant in the assault against teacher and artist DeAndre Harris during the Charlottesville terror attack.

As I sat down and gathered my thoughts, I reminded myself that this is not just White Supremacy; this is anti-Blackness. This is self-hate. Ramos’ is the colonized mindset that Frantz Fanon wrote about.

Fanon was a Martinique-born psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary. In his seminal work Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon psychoanalyzes what he calls “the oppressed Black person who perceives themselves to have to be a lesser creature in the white world that they live in and navigate the world through a performance of whiteness.”

The sad truth is that although Alex Ramos expressed and enacted the most vile and violent form of white supremacy, his thinking is not uncommon amongst a minority of Puerto Ricans.

The current governor of Puerto Rico, Ricky Rosello, is working at the behest of white supremacy as he slowly sells our homeland piece by piece to Wall Street. At the same time, he is enacting policies through a militarized police force that are economically oppressing the majority of Puerto Ricans or outright pushing them off their land.

Unfortunately, some in the broader population of Latinx/a/o people in the United States practice anti-Blackness on a daily basis. Anti-Blackness is taught and reinforced in homes, in church, at school and via TV networks like Univision and Telemundo.

In this moment of national crisis Latinx/a/o people in the United States are going to have to come to terms with who we are. We need to force discussions that break the media binary that often marginalizes, disappears us, or tells us that Ana Navarro or Jorge Ramos speak or represent us.

They do not.

Many of us, no matter how much we try to hide it or refuse to claim it, are people of African and Indigenous descent. Puerto Ricans and other Latinx people in America must be as forceful about speaking out against white supremacy and anti-Blackness as we are about wanting to see Puerto Rico decolonized and become an independent nation.

For those of us who have studied our history and understand our connection to the African-American struggle here in the United States we must align ourselves unapologetically with our Blackness.

What does this mean? First and foremost, we are going to have to stand up and reject the race to whiteness. We are going to have to see Blackness outside of phenotype. In a country obsessed with skin privilege, what we look like outwardly matters, but to me Blackness is a political identity as well.

When we say we are African descendant, or Afro-Latinx/a/o, what does that actually mean?

Do you wake up every day and say I love Black people?

Do you wake up every day and place yourself within the Black radical tradition in this country?

Do you know the history of struggle between African Americans and Puerto Ricans in this country?

Do you fight anti-Blackness?

I’ve had to tell family members that are anti-Black and refuse to change that I will no longer sit at a table with them.

Every day I wake up with the freedom of my people on my mind. Since the day she was born I have purposely racialized my daughter and taught her that she is a Black Puerto Rican young woman.

Alex Ramos or any other blanquito/a Neo-Nazi minded Puerto Rican or any Latinx person that chooses white supremacy as their ethos cannot go unchallenged.

I must speak out and say NO! NOT IN MY NAME, NOT IN MY PEOPLE’S NAME, NOT IN PUERTO RICO’S NAME.

Alex Ramos assaulted DeAndre Harris, and almost killed him. He not only brought shame to my people, he is a disgrace to humanity.

I try to practice the politic of prison abolition but my anger against him has me hoping he is arrested, thrown in jail, and that his pain is worse than the pain he inflicted Deandre Harris. I can’t lie about how I feel.

To my fellow Latinx/a/o gente, it is no longer enough to wave flags, to have cultural pride, to be proud of your ethnicity and not have racial pride.

It is not enough to call yourself Afro Latinx/o/a and then just talk about hair, skin color or the clothes you wear. In America when you are devoid of racial consciousness you essentially give up your political power. Not everyone will call themselves a Black Puerto Rican woman like I do, but everyone who identifies as a Latina, a Latino, or Latinx should be fighting white supremacy and be pro-Black.

In the 1960’s, the Young Lords Party taught us to root out the idea of pelo malo y pelo bueno. They also instructed us to embrace our Africaness and root out white supremacy. As Dr. Nelly Fuller said, “Until one understands the system of white supremacy everything and anything will confuse you.”

White supremacy is not only carried out by white people as a system, it can be carried out by our own people, whether they be African-American like Clarence Thomas, or Puerto Rican like Alex Ramos. My hope is that we can begin to eliminate more forcefully white supremacist ideology that often permeates our consciousness.

Now is the time for us as a people to understand that as long as anti-Blackness exists within our communities, we have a responsibility to fight anti-Blackness and the system of white supremacy by any means necessary. It is up to all of us to push back against the race to whiteness.

Because when all Black people are free, we will all be free.

 

Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, journalist, 2008 Green Party Vice Presidential candidate and currently completing her dissertation in the W.E.B DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMASS-Amherst.

 


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25 Comments

  • Jackie Julty
    2 months ago

    Hi Rosa:
    Thanks for this article. Back in the day, I remember hearing a saying in the Puerto Rican community in NYC- ” y tu abuela, Donde esta?”(I’m biracial, Carribean-American and European-Jewish American, but I hung out in the Latino community as a youth) Jackie Julty

  • Eric marrow
    3 months ago

    I want to thank you for this eye opening article. I come from s neighborhood where black and Spanish Americans live side by side. I never saw a difference between the two. I was employed by the Department of Corrections and right away saw the separation between the two races, I was totally shocked. One Spanish officer treated me with great kindness, until she found out I was light skinned black, she never spoke to me again! It was sad but also an eye opener that I did not understand. The separation between the inmates was so obvious. Too come from neighborhoods and schools where we coexisted, to being in an environment that was harsh to begin with and seeing the violence amongst ourselves. Thank you for your article, I hope we all realize our connected heritage.

  • Faustino Vázquez
    3 months ago

    I agree with most of what your articles says except the part of Latinx. From what I’ve learned and studied, X means without name or identity. I don’t describe myself as latino, not since i studied and learned about my heritage and culture. I was born and raised in NYC and also lived in Puerto Rico for 8 yrs, where people would refer to me as Nuyorican. I ALWAYS corrected them and let them know that no matter where i was born or where i live, I’m Puerto Rican! Nuyorican is just another stereotype as far as I’m concerned. The Young Lords had an office in my neighborhood when i was growing up. I read the book they wrote and agree very much with Felipe Luciano and Pablo Guzman, among others. If you’ve never heard Felipe Luciano recite the poem “Jibaro, my pretty nigger…” you should treat yourself. I will ALWAYS identify myself as Puerto Rican, not latino or latinx or anything else. Even on job applications i cross it out and write Puerto Rican. All Spanish- speaking people decend from different nations and i refuse to be bunched in with everyone else, because that’s how white america sees us all; “those hispanic people.” Also, i don’t know if you have ever lived in Puerto Rico, but unless you have, you can’t really get a feel for what’s going on in the island. I was accepted by my family and friends, but rejected by those who have different political views. Like one of the persons who also replied to your article said, racism exists in Puerto Rico, Boricua contra Boricua. That really breaks my heart. I long to see my country a free nation one day, but until we’re able to remove all those traitors who are selling it off piece by piece and those who bend their knees to yankee imperialism, like this jerk you wrote about, that will never happen. Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

  • Rosa,
    Well said and well written. I am a white skinned Puertorriqueño who like all of us Puertorriqueños come from a very mixed family genetically. My Great Great Grandfather was Black, we have Arab, we have Turkish, we have Spanish, even Japanese blood in my family. I can’t say for sure if we have Taíno but I don’t discount it. In my family we have Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, Jews and even Muslims. I also am a Muslim for the las 17 years. My wife us is a Black Kuwaiti, infact I live in Kuwait. We s should be proud of ALL our heritages instead of hiding it. In Puerto Rico we have a “passive” racism where Trigeñas will call themselves white and evn Black women with “good hair” will call themselves white. What we must also remember is that racism is found everywhere. When I lived in the US, whites hated me for Latino, blacks hated me for white, Latinos hated me for Puertorriqueño and Nuyoricans hated me for not being dressing in Puerto Rican flags head to toe. The when I became Muslim everyone hated me. Bigotry must be fought in al its forms.

  • Rosalina Diaz
    3 months ago

    Hi Rosa, excellent article. I too am disgusted by this situation. This man obviously us ignorant if his biological and cultursl roots – so sad. I teach at Medgar Evers College, CUNY. Would love to discuss your views regarding the current PR crisis and how it is impacted by ravist ideology. We will be convening a panel on this issue for Latino Heritage Month. Perhaps you might be interestef in being on the panel?

  • Shirley Howard
    3 months ago

    Bravo!!! Rosa Clemente. ..my sister of the sun…..Bravo!!!!!!

  • Rosemari Mealy JD PhD
    3 months ago

    Hola Rosa,
    Your commentary was on point. You had every right to scream, more importantly after the calm you transformed your anger into action by Using the pen as a sword .
    Thank you.
    Peace.
    rosemari mealy

  • Yayah Fari
    3 months ago

    Salufos hermana Boricua, que nuestro pensar se haga eco y retumbe el internet , solo el Amor acaba con este locura , eduquemonos , eduquemos a los niños y elevemos oraciones para fortalecer la meditacion de la libertad.. ” until the philosophy that one race is superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredit and abandoned, in every where will be war”…. Haile Selassie First (United Nations speech)

  • Debbie Gonzalez
    3 months ago

    Rosa,
    Thanks for your article, very well you espressed how we felt in this passed days as we realize a Puertorican involve in this horrible events. I just wanted to clarify that Puerto Rico’s Governor is following the Financial recuperation plan Promesa. PR has always been an island that depends on investments from outside the island and it was the previous Governor who created a save haven for investors and relaxed taxes for them to investment including properties. The second part is that Puertorican are not fleeing the island because the governor is “enacting policies through militarized police that are forcing people out of the Island”, people are fleeing because for the past 40 years all the governors of the Island didn’t work financially responsible creating millions of dollars in debt that has created an impose austerity to balance the budget. PROMESA which is the “solution” give to PR by the congress is supposed to be a life line for the Puertorican economy. PR political history and current environment is always complicated and emotional!! I appreciate your expressions of your reality as Black Boricua and I hear your pain but you are also responsible for the accuracy of your facts when illustrating such complicated problems!

  • Anthony M. Rivera
    3 months ago

    I am a puertorican “mulato” and lived in the US most of my life. I have never found myself completely accepted as part of the black community and much less by the white one. My children are experiencing the same thing as they grow in this country.
    I don’t know in what planet rosaclemente was born and raised.

  • Charles
    3 months ago

    I’m a black African in America and I’ve been saying this for along time. We need to come together as brown people.

  • Thomas Morris
    3 months ago

    Fanon was a psychiatrist and defined the colonial mind as a mental disease. I do concur. This so called “white supremacist” from PR is a confused ignorant that should look himself in the mirror. Repulsive!

  • Brenda
    3 months ago

    I agree with you Rosa. This is what I tell my kids all the time. We are Black Puerto Ricans. I love to read your writings, thank you for this article. I will definitely share.

  • Yari
    3 months ago

    Our current governer is not selling my island to wall street where this has been happening for as long as i remember. I belive his father saw and oportunity of progress were in this world that we live in is all about evolution . I mean our last governer sold our most important airport to mexico. Rosello father,sold our telephone company and so on and so on i don’t stand behind any racist act or do i tolorated any person that supports it my father was a young lord and he and fought alot of battle so Puerto Rico can be free from the hands of America. There is racism among our own people, and thats even sadder. My people live in circumstance of poverty were our minion wage is 7.25 an hour and can somebody tell me what family of 4 can live on 1,100dollars a month. I believe in evolution and believe that my island is under alot of struggle and to have any minority support any kind of racism or act upon is not acceptable. My island is not an island full of maintain people were our contrubution is alot higher than what we get in federal help. Power makes any body act diferntly and that is a part of the struggle that goes on here in Puerto Rico. Our middle class has vanish and the struggle here is between rich and poor, and of course we all know who comes out on top here. If you want to ltalk about racism between our people, well i can tell you that those who are not part of that rich class go trough a struggle here and we are look down on like we are nobodys we are stereo type as delinquents and poeple without standards. Can i ask what can you expect when in your own island you are taught to dislike who is not like you. In my eyes there is no difrence in race to me everybody is egual and yes through my vines runs african, spaniard and indian blood and we are catogorize as almost a perfect human beings in the world to be more specific our womens dna is close to most perfect as an profesor and from berckley university bilogist Lior Patcher puts it and this can come from having a little of all three races in our blood from african american to european to indian so how can any of my people be prejudice against anybody for that mean. In my life i have encounter racism of all type from blacks to whites to my own kind and my own blood. So its not a black or white problems its humanity it self snd this has to stop .

  • Felipe Luciano
    3 months ago

    It is very simple: as long as Puerto Ricans deny their blackness, consciously or unconsciously, in thought, in behavior, in their everyday lives and dealings and in their churches, they will remain slaves and dysfunctional. The only difference between Puerto Rican blacks and black folk in this country, the Caribbean, South America and Brazil is we landed in Borinquen. That’s it! Same slave ship, different ports and different European slave masters. The Spanish were just as cruel and barbaric as the British, the French and the Belgians and Portugese. It’s estimated that between murder and disease the Spanish killed 80 million native Americans.

    I’m waiting for the day Puerto Ricans and Afro-Latinos tear down the statues of Cristobal Colon, Cortez, Pizzaro and Ponce de Leon.

  • Benjamin Vazquez
    3 months ago

    BURUNDANGA……..DOS IMPERIOS NOS HSN JODIDO…SEGUIMOS en lucha..No al colonialismo,No al racismo….SOMOS muchos y necesitamos cruzarnos de ese mal imperial Digo como Chavez…VACYDM…y busquen un traductor…en lucha……Amin

  • hector
    3 months ago

    We all have met a few Alex Ramos. What a shame.

  • Hector A. Diaz
    3 months ago

    I agree with most of what you wrote and am equally disgusted that a fellow Puerto Rican would align with any group that preaches hate toward people of color. On a separate note,I feel that the description latino is an insult and unless spoken in Spanish a made up word used solely to denigrate us. It hurts my ears when hearing it used as a description much like “those people”. I wondered why some of the older people didn’t feel the same and realized that there was a time that we used “Latin’ to describe our music and even some customs and I feel that Latin inits pure form does incorporate us along with Italians and others, but by adding the o it eliminates the others and now is used as a term for us (Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans etc.)when all it is supposed to do is change the word from English to Spanish? In English this (non-existent)word only exist to make us less. It hurts just as much when we use it amongst mixed company…

  • Ana Barris-Lozada
    3 months ago

    I was very taken aback when I also realized we had a Puertorrican participating in such a disgusting situation. Does he really think that this is going to make them accept him as one of them. How can he be such a traitor to our race/humanity??? If you can’t respect yourself for who you are as a person, how do you honestly think someone else is going to respect you. He is going to be used & then he is going to be kicked to the curb. Ironically, we do have many in our culture that try to be so white that they betray who they really are to latter pay the price of still being classified as a minority & are treated as such. I will always respect someone who is proud of who they are, where they come from. If you can’t do this with yourself how in the world do you think that someone else is going to respect you as a person. If you deny who you are do you really think they are going to accept or respect you for who you are trying to be. Wake up & smell the coffee: You are who you are & nothing is going to change that!!

  • Hector L. Aponte
    3 months ago

    There is no way we can move forward as long as This hate and division continues……There is no room for these Nazis,KKK, and White Supremacist Organizations in our country.They need to be removed one way or another….rewrite the law to band their signs of hate… decent Americans that go by the law, eventually,will start to arm themselves to protect their families. That Is very dangerous ……..

  • 3 months ago

    I loved your article and would really like to meet you. I live in East Harlem and I too am a Black/Tiano Indien Puerto Rican decent. My son is African American and I am married to an African American man. I am the director of a new organization (Sonia’s Empowering Families Foundation, Inc.) and help so many people no matter what nationality they are in this community. I am thinking of doing something in the name of change and will be getting my board members on board with what I want to do. Thank you for this interesting and important article.

  • Rafael Angel Custodio
    3 months ago

    Thank you for your eloquent article.

  • Rafael A. Custodio
    3 months ago

    l cannot begin to express my gratitude. Thank you for your eloquent treatise. We must unite to fight the evil of racism.

  • 3 months ago

    Excellent! We need more voices out there to denounce what is happening in USA and many other parts of the world about racism and xenophobia. Thank you, Rosa Clemente for speaking out!

  • Dorothea Nickens
    3 months ago

    Your words are inspiring and empowering ….as a black puerto ricana i thank you…

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