Eastern States Forced to Provide Relief for Migrants While Native Homeless Problems Persist

By Kristina Lekova

Over the past several months, cities in the Eastern United States have experienced a significant influx in central American migrants. The increasing migrant population is partly due to the actions of governors in in southern states, who have been shipping the migrant population at their borders to northern cities. Governors from Arizona, Florida, and Texas continue to engage in a reckless and dangerous policy which may prove disastrous to the urban poor in these east-coast cities. Over the past year, 7,000 migrants were sent to Washington D.C. from Texas by governor Gregg Abbott, along with about 1,500 from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. These actions are part of an initiative to put pressure on the Democratic party federal border policies. Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis was one of the first to undertake this political op, when he devised a cruel scheme to ship asylum seekers arriving in Florida to Democratic cities along the east coast. Under the governor’s orders, Venezuelan migrants were rounded up in the streets of San Antonio and shipped to Massachusetts on private planes. These migrants were expecting assistance with housing and jobs upon their arrival, but were instead dropped off along the coast of Cape Cod with no housing or infrastructure in place to care for their needs. As a result, the eastern states have had to take on that burden themselves, and have struggled to adequately provide for these vulnerable groups of people. 

Hundreds of asylum seekers continue to require immediate social care and assistance. According to BBC, it will cost New York 1 billion dollars to provide for these refugees. Judging solely from the state’s spending, it is unclear where the funds to support the asylum seekers will come from. More than 17,000 migrants have arrived in the city from the southern border since April, causing New York City’s mayor Eric Adams to declare a state of emergency. State officials have introduced a plan for two emergency relief centers to provide temporary accommodations, but immigration advocates fear that these efforts do not adequately address the gravity of the need in these northern cities. Kathleen Cash, an advocate of the Urban Justice Center, has suggested that opening short-term municipal refugee camps while failing to honor the right of New York’s homeless population to receive shelter is a short-sighted and faulty approach. There is simply not enough funding or infrastructure for New York City’s homeless shelters to provide for such a drastic increase in needy individuals. While policymakers  

The situation in D.C. is potentially even more tragic. Much like New York, the country’s capital does not have enough space or funds to welcome the number of migrants being funneled into its borders from the southern states. As hundreds of buses come into Washington, it inhibits the state’s ability to provide food and housing for the vulnerable groups that already require assistance. It is apparent that the issue needs to be addressed locally by the southern state governors in cooperation with federal assistance, to aid the areas that are seeing an increase in needy migrants. In addition, the federal government should cut off relief funds to those states that are participating in these dangerous practices. It has been reported that millions of dollars in grant funding were provided to the Florida Department of Transportation to handle the migrant crisis, which the DeSantis administration used to fund the flights that carried migrants out of his jurisdiction and into Massachusetts.   

The political dynamics of the immigration issue, should not stand in the way of resolving the humanitarian catastrophe that New York and Washington, D.C. are currently facing. As eastern states welcome thousands of migrants, it is essential to remember that many of these asylum seekers are fleeing persecution and other severe circumstances in their home countries. It is worth considering that their decision to leave their home was not as a choice but rather as a socio-political outcome. “No one leaves their land because they want to,” says Kelin Enriquez, one of the Venezuelan migrants. Brilliant Minds Collective challenges policymakers at the local, state, and federal level to develop an equitable way to balance the needs of asylum seekers with the needs of the homeless and underprivileged populations that already exist in these northern cities. 

Bozal Spanish and Other African Language Variations Thrive in Latin America

By Maura Mulholland

Latin America prides itself on being an ethnic melting pot. Since the days of the transatlantic trade triangle, people of all backgrounds have been drawn to Latin America and the Caribbean Islands because of their significance as hubs of business and culture. One particularly influential group in this region were the enslaved Africans kidnapped as a source of forced labor in Brazil and the Caribbean. Enslaved Africans brought with them a distinct and irreplaceable culture that has contributed greatly to Latin American. One of their greatest contributions has been to the dialect and languages of the region. 

Due to its colonization by Spain, Spanish is the predominant language in Latin American. As African people were kidnapped across the Atlantic, however, they brought with them thousands of their native languages, including; Kikondo, Yoruba, and Igbo. As Africans learned Spanish, they injected the language with words they had carried from their homeland and created many distinct phrases that combined the linguistic traditions of both continents. 

The adaptation of European languages by Africans is a process called “pidginization”, the process by which one language is simplified into an intermediate language when it comes into contact with another. Soon, “creole” offshoots began to emerge from the pidginized language, the collection of which is now referred to as “Africanized Spanish.” 

A “creole” language develops when a second generation grows up speaking the combined pidgin language, and that new generation develops grammar rules of its own. The most famous example of a creole language is Creole French, but the most notable one to emerge from the African diaspora in Latin America was Bozal Spanish. Bozal Spanish was a mixture of Spanish and Kikongo, with Portuguese influences. It emerged in the seventeenth century and was spoken all over Latin America, but mostly concentrated in Cuba and Uruguay. 

The topic of Bozal Spanish is controversial for linguistics experts. Some argue that it is a catch-all term for any Afro-Spanish pidgin, while others argue that it is its own distinct creole language. Others point to the remains of the language in Cuban folk practices and even the “afro” Cuban music movement of the mid-twentieth century as proof of its relevance. Whatever the case, African sounds are still detectable in Spanish dialects of the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico’s term “chévere”, which means “cool” or ”special”, and in the names of regional dishes like gandules (pigeon peas) and ñame (mashed yams). Just another example of the many contributions of the African diaspora to Latin American culture.  

Latinos must confront anti-Black racism and colorism within their communities, writers argue in new anthology

(CNN)Saraciea J. Fennell remembers how normal it seemed for her, her siblings and cousins, to use bleaching cream on their elbows and knees every day growing up. As dark-skinned Latinos, that’s what they had been taught to do.”Once I got older, I realized it was an anti-Black practice because I was not being allowed to love the skin that I’m in,” said Fennell, a Black Honduran writer based in New York City and editor of a new collection of essays and poems titled, “Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed.”

The anthology, published Tuesday, explores topics that Latinos don’t normally talk about — anti-Blacknesscolorism, the intersection of Latinidad and Blackness, and numerous stereotypes, myths, and taboos in Latin American cultures.

The Latino community is complex and multifaceted, so Fennell was surprised that seven of the 15 pieces in the collection explored colorism and anti-Blackness. 

Blackness and Latinidad are not mutually exclusive. Here's what it means to be Afro-Latino in America

Blackness and Latinidad are not mutually exclusive. Here’s what it means to be Afro-Latino in America“I thought that I would probably be one of the only (book) contributors who experienced this, but when the essays started to come in, the experiences that they (authors) shared validated everything that I went through,” she said. “It’s our reality.”

Fennell spoke with CNN recently about the book, her journey navigating her identity, and the stories she feels still need to be told.

Read more here