Black Mexico: An Irrefutable Historical ‘Africanness’ Abounds

A Black-Mexican teenager from the Costa Chica region of the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, Mexico between Acapulco and Oaxaca.

Mexico’s ruling class is learning an enduring lesson that the nation’s African root will not remain buried in obscurity

ComptonHerald.com | Black Mexico: Unearthing the Third RootThis multiple-part series will unravel the little-known history of how Mexico’s 15th-century assimilation of Spaniards, indigenous Indians, and African slaves eventually led to the founding of Los Angeles by Black- Mexicans and Mestizos in the 18th century when California was still under the rule of Mexico. Even though the Black imprint in Mexico is unraveling more and more as time moves on, the reality of the truth is still largely mired in a Shadow History because the masses do not frequent libraries and this truth has never been taught as a history lesson in Mexico, much less as historic text in the U.S. To now, this invaluable historic truth has largely been available as scholarly works. The Compton Herald sought out this history, scaled down its volume from multiple scholarly sources, and now present it in nine parts for public consumption — the editor

Part III—“Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root.’”

Mexico’s wholesale acceptance of a “Black Root” may be many years into the future. Colin A. Palmer in his essay, “A Legacy of Slavery” notes that ingrained beliefs endure. Palmer writes that the Mexican government is reluctant to acknowledge the historic African imprint. The government and the Mexican population at large ignore the truth, even as the evidence of a shared African history grows.

ComptonHerald.com | Colin A. Palmer
Colin A. Palmer earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and has taught at Oakland University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Palmer is the author of numerous books and articles and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Photo: princeton.edu

“When I arrived in Mexico about two decades ago to begin research on the early history of Africans and their descendants there, a young student politely told me that I was embarking on a wild goose chase,” Palmer writes. “Mexico had never imported slaves from Africa, he said, fully certain that the nation’s peoples of African descent were relatively recent arrivals.”

Born and reared in Jamaica, Palmer earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and has taught at Oakland University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The university professor and prolific author writes, “This lack of knowledge about Mexico’s African peoples has not changed much over time. A short while ago a Mexican engineer, himself of African descent, told me adamantly that the country’s Blacks were the descendants of escaped slaves from North America and Cuba. These fugitives, he proudly proclaimed, had sought and found sanctuary in free Mexico.”

Palmer is the author of numerous books and articles, including Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570 – 1650; Human Cargoes: The British Slave Trade to Spanish America, 1700 – 1739; and Passageways: An Interpretive History of Black America. He is also editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History.

ComptonHerald.com | Black Mexico
Depiction of African slaves working in the Spanish silver mines. Image: i.dailymail.co.uk

Palmer notes in his essay, “African labor was vital to the Spanish colonists. As indigenous peoples were killed or died from European diseases, Blacks assumed a disproportionate share of the burden of work, particularly in the early colonial period. African slaves labored in the silver mines of Zacatecas, Taxco, Guanajuato, and Pachuca in the northern and central regions; on the sugar plantations of the Valle de Orizaba and Morelos in the south; in the textile factories of Puebla and Oaxaca on the west coast and in Mexico City; and in households everywhere. Others worked in a skilled trade or on cattle ranches.

“Although Black slaves were never more than two percent of the total population,” writes Palmer, “their contributions to colonial Mexico were enormous, especially during acute labor shortages.”

Mixed blood emerges

He continues, “Wherever their numbers permitted, slaves created networks that allowed them to cope with their situation, give expression to their humanity, and maintain a sense of self. These networks flourished in Mexico City, the port city of Veracruz, the major mining centers, and the sugar plantations, allowing Africans to preserve some of their cultural heritage even as they forged new and dynamic relationships.”

Palmer continues, “Although males outnumbered females, many slaves found spouses from their own or other African ethnic groups. Other slaves married or had amorous liaisons with the indigenous peoples and to a lesser extent the Spaniards. In time, a population of mixed blood emerged, gaining demographic ascendancy by the mid-eighteenth century. Known as‘mulattos,’ ‘pardos,’ or ‘zambanos,’ many of them were either born free or in time acquired their liberty

“As in the rest of the Americas, slavery in Mexico exacted a severe physical and psychological price from its victims. Abuse was a constant part of a slave’s existence; resisting oppression often meant torture, mutilation, whipping, or being put in confinement. Death rates were high, especially for slaves in the silver mines and on the sugar plantations. Yet, for the most part, their spirits were never broken and many fled to establish settlements in remote areas of the country.

Palmer continues, “Other slaves rebelled or conspired to. The first conspiracy on record took place in 1537, and these assaults on the system grew more frequent as the black population increased. Regardless of the form it took—escape or rebellion—resistance demonstrated an angry defiance of the status quo and the slaves’ desire to reclaim their own lives. As such, Black resistance occupies a special place in Mexico’s revolutionary tradition, a tradition that is a source of pride for many Mexicans.”

Beyond that, Palmer notes Africans in Mexico left their cultural and genetic imprint everywhere they lived. In states such as Veracruz, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, the descendants of Africa’s children still bear the evidence of their ancestry.

African traditions survive

“No longer do they see themselves as Mandinga, Wolof, Ibo, Bakongo, or members of other African ethnic groups,” Palmer notes in his prose, “their self-identity is Mexican and they share much with other members of their nation-state. Yet their cultural heritage has not entirely disappeared. Some African traditions survive in song, music, dance, and other ways. But much has changed since slavery ended, and it is difficult for a small minority to maintain its traditions in a constantly changing society.”

As their ancestors did, the few remaining persons who are visibly of African descent continue to be productive members of society. But history has not been kind to the achievements of African peoples in Mexico.

Palmer and Miriam Jiménez Román agree that only in recent times have Black or Afro-Mexicans been studied and their contributions to Mexican society illuminated. Black Mexicans can claim this proud legacy and draw strength from it, even as the full strength of their African origins become a shrinking part of their country, blending into the legacy of mestizaje.

ComptonHerald.com | Luz María Martínez Montiel
“…many African contributions to advancing the technologies of fishing, agriculture, ranching, and textile-making in Mexico remain unappreciated”— Luz María Martínez Montiel. Photo: Carina Garcia Perez

Author and scholar on Mexican culture, Luz María Martínez Montiel, writes in her essay — “Mexico’s Third Root,” that, “Wherever people gather in the poor fishing villages of Costa Chica on Mexico’s southwest coast — in their homes, on the streets, in the town squares during festivals — someone is likely to step forward and start singing. These impromptu performers regale their audience with songs of romance, tragedy, comedy, and social protest, all inspired by local events and characters. At the heart of the songs, called ‘corridos,’ is a sense of human dignity and a desire for freedom rooted in the lives and history of the people of Costa Chica, many of whom are descendants of escaped slaves.”

“The corridos reflect oral traditions inherited from Africa. The words are improvised, and a corrido that brings applause is apt to be committed to memory, to be sung again and again as an oral chronicle of local life,” notes Montiel, author of Afroamérica II. Africanos y Afrodescendientes, and scholarly papers — Our Third Root On African Presence in American Populations, and Integration Patterns and the Assimilation Process of Negro Slaves in Mexico.

Montiel also writes, “The lyrics are also rich in symbols, a tradition that may have started when singers among the first slaves invented “code words” to protest the cruelty of their masters.

“The African imprint in Costa Chica is not confined to music. For the “Dance of the Devil,” performed during Holy Week in the streets of Collantes, Oaxaca, dancers wear masks that show the clear influence of Africa. And down on the docks, fishermen employ methods of work that may have been brought centuries ago from the coast of West Africa,” she writes.

ComptonHerald.com | Dance of the Devil
Men in devil masks parade through the Zocalo and past the cathedral during the Guelaguetza celebrations in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Ethan Welty, weltyphotography.com

Montiel documents that, “The Spanish colonists took full advantage of technology that Africans had developed for work in the tropics and adapted and improved” in the New World. “Yet today, many African contributions to advancing the technologies of fishing, agriculture, ranching, and textile-making in Mexico remain unappreciated.”

In Black enclaves like Costa Chica, the African presence pervades Mexican culture, Montiel writes, and “in story and legend, music and dance, proverb and song, the legacy of Africa touches the life of every Mexican. Today, after five hundred years of blending with the traditions of Indians and Europeans, it has become nearly impossible to trace the specific contributions of any of these groups.”

Montiel continues, “Compounding the difficulty is the fact that the African elements in Mexico’s culture are not acknowledged as they are in other countries of the Americas. In fact, [the] mestizaje, the official ideology that defines Mexico’s culture as a blend of European and indigenous influences, completely ignores the contributions of the nation’s ‘Third Root.’”

“Africans and their descendants, nearly invisible in the Spanish chronicles of the colonial period, continue to receive little attention in the official history of Mexico,” writes Montiel. “So it is no surprise that Blacks, who live primarily in poor, rural areas where the level of education is very low, lack a clear consciousness of their African heritage.

Geography helped preserve African heritage

“To an extent, geography has shaped the heritage of Mexico’s Black communities. The isolation of the west coast and the mountains, which offered sanctuary to escaped slaves, also preserved many elements of African tradition, Montiel continues. “On the other hand, the Gulf Coast region, especially the port of Veracruz, was a crossroads where Mexico’s indigenous culture blended with myriad influences from Africa, Europe, South America, and especially the Caribbean. In this variegated mixture, it is sometimes difficult to isolate the African presence.”

“As in the past, Blacks on the Gulf Coast are more likely to trace the origins of their lineage to the Caribbean,” notes Montiel. “The people on the west coast and in the mountains, however, have lately begun to acknowledge their links to Africa and to their slave past.ComptonHerald.com | Black Mexico

“In part, this is in response to recent ethnographic, folkloric, and historical studies as well as to frequent visits by scholars to these regions. It may be as well that the stress of increasing contact with other peoples — and with immigrants who now come to exploit their land and labor — has fostered a need among these groups for a self-identity defining them as “the Blacks from the coast,” she writes.

Accordingly, writes Montiel, “It is a fact that economic stresses compel ethnic groups in sudden contact with outsiders to either reinforce their traditions or capitulate to the attractions that cultural homogenization has to offer. This is how cultural groups are depersonalized and their traditional values lost. Hopefully, the Blacks of Costa Chica and elsewhere in Mexico will come to find new meaning in the traditions that have sustained them for centuries. Mexico will be much the richer for it.”

Research into Black Mexico continues

Influenced by the increasing interest in Africans and their descendants in other parts of the world, the work of a small but significant group of Mexican intellectuals, along with the contributions of researchers in the U.S. like Tony Gleaton, Roman, Palmer and Montiel, have expanded the focus on Black Mexicans and the body of knowledge and historical evidence about them.

Newly documented truth abounds. It is now established fact that the state of Veracruz — especially the port city of the same name — is generally recognized as having Black people. In fact, there is a widespread tendency to identify all Mexicans who have distinctively Black features as originating from Veracruz. In addition to its relatively well-known history as a major slave port, Veracruz received significant numbers of descendants of Africa from Haiti and Cuba between the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As far as the precise figures on the numbers of enslaved Africans who integrated Spanish America, there is no way to quantify the total. Some scholars believe 200,000 slaves were brought to Mexico for manual labor purposes while others believe the true number totaled more than 500,000. The source of these figures is the census of 1646 of Mexico City, as reported by Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran in “La Poblacion Negra de Mexico.”

The mingling of blood that occurred between the Spanish and indigenous natives of Mexico also occurred with African slaves. Historians differ on the actual number of slaves brought to Mexico during the colonial expansion.

ComptonHerald.com | Vicente Ramon Guerrero Saldana
Slavery was abolished in Mexico by President Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña, 34 years before the American Emancipation Proclamation. Image by Anacleto Escutia / Wikipedia

The mulattos in Mexico race are a people seldom acknowledged. Traditionally, the mestizo race is a mixture of Spanish and indigenous blood. Mulattosare a blend of African and Spanish blood, which was absorbed into the fabric of the Mexican culture over the years, as racial co-mingling occurred throughout Mexico without boundary.

The first Africans to arrive Mexico, as well as their descendants, have greatly influenced Mexican culture. Throughout the centuries, Black Mexicans have made enormous contributions to the country and deserve recognition for their many accomplishments. Black Mexicans share a rich history and count heroes and presidents among their ancestors.

The historical record, of course, tells another story. In the 16th century, New Spain probably had more enslaved Africans than any other colony in the Western Hemisphere. Blacks were present as slaves of the Spaniards as early as the 1520s. Over the approximately three hundred years Spanish slavery lasted, the slave trade brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to the colony. Many Blacks were born in Mexico and followed their parents into slavery.

It wasn’t until 1829 that the institution of slavery was abolished by  second Mexican president, Vicente Guerrero (a mulatto), 34 years before President Abraham Lincoln would declare the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in America.

Part IV of “Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root,’” continues HERE

Jarrette Fellows, Jr., attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and founded the Compton Herald several years after his tenure as executive editor at Wave Community Newspapers in Los Angeles.

Skyy De’Anthony Fisher: Day of Reckoning for Compton School Board Trustee

A San Diego Superior Court jury convicted Skyy De’Anthony Fisher of sexual assault, Jan. 28. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 29. Fisher faces eight years in prison. FIle photo

UPDATE: Former Compton school trustee Skyy De’Anthony Fisher convicted of sexual assault; faces eight years in prison – full story HERE


Originally published Sep., 2015:

COMPTON — The long-awaited sex molestation trial of Compton School Board trustee Skyy De’Anthony Fisher begins in San Diego Superior Court, Sept. 21, 2015. Fisher, 31, will stand trial on a felony charge of having sex with an unconscious person. If convicted, he faces a maximum eight years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

Fisher was arrested July 23 on suspicion of having sex with a sleeping 26-year-old man while the two were sharing a motel room during a vacation break in San Diego. During a preliminary hearing, the man testified that he awoke to find Fisher performing oral sex on him.

A native of Compton and a product of its educational system, Fisher was elected to the trustee board on Nov. 8, 2011, at age 28. He was the youngest member elected to the Board of Trustees since the conclusion of state receivership and the youngest African-American elected official in Los Angeles County and Southern California.

Fisher was the focus of intense public scrutiny after news surfaced of his alleged exploits and arrest, with several protests occurring in front of his Compton home calling for his resignation from the school board.

Throughout his tenure on the board, Fisher has been a lightning rod for controversy. He once made disparaging comments about slain teenager Trayvon Martin where he mocked the young victim in a podcast labeling him a “faggot.”

Fisher has also been arrested for driving under the influence.

Local activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic HOPE, who led the protests for Fisher’s resignation, was quoted in 2014 by a local blog in reference to Fisher’s character: “[Skyy] Fisher’s behavior by a publicly elected official has been disgraceful — from his shocking comments where he mocked the murder of Trayvon Martin calling our fallen brother a ‘faggot,’ to his D.U.I. arrest. Compton residents should have recalled Fisher. Now Fisher has been arrested for sexually assaulting an unconscious victim in San Diego.

“We have had enough. Fisher is a self-professed alcoholic who I believe is a sexual deviant who should not be working around our children. Therefore, our coalition of community leaders is calling upon Fisher to resign from the Compton School Board immediately.”

Fisher continues to serve as a trustee on the Compton School Board.

UPDATE: Fisher was voted off the Compton School Board in the November 3, 2015 elections – editor

Jarrette Fellows, Jr.
Jarrette Fellows, Jr., attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and founded the Compton Herald several years after his tenure as executive editor at Wave Community Newspapers in Los Angeles.

Tennis Greats Venus, Serena Williams Returning to Compton

Serena and Venus Williams will be honored at the Healthy Compton Community Festival, Nov. 12. Photo: quotesgram.com

Tennis stars honorees of ‘Healthy Compton Community Festival’ at MLK Transit Center, Nov. 12

COMPTON — Professional tennis greats and Compton natives Venus and Serena Williams, will be returning home, Nov. 12, as honorees of the Healthy Compton Community Festival, to unfurl at the MLK Transit Center Plaza focusing on free health screenings, celebrity workouts, sports clinics, and healthy cooking demos.

The event occurs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sisters confirmed their appearance with the following joint statement:

“We are so excited to return to Compton for Mayor Aja Brown’s Healthy Compton Community Festival. Compton will always be our home and we can’t wait to spend the day with the community at this inspiring event.”

According to Brown the Healthy Compton initiative is an ongoing effort to promote health and wellness in the Compton community.

“I’m so excited to be able to be able to welcome home Venus and Serena Williams back to Compton for this year’s festival,” she said. “The Williams sisters are tennis superstars and champions on and off the court. They continue to be role models for millions of young people around the world and they got their start right here in Compton.”

For more information and/or to register as a vendor or participant visit www.comptoncity.org/2016hrcfestival.asp.

How College Students Can Make Money Online Without a Website

Nowadays, the increasing costs of college have started to take their toll on students.

From buying textbooks, to rising tuition prices, to even the interest rates of student loans; it’s clear that students need to find a source of income that would build up skills that they could use, both in their jobs and in graduate school.

Although joining paying websites might seem like a possible solution, the sites are extremely competitive, not to mention the many scams masquerading as these potential websites.

So how can a struggling college student make money? How can they get a job that allows them to develop their skills, and shows them the realities of the business world? Simple; they can self-publish books on Amazon.

 One Way to Make Money Online While in College

Amazon is a self-publishing platform in the writing world that can get a student’s work in front of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people.
This is because Amazon creates ebooks, print books, and even audiobooks with content students supply them with.
ebook pie chart
Generally speaking, if students want to make a profit on Amazon, they would first have to write a bedazzling story, one that’s been proofread time and time again to make sure there are no mistakes.
They can hire editors, or even have friends or colleagues go over their book to double check these errors. Students will also need an appealing book cover to attract potential readers.
They can do this either by designing the cover themselves, or by hiring a professional cover designer. Students don’t need to spend much on this; in fact, sites like Fiverr have artists who will design book covers for only $5-10.
In short, Amazon offers college students the ability self-publish quality books to make a profit. However, they must be able to write a quality story with no errors, and a have wonderful book cover that catches people’s attention.

 How to Get Book Ideas from Keyword Research

But even so, it can be hard for students to rise above the competition, even with Amazon.
Of course, there are many advertising techniques students can use, such as paid book marketing sites, book reviews, and even a book marketing service or two. However, one of the most effective ways students can market their book is by using keywords.
Knowing which keywords to use can help a student promote their book to more people, simply because more people are searching up that keyword. Students can see which genres are the most popular, and whether or not their book will fit in with these genres.
One way students can find these keywords is by looking through Amazon’s Best Seller ranks, and taking notes on which keywords these books use. Yet another way to find keywords is by using a program called KDP Rocket.
KDP Rocket helps students to research not only keywords, but just how well their book stacks up to their competitors, as well as estimate the potential earnings from their books.

 

The program also lets students know what shoppers are looking for, and can help students choose their top seven keywords.
By using techniques like looking through Amazon’s Best Seller ranks, or even programs like KDP Rocket, students can get more exposure for their books by choosing the right keywords.

 Conclusion

Self-publishing on Amazon allows college students to make money in an incredibly enjoyable way.
Not only does self-publishing allow students to develop their writing and research skills, but it also helps them combat rising college costs, not to mention help repay some of their debt.
It’s a fun way to earn income, and with a bit of effort, can be a worthwhile experience for the student.

Compton-based construction company grows from ground up

Kevin Ramsey earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. Two major construction contracts for cement work awarded to his company, Alameda Construction Services, include the Galen Center and USC Village. Photo by Gus Ruelas

USC alum Kevin Ramsey began his construction company in a garage; now he’s a major subcontractor for the university and his daughter, also a Trojan will soon enter medical school

By RON MACKOVICH, Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The easiest way to catch Kevin Ramsey is by cell phone when he’s navigating traffic between his Alameda Construction Services company in Compton, and various projects around Los Angeles. A frequent stop is USC Village, where Alameda Construction has poured tons of concrete.

A small, minority-owned company, Alameda, has employed scores of Cement Masons Union employees to build the sidewalks thousands of students will traverse when USC Village opens next fall. More than 50 percent of Alameda’s union workers live in the city of Los Angeles, a distinction that earned the company acclaim for exceeding local hire requirements.

“USC is a great outfit,” said Ramsey, who earned a master’s degree in civil engineering with specialization in construction management from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2002. His company completed much of the concrete work when the Galen Center was under construction in 2005.

“When you’re a small company, you get local workers,” Ramsey said. “We’re in Compton. We do most of our work in L.A. Our workers come from where we work and live. So it helps to be local.”

With equipment to maintain, supplies to purchase, payroll to meet and new jobs to bid, Ramsey’s schedule is full. USC Village has kept him busy for well over a year.

“We started out on the work widening Jefferson [Boulevard],” Ramsey said. “When we finished that, they gave us another job and we moved to onsite concrete.”

Alameda Construction is one of more than 150 companies that have worked on the USC Village development, which has produced 4,800 construction jobs.

Starting small, staying local

Ramsey started his business by doing remodeling work in 1992 with an older, experienced contractor and friend named Harry Edwards. Ramsey worked out of a garage, and money was tight – especially when he wasn’t paid on time for work he had completed.

“If we didn’t get paid, I would do the best I could to pay the guys,” Ramsey said. “Then me and my wife, we lived off her income until some money came in. It was tougher back then. It’s still tough. You want bigger projects, but you don’t want to over-extend yourself.”

Within a few years, Ramsey and his partner graduated to bigger jobs.

“I was doing most of the paperwork, Harry was doing the construction part,” Ramsey said. “We had all these jobs going. We got a couple of city contracts, and I incorporated Alameda Construction in Compton in 1997.”

After Edwards died, Ramsey carried on and expanded. His projects included the Alameda Rail Corridor.

“That was our first taste of big public works jobs,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t make a lot of money off that, but we were learning how to do something. Over at USC when we did the Galen Center, that was another big job for us that got us into doing larger projects. We did all the concrete outside the building. We did the alleys down Flower, Jefferson and the front of Figueroa, the steps — everything outside.”

A decade later, Ramsey’s Alameda Construction is building concrete walkways around USC Village.

Ramsey served as president of the National Association of Minority Contractors’ Southern California chapter for several years and is still active with the organization. He said there are misconceptions about how minority businesses are awarded contracts.

“It’s not a gift,” Ramsey said. “It’s not like you can just bid on a job, wave your minority certification and think you’re going to get work. You need a good track record.”

USC Village: Already a family gathering place

Ramsey’s daughter Christina thinks of her dad when she walks by USC Village. She and her father often met there briefly over the past year.

“She had an apartment around the corner from the site,” Kevin Ramsey said. “She’d walk by, we’d stop and talk. I’d give her a hug, we’d talk a little and then she’d run off to class.”

“I remember the first time it happened, it caught me by surprise,” Christina said. “I saw someone who was the same stature as my dad, but he wasn’t facing me. As I got closer, I realized it was him. I hit him with my lunch pail. He was surprised. He was talking to his workers. I asked him, ‘Hey are you working here?’ It was also nice seeing the workers with the Alameda shirts on; it was a reminder of him.”

Christina Ramsey is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the USC Keck School of Medicine. She plans to move on to medical school next, and USC Village is already a memorable place even though it won’t open until next fall.

“I feel a sense of pride, that my dad accomplished something this big,” she said. “When I walk by I immediately think of him. He helped build that, and I’m part of it too. I guess we’re part of history now.”

Disease-carrying mosquito species found in California

Two invasive mosquito species, Aedes aegypti, ( yellow fever mosquito, above), and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), have been detected in California. Photo (magnified 1,000 times) courtesy California Department of Public Health

Dangerous invasive mosquito species found in California; state health officials offer tips to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses

SACRAMENTO (MNS) — The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning Californians to protect themselves from two invasive mosquito species recently found in California. Both species can transmit infectious diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This warning comes as two more counties are added to the list of counties where Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito), and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), have been detected.

mosquito bites

“It is important to know these species of mosquitoes because they are not what we’re used to in California, and they can transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever,” said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the State Department of Public Health. “While the risk is still low in California, infected travelers coming back to California can transmit these viruses to mosquitoes that bite them. This can lead to additional people becoming infected if they are then bitten by those mosquitoes.”

In September 2015, Aedes aegypti was detected for the first time in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Since 2013, when this species was first discovered in Madera, Fresno and San Mateo counties, it has been found in Tulare, Kern, Los Angeles, San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Alameda counties. Also in September, Aedes albopictus, was detected in Kern and San Diego counties and has expanded in regions of Los Angeles County.

Neither of these mosquitoes is native to California, said Smith. They are known for their black-and-white stripes, biting people during the middle of the day and readily entering buildings. The more-familiar Culex mosquitoes bite primarily at dusk and dawn.

“There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya or dengue fever. To prevent these diseases from becoming established in California, it is important for everyone to take steps to keep these mosquitoes from spreading,” Smith said. “If you notice that you are being bitten by mosquitoes during the day or notice black-and-white striped mosquitoes, call your local mosquito and vector control agency. Your participation in mosquito surveillance greatly aids in efforts to detect new infestations.”

To prevent mosquito-borne illnesses present in California, such as West Nile virus disease, or abroad, such as chikungunya and dengue, Smith offers the following preventive measures:

– Apply mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and/or oil of lemon eucalyptus to your skin and clothing.

– Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when mosquitoes are most active.

– Use air conditioning, and keep mosquitoes from getting into your home by having intact window and door screens.

– Eliminate potential mosquito-breeding sources, such as water-filled containers, from around your home and where you work. Drain water that may have collected under potted plants, in bird baths and discarded tires. Check your rain gutters to make sure they aren’t holding water, and clean pet water trays weekly.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can lay eggs in containers holding as little as a teaspoon of water, and eggs, which are laid just above the water line, can survive dry conditions for months. This is why it is important to dump, drain, or eliminate unnecessary sources of standing water around your home and scrub containers to dislodge eggs.

If you travel to Mexico or other countries in Latin America, it is especially important to be aware of Aedes mosquitoes and the diseases that they can carry. This year, Mexico has had a dramatic increase in the number of chikungunya cases. So far, about one-third of the 120 chikungunya cases imported into California were contracted in Mexico, with 91 percent of cases coming from Latin America. Sixty-nine imported cases of dengue have been reported in California this year.

Native Son Accepted to Prestigious USC Screenwriting Program

South L.A. native son Jonathan Curtiss, Jr. having already earned a civil engineering degree from Idaho’s Boise State University, has been accepted to the USC Master’s Screenwriting program where he will study the art of filmmaking. Curtiss said he plans to produce films that alter the perceptions of men of color and give voice to the underrepresented. Photo: Jonathan Curtiss, Jr.

South LA native Jonathan Curtiss, among a select group of 33 students accepted to the USC Master’s Screenwriting Program; wants to use film to improve perceptions of men of color

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (MNS) — Jonathan Curtiss, Jr. was raised in South Los Angeles, where he worked in the family business — Word of Life Christian  bookstore, as a teen, is now on track to become a filmmaker, having gained acceptance to the University of Southern California’s heralded Master’s Screenwriting Program in the School of Cinematic Arts.

A love for writing and film grew in him as a child. He even tried to pursue acting, but his parents encouraged him to focus on his academics. Despite a solid family foundation, Curtiss often struggled with his sense of identity and heeding the warnings from his mother to avoid certain crowds. Along with support from family, he credits a trip to Nigeria and an after-school enrichment program he attended in high school, as the catalysts in changing his life’s perspective.

“I had an interesting upbringing [growing up] up in South Los Angeles in a home with parents who [were] a symbol of stability in the midst of chaos in my community,�? Curtiss recalled. “I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and all types of other nasty realities of Black poverty.

“I did my best not to let my environment limit me. As a child, I worked in the family bookstore, which my grandparents started in the heart of South L.A. in the 1960s. It’s located in the middle of what the Rollin’ 60s Crips street gang claim as their territory,�? Curtiss said.

Curtiss, 24, attended high school outside of South L.A. at Bishop Montgomery High, a Catholic high school located in Torrance, Calif. From there he went on to graduate from Boise State University in Idaho, where he earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering, and a minor in film production. After Boise State, Curtiss acquired a job at Brave New Films, where he continues to work as a social justice documentary filmmaker, examining issues like criminal justice, and immigration.

It wasn’t long before Curtiss would realize his true passion for film.

“I realize[d] the power that film has to change perspectives, and ultimately change realities,�? he said.

Growing up in South L.A., attending college in Idaho, along with numerous other experiences took Curtiss out of his comfort zone and gave him a diverse cultural perspective. He is passionately pursuing a career in screenwriting, today and said his goal is to use film as a tool to challenge perspectives and encourage social change.

“As a young man I had an idea how society viewed me; I knew who the media identified me as, and I saw how officers treated me based on their perceptions, but I was still trying to figure out who I identified myself as,�? Curtiss said. “I knew the ways of the ‘church,’ and I knew the ways of the streets — all of these different influences were tugging on me.�?

During his teenage years, Curtiss said he faced life and tense encounters with street gangs that often led him to question [his] identity and purpose, more.

“I didn’t truly find my identity until I was 16 [when] I joined my grandparents on a mission trip to Nigeria,�? Curtiss recalled. “I had always seen myself in the context of Crenshaw Boulevard., Inglewood, and Compton, but I wanted to embrace a more distant part of my culture.

“At the time I was running a small t-shirt business out of Word of Life, so I persevered to raise enough money to take 1,000 shirts to Nigeria to give to children. I went door to door asking for money; I wrote letters to businesses, and eventually, it became a reality,�? Curtiss said.

The trip to Nigeria made a lasting impression on him and was the impetus for his decision to major in civil engineering. Curtiss saw first-hand how the availability of fresh water — something taken for granted in America  —  is a critically fragile lifeline in many developing African nations, even in the rural zones of an affluent nation like Nigeria.

“I thought I knew what poverty was, but I got a real taste in Nigeria,�? Curtiss said. “I was there to give back, but what I received was invaluable. I learned how to be thankful for seeing people smile through some of the toughest living conditions.�?

Curtiss had thoughts of building borehole wells for clean water in areas that could benefit the people in need, there. But, back home, the academic rigors of civil engineering were presenting some of their own unique challenges.

“I entered the school of civil engineering [in my freshman class] as the only African-American student at Boise State University. This was an environment that stretched me,�? Curtiss said. “Not only was I in culture shock being in Idaho with students who grew up on farms, but I barely knew what civil engineering was.

“I fought through engineering school, despite the intensity of the exams, despite the times my work ethic was unfairly judged by professors, and even when the Engineering Department turned its back on me to protect a professor.

There were times when Curtiss considered giving up on engineering.

“I had every right to because I was passionate about film, but I decided not to run away in fear. The mountains that I faced showed me what I was made of,�? he said. “They showed me that I could keep calm in the face of calamity and that I could have faith in the midst of uncertainty. I learned how to forgive when I felt I had been done wrong, and how to use my experiences to encourage others in their journey.

“I was able to write four feature-length scripts while studying civil engineering. My passion continued to grow for a film to the point that upon graduating, I turned down engineering positions to pursue screenwriting,�? Curtiss said.

“Every different environment and experience have all played a role in shaping my perspective. I feel that I see the world through a broad and unique lens and I plan to use film to strategically challenge perceptions and speak for underrepresented voices,�? Curtiss added.

The aspiring filmmaker said being the eldest of his siblings and cousins put pressure on him to set an example and be the first in the family to graduate from college. His mother graduated from high school and his father attended college for a short time, before abandoning it to devote full time to the family business.

“[My father] never got to finish what he started, but since we share the same name, when I graduated, my diploma essentially was his diploma,�? Curtiss noted.

With his vision refocused on film, Curtiss, along with a select class of aspiring filmmakers will seek to graduate in two years with the coveted masters of arts from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The cost of attending the nation’s top-ranked school is quite expensive — more than $60,000 per year. The sum didn’t discourage Curtiss, who set about applying for every scholarship he could find, among them, the coveted, George Lucas Diversity Scholarship, which he was granted.

“The media played a subtle role in how we thought we were supposed to be, as young men of color. The kids I grew up with were either Black or [Latino], and we were all facing the same issues of gang violence, police brutality (in many cases), and poor schools,�? Curtiss said. “It even affected the things we thought we could accomplish, which is why I plan to use film to strategically provide uplifting ideas of progress for communities of color.�?

Curtiss wants to change the narrative about men of color. “I want to challenge myself to write for a major show and prove to be the best screenwriter I can possibly be, so I can eventually open my own production company, producing films that speak for underrepresented voices,�? he said.

“It is my social and artistic responsibility to ensure that my scripts give society a balanced view of people of color. The goal of my writing is to captivate hearts and challenge people to identify with others of completely different backgrounds, which inevitably brings about the progress we need to see,�? Curtiss said.

A volunteer tutor in algebra at the West Angeles Education Enrichment Program in South L.A., an afterschool program he once attended, Curtiss said the only barrier standing in his way to matriculating at the famed film school is $20,000. Ever resourceful, Curtiss has launched a crowdfunding campaign to accrue the balance of the money as told through a compelling video: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/from-south-central-to-the-world-s-top-film-school

For every $1,000 Curtiss receives, he will spend a weekend mentoring young men and teaching the basics of screenwriting at the Fades for Grades After School Program in Watts, Calif. Any amount accrued above his goal will go directly to a scholarship fund for aspiring screenwriters from South L.A., Watts, and Compton.

Contributions should be sent to joncurtiss.com. Large donations totaling $1,000 or more, can be paid by check payable to Jonathan Curtiss Jr. for (USC Tuition) and mailed to 6321 W. Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90043.

Black Men: the Race Needs You to Lead, Now!

God ordained the man to “walk into the teeth of the wind and bear the brunt of the gale.”

Recite: ‘I have the strength of kings and the gentleness of lambs. I am a lover of self, not possessed of self-hatred, and I am endued with a measure of greatness foreordained by God, and now I stand ready to reassume my rightful place in God’s earthly order as a sparkling jewel, for he has favored me to be many wonders for my people who cry for the leadership of the men.’

From “Sable Man Wind Breaker” © 1992 by Jarrette Fellows, Jr.

It is time to dry up and lament no more. Facts are the reality. Donald J. Trump is the 45th president of the United States of America. Battles are won and lost. The political campaign could have gone either way, and there was no guarantee that either candidate had our back. Our only assurance is that God is our protector and  benefactor, and under Him, we are our brother’s keeper.

For American-Americans decrying hardship to come, bridle such misspeak. The tongue is a powerful little member with the power to induce defeat or triumph. Take stock of what we are – an enduring people endued with greatness. Speak conquest. Speak triumph. Speak deliverance. We are endowed with strength and endurance by Almighty God to withstand the storm.

We have dreams and visions to bring about, thereafter to celebrate. Now is not the time to fall limp and wither. To the men, stand up, lead the women and children. God ordained you to “walk in the teeth of the wind and bear the brunt of the gale.” We govern ourselves and chart our own course – not leave it to government or to those who rule under the government without concern for our designs.

Our dreams and visions are left to us!

Let us become the mighty rushing river surging onward forever shaping valleys, carving canyons, unceasingly, eternally, full of life and vitality, brimming with Peaceful Rage!

Walmart Job Openings for New ‘Supercentre’

Jobless Need Apply: Walmart announced 300 job openings this week for new Compton store to open in January 2017. Courtesy Walmart

Approximately 300 full- and part-time job openings for the taking; store grand opening slated for January 2017

COMPTON — Walmart Supercentre has announced up to 300 job openings for local residents. To accommodate anticipated high interest, Walmart has opened a temporary hiring center at 420 S. Long Beach Blvd. Ste. 424, next door to O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Applications will be accepted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interested applicants also may apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.  The majority of new associates, as Walmart employees are called, will begin work in December to help prepare the store for its grand opening.

According to store manager Diana Reyes the store will be hiring both full- and part-time associates. “We are excited to meet applicants and create a store full of associates to serve the Compton community” Reyes said.

Walmart provides a benefits program to eligible full- and part-time associates. For example, it provides a variety of affordable health and well-being benefits including health-care coverage with no lifetime maximum. Walmart also offers eligible associates matching 401(k) contributions of up to 6 percent of pay, discounts on general merchandise, an Associate Stock Purchase Program and company-paid life insurance. Additionally, eligible associates receive a quarterly cash bonus based on store performance.

A job at Walmart means competitive pay and career opportunities. Last year, Walmart promoted 18,700 of its associates in California to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility. In addition, 10,000 in California were converted from part-time to full-time.

In addition, Walmart will offer a job to any eligible U.S. veteran honorably discharged from active duty since the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment began on Memorial Day 2013. Since that time, more than 120,000 veterans nationwide have found positions with Walmart. Interested veterans may find out more at http://walmartcareerswithamission.com.

These 300 new associates in Compton will join the team of 89,666 Walmart associates in California.

African Bamboo: Vast Reserves, Untapped Green Gold

African bamboo reserves can boost green economy, thrust continent into global $60 billion bamboo trade

KUMASI, Ghana (AFKI) — Bamboo is more than just sustenance for giant pandas and gorillas. The abundant reserves of African bamboo can help the continent build a green economy and join the global $60 billion bamboo trade. Bamboo can also help the continent address its deforestation problem.

According to Hans Friederich, director-general of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), Africa’s growth in bamboo has “great opportunity.”

“The continent has vast reserves of largely untapped bamboo that, if properly managed, could benefit rural communities and promote green economic development,” Friederich said.

Bamboo is used to make watches, bikes, scaffolding, chopsticks, flooring, furniture, building and roofing materials, paper, textiles and many other items.

Apart from the plant’s ability to grow nearly one meter a day, it is a sustainable resource and can provide an environmentally sound way to alleviate poverty, while addressing the continents deforestation problem due to increased industrialization.

Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more acres into private hands.

According to the Environmental News Network, a web-based resource, Africa loses forest cover equal to the size of Switzerland every year, or approximately 26,000 square miles.

“African Bamboo can be harnessed to reverse land degradation, slow deforestation, combat climate change through carbon sequestration, and boost rural livelihoods through the creation of jobs and income,” added Friederich.

Of African bamboo forests, Ethiopia leads other African nations, including Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

Two-thirds of the world’s bamboo forest is found in the horn of Africa nation where the industry has grown from making toothpicks to flooring and curtains.

In Ghana, the plant is becoming popular in making locally manufactured bicycles.

Despite it clear benefit and huge potential, many African countries still do not have “Practical policies at the local, national and regional level,” Friederich said.

In some ways, the challenge in Africa is not to introduce bamboo, but to persuade people and governments that it has commercial uses.

“We’ve taken policymakers from Africa to China and India where bamboo used in everyday life — and there’s still very poor adoption,” Dr. Chin Ong, a retired professor of environmental science at the University of Nottingham in England, who was formerly a senior scientist at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, told The New York Times.

African Insider.

See more at http://www.inbar.int/2013/09/inbar-makes-strides-in-highly-renewable-energy-in-africa

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