Student-Written Play Explores Shared Cultures
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; C14
Pablo Maldonado thinks twice every time he is given a form and asked to check a box saying what race he is.
His mom is from the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean island where many people have African roots. His dad is from Guatemala, a former colony of Spain, so he has ancestors native to both of those countries as well.
That's why Pablo, who was born in Maryland and speaks English and Spanish, can't help but think about checking more than one box.
"I'm black, I'm Latino, but I'm also American," said the ninth-grader at Bell Multicultural High School in the District. "I'm mixed."
Earlier this year, Pablo and about 30 other students from Bell and McFarland Middle School wrote poems, essays and stories about their race and cultures. Pablo, 14, wrote about being black and Hispanic -- and how hard it is to explain exactly who he is.
The students' writing has been turned into a play called "African Roots/Latino Soul" that is being performed at the Smithsonian's Discovery Theater and the Round House Theatre in Silver Spring. (See "If You Go" box.)
The play explores the cultural contributions that black Hispanics have made in sports, food and music. One example is the merengue, the most popular dance in the Dominican Republic. It originated, some say, from the rhythm and sounds of chained slaves working in the sugar-cane fields.
Some people don't realize that Hispanics can be black, said Pablo. Many of the slaves brought from Africa ended up in Latin America and the Caribbean, he explains.
Pablo never expected that his writing would be included in a play. But he's happy it did. "I like to see people learning about blacks and Latinos coming together," he said. "We share cultures.""
African Roots/Latino Soul" is also about Yanelys Barrett, 14, who arrived in this country two years ago from the Dominican Republic.
"I didn't know any English when I came here," she said. Although she now knows quite a bit, it's still difficult to talk with other kids at school, she said. "People laugh at you sometimes. You know, we have an accent."
Karen Zacarias, who helped put the play together from the students' work, said it's "a story about different peoples: those who can't speak English yet and those who can and don't know Spanish.
They are black, white and brown -- but all of them are Latinos."
"African Roots/Latino Soul" is really everyone's story, she said. The merengue, the songs of salsa queen Celia Cruz, hip-hop and reggae music -- that's "a culture that most kids living in America share."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01128.html
-- Luz Lazo
Ti Loulou Lazo blye mete Kompa nan list li a."African Roots/Latino Soul" is really everyone's story, she said. The merengue, the songs of salsa queen Celia Cruz, hip-hop and reggae music -- that's "a culture that most kids living in America share."
Oui, nou kap viv ansamb!
Si se puede!!!