Silvia Diaz de Moore
Statement to the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
Baltimore, MD, January 21, 2016
My name is Silvia Diaz de Moore and I am completing my Masters of Law degree at the University of Baltimore. I am also the international representative of a Paraguayan non-profit organization called Traditional Group of San Balthazar of Kamba Kua, which in Guarani, the native language of Paraguay, means "place of the black." The goal of our organization is to advance the visibility of, and human, educational, political, legal and property rights, as well as socioeconomic needs, for all Paraguayans of African descent. I want to welcome the United Nations delegation to Baltimore and thank them for participating in this important meeting.
As an Afro-Paraguayan who immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen, I, like other immigrants, have always been enthralled with pursuing, obtaining, and living "the American dream." However, the pursuit of the American dream is twice as challenging for me and other African descendants from Latin America because we are black and also Latinos. One might say that the pursuit of the American dream is a triple challenge for me because I am also a woman! The issue of race continues to be one of the most difficult, complex and divisive issues for the United States. The growing political and economic prominence and influence of Latinos in the United States has also become a very divisive issue as some other Americans are resistant to cultural and linguistic changes in a country of immigrants. Instead of embracing this change, some other Americans want to blame and scapegoat Latinos for the economic, cultural, law enforcement, and social challenges confronting the United States. As a woman, we continue to fight for the full equality of our rights whether it is equal pay for equal work, the right to make our own decisions when it comes to our bodies and our health, and the right to defend and protect ourselves against domestic violence and other forms of violent acts.
As a U.S. citizen who is a highly-educated attorney by profession, and a mother of natural-born U.S. citizen son, I continue to confront and deal with all three of these challenges in my pursuit of the American dream. Whether it is people who treat me differently because of the color of my skin; or I am unable to get a job because of my Latino last name; whether it is people who tell me to stop speaking "Mexican" when they listen to me speak Spanish among family and friends; or, I do not receive the same salary on par with my male colleagues, the challenges for all African descendants, and particularly those from Latin America who immigrate to the United States, are real, profound, personally and professionally painful, and extremely difficult.
In one sense, we the Afro-Latino diaspora are Americans o Americanos who aspire to live in the United States, work with dignity, and raise our families like other Estadounidenses. On the other hand, we are in a county where some people simply do not want accept who we are and see us as more of a threat to them and their way of life, rather than as full contributors to this great country - and its strengths of diversity, innovation, creativity - who are committed to individual merit, personal responsibility, and community well-being.
1. What legal and political steps the federal, state and local governments and elected officials can and should take to ensure that African descendants can pursue full and dignified lives in the United States?
2. Should the United States join and enforce international treaties and conventions, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), to demonstrate its commitment to African descendants on issues concerning racial, ethnic and social equality and justice?
3. What efforts should political and social leaders, as well as the private sector, take on to change the cultural misperceptions, stereotypes and attitudes toward Latinos - African descendants in the media and popular culture (television, movies, music etc.)?
4. Why the United States government isn't recognizing and promoting and implementing the International Decade for People of African Descendant in the country?
1. Ensure that the federal government and state and local government pass laws against racism and discrimination, or ensure that the existing laws against racism and discrimination are being fully enforced. The U.S. government and state and local governments can form advisory boards and review committees composed of elected officials, business leaders, and civil society activists to review laws, procedures and practices to ensure all people have the ability to lead a full, meaningful and dignified life.
2. Urge the United States Government working with state and local governments to promote training and best practicing of policing and community engagement in the African-American and Latinos communities to avoid more intentional and unintentional acts of violence and death. Encourage leaders in the African-American and Latino communities to worked closely with the police to build better relations to avoid future death and acts of violence.
3. Build coalitions between political leaders, the private sector, civic leaders and communities to improve schools and economic conditions, create jobs and recreational facilities and activities, and facilitate constant communication and cooperation to deter acts of crime and violence that adversely affect the African-American, Latino communities, including immigrants.
4. Promote awareness and support for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descendant, 2015-2024, in United States in public fora, dialogues, documentaries, newspaper articles, and other types of public outreach that need to be conducted at the national and local levels with parents, students, the private sector, civil society and political leaders to discuss cultural misperceptions, stereotypes and attitudes towards African descendants, as well as their historic contributions and achievements in American society.