african american

V.21 No.2 | 1/12/2012

Council Watch

100 Birthday Spankings for New Mexico

President William H. Taft signed the proclamation declaring New Mexico the 47th state on Jan. 6, 1912.

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V.20 No.38 | 9/22/2011


African-Americans in New Mexico

This week, columnist Gene Grant called for African-Americans to speak up against injustices in New Mexico. In particular, he looked at the case of 16-year Journal photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis, who spent 30 minutes cuffed on the side of I-40, though he committed no crime. Grant also pointed to the case of state trooper Dexter Brock, who was cuffed to a telephone pole by coworkers in 2000. Grant writes:

What happened to these two New Mexico brothers would not stand in many other states, and it should not stand here. It's time to put disapproval from African-Americans on the record for all to witness.

The piece reminded me of a brilliant essay we ran in 2007 called “Can I Touch Your Hair?” by Virginia Lovliere Hampton. It’s really one of the better discussions of race in our state that’s been published, and it’s one of my favorite articles that’s run in the paper. She writes about the positive aspects of living in New Mexico, as well as the downside of being in a region where African-Americans are a small percentage of the population.

One of those common experiences is having our hair “touched” if we have or wear our hair “nappy.” In Albuquerque—and, I hear, in Santa Fe, too—“nappy-headed” people of African descent are confronted regularly with having perfect strangers reach toward us to touch our hair or, worse, that of our young children—often without asking—like we’re dolls or other merchandise to be handled. It's unsettling, objectifying and rude, especially for those of us who, like me, are from the South, where, apparently, white folks are raised a little better.

I hear all the time that racism isn’t so prevalent in New Mexico—particularly against African-Americans. But it’s worth considering the insidious problems ignoring these issues can create.

V.20 No.39 | 9/29/2011

Gene Grant

More Voices, Louder Voices

Let's look back at the highly publicized detainment of photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis, who ended up in cuffs, on his knees for 30 minutes, on the side of I-40 for all the world to witness.
V.20 No.17 | 4/28/2011
William Rodwell


Slideshow: March for the African American Center

Joby Wallace said she was shocked to learn Gov. Susana Martinez axed funding for the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall. Wallace, president of the center’s board of directors, said she had to read about it in the paper like everyone else.

Last weekend, demonstrators gathered to speak out against the cut. Alibi photographer William Rodwell was on hand to take photos.

After more than a decade of work, the center was launched mid-2007. After a series of smaller cuts, it was expecting about $379,000 in 2011 from the state to operate. The center hadn’t yet acquired much additional funding yet, so it may be out of luck in June when the money dries up.

The move is a slap in the face to African Americans, Wallace told the Alibi in an interview last week. “We can no longer sit around and accept it.”

V.20 No.16 | 4/21/2011


African Americans to protest guv’s veto tomorrow

Gov. Susana Martinez zeroed out funding for the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall with a line-item veto on Friday, April 8. “We were very surprised,” says Joby Wallace, president of the center’s board of directors. “We had no idea this was going to happen.”

No one had come from the Governor’s Office to look at the programs, she says, and when the funding was dropped, no one called the center. “We had to read it in the paper like everyone else.”

It took about 12 years of diligent work and lobbying before the center opened its doors in June of 2007. It got a $379,000 yearly operating budget from the state, which Wallace points out, is the least that any museum receives. “We just started, so all our money was from the state.”

The center was home to performances as well as art and cultural exhibits. It also served as a meeting spot for a variety of African American groups and hosted several academic programs, including tutoring, reading, science and robotics, Wallace says.

Three employees may lose their jobs.

The move is a slap in the face to African Americans, she says. “We’re 3 percent of the state’s population, and we’re excluded from a lot of things. This is just another thing to add on and say, You don’t count. We can no longer sit around and accept it. We have to do everything we can to get her attention and let her [Martinez] know, we don’t like the way we’re being treated.”

The funding runs out in June, but the foundation has raised some money, and the center is going to try and stretch it as long as possible. Community members are going to ask Martinez to restore the funding at a budget hearing in September. In the meantime, they’re raising awareness with demonstrations.

Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., protesters will gather at the corner of Central and San Pedro and march to the center at 310 San Pedro. Joining the march will be the Commission on the Status of Women, which also lost its state funding, labor unions, teachers and LULAC.

The demonstration is the first in a series. Wallace says they plan to also hold events in Hobbs and Alamogordo, and they’ve requested a meeting with the governor.