Global Activism: Photojournalist documents Afro-Colombian communities

May 1, 2014

Photo By Mike Bracey
Three boys fool around as they prepare to entertain tourists by diving off a pier for coins. Bocachica, Colombia, 2014

Colombia’s African Diaspora population is the third largest in the Americas, after Brazil and the United States, but they endure enormous violence and persecution at the hands of the country’s numerous armed factions. The lives of Afro-Colombians are further complicated by decades of civil war and economic interests such as the mining industry, narcotraffickers and large landowners, that fuel more violence.

Ruth Goring is a board member for Colombia Vive Chicago, an NGO dedicated to human rights in Colombia. She’s author of a book of poetry called Yellow Doors. Michael Bracey is a photojournalist and editor of the Africans Within the Americas project. In February 2014, they visited Afro-Colombian neighborhoods in and near Cartagena, Quibdó, Buenaventura, and Medellín. Goring and Bracey join us to fulfill their mission to “share the beauty and strength of our Afro-Colombian sisters and brothers through exhibits and presentations in Chicago and beyond.”

Ruth Goring reflects on the constant danger Afro-Colombians face:

“Our Afro-Colombian-focused trip was fantastic...We met so many internally displaced Afro-Colombians, and the violence that forces people to flee their homes is not really letting up...One compelling woman had been mayor of Jurado in Choco, where she resisted FARC takeover of land and was rewarded with a FARC pipe bomb thrown onto her house; she was displaced to Buenaventura, where she got involved in community leadership and the paramilitary gangs threatened her life. Now she's taking shelter in Bogota. We met her there, in the SUV with shaded windows...[T]he government provide[d] [these] services because her name has been on Aguilas Negras hit lists.”