Landlocked and unwanted : the Afro-Paraguayan dilemma
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Afro-Paraguayans continue to struggle for rights associated with cultural citizenship from the state rather than pursue other strategies. This is especially perplexing given their political organizing around cultural citizenship has not been effective in gaining such rights much less improving their material well-being. Afro-Paraguayans recognize their lack of economic well-being as a critical issue the group faces with regard to survival. Yet, the Red Paraguaya Afrodescendientes (RPA), an association of three community organizations, focuses on cultural citizenship rather than directly confront the state to demand assistance with their socioeconomic marginalization. Hence, why do they continue to engage in such actions? Better yet: why has the state been nonresponsive to Afro-Paraguayans’ demands for cultural inclusion? Drawing from theories on cultural citizenship, moral economies, black liberation, and Afro-Pessimism, I posit the following: cultural citizenship rights are legible to the state due to the institutionalization of hegemonic politics that emerge after post-colonial rule. The institutionalization of those politics has led to a set of beliefs in cultural citizenship rights as the most appropriate course to gain visibility and equal rights as citizens, which Afro-Paraguayans have embraced as the principle solution to their socioeconomic and political deficiencies. But, there is a fundamental issue. The state denies Afro-Paraguayans’ rights because of anti-black racism. In essence, the struggle is not against a hegemonic mestizo nation for cultural inclusion but against a deeply ingrained anti-black sentiment.