For Little Haiti

These photographs I took are dedicated to memory and the narratives of immigrants that are often spoken in quieter tones. Taken in the little Haiti community of Miami, these faces represent the Haitian immigrants that have been turned away at many a shoreline, and have seen their neighborhood transformed into a trendy Miami art district that does not reflect their culture. The image of Marcus Garvey around the neck of the young man, reminds me my own family migration story and the many Caribbean immigrants whose struggles don’t always make the headlines. Next month, I am continuing the series with the hopes of using photography to build lesser told stories around gentrification in Miami communities.

Straight From the Underground: Freedom and Street Art in Havana

Photo credit: Amberly Alene Ellis
Splashes of color stand out against Havana’s aging buildings and Spanish architecture. The walls of parks, school playgrounds, abandoned buildings and alleyways are filling with the work of street artists. They leave behind only the coded signatures of their names. The presence of this modernity in a seemingly time locked country speaks to the challenges and the creativity of Cuban youth. Street art is some what of  a new phenomenon in Havana. Spaces that were once nothing, are now filling up with the work of young people dedicated to bringing art to their city. The risks are high for street artists, as they are not often commissioned for their work and can face trouble for painting without permission. I’ve always wondered of the audacity of these artists, and their bravery to share their work so boldly to the world.

Before I became friends with the Cuban street artist 5stars, I was just another spectator and fan of the work that seems to sweep every …

Why ‘Naturalization’ Laws in the Dominican Republic are not just a “Dominican” Problem

Haitian laborer in Domincan Republic 
By: Amberly Alene Ellis
Photo Credits: Amberly Alene Ellis

When Haitian representative of the Nation of Islam, Joseph Makhandal spoke at the Justice or Else March led by Louis Farrakhan in October, whispers and chattering from the lips of black and brown faces spilled through the National Mall.

Though the conflict of naturalization in the Dominican Republic is not a new development, the subject has recently surfaced in mainstream media outlets. At most, the coverage has been severely shallow. Many black and brown American people do not know the deep history of the issue or what it means for their own collective struggles in the United States.I argue for fighters against the devaluing of black American bodies to critically access the global infrastructures of racial injustice. In particular, these fighters for justice in America should examine how injustice is sustained for their very close neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean.

To continue readi…

Cuba Through the iPhone 6


Masters of the Digital Divide: The Past and Future of Hip Hop in Cuba

Hip hop lives in Havana. On late weekend nights, the sound of stereo systems may surprise you. Salsa, bolero and rumba can blend with the steady bass of the most up to date Hip hop tracks. It can also ease into old school Hip hop beat that could take any Hip hop lover back to the golden days. In Cuba, Hip hop music has played a particularly integral role in the shaping of a youth subculture. Hip hop music sprouted in the days of the ‘special period’ of Cuba. After the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1989, Cuba would never be the same.

Economic hardship drove youth to search for new ways of self-expression. For some young Cubans, the struggles expressed by African American Hip hop artists connected to the marginalization that blacks in Cuba would experience in the 90’s as the economic disparity and the lack of equal opportunities made it more obvious that the racial problem in Cuba were no longer something that could be concealed. Hip-hop would provide a voice to the voiceless. In Cuba, Hi…

Textures of Haiti


New Adventures in Haiti and Dominican Republic!

As of last week, I have returned from Port au Prince, Haiti. It was so hard to leave this time around. As usual, I am making adjustments to the Washington DC weather. I  tried my best not to think about the snow that would greet me upon my arrival! I finished up on the photography project that I started in  La Piedra, Dominican Republic last year. Here is a small sneak peak of some of the portraits that I took. There are so many stories to tell....