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Project October 7, 2021

Afro-Panamanians' Route to Environmental Liberation

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A mural in Panama. Image by Jaylin Ward. Panama, 2021.

Afro-descendants in Panama originate from two heritage groups: Afroantillanos and Afrocoloniales. Historically, these two groups have built the colonial and independent economies of Panama but have been divided by anti-Black nationalism, xenophobia, and disenfranchisement. Today, under one Black identity, they work to preserve the culture and history of their ancestors.

Throughout Panama, Black people are disproportionately affected by environmental injustice in the historical areas in which they have settled. Afro-Panamanians remain in segregated communities impacted by infrastructural pitfalls from the government of Panama and damage from the U.S. invasion of Panama during the ousting of Manuel Noriega. Jaylin Ward travels to Panama to examine community responses to injustices occurring in built environments.

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