Culture

The Black Majesty At The Afro-Latino Fest NYC This Weekend Is What Dreams Are Made Of

With six years of celebrating Afro-Latinidad behind them, Afro-Latino Fest took to New York City for the seventh time running and it was better than ever. Latino Rebels and Futuro Media group partnered to create a social entrepreneur workshop, creating more much-needed access, and Afrolatin Talks launched their Podcast series to a live audience.

With live music, indoor and outdoor stages, and coalescence of uninterrupted culture-affirming celebration all weekend long, you can bet the whole event was like a POC dream come true.

In the last U.S. Census, more than 25 percent of all those claiming Afro-Latino heritage report living in New York City.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

So it makes sense that Afro-Latino Fest would go down in Brooklyn, where the bulk of the community already lives. In the last census, only 2.5 percent of all Latinos also identified as Black, which makes Brooklyn an especially special place.

Latin flags were held and celebrated showing the diversity of the Afro-Latino community.

Credit: @kirstensmetsx / Instagram

That’s just what you do at the Afro-Latino Fest. You don’t have to be afraid of someone coming up to you asking if you’re an American or be in fear to express cultural pride.

The music was next-level increíble.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

Internet community Black Owned Brooklyn couldn’t have described the event any better: “Celebrating all things Afrolatinidad — from music, dance and food to politics, philosophy and religion — the Afro-Latino Festival (@afrolatinofestivalnyc) returned to Brooklyn last weekend for its seventh edition. Run by husband-and-wife duo Amilcar Priestley and Mai-Elka Prado Gil (both from Brooklyn by way of Panama), the event started in 2013 as a small gathering at Flatbush’s Parkside Train Station Plaza to “affirm, celebrate and educate” around the contributions of people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. It has since evolved into a two-day festival, most recently at City Point in downtown Brooklyn, featuring music from eight countries across three stages. 🇵🇦 🇩🇴 🇵🇷 🇭🇹 🇭🇳 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇧🇷 ⠀”

There were chingona level DJ’s setting the party mood.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

These identical twins, Coco and Breezy, were just one set in a lineup of incredible performance artists like Puerto Rican spoken-word poet, Felipe Luciano, Dominican singer, José Alberto “El Canario,” Haitian-American singer Tadia and all-women Mariachi group Flor de Toloache. 

Afro-Latinos of all ages were able let loose a little bit.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

Every child was made to feel like royalty, with Afro-Latino owned vendors like “A Princess Like Me” in attendance. This was a family event.

Of course, there were bubbles for los niños.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

Who doesn’t love a good bubble machine?! Unlike the parties many of us went to as kids, there were actual children’s events to look forward to after rubbing the red lipstick off your face from all the tía besitos. Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with Elena of Avalor?

The festival was all about community.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

And representing your whole heritage with pride. With the festival in its seventh year running, some of the children knew each other from the year before and others made fast friends.

The festival empowered Afro-Latino vendors to empower young Afro-Latino niños to be themselves.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

Caption: “Thank you @afrolatinofestivalnyc for booking us and giving OUR kids a place to freely run, play, dance and color with PRIDE! Our Latina Princess met amazing little Latina princesses too 👑👑👑🥰 where we hosted the entire kids zone at @citypointbklyn !!! Empowering our girls one princess & party character at a time. With live singing, makeup, nails, tattoos, dancing and more we bring the party to you! Ensuring your child has the best party possible for the lowest cost in NYC it’s no wonder we only have top ratings! Ps ask us about our customized characters and package options.”

We hope they get even more business after the festival’s long over.

It also empowered Afro-Latina‘s all over the place.

Credit: @bxmary80 / Instagram

“I am so excited! #laborinqueña #Brooklyn,” wrote this festival goer. She even got to meet the artist that created the highly anticipated “La Borinqueña” superhero comic, which celebrates a Black Puerto Rican woman as the protagonist.

At the end of the day, the event was all about family.

Credit: @cjrbarnes / Instagram

The young man in this photo expressed his gratitude for the event with a post on Instagram that read, “As the son of a 🇯🇲 [Jamaican] Immigrant and a 🇨🇺[Cuban] American, I’m blessed to be able to identity with both my Caribbean and African roots. @AfroLatinoFestivalNYC exemplifies all of the richness that Africa has on our beautiful Latinx counterparts—culture personified!🌍”

READ: From Maxwell To Cardi B, These Afro-Latinos Are A Driving Force In The Music Industry Today

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

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While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

NYC Is Getting Ready To Fine People $250K For Using Anti-Immigrant Language

Things That Matter

NYC Is Getting Ready To Fine People $250K For Using Anti-Immigrant Language

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For the past 250 years, the United States has used an offensive term to describe foreigners as aliens. It’s a term that dates back to 1765 and was first documented to be used by an English jurist and politician named William Blackstone. According to Foreign Policy, Blackstone wrote in “Commentaries on the Laws of England” that “aliens” — “derived from the Latin term alienus, meaning ‘foreigner’ or ‘outsider’ — as people born outside the king’s ‘dominions,’ or territory over which the monarch rules (including the land that later became the United States).” However, in our modern language, the term “alien” has always been used typically to describe an extraterrestrial, a creature from outer space. So, it makes sense that a word to describe creatures from outer space and foreigners is seen as substantially different and also offensively wrong.

The City of New York has had enough with people using the term “illegal aliens” when describing undocumented immigrants so now they will fine people $250,000 if they use it.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

On Sept. 26, the NYC Commission on Human Rights announced they are going to great lengths to stop people from spreading hate in the city, and if people violate the city’s mandates they will pay a hefty fee. One of the new rules includes the use of the words “illegal aliens.” 

“The guidance states that the use of the term ‘illegal alien, among others, when used with intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person, is illegal under the law,” the NYC Commission on Human Rights said in a press release

While the government continues to use the term “illegal alien,” especially the Trump Administration, it’s been widely known that using that term to describe undocumented immigrants is offensive. Some have also connected it to hate speech. Several news organizations have said they would stop using that term and instead use the correct wording, “undocumented immigrants,” especially because immigration advocates, say “no human is illegal.”

There’s more! The city of New York is also making it illegal to threaten to call ICE on anyone.

Credit: @nycgov / Twitter

We’ve seen time and time again, people threatening others that they would call ICE on them as a way to intimidate, harass, and exude power over someone. New York City is saying that no longer will be allowed. 

“The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the most protective in the nation,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said in a press release. “It protects everyone, regardless of their immigration status. In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias. Today’s guidance makes abundantly clear that there is no room for discrimination in NYC.”

Last but not least, the City of New York is also banning people from telling others they can’t speak Spanish. If anyone harasses someone and tells them to stop speaking Spanish, they will have to pay $250,000.

While New York City is perhaps one of the most diverse and liberal cities in the world, there have been several examples of racist people living in NYC. We’ve seen several viral moments on social media that shows racist people telling Spanish-speaking people to speak English instead. That all ends with the city’s new mandates. 

“We are proud to have worked with the NYC Commission on Human Rights to produce and release this important guidance as we combat the federal government’s rhetoric of fear and xenophobic policies that have threatened the health and well-being of immigrant communities,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs said. “Harassment and discrimination based on one’s actual or perceived immigration status, national origin, limited English proficiency, or accent will never be tolerated in our City of 3.2 million immigrants.”

So, one more time for the people in the back. If you are caught or reported to have done any of these things in New York City, you could be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Credit: @Katrina_HRM / Twitter

Specific violations of immigration status and national origin protections include: 

  • Harassing a restaurant patron because of their accent.
  • Refusing repairs on a unit occupied by an immigrant family and threatening to call ICE if they complain.  
  • Paying a lower wage or withholding wages to workers because of their immigration status 
  • Harassing a store customer by telling them to stop speaking their language and demanding they speak English.

For more information on the new NYC Human Rights Law, click here.

READ: The New York Attorney Who Went On Rant Against Spanish-Speakers Cowers From Media