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.

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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.

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“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

The Jewish Community Has Been Attacked In Recent Weeks So The Guardian Angels Are Stepping Up To Help

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The Jewish Community Has Been Attacked In Recent Weeks So The Guardian Angels Are Stepping Up To Help

The Red Berets / Facebook

In the past week, hate crimes have occurred back-to-back. And, it’s not just this week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a somewhat shocking report in November that stated an increase in hate crimes in 2018. The FBI noted in 2018 that hate crimes reached a 16-year high. We say that the news was somewhat shocking because violence in the United States feels never-ending. If we’re not dealing with mass shootings, we’re dealing with crimes against people because of their background — sometimes both at the same time. Now — as if these actions were taken from a movie — people are taking it upon themselves to fight crime if authorities cannot. 

The Guardian Angels have vowed to patrol the streets of New York City after a slew of anti-Semitic crimes in the state.

Credit: The Red Berets / Facebook

“These attacks are taking place, and the cops have not been proactive at all,” Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, told NBC News. “It comes from City Hall and the mayor. He’s been just apathetic.” 

“We’re a visual deterrence in our red berets and our red satin jackets,” Sliwa added. “Nobody’s going to commit an attack when we’re around.” So what exactly will the Guardian Angels do if someone does attempt to commit a crime and they happen to be there, Sliwa responded by saying, “we’ll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen’s arrest and hold them until the police arrive.”

The Guardian Angels is a nonprofit that formed in 1979 and has “safety patrols chapters throughout the United States and worldwide.”

Credit: The Red Berets / Facebook

According to its website, Sliwa founded the group and currently has 12 volunteers in New York City. “The ‘Magnificent 13’ rode the subways to conduct safety patrol. For 37 years, thousands of people have joined the Guardian Angels and created chapters in over 130 cities in 13 countries to protect their communities and improve substantially the quality of life.”

However, not everyone is pleased that the Guardian Angels are taking on a vigilantly stand, especially because the group’s founding member has made disparaging remarks against various groups.

Credit: @rafaelshimunov / Twitter

Political activist Rafael Shimunov tweeted a thread of clips that showed Sliwa making fun of the Jewish community and disparaging the Black community as well. Someone also linked out to a 1992 New York Times story in which Sliwa admitted to faking crimes for publicity. 

Yet, others on social media are praising the Guadian Angels for stepping up and fighting hate crime in New York City streets.

Credit: @MUCKWlTCH / Twitter

One man tweeted, “So glad to see the Guardian Angels still doing amazing work on the streets after so many years. I remember hearing their amazing stories growing up. Thank you @CurtisSliwa and the @GA_DareToCare team!”

Another tweeted, “Love the Guardian Angels but it’s kind of crazy that this is where we’re at. Citizens on patrol duty in NYC. Onus is on all of us to band together and speak up in the face of discrimination and prejudice. Now more than ever. Silence is complicity. #zerotolerance #lovetrumpshate.”

Time will tell if the Guardian Angels will do anything to stop these hate crimes going on in New York and around the country because they’re not stopping anytime soon. 

On Dec. 28, a woman, who was with her young son, reported that she was hit on the head after a woman yelled anti-Semitic slurs at her. Also, last week, police said at least “three incidents of possible hate-based attacks against Jews in less than 72 hours.”

On Saturday night, a man stabbed five Hasidic Jews who were at home celebrating Hanukkah in Monsey in upstate New York. The assailant was arrested in Harlem and charged over the weekend. 

“People inside fought to stop him,” Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, told the New York Times. “It was very heroic of them. They didn’t just let this happen — they tried to defend themselves.”

As we noted, the FBI reports a surge of hate crimes, but we should also mention that the group being targeted more than any other group is the Latino community. 

Credit: @berniesanders / Twitter

“The FBI said 485 hate crimes against Latinos were reported in 2018, up from 430 in 2017,” the New York Times reports. “It said 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2014,” They added, “Hate crimes against Latinos were at their highest level since 2010, when the unemployment rate and border crossings from Mexico were both peaking. Some advocates placed the blame for the recent rise on President Trump.” 

READ: Anti-Semitism Rocked A NYC Subway When A Woman Physically Assaulted A Jewish Woman

Puerto Rico’s Governor Fights Back Against Federal Government By Legalizing Cockfighting

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Fights Back Against Federal Government By Legalizing Cockfighting

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Who doesn’t love traveling the world and experiencing new cultures and traditions? Some of them are bizarre, but others are quite fascinating. The main thing to remember when going outside of your comfort zone is to have an open mind and never judge others. Just because you don’t conduct yourself the way others in various parts of the world, doesn’t mean it is wrong. It’s just not what you are accustomed to. However, having said that, there are definitely new regulations that are being placed, and some people aren’t too happy about it. 

Last year, the U.S. Congress signed a new order that would make cockfighting illegal in U.S. territories — but Puerto Rico said they would not comply.

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Among other new regulations, the U.S. Farm Bill calls for protecting animals, and that extends to banning cockfighting. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, under the new Farm Bill, there’s a clause called the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, which amends the Animal Welfare Act. That extension puts a federal ban on dogfighting and cockfighting to U.S. territories. 

“The PACE Act will clarify federal prohibitions on animal fighting activity and ensure they are extended to all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories,” Sen. Susan Collins said last year. The problem here, at least for Puerto Rico, is that cockfighting is a big money-making industry. 

Former Governor Ricardo Rosselló had lobbied against it, but his efforts failed. Now the newly installed governor signed a law to keep cockfighting in Puerto Rico open for business.

Credit: @policeofficer / Twitter

Gov. Wanda Vazquez signed the law this week that will allow people to continue to organize this brutal sport in which two roosters fight each other in a ring. However, just because Vazquez says it’s okay, doesn’t mean people won’t get arrested for it. 

“Let’s talk this through,” Vazquez said, according to CNN. “This is an industry that represents income for thousands of families, and we have to take them into consideration.” Her colleague, Rep. Gabriel Rodriguez Aguilo, who also co-wrote the bill, added to her sentiment by saying, “We will have to wait and see how the federal government reacts,” he said. “Cockfighting is a cultural tradition.”

This is a new federal mandate, however, if Puerto Ricans go along with what the governor says, that doesn’t mean they’ll be protected. If federal agents find them conducting a cockfight, they will be arrested. 

While cockfighting dates back to centuries ago, it is a very inhumane sport that leaves roosters fighting for their life.

Credit: @newshour / Twitter

According to the Humane Society, “Cockfighting often goes hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing, illegal gun sales, and murder.” Well, we can understand that. Some people find it kind of odd that lawmakers care so much about the lives of roosters when they treat chickens like anything but animals. Farmers have chickens locked up, among countless other chickens, and they are there for one purpose: to die and be eaten. So what’s the difference between how the U.S. treats chickens and how Puerto Ricans use roosters as a sport? 

The cockfighting industry in Puerto Rico generates $18 million a year for the island and has 27,000 employees. Banning the sport would put all those people out of a job, and the island’s revenue would suffer. 

Credit: @nytimesnational / Twitter

The New York Times reports that cockfighting has been a sport in Puerto Rico for the past 400 years and was introduced to the island by the Spanish colonizers. “It was legalized again in 1933 and has been regulated ever since, with 71 licensed cockpits across the island of 3.2 million people,” the Times reports. 

Wayne Pacelle, the founder of Animal Wellness Action, told CNN that Puerto Rico’s cockfighting practice has nothing to do with tradition and has everything to do with ego. 

“It’s pure showmanship,” Pacelle said to the network. “The politicians are encouraging illegal behavior, and they’re putting those people at risk with the false hope that their legislative maneuver has any legal effect. It does not have any legal effect.”

Yet still, it will be a contested issue whether the people of Puerto Rico are ready for it or not.

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“I already told my wife, and I told my mother,” José Torres told NPR in October, “that anyone who comes and tries to take one of my roosters will have to kill me first. And I’m not the only one. There are thousands of us.”

Now that will definitely be a real fight. 

READ: A New Report Finds That Puerto Rico Is The Most Vulnerable Country When It Comes To Climate Change