Culture

24 Inspiring Afro-Latinos To Celebrate For Black History Month

Get excited gente! It’s Black History Month, which means it’s a huge month for us! As Latinos whose roots are extensive and varied, there’s no doubting that we have a long history of African heritage within our culture. For those of us living in and outside of the United States it’s so key to make sure that we encourage our families and friends to take part in the celebrations because Black History Month isn’t just a celebration for African-Americans. It’s for all African descendants!

Here are some of the most famous afro Latinos to help you get pumped about February.

1. Tessa Thompson

Since being invited to the Academy of Motion Pictures, the world has finally learned that Tessa Thompson is Afro-Panamanian. You might remember her from “Dear White People” and “Creed,” but this Latina has so much more in store.

2. Bruno Mars

Puerto Rican-Filipino-Hawaiian singer Peter Hernández, a.k.a. Bruno Mars, rocked our worlds when he first released “Just The Way You Are” in 2010. (And you just started singing it in your head, didn’t you?) In fact, this year, “Just The Way You Are” was certified nine-times platinum, meaning he’s another Latino owning the music industry.

3. Miguel

If this Afro-Mexican singer isn’t adorning you with his beautiful smile and sultry voice, he’s using that same voice to call for social justice. Miguel’s latest song “How Many” is a plea for justice and acknowledgment of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

4. Celia Cruz

La reina de tumbao might have come from the tiny island of Cuba but her musical reach became international. Her powerful voice made her an international star and Latina icon all this, despite the many struggles she faced as an Afro-Latina as well. 

5. Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi came out of NOWHERE with his hit song “Day ‘N Night,” and the whole world took notice. Since, the Afro-Mexican singer has been dropping hit after hit and recently teased us all with a future collaboration with Pharrell.

6. Dascha Polanco

The Dominicana made waves as Daya on on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” when it first premiered in 2013. Her most recent role takes place as a detective on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”

7. Christina Milian

Christina Milian hit the scene in “American Pie” and had us all dancing to “Dip It Low.” Though she recently caught herself in some controversy over an #AllLivesMatter tweet, this Afro-Cuban beauty will be on your TV screen this year in a made-for-TV version of “Rocky Picture Horror Show.”

8. Maxwell

The Afro-Puerto Rican is currently touring and giving men and women everything with his incredible talent. In a recent interview, the soulful singer spoke about not feeling black enough to be in the company of some of the greatest should singers of the time.

9. Mariah Carey

Fans of Mimi have loved and appreciated the songstresses vocalization of discovering her heritage at an older age. Her father is of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent and her mother is Irish.

10. Lauren Vélez

The Puerto Rican from New York City nabbed her first role  as a performer in Dreamgirls, but it wasn’t until years later when she earned impressive roles on “Dexter” and “Ugly Betty” that Vélez began to gain international attention. These days she’s very open about the importance of Afro-Latino inclusion on screen. 

11. Carmelo Anthony

When this Afro-Puerto Rican isn’t dominating on the basketball court, he’s offering his voice and fame to social good.

12. Tatyana Ali

Tatyana Ali won all of our hearts as Ashley Banks on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” The Afro-Panamanian actor has a few projects that will be released soon, but for now she seems totally content being a mommy-to-be.

13. Laz Alonso

The Afro-Cuban “Fast & Furious” actor has been vocal about his Cuban and Black pride. His passions for speaking up about being a Latino raised in an American society has always given fans insight into the way the actors views his life.

14. Selenis Leyva

She might be Gloria Mendoza on OITNB, but in the real world, Selenis Leyva is out to help everyone she can. The Afro-Cuban/Dominican actor spends her time off the set donating her energy and fame to the causes that matter to her most, like LGBTQ rights and fighting cancer.

15. Judy Reyes

The Dominican from The Bronx New York began her career on “Law & Order.” Over the years her roles on television have expanded and these days she filling lead parts on “Devious Maids and “Claws.” 

16. Kelis

It has been a long time since we’ve heard “Milkshake” bless our radios, but Kelis isn’t done with her adventure yet. These days the Afro-Puerto Rican trained at Le Cordon Bleu and is showing off in London of all places.

17. Zoe Saldana

Dominican-Puerto Rican actor Zoe Saldana is probably best known for her role in “Avatar,” when in fact she is really THE Afro-Latino representation in the sci-fi world.

18. Gina Torres

She might not top this list, but there’s no doubting the actress from Cuba tops the hears of Latinos the world over. Her role in beloved shows like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Firefly” have gained her a cult following.

19. Soledad O’Brien

The Afro-Cuban broadcast journliast and executive producer has talked extensively about her experience of being an AFro-Latina in the U.S. She is a graduate from Harvard University and the daughter of a woman from

20. Rosario Dawson

Dawson has been killing the acting game for a long time. Now, this Afro-Cuban/Puerto Rican has become the voice many young Latinos have turned to this political season. Not only has the actor been out campaigning for her fave politician Bernie Sanders, she has even been arrested exercising her right to protest in a peaceful sit-in.

21. Rosie Perez

The Brooklyn-native was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Fearless” back in 1994.  These days she’s heading up a talk show as a host on “The View” and makes regular appearances on TV. 

22. Sophina DeJesus

The American gymnast of Puerto Rican descent made waves a few years ago when she did an impeccable dance floor routine. She landed an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show and killed yet another performance.

23. María Isabel Urrutia

The former weightlifter, athlete and political from Colombia held a seat in Chamber of Representatives of Colombia twice. She’s had an impeccable athletic career as well. In 1988 she held her own as a shot put and discus thrower.

24. Sylvia del Villard

The Afro-Puerto-Rican activist, actress, and dancer gained popularity for her acting career. Still, it was her role as the first and only director of the office of Afro-Puerto Rican affairs for the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture was the most impactful by far.

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A Bruno Mars Catfish Seduced a Texas Woman Over Instagram and Scammed Her Out of $100k

Entertainment

A Bruno Mars Catfish Seduced a Texas Woman Over Instagram and Scammed Her Out of $100k

When certain fans say that they’d do anything for their favorite celebrity, we usually assume they mean, in a manner of speaking. But in the case of one Bruno Mars fan, that sentiment couldn’t be more serious.

Recently, a 63-year-old Texas woman was swindled out of $100,000 by a catfish pretending to be Bruno Mars.

Yeah, folks. We’re serious. According to Houston authorities, an unnamed Texas woman sent multiple checks to her online lover–whom she believed to be Grammy-award-winning, multi-platinum artist, Bruno Mars.

According to legal documents, the woman created an Instagram page in 2018 in order to find “companionship”. She was soon thereafter contacted by another Instagram user who claimed to be Bruno Mars. The fraudster sent the woman what she believed was ample evidence–multiple texts and photos that “proved” he was on tour.

According to the Texas woman, she believed that her and Mars had “fallen in love” and developed a “meaningful relationship.” According to court documents, the Mars impersonator even promised to quit his 24k tour in order to be with her.

Once Catfish Bruno gained the woman’s trust, he asked her for $100,000 for “tour expenses.” And the woman complied.

First, the Bruno Mars imposter asked her for a $10,000 check via mail. When the woman sent that, the Mars imposter asked for an additional $90,000. The woman wrote that check as well.

The checks were sent to different accounts owned by two men: a man named Chinwendu Azuonwu and his accomplice, Basil Amadi.

It seems that at some point, the woman became aware that she was being scammed and then contacted the authorities. It was then that the police traced the bank accounts back to Azuonwu and Amadi. The men were then arrested and charged with multiple accounts of money laundering.

After the news broke about the Bruno Mars catfish, naturally, the internet had a few questions.

We get that this woman was lonely and in want of companionship, but there’s a line between desperation and delusion.

Many people were caught between pity and disbelief.

We understand that older people aren’t as tech-savvy, but some common sense would’ve told you that a multimillionaire doesn’t need money from a random lady in Texas.

Some people were calling for a deep-dive documentary, MTV “Catfish” style.

Ok, we’d 100% watch this. We want to know how faux-Bruno wooed her, how she convinced herself a rich celebrity needed money, and how she finally became savvy to the scam.

Another question being asked: who has a cool $100k just sitting around?

And how did the scam artists know to target someone so rich?! We hope she the police were able to recover the money, otherwise this woman is going to have a tough retirement.

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How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

Things That Matter

How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

Photo via SusanaHarp/Twitter

Black history month is the time of year that we shine a spotlight on the rich and unique history of people of African descent in the United States–a past that has consistently been downplayed, ignored, and in some cases, erased from our history books.

At this point, it’s evident that the Black experience is not a monolith–there is no “one way” to be Black. And yet, many people still struggle to comprehend the fact that Afro-Latinos exist.

When you hear the term Afro-Latino, you might immediately think of a few Caribbean Spanish-speaking nations with explicit ties to the African diaspora–Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, for example.

But the fact is, Black people are everywhere in Latinidad. But Afro-Latinos in non-Caribbean countries often feel overlooked, erased. And this phenomenon is especially true for afromexicanos.

In 2020, after years of fighting, Afro-Mexicans finally got recognition on the Mexican census.

The question was simple, but powerful: “Por sus costumbres y tradiciones, ¿se considera usted afromexicano, negro o afrodescendiente?” (“Based on your culture and traditions, do you consider yourself Afro-Mexican, black or Afro-descendant?”)

For Americans, especially, it can be hard to understand why the question wasn’t on the census in the first place. After all, Americans live in a country where identities are divided into strict categories: Black, white. Hispanic, non-Hispanic.

But for Mexicans, the concept of race and ethnicity is a bit more complicated. To critics, separating people into Black, white, and Indiegnous categories on the census seemed divisive. Many Mexicans identify as mestizaje–a combination of indigenous, European, and, to some extent, African roots.

But for the organizers of the #AfroCensoMx campaign–a campaign to add the negro/afromexicano to the census–the movement was more than just identity politics.

Self-identifying as Black on the Mexican census is, of course, a little bit about pride in one’s identity, but it also has more practical concerns.

The census numbers who also inform organizations about socio-economic patterns associated with being Black in Mexico–information that is invaluable. Because as of now, afromexicanos have unique experiences that are informed by their heritage, their culture, and their place in the Mexican stratum.

As Bobby Vaughn, an African-American anthropologist who specializes in Black Mexicans, put it bluntly: “Mexicans of African descent have no voice and the government makes no attempt to assess their needs, no effort to even count them.”

But for afromexicano activists, being identified as such on the Mexican census is empowering.

Lumping all Mexicans together and ignoring their (sometimes very obvious) differences can have the effect of making certain groups feel erased. Yes, Black Mexicans are simply Mexicans–that fact is not up for debate. But stories abound of afromexicanos being discriminated against because of the way they look.

An Afro-Mexican engineer named Bulmaro García from Costa Chica (a region with a significant Black population) explained to The Guardian how he is grilled by border guards and asked to sing the Mexican national anthem whenever he crosses into Guerrero.

He says the guards’ behavior is “classic discrimination due to skin color. [They think] if you’re black, you’re not Mexican.”

The differences exist, and by acknowledging it, we are more able to speak truth to power.

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