Culture

Here’s What You Missed At The Long Beach Afro-Latino Festival

Javier Rojas / mitú

Black History Month is a time when the many African influences throughout Latin America should be acknowledged and celebrated. The Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, California did just that on Sunday, Feb. 24. The second ever Afro-Latinx Festival featured dance, musical performances, vendors and a collection of traditional Latin American food to eat. Check out some of the highlights and what attendees said about what makes them proud to identify as Afro-Latino.

Music and dances of traditional Afro-Latino culture were well displayed.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble, a Los Angeles-based traditional dance and drumming group, performed among a standing room only audience. The group consists of dancers from historically Afro-Latino areas like Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.

There was various food trucks selling dishes from countries like Brazil and Peru.

Photo by Javier Rojas

What would a festival be without good food? The event didn’t disappoint on that part. Traditional Afro-Latino meals were available thanks to food trucks like The Tropic Truck, Mikhuna Peruvian Truck and Tender Grill Gourmet Brazilian. There was even a huge selection of agua frescas for sale that included flavors like watermelon, hibiscus and kiwi.

There was a huge selection of merchants selling traditional Afro-Latino goods and products.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Toni Shaw, owner of House of Mosaic, was one of many vendors at the Afro-Latino festival. She is an entrepreneur that sells candles as an homage to her cultural upbringing. Shaw says events like this are important beyond just a one-day celebration.

“Not only am I meeting new business owners like myself but I’m getting a sense of what identifying as Afro-Latino means to others,” Shaw said. “We need more days like this that’s a for sure.”

Jolin Miranda was another business owner who talked about what identifying as Afro-Latino means.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Miranda is the owner of an artwork and accessory collection called Boricubi.” The collection is a nod to her roots and an expression of her passion in art. Miranda says the art has not only helped her connect with other Afro-Latinas like herself but give her a voice.

“My art is a reflection of how I see myself and the vibrant roots of my culture,” Miranda said. “It’s powerful and we should never forget to express ourselves with others.”

Veronica Lennon, a jewelry maker, says having an Afro-Latino festival goes a long way when it comes to representation.

Photo by Javier Rojas

“This event is important for some if us who have a mixture of cultures in our backgrounds and rarely get talked about,” Lennon says.

She sells items that are a combination of traditional Latino and African merchandise that Lennon says represent what being Afro-Latino is all about. “We need to be proud of our background and take pride in events like this,”

Isabel Walker, who hails from Panama, voiced what festivals like this mean to her culturally.

Photo by Javier Rojas

“It makes me happy to see people come out and enjoy this day where sometimes people forget our small communities.” Walker said. “I’m from Panama and all this dancing and art just brings me home.”

One of the biggest highlights of the event was a performance by the
ABADA Capoeira team.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art form that was developed by slaves. It allowed slaves to disguise that they were practicing fight moves that they would later utilize by making them look like they were dancing. The martial art is used in various Afro-Latino communities.

Performers allowed children to get in on the capoeira as well.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The art of capoeria combines self-defense, acrobatics, dance, music and song together. Children took to the stage to show off some of their skills and put it to test against performers.

The festival is a perfect example of the importance of celebrating the Afro-Latino background and culture.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Officials say attendance sizes reached well over 600 people throughout the day. MoLAA officials hope to host a similar event in the forthcoming year with an even bigger lineup of artists and vendors. We are already looking forward to it.

READ: Latin America Truly Is A Food Oasis And Here Are Some Of The Best Dishes

Fans Of Spider-Man Are In Meltdown Mode After News Breaks That The Series May Be Out Of The Marvel Universe

Entertainment

Fans Of Spider-Man Are In Meltdown Mode After News Breaks That The Series May Be Out Of The Marvel Universe

Sony Pictures

Yup, you read that traumatizing headline correctly. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. It’s been confirmed that Tom Holland, the latest actor to play the beloved Peter Parker on the big screen, will no longer be involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

But what does that actually mean? And how does that affect Miles Morales, the first ever Afro-Latino Spider-Man who starred in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”? 

So how did we get here? We need someone to blame.

Well, like most things in life, it looks like it all revolves around a dispute about money. Disney, which owns Marvel, suggested an equal cofinancing agreement between it and Sony, according to Deadline, the first outlet to report the news. This would mean the studios would split profits 50/50 as well. When Sony declined this offer, Disney acted by removing Kevin Feige — the president of Marvel Studios who has had tremendous success with the latest Spidey iteration — as a producer on future films featuring the famous webslinger.

Nobody seems to know exactly what’s going to happen next here. Sony has been building a fairly impressive Spider-Verse of their own lately. Venom turned out to be among the most profitable films of 2018, and their recent Into the Spider-Verse won the Academy Award for best animated feature.

The studio is putting together a sequel to Venom, which has already received some attention for its recently-announced director, Andy Serkis. There’s a Jared Leto-starring Morbius film in production, and, reportedly, a Kraven the Hunter film on the way, along with some other rumored Spider-Man-Universe films (that, as of now, will not feature the beloved web slinger). Sony may be banking on getting the current Peter Parker—or some form of him—back in their Spider-Verse, and out of the MCU once and for all. This means, of course, that it’s possible for fans to get a Venom and Spider-Man crossover.

Amid the shock, sadness, and uncertainty, fans did the only thing they could do: laugh to keep from crying.

One fan described the news as being just the latest tragedy that comic fans have had to endure this summer, following the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame.

And what about Stan Lee?!

People considered Spidey’s ousting from the MCU as a slap in the face to the late Stan Lee, the superhero’s co-creator, who once called Holland “a great Spider-Man.”

Fans are convinced the series is cursed.

People thought about Sony’s role in all the Spider-Man films to date — like the third movie in Tobey Maguire’s time in the franchise, which was panned, and Andrew Garfield’s turn as Spidey, which was met with mixed reviews.

Now fans fear Holland is being done dirty by Sony.

In fact, it does seem like there’s a pattern where things go a little haywire every time Spidey is supposed to star in a third film.

And then there’s Miles Morales.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / Sony Pictures

With news that the series will no longer be part of the Marvel Universe, where does that leave the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man? 

Many are hoping that if Tom Holland is out, there could be an opening for the bilingual star.

His version of Spider-Man went on to win an Oscar and brought greater representation to a community that struggles to see itself in the media. 

Comic book writers have made him proud of his heritage, and one of his superpowers is being bilingual. 

The character was created in 2011 by comic book writers Brian Michael and Sara Pichelli.

Credit: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / Sony Pictures

The reason? Bendis, who is African-American, wanted to create a character that young black kids, like his own, could relate to. Repeat after us: representation matters.

He is Peter Parker’s successor with great power. 

Credit: miles-morales-spider-man-1149710. Digital image. ComicBook.com

After Peter dies (or did he?), Morales is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, and with the aid of S.H.I.E.L.D., the family and friends of the late Peter Parker and other encapuchados he becomes the one and only Spidey. There is drama, of course, as his police officer father Jefferson totally loathes justice fighters. 

Here’s Why An Afro-Latino Decided To Make A New Meditation App Just For People Of Color

Culture

Here’s Why An Afro-Latino Decided To Make A New Meditation App Just For People Of Color

Indian Yogi / Unsplash

Raise your hand if you’ve used a meditation app that works for you until the “teacher” tells you to let go of the idea you can change the world around you. Often, whether it’s your white, blonde yoga teacher or that app, it can be triggering to enter the safe space of your consciousness only to feel triggered by a tone-deaf mantra.

Julio Rivera was one of those people that tried the existing meditation apps only to feel discontent. Some people want to change the world and when your community is in crisis you have to believe that you can change the world. Thankfully, Rivera is an engineer and decided to go out and make his own app that would be a truly safe space for people of color.

Liberate Meditation is “dedicated to empowering the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community on their journey to find inner peace.”

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

“We want to help empower people, not only to meditate but to show them that there’s something you can do about your suffering,” Rivera said of the app. “We can help each other get free and be liberated.” The app is made by POC for POC.

It all started when he finally found the POC sangha at New York Insight Meditation Center. He finally found a spiritual home and wants “folks of color all over the world to know that they are not alone.” With that, he embarked on designing an app that would do just that.

You can scroll through different categories depending on your needs at that given moment.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The topics range from Ancestors, The Body, Gratitude, Love, Micro Aggressions, LGBT Pride, Self Worth and more. Then, once you choose which topic you want to engage in within yourself, you can select from 5 to 20-minute meditation sessions. 

The app also offers non-meditative teachings, which sound more like empowering, resounding speeches from the Teachers. For example, Dr. Valerie Mason-John offers a talk on “Reconciling Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Non-Self.” Hearing non-POC talk about shedding attachment to identity and self can feel frustrating for POC. We spend so much of our lives wrestling with our identities and when we’re able to claim them with pride, its an act of defiance and self-love. I feel this especially around my gay identity–something that my parents tried to beat and pray out of me. Dr. Mason-John’s soft eye into “how the Dharma offers liberation from the suffering that comes from attachment with our identity” is much more palatable given her experience as a queer person of color (QPOC).

All of the voices you will hear on the app are from Teachers of Color.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The User Interface (UI) is clever–allowing you to browse by topic and by teacher. If you find a teacher that resonates with your experience, you can immediately find a list of other teachings and meditations of their own making. When you click on their teacher card, you can read a biography of their experiences in culture, sexuality and more.

“It’s not unusual for people of color to survive by keeping parts of ourselves hidden,” Teacher Cara Lai describes her meditation on “The Power of Belonging.” “We learn to behave in certain ways when we have needs. We learn to hinder our creative expression for social acceptance. This meditation helps us open to the things we’ve locked away to regain our wholeness.”

Liberate Meditation is absolutely free to use.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

The reviews are in. People are finding refuge within themselves thanks to the app. It’s clear that Rivera has tapped into a market that has been widely ignored by the wellness industry. Instead of pretending that the harms of external racism and internalized racism don’t exist, the Teachers are acknowledging it, allowing an opportunity for healthy release.

“You will not just mediate, you will be found,” writes one reviewer.

Credit: Liberate Meditation / Apple Store

Another reviewer maintains that “This app is not just some icon you press in your phone to relieve some stress before getting out of bed in the morning.” It’s much more than that. For them, “it is a creation to help our kin heal, rebuild and liberate. You see yourself in this, you find yourself and you take in the words of those who have lived to speak wisdom to you through those guided meditations. You will not just meditate, you will be found.”

Liberation Meditation is available on iOS and Android devices.

READ: We Have Latinos To Thank For Some Of America’s Biggest And Strongest Businesses