Culture

This Afro-Latina Has Gone Viral After Dedicating This Over-The-Top Graduation Photoshoot To Her Culture

We love graduation season. It gives us a chance to applaud the next generation of high school and college graduates, and also be amazed at how they honor their family and Latino heritage. There is nothing better than giving your own culture a chance to shine on such a special day. That’s exactly what Samantha Sheppard did with a beautiful and culturally relevant graduation photo shoot.

Samantha Sheppard, 21, is the first to graduate from college in her family and celebrated by having a gorgeous photoshoot.

Twitter/@s4mlita 

“First one in my family with a degree,” she tweeted on April 20. “Finally telling my parents that everything they did is paying off…had to show out for the first gens for my grad shoot. 100% Panameña, living the American dream.”

Her tweet went viral and has been liked almost 40,000 times.

Twitter/@s4mlita

“I love the fact that my culture is being spread everywhere because we deserve it!! as a biracial female at a PWI, it means sooooo much,” she tweeted.

PWI is an acronym for predominately white institution.

Sheppard said she was happy her tweet went viral so people could learn more about Panamanian culture.

Twitter/@s4mlita

“Holy sh*t this sh*t really went f*cking viral… like whatttttt. not too many people know about Panamanian culture or how hard we really work so out of all the things that could’ve gotten this big, I’m glad it’s this.”

Here’s more about Sheppard, her family, and how she helps them any way she can.

Sheppard graduated with a degree in psychology and philosophy. She said that she is also currently working at a center for autism and related disorders.

“I have a very knowledgeable background in behavioral therapy and ABA and I’ve done extensive cognitive and neuropsych and neuroscience research with two profs at LSU,” Samantha tweeted.

People on social media were so moved by her incredible photoshoot.

Her dress was definitely a showstopper. Her headdress is worth another photoshoot on its own.

Panama is getting so much love, thanks to Sheppard’s tweet.

We wonder if her family back home found out about her viral tweet. It must be a really nice feeling to know that you are helping people learn about your culture and your people.

Her parents must be beyond proud of their daughter.

We can’t wait to see what is next for this inspiring young woman.

Congrats, Samantha!

READ: Here’s What This Undocumented College Grad Has To Say About The Haters Threatening Her With ICE For Celebrating Her Graduation

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These Brooklynite Afro-Dominican Twins Are Unapologetically Reclaiming Brujería

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These Brooklynite Afro-Dominican Twins Are Unapologetically Reclaiming Brujería

Brujería is practically second nature to Ph.D ‘Social Science Brujas‘ and yoginis, Dr. Griselda Rodriguez-Solomon and Dr. Miguelina Rodriguez. For the Afro-Dominican twins raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn in the ’80s, their spirituality emerged in their youth.

The twins were raised Catholic and watched their faith parallel the private rituals their mother practiced. Surrounded by altars and religious objects common of the 21 Divisions or Dominican Vudu, brujería seemed normal.

Yet, in the public eye openly claiming such practices were shunned.

“Unfortunately, that mystery is not because the practice itself is mysterious and dark; it’s because main society and religion has made it so that we have this fear of brujas, brujería, and santería,” Miguelina told Refinery29.

Known as the Brujas of Brooklyn, the twins sought to create a space dedicated to the solace of women of African descent further dismantling the harmful ties once associated with brujería.

Launched in 2016, Griselda and Miguelina work to normalize ancestral practices and heal generational trauma.

As scholars and professors at the City University of New York, they tackle conversations around gender, religion, race, and anti-blackness in the community through meditation.

“With Brujas of Brooklyn (like so many other platforms), we really create a space for Latinx people to explore what it means to be Latinx, and to understand that who we are doesn’t exist in a box,” Griselda told Bustle.

Syncretic traditions and rituals descendant from the Yoruba faith are a source of resilient strength in the face of historical brutality within the Latin American diaspora. Out of the 11.2 million Africans that survived the transatlantic slave trade, only 450,000 arrived in the United States. The rest were dispersed in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Resistant to the cultural erasure, these spiritual practices have remained and expanded within the diaspora. Now a resurgence is evident.

Thanks to social media, spirituality and witchcraft have grown among millennials. Formerly, private practices have become mainstream as today’s brujas are working to unravel folk myths that have led to the miseducation of many.

You see them everywhere through astrologers, tarot readers, and holistic healers.

Brujas live their lives unapologetically and the twins are no exception.

Spirituality in Latin America is complex. Demonized by Christianity, the fear of brujería is also rooted in sexism.

“The word bruja for me, it’s very political… it has been demonized for so many years. And a lot of it, we’re starting to understand, is because women are inherently powerful people,” said Miguelina to Refinery29. “I think that when a woman taps into that power, she becomes so powerful, and the patriarchy is scared of that.”

In order to reclaim a practice, one must first decolonize the mind and spirit as well as empower the women that paved the way for witchcraft.

“The people that were considered witches in Western Europe, Africa, or Latin America, were curanderas, herbalists, midwives, doulas, astrologers. There are generations of women whose powers couldn’t manifest because those in power were afraid of us,” said Griselda for Bustle.

Like those that came before them, the twins are ‘womb-healers,’ aimed to heal the inherited intergenerational trauma, which disproportionately affects Black women.

In the United States, Black women historically have the highest maternal mortality rates. Due to health conditions and institutional racism within the healthcare system, in 2018 Black women were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.

Practicing Yoni, an ancient Sanskrit word for ‘vulva’, they tap perform an act called “woke womb work” in retreats and workshops. They also involve Kundalini yoga in their craft which involves chanting, breathing exercises, and poses meant to activate Shakti; spiritual energy located in the spine.

Both containing origins in Hinduism, the practice is tied to divine feminine energy.

With workshops serving up to 100 people, now virtually during the pandemic, the Brujas of Brooklyn having taken their practices to the public sphere. As they continue to work to revive a legacy robbed from them, in part due to anti-blackness, those that engage are discovering inner magic they never knew they had.

“Women have been reclaiming this word for generations,” Griselda shared to Bustle. “But we’re seeing it a lot more today because of social media, thank God. What better ancestor to reclaim than the witches who took no sh*t 700 years ago. We’re living through her in a new way.”

Read: More Mothers Are Hiring Doulas, But What Is A Doula? Here’s What You Need To Know

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Dimelo Flow Talks Career Beginnings, Working With Sech, Daddy Yankee and Representing Panamá at The Global Music Stage

Latidomusic

Dimelo Flow Talks Career Beginnings, Working With Sech, Daddy Yankee and Representing Panamá at The Global Music Stage

Welcome to Spotlight, where we do a deep dive in the careers of artists, producers, songwriters and more people making an impact in the Latin music industry.

Dimelo Flow, the Panamanian producer behind hits like “Relación Remix” and “Otro Trago“, talked to us about how he started off as a basketball prospect turned club DJ, and how his love for music led him to become a producer. Now he’s not only working with the biggest names in Reggaeton like Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny, but has his sights on making global records and putting Panamá on the map.

Watch the full interview below:

During our Spotlight interview, Dimelo also talked to us about his creative process, knowing exactly how to craft the perfect remix and where to locate each artist to create the perfect synergy on a track.

Dimelo also touched on reinventing his sound and collaborating with fellow Panamian artist Sech for his upcoming album ‘42.’

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A post shared by DIMELO FLOW (@dimeloflowofficial)

The Avengers project cemented Dimelo Flow, Sech, Dalex, Justin Quiles, Feid and Lenny Tavarez as a force in reggaeton and took their careers to new heights. Dimelo said that they are already working on a follow-up to The Academy.

He talked to us about sliding into Tyga’s DM’s and now he wants to produce for mainstream artists, naming his dream collabs to work with Post Malone, Drake, and Travis Scott.

READ: Run Away From That Toxic Relationship with Dalex’s New Single “Feeling”

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