Culture

Here Are Some Quick Facts You Should Know About Santeria

If you grew up listening to Sublime’s “Santería” at high school dances or hanging out at block parties, odds are the song’s opening lyrics of “I don’t practice Santería, I ain’t got no crystal ball” might have been the first time you heard of the mystical cult. Santería is a religion that came to the Caribbean islands by way of Africans brought to the islands in the slave trade against their will. They blended their native religion with Catholicism, practiced by the Spanish conquistadors and colonizers to practice their beliefs without persecution.

Santería is a religion with West African roots and influenced by Roman Catholicism.

The religion has been around for centuries, since the first existence of slaves on the  Caribbean islands. African slaves brought their spiritual practices of Voodoo with them to the New World. However, under Spanish rule at the time, the slaves were not allowed to practice their own religion so they had to integrate Catholic saints to mask their religion. While Santería is the most common name but it isn’t the only one. Santería is the name used to reference the African/Caribbean religion in pop culture and the media. Practitioners prefer the other terms for the practice often referring to it as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí.

Another important distinction to note is that it is not equal to brujería.

Santeros are known as priests and conduct the ceremonies, which often include drumming and dancing. There are no official buildings or meeting places for Santería. The religion and traditions often take place in homes, outdoors or in places rented or secured for the specific ceremony that will be taking place.

To understand the history of the Regla de Ocho is to go back and understand how the Yoruba people in Cuba.

who were mistakenly referred to as the Lucumí people (which one site mentions is perhaps this tribe referred to each other as Oluku Mi, meaning “my friend”), practiced both their traditional religious customs in parallel unison with the new Roman Catholicism religion practiced by the Spaniards at the time. The main pillars of this religion includes the worship of one god in three beings: Oludumare, Olofi, and Olorun, as well as the worship of Orichas, or santos. This shows the similarity between the Catholic religion of God having three forms: God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, as well as saints in Roman Catholicism. Some Catholic images, saints and practices are also mixed into the Regla de Ocho practices.

Santeros practiced in secret for hundreds of years to avoid religious persecution.

Santería has practitioners in the Carribean and across Latin America as followers brought these practices to other parts of the world, such as Brazil. However, the practices changed in variation from one country to the next. In recent years, it has been growing in U.S. cities with larger populations of African and Latin American immigrants. One such city is Miami, which has endured some odd cases of animal sacrifice in plain sight of its neighborhood residences.

The sacrifices are seen as offerings to the orichas and then eaten.

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The religion has been characterized by prejudice by people who see it as barbaric or voodoo (it is not voodoo, as the practices come from different tribes in Africa) and has also been at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case. A santero and college professor goes deeper into the practices’ history in a PBS documentary titled, Santería. In 2014, after the Lucumí faith won its religious freedom in the Supreme Court case, two of its largest priest organizations joined together in Miami to form one hierarchy and establish more visibility and awareness of the religion among its followers and outsiders.

The recent court case wins and development shows it is a young religion that is continuing to evolve and grow among its followers.


READ: These Santería Stories From Miami Took Sad And Dark Turns For Everyone Involved

Did you learn something new about this religious practice? Let us know in the comments below.

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People Are Hoping That Covid Will Give Them Up For Lent This Year

Culture

People Are Hoping That Covid Will Give Them Up For Lent This Year

Covid has changed everything we know about the world for more than a year. As Lent approaches and people make plans to sacrifice to get closer to God, some are hoping Covid does the work instead. We have all given up so much this past year, what more can people sacrifice?

Lent is upon us, which means it is time to make that sacrifice.

Lent is a time when Catholics give something up for 40 days to get close to God. Lent is a six-week period leading up to Easter that is observed by Christians around the world, especially within the Catholic church. The run-up to Easter is a solemn religious practice that is in preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Those who practice a more traditional or orthodox Lent give up meat, fish, eggs, and fats from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. A lot of believers choose instead to give up one item of personal importance to show their devotion to their religion.

The tradition has been around for centuries and believers have been practicing Lent diligently. The sacrifices have evolved over the centuries to include give up social media, going to the gym, or watching TV to further devote their time to their religion.

This year, people are hoping that Covid will give them up for Lent.

How nice would it be if Covid just gave up the fight? After months of isolation, social distancing, and giving up so much, it would be nice if Covid did the work for Lent. It is not a hard argument to make that the past year of sacrificing could make up for Lent.

People are not willing to give up something they love after giving up so much.

People around the world have had to make major sacrifices for the betterment of mankind. Covid has forced people to give up seeing their family, friends, and attending major milestone events. So, with Lent upon us, people on Twitter are bargaining with their religion to justify living in quarantine during Lent.

People are really digging their heels in on not giving up anything for Lent.

There are so few things that bring people joy right now. Eating chocolate, drinking wine, or enjoying a little extra television might be the only things getting people through the pandemic right now. Some people are trying to find any other way to participate in Lent to make sure that they stick to their religion while staying happy.

For some people, there is just nothing left to give up for Lent.

It is a hard choice to make. Some schools are not giving students a Spring Break because of Covid and millions remain in some sort of restriction. It is still possible to participate in Lent without giving anything up. Like so many other religious things, you can partake in a different way to satisfy your religious needs.

READ: Admit It, THIS Is The Most Fun Part Of Ash Wednesday

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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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