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.

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

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While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

Indya Moore Told Reporters On The Red Carpet That They Do Not Identify As Latina And Here’s Why

Entertainment

Indya Moore Told Reporters On The Red Carpet That They Do Not Identify As Latina And Here’s Why

Indya Moore, who uses the pronouns they/them, was on Emmys purple carpet when they were asked about a comment they made previously. The comment was about Latinidad and how they don’t identify with that community. Here is why Moore says they are not Latina but Afro-Taíno.

“Pose” star Indya Moore has no time for the colonized identity of Latino.

Credit: @REMEZCLA / Twitter

Moore first spoke about their identity during a discussion at the Sundance Film Festival. Moore spoke with Buzzfeed’s Curly Velasquez as part of the Up Next Series Brunch and got candid about their identity on a racial and cultural level.

“I don’t understand why we have to be identified as ‘Latin’ or ‘Hispanic’ when most of us are not from Spain,” Moore said at the brunch. “Our language, the ways we identify with ourselves have been given to us.”

Moore further clarified their comment during the Emmys purple carpet.

Credit: @jota_sexteam / Twitter

Moore was at the award show last night with their co-stars of “Pose,” which was nominated for an award. Their biggest moment came when Remezcla asked the star to clarify their remarks about not identifying as Latino.

“A lot of the culture was lost through imperialism and there’s still so much distance and disconnect with me,” Moore added at the Sundance brunch. “I did learn a lot about my gender variance, it was acknowledged through my ancestry. Something that was very important to me: that my ancestors loved me. And that I am my ancestors’ dreams.”

Their comments about their cultural heritage has angered at least one Twitter user.

Credit: @GirlGoneTravel / Twitter

The conversations about anti-blackness in the Latino community have intensified in recent years. Afro-Latinos are rightfully demanding their place at the table to demand representation within their community.

However, Moore’s comments speak to another sentiment within the Latino community, one of decolonizing our identities. From cookbooks to social media discussions, Latino people are searching for answers about their identity that does not tie back to the Spanish colonization and European oppression that led to our current understanding of our identity.

Moore was unapologetic at the Emmys about their complete identity.

“Black Latinos don’t necessarily have the same experience as Latinos who are not Black,” Moore told Remezcla. “I, personally, do not identify as Latino because Latino means Latin and Latin, it means white. And I’m not white, so I just call myself Afro-Taíno ’cause that’s what I am.”

The Taíno people are an indigenous population that lived in the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Lesser Antilles. They were the first group of First World people to encounter European colonizers in 1492 with the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

Like other indigenous groups, European colonizers set about killing off indigenous communities to steal land and inject European ideals and culture in their place. This is the kind of history people are having to find for themselves since it is not taught in class. Labels like Latino, Hispanic, and Latin America have long been contentious because of their clear reference to the violent and forced colonization of indigenous people in the Americas.

Moore not only took on the blanket identity of Latino, but they also took on the beauty standards of female-presenting people.

Credit: @IndyaMoore / Twitter

Moore walked the purple carpet in a stunning dress that showed off their long and beautiful legs. However, some people are thrown by the appearance of leg hair on the star. When someone asked if there was hair on their leg, they responded with power.

“I grow hair on my legs. And I choose not to shave it cus I like it,” Morre tweeted back. “There are bigger issues being debated about my life in the supreme Court right now anyways. But yes, I have hair on my legs, and under my under arms too and in my ass. Have fun.”

Moore was referring to the Title VII case heading to the Supreme Court on Oct. 8.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a brief with the Supreme Court telling the justices that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not protect transgender people. Laverne Cox brought attention to the coming case at the Supreme Court by bringing ACLU attorney Chase Strangio who spoke about the case on the purple carpet.

“Everyone should be aware that the administration is asking the Supreme Court to make it legal to fire workers just because they’re LGBTQ and this is actually going to transform the lives of LGBTQ people and people who are not LGBTQ,” Strangio said on the purple carpet. “Anyone who departs from sex stereotypes like all the fabulous people here for example so we really need to show up October 8 and pay attention because our lives are really on the line.”

READ: Indya Moore Is The First Trans Person To Grace An Elle Magazine Cover And Her Red Carpet Looks Prove Why