Things That Matter

Here Are Some Of The Most Important Afro-Latino Figures Who Have Changed And Are Changing The World

@zabalaaldia / @PoseOnFX / Twitter

This Black History Month, we celebrate every single Black person who has created more space for the generations behind them. From Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King Jr., the country’s effort to focus on Black contributions and civil rights history is something, but it’s not everything.

Many people in the Latino community still willfully ignore the contributions made by Afro-Latinos. Sometimes the mere emphasis on their true identity is what has paved the way for their existence to be celebrated in the Latino community. Here are some Afro-Latinos who have made waves and paved ways for other people who exist in the duality of being Black and Latino.

Celia Cruz

@celiacruzonline / Instagram

Cuban legend Celia Cruz is probably the most famous Afro-Latino of the world. She received the National Medal of Arts from Bill Clinton in 1994 for her contribution in spreading the sounds of salsa music to the U.S. and the world.

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez

@marsrader / Twitter

Méndez is the first person of African heritage to travel into space. He was born in Cuba and orphaned as an infant and went from shining shoes to traveling in Earth’s orbit. That’s something to be proud of.

Adriano Espaillat

@zabalaaldia / Twitter

Espaillat is the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in Congress. The Dominican-American now serves as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 13th Congressional District and is an unwavering champion of immigrant rights in the process.

Amara La Negra

@amaraln / Instagram

Amara La Negra brought the topic of Afro-Latinidad to public discourse after Young Hollywood criticized her afro during a business meeting on “Love & Hip Hop: Miami.” You can tell from the Dominicana’s stage name that she’s fiercely Afro-Latina. She is forcing us to have conversations about accepting Black identity withint hte Latino community.

MJ Rodriguez

@PoseOnFX / Twitter

She’s the first trans Afro-Latina starring actress to be on a television series drama, and she’s crushing it. The Puerto Rican star has skyrocketed to fame playing Blanca Evangelista on FX’s “Pose” and her star is not coming down any time soon.

Roberto Clemente

@JohnDreker / Twitter

Roberto Clemente is a Puerto Rican legend. Clemente was the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is remembered for his tireless and selfless commitment to helping the world. He died in a plane crash while taking supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake.

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

@aimeeesq / Twitter

Schomburg was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1874 to a freed slave, Mary Joseph Alfonso and Carlos Schomburg, a German merchant living in Puerto Rico. When Schomburg was in elementary school, one of his teachers claimed that Black people had no history, heroes or accomplishments. He became determined to prove her wrong and went on to become a Black historian and major intellectual figure during the Harlem Renaissance. Today, The New York Public Library Harlem branch has an entire Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, made up of his own collection of slave narratives and other books.

Felipe Luciano

@aprilRsilver / Twitter

Luciano was the founder of the Young Lords New York Branch (which was like the Puerto Rican version of the Black Panther Party). He’s also known for his poetry and his membership in the Original Last Poets.

José Celso Barbosa

@blackarcheology / Twitter

Barbosa was the first Afro-Latino to earn a medical degree in the United States. After accomplishing that major feat, he went on to join the first Puerto Rican Senate and advocated for statehood.

Soledad O’Brien

@soledadobrien / Twitter

O’Brien has become one of the top names in journalism with a slew of awards and her own show to prove it. The ACLU asked O’Brien’s parents, an Afro-Cubana and Australian, to be the couple that would test the ban on interracial marriage. Her parents had to marry in D.C. where the laws were less restrictive at the time.

Gwen Ifill

@michele_norris / Twitter

Ifill was one of the first Black women to host a national public affairs program in the United States and the first to moderate a vice presidential debate. The Panamanian journalist paved the way for many others and Afro-Latino journalists today have Ifill to thank for the path she blazed.

Princess Nokia

@princessnokia / Instagram

Puerto Rican artist Princess Nokia is known for rapping her feminist agenda with no apology. She’s speaking truth to words in a way that is uniquely relatable to Afro-Latinas. She is not holding back when she stands up for herself anf her fellow Afro-Latinas.

Judy Reyes

@itisijudyreyes1 / Instagram

While we mostly think of current icons, Amara La Negra and Cardi B, actress Judy Reyes has been paving the way for much longer.

“I would get really positive reactions at auditions for both African-American and Latino parts. But, I didn’t look Latino enough because of the curly hair, and the freckles, and the nose and all that stuff,” she told NBCUniverso.

Sylvia del Villard

@blogdiva / Twitter

San Juan-born Sylvia de Villard grew up around dance, but it wasn’t until she moved to NYC where she committed her life to it. She joined the ballet group Africa House and went on to create the Afro-Boricua El Coqui Theater.

Julia de Burgos

@gaychickendad / Twitter

Burgos is a Puerto Rican poet and journalist who’s known for her work in the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. The celebration of her blackness has influenced many Afro-Caribbean writers that have come after her. Her lasting legacy is something to be admired.

Miriam Jiménez Román

@LatinaRAS / Twitter

Jiménez is one of the foremost leading thinkers on Afro-Latinos in the U.S., known for her book “The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States.” She’s helped create space for Black Puerto Ricans and Afro-Latinos like her and she’s not slowing down.

Laz Alonso

@MeettheBlacks / Twitter

“You’re not one or the other. You’re both. And you should be proud to be both and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Alonso said in the NBCUniverso documentary “Black and Latino.”

Piri Thomas

@REMEZCLA / Twitter

Thomas paved a path for Afro-Latino voices with his memoir “Down These Mean Streets.” His life is as full as it is nuanced, with a nine-year stint in prison, feeling neglected by his father for his lighter-skinned siblings, and eventually becoming a community organizer for Afro-Latino youth in Harlem. The Cuban-Puerto Rican poet is a legend.

Breena Nuñez Peralta

@theafrolatindiaspora / Twitter

Afro-Salvadorian-Guatemalan cartoonist Peralta is working to draw Afro-Latinos into existence via cartoons. She’s creating space for young Afro-Latinxs to see themselves as heroes, which makes her our hero.


READ: From Maxwell To Cardi B, These Afro-Latinos Are A Driving Force In The Music Industry Today

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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

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  1. […] READ: Here Are Some Of The Most Important Afro-Latino Figures Who Have Changed And Are Changing The World […]

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