Things That Matter

Afro-Latino Figures Who Changed The World For The Good

Updated June 1, 2020.

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 not enough.

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 within the Latino community.

Lisa Lopes

Born in 1971 in Pennsylvania, Lopes was born to a mother of African-American and Mexican descent a father who was African-American and Cape Verdean. As a member of the R&B girl group TLC, she won four Grammy Awards and inspired little girls across Black communities with her voice and message.

Minnie Miñoso

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8: Minnie Miñoso . The son of sugar cane laborers outside Havana, when the plantation Minnie Miñoso’s family worked on wouldn’t start a baseball team, he started one himself. When there wasn’t a coach, he took on the job. When his players wouldn’t learn the signs, he fined them. . Miñoso would not be deterred. In his twenties, he was talking to a coach about what positions he could play. The coach’s current third baseman was out on the field, repeatedly putting E-5’s in the scorebook. Miñoso recognized the team’s need and quickly mentioned that oh yeah; he was a third baseman, too. . His talent saw him signed by the @indians and traded to the @whitesox in 1951. By late July, the White Sox were swooning. But Miñoso wasn’t. He’d been traded in the middle of a 10-for-18 stretch near the start of the season and was still swatting .344 with a .995 OPS even though his team had dropped from first to fourth place. By the end of the year, he led the league in triples (14) and getting hit by pitches (16), winding up an all-star, an MVP candidate, and runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year. . Hit on the hand during spring training in 1952, Miñoso came back to have an all-star season. Suffering a shoulder injury in 1953, the softer swing he had to use resulted in more line drive base hits. At 50 years old, he stroked a single to left field in a White Sox uniform. A seven-time all-star, it’s no surprise that the man with some of the most absolute talent baseball has ever seen became in 1980 one of two men ever to play big league ball across five decades at the age of 54. . For #BlackHistoryMonth, we're looking at the first 10 black players to play in the big leagues. We're proud to celebrate these legends and pioneers whose impact was profoundly felt both on and off the field. . #MinnieMinoso #BaseballHistory #NegroLeagues

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Nicknamed “The Cuban Comet” Miñoso was a Cuban Negro league and Major League Baseball (MLB) player. The first Black Cuban in the major leagues, Miñoso was an All-Start Third baseman and the first black player in White Sox history.

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.

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Latino Congressman Lou Correa Fights Back at Insurrectionist Trump Supporters Who Harassed Him at a D.C. Airport

Things That Matter

Latino Congressman Lou Correa Fights Back at Insurrectionist Trump Supporters Who Harassed Him at a D.C. Airport

Photo via screenshot

As the nation still struggles to come to grip with the horrific events that took place at the Capitol on last Wednesday, the aftermath of the debacle threatens to be just as horrifying as the event itself.

Videos are still continuing to pop up of unhinged far-right Trump supporters making public spectacles of themselves. But one such video became viral when the target of their hate refused to lie back and take it.

Recently, a video went viral of Democratic California Congressman Lou Correa being harassed by a crowd of Trump supporters right after the storming of the Capitol.

The incident took place at the Washington Dulles International Airport right outside of D.C. Based on the location and the timing, its safe to assume that these enraged Trump supporters were part of the insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

In the video, we see Rep. Correa defend himself against an irate mob who is getting in his face and hurling vitriolic insults at him.

Videos if the confrontation were posted by various right-wing social media pages, ostensibly trying to “expose” Correa for standing up for himself.

The video begins with various Trump supporters raving to Correa about “communist China” and “antifa”. When Correa explains that he was in Washington, D.C. to defend democracy, one of the Trump supporters tells him that the U.S. “isn’t a democracy, it’s a republic.”

The video then shows a large, deep-voiced many getting in Correa’s face and bellowing “Who are you?” and calling Correa a “F–ker”. Off screen, another man yells at Correa: “Nobody here voted for you. We don’t want you,” to which Correa responds: “That’s okay! 70% of people in my district did.”

In the face of such hatred, Correa held his own, refusing to be cowed by a group of bullies who recently showed themselves to be no better than terrorists.

In various interviews since the video went viral, Correa described the events that led up to the incident.

Correa told The OC Register that he had had roughly 15 minutes of sleep the night before after having stay up late to ratify the electoral votes after the process was interrupted by an angry mob.

He says he turned the corner to head towards his gate when the angry Trump-supporters recognized him as a lawmaker. “They picked me out, and boy, they came at me,” he told CNN.

Correa added that he was “surprised” at how “brazen” the hecklers were.

“They started lobbing all kinds of statements and just getting in my face, and I wouldn’t back off,” he said to the Register. “It was a situation where they were amped up and I have no idea why they came at me. Then I was surrounded by them and I stood my ground.”

But Correa, who was born in East LA and spent much of his youth in Mexico, says that he wasn’t intimidated by the bullies.

In the same interview with the Register, Correa described himself as from “the hood” and said that he is used to having angry citizens confront him for one reason or another. But this incident was unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

“I’ve never seen our nation so divided,” he said. “I’m OK with people coming up and expressing their anger and what have you. It’s another thing when people go out of their way to surround you and go after you.”

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TikTok Suspended A Mexican Politician For Celebrating The Pass Of A Marijuana Bill By Toking

Fierce

TikTok Suspended A Mexican Politician For Celebrating The Pass Of A Marijuana Bill By Toking

Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty

TikTok but don’t toke.

Nayeli Salvatori, a Mexican congresswoman who is a representative for the 10th district of the state of Puebla, recently got into hot water with TikTok after she posted a video of herself smoking marijuana. The politician, who is also a member of the Social Encounter Party, uploaded her video with the song “Light my Fire” by The Doors and added text to her video which read, “ya es legal” (it is legal) and “Felicidades” (congratulations). She uploaded the video to celebrate Mexico’s Senate vote to decriminalize marijuana. 

TikTok disabled Salvatori’s account citing a violation of its guidelines.

The TikTok’s community guideline that was violated was one that prohibits users from sharing ‘content that displays drugs, drug consumption, or encourages others to make, use, or trade drugs or other controlled substances.’

After her account was suspended for violating TikTok’s community guidelines, Salvatori went to Twitter to upload the video from TikTok. The video remains there and is now being used to discuss the controversy. 

“It’s been more than a year that the theme of legalization of cannabis has been in talks in Congress, of course, it is a celebration!!! It’s obvious that it will be approved!!! Relax, smoke didn’t come out of the pipe because it didn’t have anything, but I love when my tweets are under fire!” read the tweet which was posted in Spanish. 

Salvatori has since shared her new TikTok account with users online, while she waits to be given access to her old one.

Last Thursday, Mexico’s Senate approved the measure with a vote of 82 to 18 to pave the way to legalize recreational marijuana use.

The bill is not officially law yet, as it originated in the Senate and must go to vote to the House of Representatives. If approved with changes it will go back to the Senate and become official if voted in favor of. 

The bill was opposed by some senators who were worried about children and teenage consumption, but the bill does include that individuals must be over 18 to consume marijuana. 

The measure would allow an individual of legal age to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home. If there are two people who consume marijuana in the same residence, then they will be allowed to grow up to 8 plants in their home. 

With this new law, drug cartels behind much of the violence in Mexico could be stripped of their control over the marijuana market. 

The lower house is expected to vote on the measure before December 15.

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