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Here’s What You Missed At The Long Beach Afro-Latino Festival

Black History Month is a time when the many African influences throughout Latin America should be acknowledged and celebrated. The Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, California did just that on Sunday, Feb. 24. The second ever Afro-Latinx Festival featured dance, musical performances, vendors and a collection of traditional Latin American food to eat. Check out some of the highlights and what attendees said about what makes them proud to identify as Afro-Latino.

Music and dances of traditional Afro-Latino culture were well displayed.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The Lidereibugu Garifuna Ensemble, a Los Angeles-based traditional dance and drumming group, performed among a standing room only audience. The group consists of dancers from historically Afro-Latino areas like Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.

There was various food trucks selling dishes from countries like Brazil and Peru.

Photo by Javier Rojas

What would a festival be without good food? The event didn’t disappoint on that part. Traditional Afro-Latino meals were available thanks to food trucks like The Tropic Truck, Mikhuna Peruvian Truck and Tender Grill Gourmet Brazilian. There was even a huge selection of agua frescas for sale that included flavors like watermelon, hibiscus and kiwi.

There was a huge selection of merchants selling traditional Afro-Latino goods and products.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Toni Shaw, owner of House of Mosaic, was one of many vendors at the Afro-Latino festival. She is an entrepreneur that sells candles as an homage to her cultural upbringing. Shaw says events like this are important beyond just a one-day celebration.

“Not only am I meeting new business owners like myself but I’m getting a sense of what identifying as Afro-Latino means to others,” Shaw said. “We need more days like this that’s a for sure.”

Jolin Miranda was another business owner who talked about what identifying as Afro-Latino means.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Miranda is the owner of an artwork and accessory collection called Boricubi.” The collection is a nod to her roots and an expression of her passion in art. Miranda says the art has not only helped her connect with other Afro-Latinas like herself but give her a voice.

“My art is a reflection of how I see myself and the vibrant roots of my culture,” Miranda said. “It’s powerful and we should never forget to express ourselves with others.”

Veronica Lennon, a jewelry maker, says having an Afro-Latino festival goes a long way when it comes to representation.

Photo by Javier Rojas

“This event is important for some if us who have a mixture of cultures in our backgrounds and rarely get talked about,” Lennon says.

She sells items that are a combination of traditional Latino and African merchandise that Lennon says represent what being Afro-Latino is all about. “We need to be proud of our background and take pride in events like this,”

Isabel Walker, who hails from Panama, voiced what festivals like this mean to her culturally.

Photo by Javier Rojas

“It makes me happy to see people come out and enjoy this day where sometimes people forget our small communities.” Walker said. “I’m from Panama and all this dancing and art just brings me home.”

One of the biggest highlights of the event was a performance by the
ABADA Capoeira team.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art form that was developed by slaves. It allowed slaves to disguise that they were practicing fight moves that they would later utilize by making them look like they were dancing. The martial art is used in various Afro-Latino communities.

Performers allowed children to get in on the capoeira as well.

Photo by Javier Rojas

The art of capoeria combines self-defense, acrobatics, dance, music and song together. Children took to the stage to show off some of their skills and put it to test against performers.

The festival is a perfect example of the importance of celebrating the Afro-Latino background and culture.

Photo by Javier Rojas

Officials say attendance sizes reached well over 600 people throughout the day. MoLAA officials hope to host a similar event in the forthcoming year with an even bigger lineup of artists and vendors. We are already looking forward to it.

READ: Latin America Truly Is A Food Oasis And Here Are Some Of The Best Dishes

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