Afrolatinidad in the Afro-Atlantic
We hope our artistic and community work, in its investigation of a more complex understanding of Afro-Cuban identity, arts and culture, opens spaces across our hemisphere to re-think black identity, nationally and Diasporically to be able to highlight intersections and political movement that benefited Afrodescendants and our hemipshere. We hope to also highlight scholarship and artistic work on Afrolatinidad and push common understandings of African history, culture, and people in Latin America. More than just prove the existence of African descendants in Latin American national narratives where blacks have been erased, we are also dedicated to the politics of visibility for Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Latinx. Recognition calls for action, and throughout the hemisphere blacks still disproportionately face structural barriers that require our resources and attention. This is a brief overview and introduction to the topic and we will find creative ways to continue sharing our research and revelations online.
This video brilliantly adds to the rich contemporary work on visibility and culture, sharing interviewsa nd reflections on Afro-Mexican history and culture.
Afro-Latinos: The Untold Story Trailer - This is an incredible film documentary series on Afro-Latinos throughout the hemisphere, and this project has been growing for some time and has premiered some select film screenings last year, we'll try to keep you posted on its development.
History and Enslavment/Historia y la esclavitud
The transatlantic slave trade is one of the most tragic holocausts in human history, lasting from the 16th to 19th centures. While approximately 16 million humans survived the hourney across the Atlantic, an estimated 14.5 million died during this torturous, exhausting journey. Called the Lukumi in Cuba, the Yoruba (Nigeria) were the majority ethnic group of the island's 850,000 to one million enslaved Africans during high trafficking periods. The Yoruba also represented large communities in Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad, the U.S. along with other ethnic groups including the Congo/Bantu, Carabali (Nigeria), Igbo (Nigeria), Akan (Ghana/Ivory coast), Wolof (Senegal/Gambia) as well as from Southwestern coasts of Africa.
Adechina Remigio Herrera
Yoruba born, Herrera was bought enslaved to Cuba around 1820s and ended his life as a wealthy property owner in Regla and respected elder in the Ifa tradition and ocha/Ifa community (Palmie, Wizards and Scientists 2002)
Despite the renaissance of AfroCuban culture and Lukumi practices in the U.S., initiates of previous generations sacrificed and died, as all Africans in the New World did, for their culture's development sparking creativity to inspire endurance in African descendants. Afro-Cuban arts and African descendant communities utilize performance for community transformation and building community across divisions, tensions and prejudices. These are the principles of what we consider social justice in many societies and cultures.
AfroLatinAmerica: Silenced Histories
As we outlined in our short history of enslavement in our AfroCuba section, it is important to note that history within an overall context of the Americas. Afro Latin America in so many ways, academic, performative, culturally is still guarding silenced histories and cultural connections that we have failed to acknowledge. With a surge of academic work on the Afro-Atlantic with Gilroy, Palmié, Brown, Rachel Harding and the wonderful scholarship on Afro-Latin@ presence in the U.S. and throughout our hemisphere, we are making large strides in understanding this Diaspora
Brazil and the Caribbean especially the islands of Cuba, Haiti/Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico have notable Afrocultures that have defined the national culture despite other cultural influences from India, Native Americans (Arawak, Taino, Lucayan) and Chinese descent.
Part of the challenge of our performance work is to investigate political realities and challenges in Afro-Latin America through a Lukumi lens. We hope to produce work that deeply interrogates racism, homophobia, sexism, poverty, religious discrimination so prominent in the AfroLatin@ experience.