In celebration of Black History Month, it’s important we include some members of the African Diaspora spectrum that we may forget – Afro Latinos. While some people argue that Afro Latinos are only Latino and not black – news alert; they are black! They are a major part of black history and live the black experience in every aspect of their life.
Similar to the African American, they too experience racism, colorism, and are expected to conform to the idea of European beauty.
When we think of Afro Latino, many think of the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, but there is someone else who should be on your radar – Victoria Santa Cruz. Victoria is an Afro Peruvian choreographer, composer and activist. She was born in 1922 in Lima, Peru to musical and intelligent parents.
Growing up, she learned her love of dance from her mother. When she was old enough to attend college, she received a scholarship to study choreography in Paris. Once her program ended, she returned to Peru, where she founded the dance company Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú (Black Theatre and Dance of Peru).
Her radical and most beloved poem “Me Gritaron Negra” reclaims black as beautiful. She describes a time when at the age of 7 years old, she knew the confines of how beauty was defined by her culture – European attributes AKA thin lips, straight hair, lighter skin. Al fin (at the end) of her poem, she embraces her black beauty; her full lips, big curly hair, and black skin.
“And how it sounds, BLACK (Negro), and what a rhythm it has, BLACK (Negro)…
And I bless the skies because God wanted, that ebony is my color, and I understand, that I have the keys…
I’m a black woman!”
So while she isn’t an African American, she still experienced the same Eurocentric labels of beauty that our ancestors felt arriving on the shores of the Americas, and that we still feel today (although slowly breaking down those walls).
Let’s acknowledge our black counter parts and applaud them for speaking up and owning their blackness – in an oh so white world.
“Negro, Negro, Negro, Negro, Negro, Negro”
Tiffany Garcia is a blogger for CSUITEMUSIC.
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