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22 Afro-Latinos To Honor And Celebrate This Black History Month

Get excited gente! It’s Black History Month, which means it’s a huge month for us! As Latinos whose roots are extensive and varied, there’s no doubting that we have a long history of African heritage within our culture. For those of us living in and outside of the United States it’s so key to make sure that we encourage our families and friends to take part in the celebrations because Black History Month isn’t just a celebration for African-Americans. It’s for all African descendants!

Here are some of the most popular Afro-Latinos to help you get pumped about February.

1. Tessa Thompson

Credit: @tessamaethompson / Instagram

Since being invited to the Academy of Motion Pictures, the world has finally learned that Tessa Thompson is Afro-Panamanian. You might remember her from “Dear White People” and “Creed,” but this Latina has so much more in store.

2. Bruno Mars

Credit: @brunomars / Instagram

Puerto Rican-Filipino-Hawaiian singer Peter Hernández, a.k.a. Bruno Mars, rocked our worlds when he first released “Just The Way You Are” in 2010. (And you just started singing it in your head, didn’t you?) In fact, this year, “Just The Way You Are” was certified nine-times platinum, meaning he’s another Latino owning the music industry.

3. Miguel

Credit: @miguel / Instagram

If this Afro-Mexican singer isn’t adorning you with his beautiful smile and sultry voice, he’s using that same voice to call for social justice. Miguel’s latest song “How Many” is a plea for justice and acknowledgment of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

4. Kid Cudi

Credit: @kidcudi/ Instagram

Kid Cudi came out of NOWHERE with his hit song “Day ‘N Night,” and the whole world took notice. Since, the Afro-Mexican singer has been dropping hit after hit and recently teased us all with a future collaboration with Pharrell.

6. Dascha Polanco

Credit: @sheisdash / Instagram

The Dominicana made waves as Daya on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” when it first premiered in 2013. Her most recent role takes place as a detective on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”

7. Christina Milian

Credit: @christinamilian / Instagram

Christina Milian hit the scene in “American Pie” and had us all dancing to “Dip It Low.” Though she recently caught herself in some controversy over an #AllLivesMatter tweet, this Afro-Cuban beauty will be on your TV screen this year in a made-for-TV version of “Rocky Picture Horror Show.”

8. Maxwell

@maxwell / Instagram

The Afro-Puerto Rican is currently touring and giving men and women everything with his incredible talent. In a recent interview, the soulful singer spoke about not feeling black enough to be in the company of some of the greatest should singers of the time.

9. Mariah Carey

Credit: @mariahcarey / Instagram

Fans of Mimi have loved and appreciated the songstresses vocalization of discovering her heritage at an older age. Her father is of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent and her mother is Irish.

10. Lauren Vélez

Credit: @lalunavelez / Instagram

The Puerto Rican from New York City nabbed her first role as a performer in Dreamgirls, but it wasn’t until years later when she earned impressive roles on “Dexter” and “Ugly Betty” that Vélez began to gain international attention. These days she’s very open about the importance of Afro-Latino inclusion on screen. 

11. Carmelo Anthony

Credit: @carmeloanthony / Instagram

When this Afro-Puerto Rican isn’t dominating on the basketball court, he’s offering his voice and fame to social good.

12. Tatyana Ali

Credit: @tatyanaali / Instagram

Tatyana Ali won all of our hearts as Ashley Banks on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” The Afro-Panamanian actor has a few projects that will be released soon, but for now, she seems totally content being a mommy-to-be.

13. Laz Alonso

Credit: @lazofficial / Instagram

The Afro-Cuban “Fast & Furious” actor has been vocal about his Cuban and Black pride. His passions for speaking up about being a Latino raised in American society has always given fans insight into the way the actors views his life.

14. Selenis Leyva

Credit:@selenisleyvaofficial / Instagram

She might be Gloria Mendoza on OITNB, but in the real world, Selenis Leyva is out to help everyone she can. The Afro-Cuban/Dominican actor spends her time off the set donating her energy and fame to the causes that matter to her most, like LGBTQ rights and fighting cancer.

15. Judy Reyes

Credit: @itisjudyreyes1 / Instagram

The Dominican from The Bronx New York began her career on “Law & Order.” Over the years her roles on television have expanded and these days she filling lead parts on “Devious Maids and “Claws.” 

16. Kelis

Credit: @kelis / Instagram


It has been a long time since we’ve heard “Milkshake” bless our radios, but Kelis isn’t done with her adventure yet. These days the Afro-Puerto Rican trained at Le Cordon Bleu and is showing off in London of all places.

17. Zoe Saldana

Credit: @zoesaldana / Instagram

Dominican-Puerto Rican actor Zoe Saldana is probably best known for her role in “Avatar,” when in fact she is really THE Afro-Latino representation in the sci-fi world.

18. Gina Torres

Credit: @ginatorresfanpage2 / Instagram

She might not top this list, but there’s no doubting the actress from Cuba tops the hears of Latinos the world over. Her role in beloved shows like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Firefly” has gained her a cult following.

19. Soledad O’Brien

Credit:@iammarisolcorrea / Instagram

The Afro-Cuban broadcast journalist and executive producer has talked extensively about her experience of being an AFro-Latina in the U.S. She is a graduate from Harvard University and the daughter of a woman from.

20. Rosario Dawson

Credit:@rosariodawson / Instagram

Dawson has been killing the acting game for a long time. Now, this Afro-Cuban/Puerto Rican has become the voice many young Latinos have turned to this political season. Not only has the actor been out campaigning for her fave politician Bernie Sanders, but she has also been arrested exercising her right to protest in a peaceful sit-in.

21. Rosie Perez

Credit: @rosieperezbrooklyn / Instagram

The Brooklyn-native was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Fearless” back in 1994.  These days she’s heading up a talk show as a host on “The View” and makes regular appearances on TV. 

22. Sophina DeJesus

Credit: @sophinathediva /Instagram


The American gymnast of Puerto Rican descent made waves a few years ago when she did an impeccable dance floor routine. She landed an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show and killed yet another performance.

23. Celia Cruz

Credit: @celia_cruz / Instagram

La reina de tumbao might have come from the tiny island of Cuba but her musical reach became international. Her powerful voice made her an international star and Latina icon all this, despite the many struggles she faced as an Afro-Latina as well.


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This Black History Month Celebrate The Legacy and Life Of Afro-Latina Reina Julia de Burgos

Calladitas No More

This Black History Month Celebrate The Legacy and Life Of Afro-Latina Reina Julia de Burgos

Julia de Burgos is one of the most prominent Afro-Latina poets in modern history, and considered one of the most famous female poets from Puerto Rico. Her short, but prolific, life was defined by her innovative work, radical politics, volatile relationships, and personal struggles with depression and alcoholism. In honor of black history month, we give to your the story of Julia de Burgos, the Puerto Rican, Afro-Latina feminist poet who was ahead of her time.

“My childhood was all a poem in the river, and a river in the poem of my first dreams.”

Born Julia Constanza Burgos García in 1914 in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Julia de Burgos was the eldest of 13 siblings–six of whom died due to malnutrition. De Burgos was raised on a farm in extreme poverty, which influenced both her writings and her political outlook for the rest of her life.

While most female students in 1920s Puerto Rico weren’t expected to pursue higher education, the precocious and gifted de Burgos attended University High School in Rio Piedras on a full scholarship. She went on to receive a secondary education at the University of Puerto Rico, where she earned credentials to become a teacher in 1933.

“Hear the thousand laments of your children, of your soul, of your homeland demanding liberty.”

By the early 1930s, Julia de Burgos was already a published and critically acclaimed author, both as a journalist and as a poet. She released her first book of poems, “Poema en veinte surcos” (“Poem in Twenty Furrows”) in 1938. To promote the book of poems, de Burgos toured Puerto Rico,  giving readings and meeting fans. By this time, she was already deeply involved in the Puerto Rican Independence movement, serving as the Secretary General of the “Daughters of Freedom”.

“Don’t let the hand you hold hold you down.”

By the time she was 23, de Burgos was a published author, had been married, divorced, and found herself single once again. Instead of assuming the name of her ex-husband, as was conventional at the time, the feminist poet re-took her maiden name, changing it from its original iteration of “Burgos” to “de Burgos”. She did this in order to symbolically claim ownership of herself–a feat no man would ever truly be able to accomplish.

After her divorce, De Burgos embarked on a passionate love affair with Dominican physician Dr. Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón, whom many historians recognize as the love of her life. Grullón was an intellectual from a respected family, and their relationship gained her further access into the Puerto Rican elite.

De Burgos and Grullón moved frequently as part of their nomadistic, Bohemian lifestyle. The couple spent a brief sojourn in Cuba and then moved to New York City, where de Burgos would spend the remainder of her life. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t stand the test of time, and de Burgos and Grullón had ended their relationship by 1942. She was left alone and practically penniless in New York City.

“I am life, I am strength, I am woman.”

It was in New York City that de Burgos truly solidified her status as a literary icon, particularly in the “Nuyorican” movement–the birth of the Puerto Rican/New York City blend of cultures that would help shape the Puerto Rican expatriate community for generations . In New York City, de Burgos took odd jobs to support herself while continuing to produce trailblazing poetry. She also contributed to the Spanish-language socialist paper, “Pueblos Hispanos”, eventually becoming an editor.

While in New York, de Burgos married and divorced once more, and the failed relationship launched her into both a depression and a battle with alcoholism that would follow her to the end of her days. During this time, one of her final poems was an English-language meditation on her lifelong struggle with poverty, entitled “Farewell in Welfare Island”.

In the end, despite her talent and promising career, de Burgos died from pneumonia at the age of 39 that many believe was spurred on by her alcoholism. Tragically, there was no one available at the hospital to identify de Burgos’ body, so she was buried in an unmarked grave. Eventually, her relatives discovered her grave and her remains were sent back to home, to her beloved island of Puerto Rico.

“I am black, pure black; kinky hair and Kaffir lips; and flat Mozambican nose.”

Despite achieving middling critical and commercial success during her lifetime, de Burgos found true success years after her death, when a new class of Latinx scholars and readers discovered her work. Her poems experienced a resurgence in popularity in the ’90s, when Caribbean and Latina writers, in particular, recognized her work for its themes of colonialism, feminism, American supremacy, colorism, poverty, and Latinx identity–subjects de Burgos explored far before they hit the mainstream.

Presently, in addition to her exploration of Latinx identity, de Burgos is recognized for her ownership and celebration of her Afro-Latina roots–a stance that was just as radical in the past as it is today. At a time when anti-black racism was just as widespread and insidious in Latinidad as it was in the US, de Burgos defied convention by fully claiming her black heritage, famously writing “Ay, ay, ay, I am black, pure black; kinky hair and Kaffir’s lips; and flat Mozambican nose.”

“She had many sins because she always lived in verse/ And what you do on earth, on earth you pay for.”

Today, de Burgos receives all of the praise and accolades that she wasn’t afforded in life. In both New York City and Puerto Rico, de Burgos has had scholls , parks, libraries, and streets named in her honor. Her likeness has appeared in murals and statues across the US and Puerto Rico, and her face has graced the front of a US postage stamp.

Julia de Burgos has taken not only her place as one of the rightful members of the Latinx literary cannon, but the broader US literary cannon in general. Because of her priceless contribution to art and culture, she is immortal.


READ: 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Celia Cruz, The Indisputable Queen Of Salsa

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

Entertainment

10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

It’s Black History Month, a time to uplift and celebrate the historic events and people of African descent who have contributed to culture, achieved excellence and sparked social and political change. But it’s also a moment for reflection, of honestly evaluating how much — and how little — has changed for the African diaspora throughout the US, Latin America and beyond.

Confronting the everyday violence, discrimination, disadvantages and inequality Black individuals have and continue to endure, while necessary, could be enraging and upsetting, and makes self-care practices all the more necessary.

This year, whether you’re celebrating the beauty, resilience and magia of blackness with a Black History Month party or well-deserved care day, music can always add to the occasion. Here, a mix of Spanish and English songs by Afro-Latinas and for Black women that unapologetically declare self-love and engage in self-worship to add to any Black joy playlist for the month of February and all the days that follow it.

1. Celebrate being a daughter of “La Diaspora” with Nitty Scott.

When the Afro-Boricua rapper dropped Creature in 2017, she gifted Black women, particularly Black Latinx femmes, with a full project that saw, understood and exalted their existence. None of the bangers on the LP did this as intentionally as the song and short film “La Diaspora.”

2. Make your voice and joy heard with Christina Milian’s “Say I”

When the cubana teamed with Young Jeezy to drop this 2009 bop, she encouraged women to “do what you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you what you’re supposed to do.” And that’s some pretty liberating ishh.

3. Some might call you “CRZY,” but Kehlani wants you to embrace the term.

Confidently dancing to the beat of your own drum, especially as a woman of color, is neither expected nor welcomed, largely because it makes it more difficult for white supremacy to thrive. With “CRZY,” the part-Mexican R&B songstress encourages femmes to embrace and reclaim the slights people throw at you for being a radiant, go-getting mami.

4. And Calma Carmona’s “I Got Life” shows that there is so much to be joyous about.

In her Spanglish rendition of Nina Simone’s “I Ain’t Got No … I Got Life,” the Puerto Rican soul singer declares all the beauty she has, from her voice, to her hair, to her smile to her life, in a world that told her she has nothing.

5. Something else you have: “Tumbao.”

In la reina de salsa’s multi-generational hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” the late cubana Celia Cruz reminds Black women of that unfading, indescribable, swing and swag that Black women carry with them in every space they occupy.

6. Prefer an English joint? Cardi B will also remind you how “Bad” you are.

With “She Bad,” featuring YG, the Dominican-Trinidadian rapper engages in self-worship and encourages other Black women to feel themselves and own their sexuality without apprehension or apologies.

7. ‘Cause Like Maluca told you, you’re “la mami del block.”

In the Dominican singer-rapper’s mega bop “El Tigeraso,” Maluca makes the indisputable claim that Afro-Latinas have it all: “tengo fly, tengo party, tengo una sabrosura.”

8. And like Farina says, not everyone is deserving of your greatness.

In “la nena fina’s” urbano-pop jam “Mucho Pa’ Ti,” the colombiana raps what everyone knows: She, and you, are too much — too poppin’, too powerful, too radiant — for the unworthy.

9. Now that you’re reminded of who you are, enter every space like Melii walked into the club in her music video for “Icey.”

With sparkly, high-heeled white boots, a laced v-neck bodysuit, some tiny red shades and confidence that entraps you, dominicana-cubana Melii knows her value — as a woman and an artist — and watching or listening to how self-assured she is will undoubtedly rub off on you.

10. ‘Cause at the end of the day, you’re a “Million Dollar Girl” like Trina.

Like the Dominican-Bahamian rapper, alongside Keri Hilson and Diddy, told you in 2010: “Baby if I want it, I got it / ‘Cause I’ll be gettin’ some more / ‘Cause I’m a million dollar girl, for sure.”

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