The Afro-Latin@ Reader focuses attention on a large, vibrant, yet oddly invisible community in the United States: people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. The presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States (and throughout the Americas) belies the notion that Blacks and Latin@s are two distinct categories or cultures. Afro-Latin@s are uniquely situated to bridge the widening social divide between Latin@s and African Americans; at the same time, their experiences reveal pervasive racism among Latin@s and ethnocentrism among African Americans. Offering insight into Afro-Latin@ life and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and antiracist politics, The Afro-Latin@ Reader presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black Latin@s in the United States. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews.
This book explores the reception experiences of post-1958 Afro-Cubans in South Florida in relation to their similarly situated “white” Cuban compatriots. Utilizing interviews, ethnographic observations, and applying Census data analyses, Aja begins not with the more socially diverse 1980 Mariel boatlift, but earlier, documenting that a small number of middle-class Afro-Cuban exiles defied predominant settlement patterns in the 1960 and 70s, attempting to immerse themselves in the newly formed but ultimately racially exclusive “ethnic enclave.” Confronting a local Miami Cuban “white wall” and anti-black Southern racism subsumed within an intra-group “success” myth that equally holds Cubans and other Latin Americans hail from “racial democracies,” black Cubans immigrants and their children, including subsequent waves of arrival and return-migrants, found themselves negotiating the boundaries of being both “black” and “Latino” in the United States.
López shows how Afro-Cuban writers and performers in the U.S. align Cuban black and mulatto identities, often subsumed in the mixed-race and postracial Cuban national imaginaries, with the material and symbolic blackness of African Americans and other Afro-Latinas/os. In the works of Alberto O’Farrill, Eusebia Cosme, Rómulo Lachatañeré, and others, Afro-Cubanness articulates the African diasporic experience in ways that deprive negro and mulato configurations of an exclusive link with Cuban nationalism. Instead, what is invoked is an “unbecoming” relationship between Afro-Cubans in the U.S and their domestic black counterparts. The transformations in Cuban racial identity across the hemisphere, represented powerfully in the literary and performance cultures of Afro-Cubans in the U.S., provide the fullest account of a transnational Cuba, one in which the Cuban American emerges as Afro-Cuban-American, and the Latino as Afro-Latino.
This book examines contemporary Afro-Latin@ literature and its depiction of the multifaceted identity encompassing the separate identifications of Americans and the often-conflicting identities of blacks and Latin@s. The Afro-Latin@ Experience in Contemporary American Literature and Culture highlights the writers’ aims to define Afro-Latin@ identity, to rewrite historical narratives so that they include the Afro-Latin@ experience and to depict the search for belonging. Their writing examines the Afro-Latin@ encounter with race within the US and exposes the trauma resulting from the historical violence of colonialism and slavery.
In 2009, when Raquel Cepeda almost lost her estranged father to heart disease, she was terrified she'd never know the truth about her ancestry. Every time she looked in the mirror, Cepeda saw a mystery—a tapestry of races and ethnicities that came together in an ambiguous mix. With time running out, she decided to embark on an archaeological dig of sorts by using the science of ancestral DNA testing to excavate everything she could about her genetic history. Digging through memories long buried, she embarks upon a journey not only into her ancestry but also into her own history. Born in Harlem to Dominican parents, she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents in the Paraiso (Paradise) district in Santo Domingo while still a baby. It proved to be an idyllic reprieve in her otherwise fraught childhood. Paraiso came to mean family, home, belonging. When Cepeda returned to the US, she discovered her family constellation had changed.
Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop. As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author's voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.
Veronica Chambers grew up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, a girl who mastered the whirling helixes of double-dutch jump rope with the same ease and finesse she brought to her schoolwork, her often troubled family life, and the demands of being overachieving and underprivileged. "Until I was ten," she writes, "three things were true. We always had a car. We always had a backyard. And we lived with my father." Hard times set in when Veronica's father quit his job to become a full-time nightclub performer and soon after quit the family, too." "The job of raising Veronica and her little brother, Malcolm X Chambers, was left exclusively to her mother, a Panamanian immigrant whose secretary's salary just barely met the needs of her family. From a young age, Veronica understood that the best she could do for her mother was to be a perfect child - to rewrite her Christmas wish lists to her mother's budget, to look after her difficult brother, to get by on her own." "More than a family memoir, Mama's Girl gives voice to the first generation of African-Americans to come of age in the post-Civil Rights era.
The AmeRican Poet: Essays on the Work of Tato Laviera is a collection of thirteen essays, an introduction and a foreword by fifteen established and emerging scholars. Known as a Nuyorican poet, Laviera is more appropriately celebrated as an AmeRican writer of national and international prominence. As a whole, the essays discuss diverse aspects of Laviera’s life and substantial body of work that includes five published collections of poetry, twelve written and staged plays, and many years of political, social, literary and healthcare activism. They focus on Laviera’s use of language; relationship to writers from the island (Luis Pales Matos, Jose Luis Gonzalez, and Luis Munoz Marin) and mainland (Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman); his concern for mestizaje; Afro-Latinoness; music, sound and rhythm; utopian spaces; code switching; Civil Rights and feminist movements; Mexican migrant students and homeless people, among others. Uniquely, the anthology features a testimonio composed of interviews in which the author speaks in English, Spanish and Spanglish, four unpublished poems, and the play King of Cans. This collection confirms Tato Laviera’s much deserved reputation as a major poet in any language.
"We defy translation," Sandra María Esteves writes. "Nameless/we are a whole culture/once removed." She is half Dominican, half Puerto Rican, with indigenous and African blood, born in the Bronx. Like so many of the contributors, she is a blend of cultures, histories and languages. Containing the work of more than 40 poets--equally divided between men and women--who self-identify as Afro-Latino, ¡Manteca! is the first poetry anthology to highlight writings by Latinos of African descent. The themes covered are as diverse as the authors themselves. Many pieces rail against a system that institutionalizes poverty and racism. Others remember parents and grandparents who immigrated to the United States in search of a better life, only to learn that the American Dream is a nightmare for someone with dark skin and nappy hair. But in spite of the darkness, faith remains. Anthony Morales' grandmother, like so many others, was "hardwired to hold on to hope." There are love poems to family and lovers. And music--salsa, merengue, jazz--permeates this collection.Editor and scholar Melissa Castillo-Garsow writes in her introduction that "the experiences and poetic expression of Afro-Latinidad were so diverse" that she could not begin to categorize it. Some write in English, others in Spanish. They are Puerto Rican, Dominican and almost every combination conceivable, including Afro-Mexican. Containing the work of well-known writers such as Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero and E. Ethelbert Miller, less well-known ones are ready to be discovered in these pages.