While Puerto Ricans are unapologetic in their pride, some tend to downplay their African ancestry. The truth is, Puerto Rico as we know it wouldn’t exist without the cultural influences of African tribes. The racialization of Puerto Rico as a Latin American/Caribbean archipelago and of Puerto Ricans as non-white should not deny the specificity of Afro-Puerto Rican difference.
The Africans that came to Puerto Rico overcame many obstacles and particularly after the Spanish-American War, their descendents helped shape the political institutions of the island. Their contributions to the music, art, language, and heritage became the foundation of Puerto Rican culture. Afrodescendientes boricuas is one such community, who are, at best – forgotten or ignored – and at worst – exoticized, feared, or even hated.
“Afro-Puerto Ricans have to look at themselves through the context of being Puerto Rican, because we are not straight up African.”
Some African slaves spoke “Bozal” Spanish, a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, and the language spoken in the Congo. The African influence in the Spanish spoken in the island can be traced to the many words from African languages that have become a permanent part of Puerto Rican Spanish (and, in some cases, English). Indeed, the very existence and nature of Afro-Boricua difference and of racism among Puerto Ricans are matters of debate in Puerto Rican intellectual and political scenarios.
Puerto Ricans celebrate March 22 as ‘Abolition Day’ which is a national holiday and Puerto Rican school children are also taught at an early age about the three main ‘races’ (European, African, indigenous) which constitute the Puerto Rican population profile but the reality is that the African component is still viewed as being the most socially undesirable of the three and accorded the lowest status.
Loíza is Puerto Rico’s center for African-inspired traditions and it retains one of the largest Black populations on the island; more than 60 percent of its 30,000 residents identify as Black. Known as the “Capital of Traditions,” Loíza is the birthplace of Black Puerto Rican music and is where the dance Plena was born. Bomba music and other African-Taino infused food and traditions are commonplace here. Loíza artisans produce the colorful coconut masks displayed at festivals and make the unique Bomba drums.
Some residents report negative stereotypes about Loíza, often referred to as “that Black town,” because of its high crime rate, while others contend that race relations on the island are improving. Racism is not bad here, but they are conscious of race; some people are racists, but some are not…race is important, but they don’t care about that as much, because we are all Puerto Rican.
The Puerto Rican liberation movement of the 1960s-70s in the United States combated colonialism, capitalism and racism as entangled forms of oppression. This entailed fighting U.S. white racism against Puerto Rican colonial subjects, as well as racial discrimination of Afro- Puerto Ricans by lighter-skin Boricuas. This is also mediated by class and gender domination, especially in Puerto Rico where the colonial ruling class is mostly white males. As counterpoint, in many working-class U.S. barrios, Puerto Ricans of all colors and U.S. blacks share in a conviviality that gave rise to shared cultural productions such as hip-hop culture, and a dialectics of affinity and conflict in urban political coalition- building.
Black history in Puerto Rico initially began with the African freeman who arrived with the Spanish Conquistadors. The Spaniards enslaved the Tainos who were the native inhabitants of the island and many of them died as a result of the cruel treatment that they had received. This presented a problem for the Spanish Crown since they depended on slavery as a means of manpower to work the mines and build forts. Their solution was to import slaves from Africa and as a consequence the vast majority of the Africans who immigrated to Puerto Rico did so as a result of the slave trade. The Africans in Puerto Rico came from various points of Africa, suffered many hardships and were subject to cruel treatment.
Afro-Puerto Ricans continue to point out that their ancestors were instrumental in the development of the island’s political, economic and cultural structure from the the early years of their entry to the present and that this although not acknowledged is reflected in the island’s literature, politics and scientific institutions as well as in Puerto Rico’s art, music, cuisine, religious beliefs and everyday life.
The Young Lords, a key organization of the Puerto Rican movement of the 1960s-70s, militated against colonialism, capitalism, sexism and racism. This sort of politics—that we now call inter-sectional because it understands power as based on articulations of class, ethnic-racial, gender and sexual oppressions—shaped the political culture of Puerto Rican radicalism. The racial politics of the Young Lords were expressed with poetic justice in Felipe Luciano’s verse Jíbaro My Pretty Nigger, Jíbaro Mi Negro Lindo, in which he challenges the idea of the Puerto Rican subject as a white peasant, an image that has circulated since the 19th century and became emblematic in the 1930s.
Cultural genres such as regaetton explicitly give voice to subaltern sectors in terms of race and class. The lyrics of lead artists such as Tego Calderón and Don Omar, vindicate Afro-Boricua popular cultures from the barrios and caserios (public housing projects) using a challenging masculinist tone. These spaces of Puerto Rican-ness, racialized, marginalized and criminalized in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, tend to be identified as black, unruly and dangerous.
As in the rest of the Americas, darker-skin Puerto Ricans had historically suffered from structural racism that includes relative social marginalization, lack of political representation and denial of historical and cultural recognition, as well as everyday experiences of discrimination both in Puerto Rico and the United States. The peculiarities of anti-black racism in Puerto Rico and among Puerto Ricans are colored by the condition of long-term colonialism.
Through this long history, Afro-Puerto Ricans confront a double colonial condition, as colonial subjects of the empire, and as racialized internal others of the nation. The efforts by both the Spanish empire and creole elites to whiten the island by conceding land and rights to European immigrants in the 19th century, in an archipelago where the plantation system was less developed that in other Caribbean spaces, resulted in Puerto Rico being perceived as the whitest of the Antilles.
The next generation, the one that produced hip-hop culture—an urban mixture of music, dance, style, art, economy and politics—spawned community cultural institutions such as Taller Boricua and Nuyorican Poets Café with an Afro-Puerto Rican aesthetics linked to the politics of Latina/o self- affirmation. In this context, Marta Moreno Vega, an Afro-Boricua woman, founded in 1976 the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), which became one of the primary global spaces for cultural, religious and political exchanges in the Africana world. The CCCADI, which organized three world congresses of Yoruba religion, launched the Global Afro-Latino and Caribbean Initiative (GALCI) that has been instrumental in weaving networks of Afro-Latina/o social movements across the Americas.
“We are working to educate people about ‘our blackness,’ but not just that we are African, but also about,” our Puerto Rican heritage.
However racial profiling and stereotyping identifies Dominicans as being overwhelmingly black and ‘mulatto’ illegal foreigners, and therefore a threat, consequently the Puerto Rican authorities often arrest Afro-Puerto Ricans who have no identification, assuming them to be illegal Dominican migrants. They are also affected by enduring anti-black racist attitudes deeply embedded within Puerto Rican society which although never acknowledged are nevertheless routinely practiced. In Puerto Rico as in other parts of Latin America it is still common for people to be referred to by their co-lour hence the prevalence of terms like Negro (a) or Negrito (a) although some argue that these are really terms of endearment devoid of animosity or conscious malicious intent.
Puerto Rico is in crisis, made unimaginably worse by Hurricane Maria, this ongoing crisis highlights the racial character of our colonial condition. President Trump, who charged that Puerto Ricans just want things to be done for them and that providing disaster relief to the island represented a problem for the U.S. budget, reveals the ugly face of imperial policy, neglecting basic aid to the devastated archipelago, while giving post-hurricane support to Texas and Florida.
When POTUS threw paper towels to an audience during his brief visit to the island after the storms Irma and Maria, his racist utterances upset international opinion just when the profound humanitarian crisis of Puerto Ricans—U.S. citizens— began to be acknowledged. White and affluent neighbors that weren’t hit as hard by the hurricane received more resources than black neighborhoods that were devastated. The catastrophe of the late modern colony in the aftermath of the hurricanes resurfaces the discontents of the double coloniality confronted by Afro-Puerto Ricans.
The combined injuries of race and class faced by Afro-Boricua subaltern sectors who circulate between the island barrios and the U.S. ghettos deepen with the world crisis of neoliberal capitalist globalization. Projecting its optimal critical potential, a cultivated double consciousness of Afro-Puerto Ricans could turn our collective historical agency into a powerful transformative force within a long and complex process of decolonization and liberation from the intertwined powers of colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and racism, in both shores of the Atlantic pond that divides and connect the U.S. empire-nation and the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
The following Puerto Ricans of African descent have notability in their respective fields, either in Puerto Rico, the United States, and/or internationally:
*Rick Aviles – comedian and actor
*Carmelo Anthony – basketball player (mother is Puerto Rican)
*Juan Morel Campos – composer
*Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos – lawyer, Nationalist leader
*Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa – medical doctor, sociologist, and politician
*Wilfred Benitez – boxer
*Carmen Belen Richardson – actress
*Jose Campeche – painter
*Rosie Perez – actress
*Dr. Jose Ferrer Canales, educator, writer and activist
*Bobby Capo – musician, composer
*Roberto Clemente – baseball player
*Orlando “Peruchin” Cepeda – baseball player
*Rafael Cepeda – folk musician and composer
*Jesús Colón – writer and politician
*Rafael Cordero – educator
*Jose “Cheo” Cruz- baseball player
*Tite Curet Alonso – composer
*Carlos Delgado – baseball player
*Sylvia Del Villard – activist and actress
*Cheo Feliciano – salsa singer
*Ruth Fernandez – singer and actress
*Pedro Flores – composer
*Juano Hernandez – actor
*Rafael Hernandez – musician and composer
*Emilio “Millito” Navarro – baseball player
*Victor Pellot – baseball player
*Ernesto Ramos Antonini – Speaker of the House
*Arturo Alfonso Schomburg – educator and historian
*Félix Trinidad – boxer
*Juan Evangelista Venegas – boxer
*Otilio “Bizcocho” Warrington – comedian and actor
*Bernie Williams – baseball player
Wear Red Day is here… Go Red with us! Do you know what you’re wearing on this year’s Wear Red Day? Show off your favorite Red outfit, your cute Red shoes, stunning Red lipstick, or even your whole office showing off their Go Red spirit to help bring awareness to the number 1 killer of women – heart disease and stroke.
Together we can save the lives of women we love by preventing heart disease and stroke. It’s a concept we can all get behind AND it’s also the theme of this year’s Go Red For Women Conference. Learn practical tips from local experts and survivors how you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Heart disease takes the life of every 1 in 3 women, in fact 41 women will lose their lives TODAY, due to heart disease and stroke.
Buenos Tardes Mi Gente!!
Bienvenido, today I will be continuing talking about what has inspired me as an artist and where I will interview other artists, art students, and people involved in the art & entertainment world and who are community activist in the coming months. I am always touched and empowered by the stories of artists and powerful people in the art world and I wanted to use this opportunity to get to know what inspires others.
I wanted to give credit to a few of the artists that have really impacted and inspired me. I started my interviews with my dearest friends and fellow Boricuas, Ponce Solo, Jessica Flores, Iris Toro, Bobbito Ross & El Vis Katari . Today, I want to introduce you to The Narcotechs.
In January 2016 a new movement was born as underground group MPIRE (artists Dax and Arc) joined forces with up and coming producer/MC, Doza The Drumdealer. These two Latino entities formed the NARCOTECHS in an attempt to revive the Latin hip hop sound in the urban market. The term “Narcotechs” is a clever play on words using Narcos– meaning Latino hustlers, and the techs being short for architects. The self titled album is a fusion of classic sounding hiphop with the influence of Latin upbringing. Using legendary Latino samples and orchestration with modern day sound and bang, Doza displays remarkable, production range through out the 15 track album.
MPIRE has worked with the likes of Prodigy (Mobb Deep), DJ Paul (ThreeSixMafia), Scram Jones, Murda Mook, and Iman Shumpert (Cavs), while DOZA has produced for Tru Life, Saigon , M1 (Dead Prez), and GRAFH. Merging both their lyrical abilities with classic New York production, including features from the legendary DJ Tony Touch, and verbal veteran AG Da Coroner, this project seeks to break boundaries and regain respect for the Spanish rap culture in a highly competitive climate – sort of like picking up where the late Big Pun left off.
Without a doubt, the crew has been making their waves in New York’s underground scene for some time, and they’ve been faithfully delivering the sound their fans love. Coming from the gritty city of NY has kept the crew true to the game with respect to the hip-hop culture, and they always pay homage.
They geared up for their release for their then upcoming Brown Album, the NYC-based Narcotechs are joined by legendary Wu-Tang Clan MC Raekwon for the “Medellin (Remix).” The all-Latino group – formed by MPIRE members Dax and Ark as well as producer/MC Doza the Drumdealer – trade bars with the Chef over vintage NYC production provided by Doza.
It’s very evident the Narcotechs hold their own with the veteran MC and continue to show why they are a force to be reckoned with in the underground scene. With their first video off their upcoming project Soulfrito, the NARCOTECHS delivered “Uh Huh.” In light of the song title, the New Yorkers pay homage to the late great Notorious B.I.G. with their own rendition of “Things Done Changed.” As for the video, the trio of Dax Mpire , Ark, and Doza bask in the New York City night life as the vintage production carry them through. It’s all good be-be bay-be.
The NARCOTECHS had returned to unleash their most recent visual for “My Name is Juan.” Using the classic Ismael Rivera’s “Las Caras Lindas” and flipping it into a trap masterpiece, the crew delivered the second single off the self titled LP My Name is Juan. With the country in turmoil and presidential candidates like Donald Trump stating he would build a wall to keep the Mexicans, and all immigrants for that matter, out. The Narcotechs had decided that a Latin declaration of pride and importance was necessary. Dax with a lyrical barrage of bars and Doza with his witty Spanglish definitely delivered.
The NARCOTECHS are back with the release of their third, and latest, LP, Tres, and once again, serve up another … it’s very clear, these guys and the rest of the Latinos in this country are here to stay. Lyrically, the NARCOTECHS are flawless and prove they are a force to be reckoned with. More explosive musical creations coming soon…..
Gracias for reading this article about my fav artists The Narcotechs. Please be sure to follow Doza’s Instagram to check out more of the groups upcoming events as well as new releases. DM for more info if you’re interested in networking; serious inquires only. Music links are provided below.
Promoting our Borikua sister’s business✊🏾🇵🇷
she on Instagram as well let her know I sent you, she is great at supporting other Borikuas. – El Vis Katari
Buenos Dias Mi Gente!!
Bienvenido, today I will be talking about what has inspired me as an artist and where I will interview other artists, art students, and people involved in the art & entertainment world and who are community activist in the coming months. I am always touched and empowered by the stories of artists and powerful people in the art world and I wanted to use this opportunity to get to know what inspires others.
Please Meet El Vis Katari:
I wanted to give credit to a few of the artists that have really impacted and inspired me. I started my interviews with my dearest friends and fellow Boricuas, Ponce Solo, Jessica Flores, Iris Toro & Bobbito Ross. Today, I want to introduce you to mi hermano y amigo, El Vis Katari.
Elvis Katari, known for his revolutionary and sometimes controversial, public speaking was born and raised in NYC. Elvis constantly saw a divide between Borikuas in the Diaspora and Borikuas on the island. He saw a need for unification and Borikua group economics. His community outreach efforts have tackled current issues in Borikua communities both here and on the island. Elvis has used his artistry in graphic design to start Borikua Power apparel to promote self awareness and raise money for Puerto Rico.
Just got suspended for an other 30 days for posting that Truth…
#suspended #FreeElvisKatari. It’s always an honor to shed light on the fight Puerto Rico is putting up against oppression. Those of us who use our platform to awaken the masses will always be targeted. Be wise and know that not everyone is on the enemies radar. Those doing the work vs. Those who simply talk…. The people who know…. know. If we prove “America” is a corporation then it can be sued like one for its participation in the enslavement, genocide and colonization of Our People.
528 years of Oppression…120 years of systematic genocide…enough is enough💯We’ve said this a thousand times, and we won’t stop until the world knows. We don’t owe so called America, it’s so called America that owes Puerto Rico. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a Borikua Revolution taking place💪🏾….this is your chance to be a part of something huge. To be a part of a great history being written. Make yourself available in whichever capacity you can.
Dear Elders…the youth will rise to the occasion if you just give them a lil trust💯. Imagine the day when ALL Borikuas come together and rise✊🏾. Bring back The Young Lords Party💪🏾 We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans — Liberation on the island and inside the United States. I can NEVER celebrate the independence of so called “America” because to do that means celebrating my own genocide💯.
We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans — Liberation on the island and inside the United States. We must fight with ALL we have to save the little bit of natural lands left in Puerto Rico✊. If not, hotels will go up and it will be the new place to trash for rich kids…we must identify “Corporate Columbus” and stop them. We want self-determination for all Latinos. We want liberation for all third world people.We are revolutionary nationalists and oppose racism. We want community control of our institutions and land. We want true education of our creole culture. We oppose capitalists and alliances with traitors. We oppose the amerikkan military. We want freedom for all political prisoners. We want equality for women. Machismo must be revolutionary… not oppressive. We fight anti-Communism with international unity. We believe armed self-defense and armed struggle are the only means to liberation. We go into the streets and neighborhoods most are afraid to enter…our communities need to be activated asap, frequencies must be changed.
Lady liberty lied to me, she doesn’t give a ish about my equality🎶. Puerto Rico does NOT owe so called “America” one penny, in fact it is so called “America” that owes Puerto Rico 🇵🇷✊🏿💯👏. We must rise and re claim both our identity and the love for OUR People, because “History” and “Hollywood” tried to erase it…we MUST unify all Borikua under the mindset of resisting being a colony since 1898. We MUST protect our own. We MUST support our own. We MUST rise✊🏾. I’m in solidarity with all my brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. We don’t just wave our flag we defend it! The Black and White Puerto Rican flag is all about Spreading Borikua love, Power and Unity worldwide in resistance to being a colony and getting the short end of the stick since 1898.
Gracias for reading this article about my dear friend and fellow Taino, El Vis Katari. Please be sure to check out his Instagram to check out more of his creations and also his Etsy Shop & Facebook is provided below for more info if you’re interested in networking.
Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BorikuaPower
Buenos Dias Mi Gente!!
Bienvenido, today I will be talking about what has inspired me as an artist and where I will interview other artists, art students, and people involved in the art & entertainment world and who are community activist in the coming months. I am always touched and empowered by the stories of artists and powerful people in the art world and I wanted to use this opportunity to get to know what inspires others. I wanted to give credit to a few of the artists that have really impacted and inspired me. I started my interviews with my dearest friends and fellow Boricuas, Ponce Solo & Iris Toro. Today, I want to introduce you to Jess Flores.
Please Meet Jessica Flores:
First and foremost, I respect the privacy of my friends as many of them may prefer to be anonymize. Let me introduce her to you my friends. Jess Flores, was born in New York raised in Chicago and reborn in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She is a Chicago-based jewelry artist that focuses her talents and her endeavors for the grater good of helping our people in the on going recovery in Puerto Rico, as well as our brothers and sisters in other countries around the world. Jessica is a jewelry designer & entrepreneur.
In Her Own Words:
I am a jewelry designer based in Chicago who specializes in beading one of a kind statement pieces. My jewelry is distinct and it is all handcrafted with inspiration. Along the journey my artisan mother, M.C. has become involved; together we create unique jewelry pieces utilizing a variety of materials and techniques.
I enjoy selling at community centers, art & craft shows/fairs, festivals, special events, etc. I also have a passion for photography, art and travel. On Instagram I’ll be sharing a bit of my handcrafted work. Pictures I have posted so far of my handmade jewelry are unavailable; have been sold. But in future Instagram posts I will list if a certain piece is for sell : ) If in the future there is something listed that is avail that you like and would be interested, please feel free to email me. I must inform that I don’t typically have a stock of selling an item. So if something sells out, it may be re-created But it will never be exactly the same. Sometimes it can’t even be re-created due to the limitation and availability of certain gems & beads. Then again, that is the beauty of getting a rarity from #JessDesigns. It will truly be one of a kind!
Having said all that, Have Fun looking through my gallery & virtual boutique of handcrafted work.
“A glimpse of running my own brand at today’s jewelry show. However, very few get to see the “behind the scenes” of hard work, long hours and preparation; along with down talks, criticisms and judgements -but that’s part of being an Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs gotta go through certain things that others will not want to go through. It’s not always easy, as the details are many and I’m sure there is more to come. Long live the passion, -most grateful for all the love & support shown. From all around the states and even the globe, – Heck Yes… Girls’ can run things and make it happen.”
Jess says,”HOPE & FAITH has the power to keep one safe & strong during critical times… Much strength to my island of origin Puerto Rico♡ And the neighboring islands ~ (U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic)… Also much strength & relief to those affected by the earthquake in Mexico. Let’s prayer up! May Hope & Help be delivered asap!!!♡ (www.UnitedForPuertoRico.com) Please try to find grassroots efforts in your area; such as legit local organizations,- so that people in need can actually get helped.”
Today, I wanted to show off my Puerto Rican Pride by showing ya’ll these amazing pieces made by a Boricua for Boricuas like you and me. I recently got these amazing pieces from @jessdesignsjewelry from Instagram. She, is a reputable jewelry designer and makes amazing and beautiful pieces. Currently, she is working on putting her website together but in the mean time the best way to get ahold of her and order these exact pieces as well as amazing others is to contact her directly through email: JessDesignsJewelry@gmail.com