My thoughts on going to the NYC Afro-Latino festival for the first time, and celebrating my complex identity as an Afro-Latina.
It’s been a while since I attended the Afro-Latino Festival on July 8th at the Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn and I can’t stop thinking about happy and grateful that I went. This was my first time going to the festival; I identify as Afro-Latina but I rarely go to festivals, so this was exciting in more ways than one. The Afro-Latino Festival has for a couple of years now and this was my first time hearing about it! Better late than never, right? This was the first time I was surrounded by so many proud people who identify as Afro-Latino, and it made my heart swell with pride.
Before identifying as Afro-Latina, I referred to myself as Dominican or Latina (and still do). I knew that being Dominican often meant a blend of three distinct cultures: African, Spanish and Taino (the native population who lived there pre-slavery and colonization). However, I understand the importance of acknowledging our African roots more, since there are many Latinos who deny it, especially some of my fellow Dominican brothers and sisters. If I deny my African culture, I am also denying the music, food and traditions that I celebrate because these things are embedded with so much African influence. Denying my African roots means that I choose not to not acknowledge the hardships our African ancestors went through to survive and thrive in the new lands they were forced to come to.
If I deny my African culture, I am also denying the music, food and traditions that I celebrate because these things are embedded with so much African influence. Denying my African roots means that I choose not to not acknowledge the hardships our African ancestors went through to survive and thrive in the new lands they were forced to come to.
While the festival brought up deeper conversations about my identity and roots as an Afro-Latina, there were lots of fun and celebrating to be had. Of course, no festival is complete without grabbing some mementos, and one of my favorites was Babe Comets with their super fun, light and colorful Pom-Pom earrings. I tried them on and was definitely feeling myself (and have gotten plenty of compliments since!). It was pretty hot and humid that day, so I was relieved to see Lotus Scoop and their interesting (and delicious) ice cream sandwiches – I had the sweet potato, banana and caramel flavor and probably could’ve eaten two more.
In addition to the vendors, there was an amazing musical lineup! Some of the artists who performed at the festival were Milly Quezada and Amara La Negra (Dominican Republic) and Zuzuka Poderosa (Brazil), who won the crowd with her infectious new song, Pussy Power.
My first Afro-Latino festival was a great experience and I’m grateful to witness so much pride in celebrating “Afro-Latinoness”. Attending the festival and seeing other Afro-Latinos embracing our beautiful and complex identity made me realize the need for more spaces similar to the festival, and the need to educate others on what it means to Afro-Latino. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s festival!