Last week I was able to be a participant of a panel that happened right in my neighborhood in the Bronx! It was held at the Bronx Music Heritage Center. This single event became the highlight of my week! My quick and dirty reflections.
The panel was hosted by African Roots in Latin America and Roos of Our Ancestors. I knew from the beginning that the panel would be hot because some of my favorite Afro Latinas, Dash Harris, a Panamanian sister and one of the AfroLatino Travel founders and producer of NEGRO: A docu-series about Latino Identity, Monica Carrillo, an AfroPeruvian poet, singer, artist and kick ass activist, who I met about 13 years ago in Venezuela and is now living in New York, Genesis Aquino, who is a powerhouse of a young leader, who ran a campaign that produced the highest voter turnout in over 20 years for the Female Member of the State Committee in the 51st Assembly District (which should have gotten WAY more attention, but she is a Black Latina so its not surprising, I'll leave this for another post). The panel also had Buyei Tola Guerrero, and Keyla Reyes, founder of Garifuna Queens, and moderated by Tania Molina.
The panel was invigorating, the women spoke about the realities of being Black from Latin America and living in the United States, the invisibility that is faced outside of ones community, even with 'Latinx people', since anti-blackness is a lived experience for us and not just spoken about in workshops and trainings. Experiences where the complexity of migration, loss, re-purposing and re-construction within dismantling was a unifying thread and were candidly shared. One thing that stood out clearly was the fact that honoring our ancestors, our culturally handed down rituals, our individual YET collective oral history has been our saving grace while surviving outside of where we consider home. Also that stood out, was the fact that everyone could navigate language as they pleased since this was a very BlackLatino space, so going in between spanish and english was not even a question nor was using idiosyncratic words and gestures that only Black folk would understand. They were all welcomed.
The evening continued with a traditional homage to the ancestors led by Halagule Wayunago.
I write my thoughts down just to give thanks that these spaces are available, and growing, and safe and full of love.