For a third consecutive year, a festival is bringing together African descendants from Latin America and the Caribbean to affirm, educate and celebrate the culture, history and values of Afro-Latinos in the U.S.
According to the organizers, the festival serves to highlight the often neglected diversity within the Latin American diaspora and provide a space to recognize and celebrate what is also called Afrolatinidad.
“One of our panelists and artists, DJ Asho, mentioned that often times when we come to the United States as Latinos we don’t talk enough about our micro-identities,” Mai-Elka Prado, founder and organizer of the Afro-Latino Festival, told TeleSUR English. “Yet, Latinos have such diverse experiences, and the African experience is an important aspect of that.”
The event, a three-day festival that will conclude Sunday, brings together artists in New York City from 10 different countries and includes panel discussions, documentaries, culinary sessions, music performances and art exhibits unique to Afro-Latino communities.
“We wanted to provide a platform that celebrated and acknowledged the many aspects of what it means to be Afrolatino. It's very important to us to create a space for all that, and always with the clear intention of educating, affirming, and empowering our community,” Prado added.
Bolivia and Cuba are two Spanish speaking countries that have preserved the most out of their African language origins. #AfroLatinoFestNYC ��— csj (@lavishrebellion) July 12, 2015
Every single community member at #afrolatinofestnyc is giving us so much strength and hope right now. Pa'lante, family.— FLECHA-NEPA (@FLECHANEPA) July 11, 2015
On its inaugural day, the festival honored high-profile members of the Afro-Latino community, including the New York Times Bureau Chief for Mexico Randal Archibold, Founder and Director of the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute Dr. Marta Moreno Vega and prize-winning poet Willie Perdomo.
U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who is among the honorees, praised the festival for doing the work of recognizing the contributions of Afro-Latinos that, in her eyes, mainstream society denies.
“I recognize the valued contributions that Afrolatinos have made in our civil society, and how their presence has really been somewhat muted, has not been given the recognition and acknowledgment for all that … It is very important, particularly given where we are in our civil society, that we continue to support efforts like these,” said Clarke.