Bocafloja Confronts Anti-Blackness Across the Americas in New Documentary ‘Nana Dijo’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Videos on 2016-02-22 00:32Z by Steven

Bocafloja Confronts Anti-Blackness Across the Americas in New Documentary ‘Nana Dijo’

Remezcla
2016-02-17

Walter Thompson-Hernández
Los Angeles, California

When musicians and filmmakers Bocafloja and Cambiowashere first set out to create Nana Dijo, a gripping documentary about the African diaspora in the Americas, both wanted to stray away from traditional documentary approaches that have tended to sensationalize the Afro-descendant experience in the Americas. Nana Dijo instead provides viewers with a host of intimate accounts of people whose lives have been defined by their ability to negotiate a black racial consciousness in a series of disparate racial, social, and political contexts. But while the film’s directors sought to reconcile regional difference by not providing viewers with the names of locations throughout the film, Nana Dijo also highlights the complexity of identity as it centers blackness through a diasporic lens that moves beyond geo-politics and nationalism.

We sat down with Bocafloja to talk about the inspiration for his documentary and decolonizing our notions of race and identity…

Your music tends to center on popular conceptions of the African Diaspora, de-colonialism, indigenous rights, and anti-black racism in the United States and throughout the Americas. Your new film Nana Dijo is doing the same thing, albeit through a visual medium. What was the inspiration for this film?

I understand this as a historical responsibility in which we reclaim our narratives from a perspective that is not subjugated to cultural hegemonies. Most of the visual work that has been done in regards to the African Diaspora in Mexico or Latin America happens to be inclusionist, politically safe and focused on a culturalist approach instead of other more transgressive elements that are inherent in the whole experience. Nowadays there is an “Afro-Latino” boom which under the liberal democracies framework becomes just the ideal experience to promote shallow forms of multi-culturalism that are not really promoting any type of process of empowerment or deep analysis about the effects on our psyche as colonial subjects today. I identify myself as a black and brown individual, so for me this project was definitively relevant in order to give voice to thousands and thousands of people that in the context of Mexico and Latin America never found an outlet to express or justify the true genesis of their identity…

Read the entire interview here.

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1.38 Million Afro-Descendants Are Identified on the Mexican Census for the First Time

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-12-13 01:52Z by Steven

1.38 Million Afro-Descendants Are Identified on the Mexican Census for the First Time

Remezcla
2015-12-10

Yara Simón

Since the 1910 Mexican Revolution, Mexico’s national identity has been defined by mestizaje – a term that recognizes mixed racial ancestry of the New World after colonization. But although Mexico’s African presence was considerable from the start of colonization, this “third root” is often excluded from classic views of mestizaje, which focus on indigenous and European ancestries.

For over 15 years, Afro-Mexicans have been been trying to remedy this by pushing for formal recognition in Mexico’s national constitution. Currently, Mexico and Chile are the only countries in Latin America that don’t legally recognize their Afro-descendants as distinct ethnic groups, which activists believe contributes to fight anti-Black racism.

And this year, a group of activists claimed a victory on the path to this recognition. Afro-Mexican advocacy organization Mexico Negro successfully fought for Afro-Mexicans to be included on the national census. According to Quartz, this year was the first time that people of African descent were able to accurately identify themselves on the census, revealing that 1.2 percent of Mexicans – 1.38 million people – are of African descent…

Read or purchase the article here.

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More Than Just Party Music: New Book ‘Remixing Reggaetón’ Mines the Complicated Racial Politics of the Genre

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-12 02:51Z by Steven

More Than Just Party Music: New Book ‘Remixing Reggaetón’ Mines the Complicated Racial Politics of the Genre

Remezcla
2015-10-21

Walter Thompson-Hernández
Los Angeles, California

For centuries, the complexities of racism in Latin America have been overshadowed by the false perception that high rates of racial mixture have created a racially democratic Latin American society. In her new book, Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, scholar Petra Rivera-Rideau challenges this idea through the prism of a genre of urban music that gained momentum in impoverished neighborhoods on the island and ultimately became a global pop phenomenon.Read the entire article here.

Positing that reggaetón challenges the racial democracy myth, Remixing Reggaetón focuses on leading Puerto Rican artists like Tego Calderon and Ivy Queen, who are shifting traditional views on gender, sexuality, and race through provocative, unapologetic performances. Using a historical and contemporary analysis, Rivera-Rideau situates the music against the backdrop of Puerto Rico’s legacy of anti-black racism, looking at how reggaetón both jump-starts the party and raises critical awareness.

We caught up with Rivera-Rideau to learn more about the motivations for her project, and how a sound popping off in the club is providing us with a language to talk about Afro-Latinidad

Read the entire interview here.

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Afro-Mexicans Are Pushing For Legal Recognition in Mexico’s National Constitution

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-11-12 02:39Z by Steven

Afro-Mexicans Are Pushing For Legal Recognition in Mexico’s National Constitution

Remezcla
2015-11-09

Walter Thompson-Hernández
Los Angeles, California

The myth of the Latin American racial democracy, scholars believe, began in Brazil following the abolishment of slavery in 1888, when government officials declared that high rates of racial mixing had officially absolved the nation of its racial problems. This thinking eventually transcended Brazil and spread to a host of other Latin America countries, including Mexico.

But Mexico had its own nuanced understanding of the Latin American racial democracy – one called mestizaje, that was created by government officials, intellectuals, and artists following the 1910 Mexican Revolution: the erroneous belief that Mexico’s ethnic and racial mixture was solely composed of indigenous and European ancestry. This was also a time period when Mexico’s citizenry began to believe that “Mexicanness” and blackness were mutually exclusive and could not co-exist. Mestizaje, however, did not only exclude blackness from its national patrimony, but also left out a host of other racial identities from Mexico’s conversation about race…

Read the entire article here.

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This Instagram Project is Giving a Voice to the “Blaxican” Experience

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-02 02:15Z by Steven

This Instagram Project is Giving a Voice to the “Blaxican” Experience

Remezcla
2015-07-28

Yara Simón

The history of race in the United States is often told in terms of black and white, a binary that leaves many out of the equation. “Blaxican” researcher Walter Thompson-Hernandez is trying to expand the conversation, with a project that features people who, like him, are African-American and Mexican. As part of a research project for the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC, where he works, he began interviewing people of “Blaxican” identity. The personal stories inspired him to take his project beyond academia and onto social media. So he started Blaxicans of L.A. on Instagram to share what he was seeing firsthand.

Blaxicans are dual minorities,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “We represent two of the largest ethnic minority groups. And I think because Blaxicans represent two of the most aggrieved groups in Los Angeles, it’s important to understand that certain sets of issues and challenges that have been traditionally labeled as African American or Latino, ultimately, do not exist for people who self-identify as Blaxicans.” They are affected by both the killings of unarmed black men by police and mass deportations…

Read the entire article here.

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A Student Traveling Through Costa Chica Picked Up A Camera to Let Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Mexico on 2015-03-01 22:03Z by Steven

A Student Traveling Through Costa Chica Picked Up A Camera to Let Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story

Remezcla
2015-02-25

Andrew S. Vargas

It’s Black History Month once again, and while it seems like every other day of the calendar year has been dedicated to some cause or another, the concept of Black history is particularly relevant to us as Latinos. With historically documented African populations from Buenos Aires up to Veracruz, including just about every country along the way, a new generation is starting to realize that our African heritage has been systematically erased from our national narratives over the centuries…

…One young filmmaker and anthropology student of Afro-Salvadoran descent, feeling sympathy for the plight of invisible Afro-Mexicans, took it upon himself to make a very independent documentary exploring Afro-Mexican identity in the coastal communities of La Costa Chica — a region spanning the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca that has the highest concentration of Afro-descendants in Mexico. Titled Así Somos: Afro Identities in the Coast, the short doc admittedly features an extremely raw and unpolished style, but director Andy Amaya does a fairly good job of letting his subjects speak for themselves as they reflect on experiences with discrimination, their Afro-linguistic heritage and labels like ‘negro’ vs. ‘afromexicano’…

Read the entire article here.

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