The past three days of festivities brought to you by the Afro-Latino Festival of New York was just the right dose of love and healing in the wake of the many occurring and recent incidents of police brutality across the U.S. The constant sight of black suffering is beyond daunting, and these days of celebrating black lives and life itself came just at the right time.
In its fourth year, the festival successfully put the contributions that people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean have made to NYC and the world on the map. The festival’s Afro-Panamanian organizers (and couple), Mai-elka Prado and Amilcar Priestley, sought to also provide a safe space and a networking opportunity to ultimately pay tribute to those with African roots from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Friday’s program, the AfrolatinTalks Symposium, featured panels on transnational migration, immigration, human rights, BlackLatinx Feminism, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Representation and Cultural Heritage to Afro-Colombian Participation in the Colombia Peace Process. Attendees also enjoyed the NYC debut of “Nana Dijo; Irresolute Radiography of Black Consciousness,” directed by Bocafloja and Cambiowashere.
The turnup was real Saturday and Sunday, hosted by DJ Big Nito and Geko Jones of Que Bajo?!, despite the clouds (and rain) that loomed over Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza. The music and dance with obvious ties to the continent from the likes of Bulla en el Barrio, a New York-based Afro-Colombian collective that does all things Bullerengue and Madame Vacile, who pumped out the yellow-blue-and red’s champeta vibes through the speakers. Honduran Aurelio Martinez showed out with his Garifuna tunes and moves backed by his amazing band.
Panama’s own and the headliners of day three on Sunday—Los Rakas—were excited to represent and be a part of a learning opportunity for many.
For Raka Dun and Raka Rich, the need for a strong connection across the African diaspora is imperative, especially when people don’t think of the Caribbean and Latin America as a piece of that puzzle.
“A lot of people don’t know that,” Raka Dun tells me. “So events like this are important to educate people, because this is something that they don’t teach you in schools.”
“We’re just connecting the dots and putting it all together,” Raka Rich adds. “And maybe 20 years from now it’s not going to be so taboo.”
The photos below show more of the weekend’s fun—and you’ll see familiar faces including Rich Medina, Nina Sky, Maluca, Oshun, Sango, and more. Many thanks to Mario Ruben Carrion and Ailyn Robles for New Visual Collective for their photo contributions.