As a first-time attendee of the Afro-Latino Festival my experience at this year’s fest was such an affirming one. Day 1 of the fest kicked-off with a series of panel discussions and films at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The second day took it to Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Arena where the music from the diaspora and performances by Nitty Scott, Amara La Negra, Zuzuka Poderosa kept the energy on 1,000!
Powerful, educational, inspiring, soul quenching are just a few words that sum up Afro-Latino Fest. -Stephanie Harris
Here are 5 ways 2017 Afro-Latino Festival impressed this newbie:
So, the theme of this year’s festival, “A Tribute to the Women of the Diaspora” gave way to such an empowering experience that included a series of panels, films and booty shaking performances crossing genres and borders. It brings to light how many of us have limited opportunities to be in spaces where we identify as women of the diaspora and be in community with other women who proudly identify as the same. Why is this important? It is important because events such Afro-Latino help to build on the shared history, experience and perseverance of women of the diaspora. Connecting people of a shared history nurtures a necessary synergy that not only helps them to survive, but to thrive.
When we speak of the now global economy, it is not only empowering to acknowledge our shared history, but it also becomes a very necessary frame of mind with unlimited opportunities to be able to compete and thrive in a global economy. We are the global economy.
The theme of this year’s festival was instrumental in shining a light on how women are contributing to the continuation and cultivation of the diasporic people’s story and influence.
The Schomburg Center
As I mentioned , the first day of the festival was held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. There is so much history at the Schomburg Center! The ashes of Langston Hughes are in the floor, ladies. It is a resource that I knew nothing about until I attended the Afro-Latino Festival. Many of the works of black historical leaders, authors, artists from around the world and more are documented and cataloged at the Schomburg Center. As I learn more about the Schomburg Center it is the perfect venue for the Afro-Latino Fest. I am so grateful that it took place there this year and I hope that that partnership continues.
The Panel Topics
I was late getting to the Schomburg Center so unfortunately, I missed the first few panel discussions. However, if you didn’t make it or was late as I was you can check out all the panel discussions on the Schomburg Center’s Livestream. There you will find the panels discussion on topics such as, activism, environmental rights, women and entrepreneurship, spirituality, and identity in museum spaces and more from the Schomburg Center.
Even though I arrived there late, it did not take away from the breadth of information and overwhelming sense of community received. I made it to the last two panels “Diaspora and Black Representation in Black Museum Spaces” and “Black Lives Matter in Latin America (Part 3): Diaspora, Spirituality, and the Sacred”
The “Diaspora and Black Representation in Black Museum Spaces,” Curated by Ariana Curtis, Curator for Latino History and Culture at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was made up of a panel of inspiring women whose dialogue was so absorbing. Immediately Curtis pointed to the importance of having a conversation around the terms curators use in museum spaces, terms such as Afro-Latino, Black, Diaspora, Afro-Latinidad.
Dr. Irma McClaurin, Founder of The Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive shared how she herself had to first identify as a black feminist, understand what that meant and how important that was in moving forward in developing the archive.
The Performances & Music
For many of the culturally informed folk, you’re probably reading this and thinking “Duh!” Well, that’s all good, but I was put on to new music, new artists and a hell of a lot of new dances.
Again, I arrived late on the second day of the festival which took place at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, NY. As I’m going through the security check, the drums and rhythms of Strings N Skins is pulling me in to a 50 shades of brown energized space. I am surrounded by my beautiful people and amazing music. It is just a huge hug. I love hugs.
Nitty Scott’s performance blew me away! It’s affirming to watch her perform songs that unapologetically celebrates culture and pussy power! I was crushing on her the whole time. She beautiful, intelligent and driven by purpose. That’s so attractive.
Amara La Negra energy on stage had me thinking to myself, “Why I am just finding out about this negrita!” Another AH-MAAY-ZING performer. She was so lit. I became a fan and even stalked her for a selfie. She announced to the audience that night that she would be part of the cast of Love & Hip Hop Miami. There’s something to look forward to.
In between performances, the DJ puts on Soca music and the place goes mad! The whole place was moving and lining up and jumping. It seemed like the music at this point was cut a little short and quickly change. Maybe they feared someone would get hurt, I don’t know. That sucked I wanted to dance to Soca music for the rest of the night after that teaser.
Hats off to the organizers
The organizers did an outstanding job delivering on an experience that is memorable, educational and entertaining. I for one feel very fortunate to have been able to attend Afro-Latino 2017 Festival. Next year’s festival cannot come soon enough.