6 Songs That Make Me Dance like the Dancing Cow

#Escribelanegra

If you’ve seen that video, you know that that cow single handedly shut the internet down!  Filled with so much life, whoever was in that cow costume danced their behind off.  You music lovers know that music can do that to you!

“Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo is one song that takes me back to a middle school crush.  We all have those songs that take us to a specific moment in time. These trigger emotion.  But what about the song that makes you break it down like the dancing cow in the supermarket?  Songs that make you lose yourself in the music and just “get it”.  Below is a list of songs that don’t have a particular moment attached to them but they just make me stop whatever I’m doing and dance like no one is watching.

1. Danza Kuduro-Don Omar

2. Me Vuelvo Un Cobarte-Christian Daniel

3. Ta Lista-Los Rakas

4. Ella Es Mi Fiesta-Carlos Vives

5. El Mar de Sus Ojos ft. ChocQuibTo-Carlos Vives

6. Bailando-Enrique Iglesias

 

What songs get you moving?  What songs are on your workout playlist?  Comment below or tweet me your faves!

Advertisements

SPOTLIGHT OF THE MONTH: Q&A with Black Chicana Writer Ishia Lynette

PHOTO CREDIT: Rebecca Avila

PHOTO CREDIT: Rebecca Avila

#spotlightofthemonth #escribelanegra

Every month, Black Girl, Latin World seeks to spotlight amazing Afrosendents and organizations that uplift the Black American, Latin@ and Afrolatin@ community.  For the month of March, we shine a light on the work of Afrolatina writer, Ishia Lynette aka Afromexico.  An El Paso native, Ishia’s artistry inspires, motivates and causes her audience to think.  I had the chance to see her in action on the stage at Negra! A Night of Afrolatina performance last year.  She also contributes to Real Brown Girls and hosts a blog space.  Check out what Afromexico has to say on her inspiration, background and her advice for women writers.

How has your background and identity influenced your work?

My background and identity has played a major part in my work. Growing up in El Paso, where the population is currently 92% “Hispanic”,  how could I not be influenced by the culture? Im half Mexican but I look fully “African American” or half Asian to most. As a child, I never understood why when I went to school, the Mexicans would refer to me as “Negra”.  As I got older, I began to shun away from my black side. It’s things like that that push me to speak about being proud of the connection between Latin and African people in general.

What advice would you give to women wanting to write?

The advice I’d give anyone who wants to write is…WRITE. Don’t be afraid of what people are going to say, and don’t be afraid that people aren’t going to like what you have to say. Everyone will not understand you, your story, or your words but it may not be for them. We as women have a connection to the world much different than men, and we are often left feeling as if being “in our feelings” or letting our guards down for the world is being too soft. But to me that’s the beauty in it.

What has been the most challenging thing about writing and performing?

Performing. Im still working on that one. Im very soft spoken, especially around those I dont know. So performing isn’t easy for me. Im very shy, and facing an audience is one of my biggest fears. It isn’t the people that scare me, its myself. Which leads to me to writing. Sometimes I dont feel like writing.  Sometimes I dont want to share what I have written, and sometimes I have so much to say that I cant find the words. When I write something it usually comes from a place of vulnerability.  Whether its about Love, my hair, or the diaspora of my people. By allowing strangers in, they get to know a piece of who I am or was.

Is there an Afrolatin@ community in Austin/El Paso?

No. In both places most see little to no connection between themselves or their fellow brother/sister along side them.

 What events, people and things inspire you? Why?

Everything is an inspiration to me. The way the sky looks.  The way the road catches the rain.  The trees that sway while others stand still, or even the old lady you see walking down the street. Theres beauty to be found in everything around us, its the finding it that’s up to you.The past and current struggle of my people is an inspiration to me. We have always lived under white supremacy.  If I go to the store and all I see is white supermodels on the ads, what does that do to my self-esteem or what does that say about my people? I can’t promise that I can change the world we live in but I can wake others up to the truth.

Where can we see more of your work?

At the moment, my blog site is down for some upgrading but it will be up and running again in about a week. It is afromexico.wordpress.com and you can find some of my short quotes or poems on my instagram page which is Afro_Mexico. I am also a featured writer for realbrowngirls.com where you can find my work and other great women writers.

 What is the message behind your work?

I believe the underlying message in most my work is that there is hope to be found no matter how tough the situation may be. As long as a person continues to grow and learn, there is always hope.

Thank you, Ishia for sharing your truth and inspiration with us!  Keep spreading your truth. We look forward to seeing more of your work soon!

Would you or your org like to be featured as a Spotlight of the Month?  Send BGLW a message in the contact me form.

 Follow Black Girl, Latin World on Facebook and Tumblr.

No, Empire’s Jussie Smollet is NOT Brazilian and other Musings from a “Regular Black” Girl

PHOTO CREDIT: Tvline.com

Like many Empire fans, I am in love with Jussie Smollet. But I have a bone to pick with him.

 Contary to popular belief, Empire‘s Jussie Smollet is not an Afro-Brazilian. I will admit it. I got excited when I saw “Born in Brazil” on his bio. Here is one of my favorite actors, from one of my favorite countries. While he can easily be Brazilian (because we know Black people are everywhere), Smollet was actually born in  California.
When the actor was asked about his background, he proudly proclaimed his origins but when talking about his falsified bio he tossed around the words “exotic” and “cultured”.
“My family is from Elmhurst, Queens, 54th Avenue, but I was born in Northern California. It’s really funny, you know, [my bio] says ‘Brazil’ making me feel really exotic and cultured, but actually, I was born in Santa Rosa, California. I’m from Sinoma County, and they’re saying ‘Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil,” says Jussie.
As much as I love Jussie, this interview made me think of the term “regular Black” and “just Black” to describe African Americans. Phrases like “You’re regular Black” or “You’re just Black” reinforce the stigma that Black people from other countries are some how better, more unique and cooler.
I have a problem with the term “regular Black”.  All the time, strangers assume that I am Afrolatina or Carribean and when they ask I proudly proclaim my Black American heritage. In high school, I used to tell people I was a “Black Puerto Rican” because I was trying to grasp some cultural knowing, even if it wasn’t my own. Now, I revel in the fact that I come from a lineage of leaders. People who strived, thrived and created. There is nothing “regular” about that.
Traveling to Brazil in 2012 opened my eyes to how valuable my identity is. My Afro-Brazilian friends were enchanted with the history of African Americans. While Native Amercan and European blood runs through my veins and I identify as Afro-Native as well, I proclaim my central identity as “Black American” because of what it stands for. Pride. Beauty. Strength. Talent. And there is nothing “regular” about that. Don’t get me wrong, Black Americans, like our Latin@ brothers and sisters, have a mixture of European, Indigenous and whatever else in our blood too. But my choice to proclaim Blackness is a choice rooted in A) I inhabit the earth as a fierce Negra and B) The history of prizing our “other” blood over Blackness.
Now. Now. Jussie, if you happen across my blog, know that I am your biggest fan.  “You’re So Beautiful” has helped me to appreciate who I am. Maybe we can talk more about this over a cup of coffee while I’m writing your scene or running lines with you on the set of Empire? One day, right? One day soon.
❤ BGLW

“Adios Felicia”: the Spanish Speaking “African American” Part 2

#MultilingualBlackPeople

A few months ago, I walked into a local Mexican restaurant. The waitress, named Felicia, asked for my friends Jorge and Juan’s order in Spanish.  I was excited because when I go to Mexican restaurants, I usually get the opportunity to practice my second language.  When Felicia gets to me, she asks in English “What can I get you?”  I took no offense and gave her my order in Spanish.  Her next words continued to be English.

I could feel my face getting hot.  I was frustrated, embarrassed and if it weren’t for the fact that I didn’t drive there, I would have left then and there.   Maybe that is me being over dramatic, but that is the way I felt at the time.  What I wanted to say was “Adios Felicia”, but instead I ordered my torta.  I get it. If you see a person that looks like me: Brown skinned, curly locs, it’s obvious that they only speak one language. English. Right? Jorge and Juan’s olive skin and straight Black hair read Spanish-speaking.  This is Texas and the majority of folks who can rattle off at the mouth like Telenovela stars look nothing like me.

While I am not Afro-Latin@, I am aware that my experience with Felicia is very similar to many of my friends who identify as Latinegr@. The color of their skin and African features causes both non-Black Latin@s and African Americans to question their Latinidad.   They are frequently responded to in English and asked “Why do you speak Spanish so well?”   Many want to scream to the roof tops that they are Black and Latin@; both at once.  Many people don’t know that Blackness, Latinidad and Africanness are important parts of Latin@ history, culture and experiences.

In the African American community, speaking Spanish results in questions that deal with essentializing Blackness. When I was working on a political campaign, there was another African American Spanish speaker and I overheard an African American colleague ask if he was a “real” Black person because he spoke Spanish so well. Since when does speaking Spanish make you less Black?

Let’s be honest, in Texas the amount of exposure to Afro-Latin@ history is low but steadily growing. Institutions like the University of Texas at Austin have been exploring Latinegr@ experiences through research, seminars and other forms of community engagement.  Public figures like Houston Fox 26’s anchorman Jose Grinan and Houston-based poet Jasminne Mendez serve as great examples of people disrupting the narrative that Black always equals African American. There are also teachers like my colleague Olivia who taught a segment on Afro-Mexican history and my colleague Jorge, who informed his class about Celia Cruz.  These experiences are needed in both our Black and Latin@ community based organizations, arts establishments and schools around Texas.

I am here for African Americans recognizing that this whole finding connections with diaspora, African American Spanish speaker thing is nothing new. African Americans have been using Spanish to connect, travel and survive since the 1900’s.   Langston Hughes traveled to Cuba and Mexico and connected with Nicolás Guillén .   Phylicia Rashad used her bilingual ability in her Cosby show audition.  The man who inspired me to learn Spanish, my Dad, is an African American. It’s nothing new.  It’s just not talked about.

As I write this piece with Tego Calderon playing in the background, I reflect on the conversations I have had with my Latinegr@ friends and recognize that ignorance of Afro-latinidad is rooted in the erasure of Afro-latinidad in our history books and imperial Blackness where the African American English speaking experience is held as the definition of Blackness. That’s why I love The Latinegr@s Project, Ain’t I Latina, Boriqua Chicks, African American Latino World and other spaces like these so much.   They open our mind and allow us to see the stories of Blackness and Latinidad that we hardly see in the mainstream media.

We are a part of the diaspora. I hope we can continue to have more discussions on how Afro-American and Latinegr@ history is intertwined. I hope to see more Latinegr@s rising up and pushing for representation.  More Afrodiaspora allies.  More progress and roads to self-love.  Let Spanish, Portuguese, English, Haitian Creole or any other language you speak roll off our tongue. Let our Blackness be what unites us.

The Spanish Speaking “African American” Part I

Follow Black Girl, Latin World on Facebook and Tumblr.

This piece is also published on the LatiNegr@s Project Website that I write for.

GUEST POST: The Broken Spanish Speaker Radar in New York

PHOTO CREDIT: wikipedia.commons

Written by: Dallas Rico

I often wonder how Nuyoricans (a popular term for Puerto Ricans living in New York) and Dominicans determine whether or not someone speaks Spanish. Is it like a gaydar, but for Spanish-speakers. A year before I moved to New York, my cousin, who lived in Williamsburg at the time and who doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish, mentioned people would approach her almost every day and start speaking Spanish to her. It was so overbearing to the point where she’d avoid eye contact with anyone who looked Dominican or Puerto Rican, lest they strike a conversation. That’s one of the many things that got me excited about moving to the Big Apple. I’m a Spanish teacher and love to speak the language outside the classroom. The prospect of speaking Spanish every day was thrilling.

Unfortunately, when I got here I quickly learned that would not be the case. The moment I walk into an establishment, I’m immediately pegged as a non-Spanish speaker. For instance, I remember the look I got when I went to a Dominican barbershop last year. When I sat in an open chair, the barber asked one of his colleagues to translate for him. He didn’t even ask me if I spoke Spanish. He just assumed I didn’t. Even when he realized that I did he still tried to speak his broken English to me. What I don’t get is why the guy who was as black as midnight gets a pass, but I don’t. When he walked everyone greeted him in Spanish like they were homeboys. I just don’t understand. Is it my hair? The shape of my head? The way I walk? My breath? Can someone please explain this to me?!

Some people look entirely African American but they speak Spanish. It’s curious that the Nuyorican and Dominican communities feel so aggressively non-black. I believe they use language as a way to segregate themselves from the black community, as a way of saying, “you are not us,”despite our similar heritage. That’s right. Many Dominicans and Puerto Ricans are indeed black or mixed with black though they refuse to acknowledge it. They had slaves on those islands. Do your research. At any rate, language may serve as a comfortable barrier to deny blackness. Hey, I can’t be black. I speak Spanish. Black people don’t speak Spanish.

I miss the brotherhood I felt with my fellow Mexicans in Texas and California. Things were different there. The Mexican community felt so much more welcoming even though I definitely didn’t look like them. Though I’m black by blood, I also culturally identify as Mexican due to my intimacy with that community. It’s a part of who I am. It’s ironic because I can understand why they’d assume I don’t speak Spanish. Pretty much the majority of Spanish-speakers there are either Mexican or Salvadorian. So, it’s a shock when a person with African features speaks Spanish. Yet, when I spoke there people just went with it. I miss those days, man.

I had hoped the diversity of Latin American countries represented in New York would give people an open mind. We’ve got folks from places like Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Caribbean islands. (Did you know there are huge Afro-Latino communities all over South America? I watched a fascinating documentary on that subject) Spanish speakers come in all colors here. So, one shouldn’t assume someone’s linguistic ability. Alas, in a form of linguistic chauvinism, it seems I’ll forever be pegged as a non-Spanish speaker.

So, if you are a black Spanish speaker who plans to visit New York, curb you enthusiasm if you hope to practice Spanish. You may or may not get that opportunity. There’s really no way to tell. If you don’t happen to get accepted into the Spanish-Speakers Club, please hook me up with a recommendation.

Now, where will I get to speak Spanish if not NYC? Even when I visit Puerto Rico they speak to me in English. Also, many of my Latino friends here prefer to speak in English, so that’s a bust. I guess I’ll have to keep my Spanish in the classroom and during Skype sessions with friends abroad. I could always move to Mexico. ¡Qué lástima!

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

Dallas, who’s actually from Dallas, is a high school Spanish teacher and an aspriring novelist living in Brooklyn.  Look for his name on the New York Times Best-Sellers list one day.  Maybe. Hopefully.  Follow his (mis)adventures at @scandallas.

 

Want to share your story as a guest post? Let BGLW know at blackgirllatinworld@gmail.com.

Follow Black Girl, Latin World on Facebook and Tumblr.