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SANKOFA SERIES: Afro Latin@s of the 21st Century W/ Dr. Griselda Rodriguez

Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

120 East 125th Street

New York, NY 10035

The Sankofa Series extends the conversations that sparked during last year’s Sankofa Workshop led by Dr. Griselda Rodriguez. This Series places the voices of Afro-Latin@s in the United States at the center of the paradigm shifts we are currently witnessing.

The post World War II, Cold War boom in Caribbean migration to the US saw a major shift in the country’s demographic. Black migrants from countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, and Honduras joined the ranks with their Puerto Rican and African American counterparts. Not only was the US’ racial landscape adjusted, incoming immigrants were also faced with new models of racial identification. Though foreign, these models were still rooted in European colonial ideas about Blackness. In spite of the lure to assimilate, Black Latinos have remained committed to living our lives as Afro-descendants within a culture of white supremacy. The Series poses one major question: What strategies have Afro-Latin@s used to ensure that our world-views remain Pan-African.

The Sankofa Series consists of three dialogues. Each discussion is rooted in a major feature of Afro-Latin@s lives in the United States, New York in particular. Mobile based technologies like Instagram, and ancient matrilineal deities like Mami Wata, will be main points of discussion throughout the series. The Sankofa Series is not meant to be an exhaustive dialogue on Afro-Latin@s. Rather, it aims to use themes of technology, religion, and identity as containers in which collective transformation can take place. The Series culminates with a panel discussion based on the photojournalistic project “Playing in the Sun”. The purpose of the project is to illuminate the stories of self-realization among Afro-Dominicans in New York. The Sankofa Series is an intergenerational dialogue and all experiences are welcome.


Respective Dialogues

1. “If It Didn’t Happen on the Gram, It Didn’t Happen”: Social Media and the Development
of Budding Afro-Latin@ Networks

Afro-Latin@s of the 21st century descend from legacies of resistance and beauty. Our fore- parents communicated often in spite of physical proximity and lack of means of communication. And they still created magic! Today, technological advances ease communication at the speed of light. Instagram, facebook, and skype mobilize masses of activists around the world. The Arab Spring of 2011, Black Lives Matter, and the Me Too movement were all birthed from digital media platforms like twitter and instagram. These platforms have also kept a growing network of Afro-Latin@s in NYC connected. This dialogue poses the following questions: How are Afro-Latin@s using social media to enhance the scope of our causes? What strategies have worked and which ones can we leave behind? Come through and share your thoughts on these questions. This is an intergenerational dialogue and all experiences are welcome.

When: Thursday, May 3, 2018 | 6 PM - 8 PM


2. Mami Wata & Santa Martha la Dominadora: Afro-Latin@s Decolonizing through Afro-
Indigenous Spiritual Practices

“Bruja”. For many, the word conjures up images of crazed women, spreading fear across
villages. For many Afro-Latin@s of the 21st century, the word is reminiscent of the altars our
mother’s cleaned every Tuesday. Or the all whites our padrinos pressed for misas. African
and Indigenous spiritual practices have been vital to Afro-Diasporic survival. Santeria soothes
the ache of the traumas induced by the Middle-Passage. Las 21 Divisiones and Haitian Vodun
have us communing with ancient matrifocal deities, like Santa Martha la Dominadora/Mami
Wata. A deity who survived the same Middle Passage.

Embracing Afro-Indigenous spiritual practices help Afro-Latin@s come face to face with the
pain of conquest. These practices help us break free of trauma. Toxic machismo and a host of
mental imbalances are some of the outcomes of generations of inherited illness. In the quest to
decolonize, we rely on ancient ways of being to remember who we are. In this dialogue, we'll
share our experiences with grounding our lives in a faith of a different kind. One where the
Bruja reigns supreme.This is an intergenerational dialogue and all experiences are welcome.

When: Thursday, June 14, 2018 | 6PM - 8PM


3. Playing in the Sun: A Photo Project on Afro-Dominicans in New York City


The Sankofa Series culminates with a panel discussion on the project “Playing in the Sun”.
Playing in the Sun is a photojournalistic project that highlights Afro-Dominicans; the journey of
self-actualization. The project's' participants will share stories of being Black Latinos in New York City.

“El negro tras de las oreja”, or “Black behind the ears”, is a common expression in 
The Dominican Republic. It captures the complicated, and often-misunderstood relationship that the country has with its African ancestry. By denoting that Dominicans are “Black behind the ears”, the phrase points to the fact that the African aspect of Dominican identity is ever-present regardless of its denial. A denial of Blackness, as a pivotal anchor in the formation of the Dominican nation, runs deep and pierces much of daily life. This denial laces Dominican
history. It has also led to tumultuous relationships with its neighboring country Haiti. Extreme
measures are often taken to ensure that this Blackness remains behind the ears. For example,
children dissuaded from playing in the sun for fear of darkening their skin. Yet, Afro-Dominicans have defied these messages and embrace a Black identity. They proudly play in the sun.

When: Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 6PM - 8PM


Where: Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

General Admission: $10.00 (Per Session)Student & Seniors: $7.00 | Register Here


Meet Dr. Griselda Rodriguez

Rodriguez

 

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