afro descendants

For those who are confused about race/ethnicity. “Black” is a race with several ethnicities. The arrows above demonstrate the migration of enslaved black people from Africa to other parts of the world. 

Black line = African Americans = descendants of enslaved blacks in the USA

Red lines = Afro-Latinxs = descendants of enslaved blacks in Latin America (Central America, South America, and some of the Caribbean-Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, etc.) 

Blue line = Afro-Caribbeans = descendants of enslaved blacks in the Caribbean (ex: Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad, etc.) 

Africa = Africans 

All of these people are black. But not all black people are African American. 

Famous black people
Africans: Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Iman, Idris Elba
African Americans: Michelle Obama, Oprah, Beyonce, Jay-Z  
Afro-Latinx: Celia Cruz, Gina Torres, Zoe Saldana, Laz Alonso 
Afro-Caribbeans: Bob Marley, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Wyclef

*I should mention there are black people in other parts of the world as well (Afro-Palestinians, Afro-Iranian, etc.) 

**I made this in a hurry, let me know if anything is off 

Colombian children play in front of a grocery store advertising products in Palenquero

Palenquero is Latin America’s only surviving African-Spanish creole, that is spoken natively as a first language. Its speakers are based in the maroon town of San Basilio de Palenque on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Palenque is considered to be the first self-liberated settlement of Afro-descendants in South America; founded in the 17th century by Africans seeking refuge from slavery. Although Palenquero employs the lexicon of various African languages, most of the Africans brought to the Caribbean coast of Colombia were from areas of modern-day Congo and Angola, and for this reason over 90% of the creole’s African-based lexicon has it’s origins in the Bantu linguistic family. The language is believed to be the most African-infused creole in the Americas, given it’s long history and isolation from European languages, and for this reason there’s little mutual intelligibility between Spanish and Palenquero speakers. 

In the last few decades there has been a language shift from Palenquero to Spanish, and for this reason the number of native speakers has dropped significantly. It is estimated that only about half of the town speaks Palenquero fluently, that 88.7 percent of high school students use Spanish as their first language, and that only 15 percent of those students have frequent access to the Palenquero language outside school. One of the reasons for this shift, is that many Palenqueros traveled outside of their town to work in nearby banana plantations, where they were discriminated and ostracized for speaking their language by Spanish speakers; which until that time they had little to no interaction with. Another reason for the language shift, is due to accessibility with the rest of Colombia through the media. 

However, with accessibility to the rest of Colombia via television and radio, also came accessibility to various cultures in Africa. Cultural interactions between Palenque and Africa have strengthened the black pride and consciousness of Palenqueros, which has also given the community an urgency to preserve the language. Many young musicians perform champeta songs in the Palenquero language; champeta is a popular genre of music which mixes Palenquero folklore and West/Central African genres such as soukous and highlife. Palenquero has also been made a mandatory language in schools, and linguists have also created the first dictionary of the language with the help of the towns elders. Recent studies have found a trend in younger generations, welcoming the concept of bilingualism. 

Afro-Colonial boys take part in Diablos y Congos festivities in the port city of Portobelo, Panama

In Panama there are two distinguished groups of predominately Afro-descended people; the Afro-Colonials and the Afro-Antilleans. The Afro-Antilleans descend from Afro-West Indian migrants that came to work on the Panama Canal as contract laborers starting from the 1850′s, and that eventually remained in Panama. The Afro-Colonials, on the other hand, descend from enslaved Africans brought to Panama during the colonial period by the the Spaniards. In modern times the Afro-Antilleans are the main image of blackness in Panama, while the colonial group’s presence and historical contribution is largely ignored. Despite this, Afro-Colonials have contributed to all aspects of Panamanian culture and identity; they have also contributed to the racial make up of the “Mestizo” population who form the majority of Panama. Although the term Mestizo generally refers to people of European and Indigenous ancestry in many countries of Hispanophone Latin America; in countries with large Afro-descended populations such as Panama and Venezuela, it often also refers to those with African ancestry in addition to the former two ancestries. Albeit that a large part of the Mestizo population has visible African ancestry, they do not consider themselves Afro-Panamanians in the same way Afro-Colonials or Antilleans do. 

In their history the Afro-Colonials have been spread throughout the entire isthmus of Panama, however the port city of Portobelo, in the province of Colón, has been a large center of their rich culture and traditions. Portobelo was historically one of the largest ports in all of Latin America, and a point of entry for ships carrying enslaved Africans into the country; to be sold not only in Panama, but all through Hispanic America. The descendants of these Africans who remained in Portobelo, largely being the descendants of Maroons, have greatly preserved the music, dances, festivities, and rituals of their ancestors. 

One of the most important festivals in Portobelo is that of the Diablos and Congos. It is a festival reenacting the experiences and emotions of Africans in the colonial era; where dances, songs, parody and elaborate costumes are used to represent different roles. The main roles are those of the congos, representing enslaved African men; the diablos or devils, representing the white man, more specifically the Spaniard; and the reina, representing the queen of the congos dressed in a pollera and crown. Throughout the procession and dances, the devils try to attack the congos with whips, until finally the congos are saved by the queen. 



“These are my grandmothers Lydia and Berta. Both of them and their their siblings grew up in the same neighborhood of Nogales, a city that exists both in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Nogales was home to a vibrant community of both American born and Sonoran Afro-Mexicans, many that descended from the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Calvary Regiment stationed at Fort Huachuca, just over 15 miles to the north. Berta and Lydia As well as several of their brothers and sisters were also part of the Frank Reed Middle School community that educated a number of afromexicans where they could attend find community amongst black children and families. The community was so strong that many of these students stayed in touch lifelong. When my grandmothers moved west to Los Angeles, they built their families around each other. It was no surprise when my mother, Alva, and father, Pancho, found each other. In fact, it may have been the intention of my grandmas from the start. Today our family is spread from Sonora to Texas, Arizona, and throughout California.”

“I ethnically identify as Afro-Mexican. Racially, I embrace my Blackness as here in LA that is typically how I am read and what my experience is. The identity of Afro-Mexican acknowledges my African roots as well as the land we live on, though claimed by America, belongs historically to indigenous Mexican peoples. My mom has always spoken about our family proudly in these terms. It’s what I’d like to continue to promote.”

Groundbreaking book, Blacks, Mulattos, and the Dominican Nation, on Dominican history authored by prominent Dominican thinker published in English for the first time

Originally published in 1969, Franklin J. Franco’s Blacks, Mulattos, and the Dominican Nation was the foundational study on the role of Afro-descendants in Dominican society. Franco’s work was originally written in the midst of a socially committed thought erupting in the Dominican Republic after the breakdown of the conservative worldview sustained by the Trujillo regime and the second military intervention by U.S. forces in the country. Blacks, Mulattos and the Dominican Nation is in perfect harmony with the early efforts for the establishment of Black Studies in the United States’ academia. Franco’s insurgent scholarly contribution and vindication of Dominican Blackness and Africanness, voiced from his homeland in Spanish, remained inaccessible to those English-speaking students, scholars and others interested in Black Studies as it unfolded beyond the U.S.

Now, more than 40 years later, Routledge puts in the hands of new generations the very first translation in English of a popular book that in 2011 had already been reprinted eleven times in the Dominican Republic without any alteration. Blacks, Mulattos, and the Dominican Nation, translated by Dr. Patricia Mason, includes an introduction by Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant that contextualizes Franco’s work.

This exciting translation is part of Routledge’s new Classic Knowledge in Dominican Studies series, “a series that aspires to bridge on a permanent basis the shores of scholarship between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, to ensure that transcendental writings that have marked Dominican thought become available to an English-speaking audience that otherwise may have no access to these important texts,” says Ramona Hernandez, the series’ editor and Director of CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, the City College of New York.

The editorial board of Classic Knowledge in Dominican Studies series is constituted by distinguished scholars Alejandro Paulino, Archivo General de la Nación, Dixa S. Ramírez, Yale University, Mu-Kien Sang Beng, Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, Rubén Sillié, Dominican Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Syracuse University.

What scholars are saying about Blacks, Mulattos, and the Dominican Nation:

“Finally! U.S. scholars and students interested in a fuller, more complex understanding of blackness in the Americas will have English-language access to Franklin J. Franco’s seminal account. Blacks, Mulattos and the Dominican Nation is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the relationship between slavery-based capitalism, competing colonial projects, and the development of racial systems and ideologies in the Americas. As importantly, Blacks, Mulattos and the Dominican Nation reminds readers that anti-Haitianism and negrophobia provide as much evidence of unremitting black freedom struggles on the island, as of the pathologies of white supremacy in the Hispanic Caribbean.” Ginetta E. B. Candelario, author of Blacks behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity.

“The reissue of Franklin Franco’s Blacks, Mulattos and the Dominican Nation demands a new look at the African base of the Dominican Republic, and the vexed question of race in that country. It brings to light long held silences of racial oppression, and turns accepted notions of history on its head. At a time of deep misgiving between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the book reveals a fascinating account of the impact of Toussaint Loverture’s presence in the Dominican Republic and his contribution to the development of a consciousness of the Dominican nation. This is a must read for Caribbean scholars.” Linden F. Lewis is a Presidential Professor of Sociology at Bucknell University and past President of the Caribbean Studies Association. His most recent work is as the editor of the anthology Caribbean Sovereignty, Development and Democracy in an Age of Globalization.

“Franklin J. Franco’s analysis challenged the idea that Hispanic benevolence birthed racial harmony when he made enslaved people, violence, and plunder central to Hispaniola’s colonial history. Franco can now assume his well-earned place among English-language scholars who broke new ground in the study of slavery and the African Diaspora in the Americas.” April J. Mayes, author of The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race and Dominican National Identity.

“Written in 1969, Franklin Franco’s book remains an important synthesis of Dominican history during the colonial and Haitian periods. It illuminates Santo Domingo’s place as an extraordinary part of the Afro-Caribbean world: its role as the first slave plantation society in the Americas (in the 1500s); its mostly enslaved, maroon, and African-descended population since that time; and its political integration with Haiti, which was embraced by many Dominicans as a more liberal and modern nation during the early 1800s. A new introduction by Silvio Torres-Saillant situates this classic work beautifully and expansively in Dominican historiography.” Richard Turits, author of Foundation of Despotism: Peasants, the Trujillo Regime, and Modernity in Dominican History.

Please join Ramona Hernandez and Alejandro de La Fuente, Director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, for a special launching at the Latin American Studies Association annual meeting in San Juan.

The presentation will take place on Friday, May 29 from 5:00pm to 5:30pm, in the Exhibit Hall of the Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Afro-Latina Midwife in the Bronx (fluent in Spanish and English) -

My work is guided by a strong connection to spirit, an analysis and awareness of mental attitudes, a growing emotional intelligence and commitment to healing body as the vehicle for manifestation. As a midwife and doula, I am holding the space for a woman to do the work necessary to birth her child. I view birth as a natural part of life. I trust the wisdom in women’s bodies and understand the transformative nature of taking this journey.

My womanist African-centered position on my own life, actions and journey in this world informs my midwifery/doula practice and philosophy. Womanism is a term that Alice Walker coined. She defines a womanist as a woman of color who is pro-women – appreciating and preferring women’s culture, emotional flexibility and strength. Womanists are committed to the survival and wholeness of an entire people.

I am aware of the profound impact of the Transatlantic Slave trade and on-going effects of atrocities inflicted on African and Afro descendant people. The intention of my work is to dismantle the generational effects of the enslavement, striving to help women and families break cycles of trauma in violence on a local, national and global level. I acknowledge how much the history of those who came before us affects us in contemporary times. I believe that healing the foundation of community, women and families, will put our painful legacy to rest and provide future generations with a new inheritance.

I believe pregnancy is a special opportunity in a woman’s life to transform. It is an initiation into cultivating herself for the optimal health of her child(ren). Pregnancy changes a woman’s priorities, sense of self and expands her heart immensely. I am an advocate for mental hygiene and support prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum work with mental health resources. I view a woman’s lifetime reproductive health as a dynamic process with significant milestones that deserve support, shared knowledge and qualified, compassionate care. I value the empowerment of women in all aspects of life and particularly as that strength is realized during pregnancy, birth and thereafter.

I believe that every individual has the right to safe, satisfying health care with respect for human dignity and cultural variations. I further support each person’s right to self-determination, to complete information and to active participation in all aspects of care. I believe the normal processes of pregnancy and birth can be enhanced through education, health care and supportive intervention.  

I believe birth is the creation of not only a new chapter in a woman’s life but also for her partner. My work encompasses creating the space for the woman, her partner and family to change and understand the transformation taking place. I am supportive of maintaining the primary relationship strong during pregnancy, labor and childbirth. As a midwife, my responsibility is the medical well-being of mother and child while keeping the partner informed and involved. As a doula, I provide information and support for the birthing unit; I am not replacing the birth partner familiar to the woman but rather enhancing and strengthened them.

I encourage realistic expectations of childbirth by women within their own society, with the minimum expectation that no women should be harmed by conception or childbearing. I provide care for women and childbearing families with respect for cultural diversity while also working to eliminate harmful practices within those same cultures.

I value the acceptance of death as a possible outcome of birth. The focus of my work is supporting life rather than avoiding death. I value the art of nurturing the intrinsic normalcy of birth and recognize that each woman and baby have parameters of well-being unique unto themselves.

that’s one of the things about living in a super power doe… You will never and I mean never get a full understanding of the size of the african diaspora in the americas and throughout the world.. especially if there is no one to show you.. Like I didn’t know half stuff I know now about the diaspora until I was in my 20’s… And I really only encountered it until I traveled.. Cause sometimes I feel like.. We’re made to feel like we’re a minuscule body of people who are tolerated so long as we produce culture in this country.. I think the sheer size and breadth of the diaspora is kept from us on purpose.. cause for me personally.. It feels good to know that there are more than 200 million of us in the americas… Like that feels empowering to me… I just wish kids can learn about ALL black folks.. I wish there was a consistent counter-narrative to what’s shoved down our throats.. And I also had to get my own antiblackness in check before I could even fully acknowledge the diversity of the diaspora as truly diverse.. I thought that diversity had to center whiteness.. Diversity meant a deviation but yet in still a connection to whiteness… Antiblackness is deep y'all… That shit so deep within us… but anyway… I’m babbling.. Black folks holla at me if I’m making sense… I actually wouldn’t mind y'all sharing some of the ways and paths you took when learning about ALL of us….. Share if you want to BLACK FOLKS.


Perú Negro es un grupo de danzas y canciones de origen afro que nació en la costa peruana a fines de la década de los 60’s por sugerencia de Chabuca Granda, personaje emblemático de su cantar popular, quien pidió a Don Ronaldo Campos, fundador de la agrupación, la acompañara con su conjunto a una gira por Argentina. Embajadores musicales de su país por el mundo, Perú Negro llegó una vez más a los EE.UU. para deleitar a un público ávido de sonidos exóticos, fusionados con los ritmos propios de la raza negra, lo que sumado a su carismático cuerpo de baile, hicieron un espectáculo digno de admiración y legítimo aplauso. Conozca Perú Negro y compruebe que no sólo de quenas y folkore andino vive esta nación sudamericana. Un reportaje de J.M. Martínez


“Así somos:Afro Identities in the Coast”
The Coast of the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero have the highest population of afro-descendants in the entire country. This documentary was created because the people from the coast of Oaxaca requested that I film our talks on identity and blackness. The recordings take place in the towns of Charco Redondo and Chacahua, both in Oaxaca.
This is something I put together last minute because I had no intention of making a documentary. I wish only to give the people from the Coast representation as invisibilization of the Black race in Mexico is common. Rarely does someone think about Mexico when they think of the African diaspora but more enslaved Africans went to Mexico and Perú combined than the United States.
This documentary is intended to bring awareness of the African diaspora in Mexico and to help begin conversations on identity and blackness.