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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Vámonos Pa’l Monte

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Afro Latin Mix ed tape
Afro Latin Mix ed tapehttps://tarheels.live/mixedtapepodcast/
Andrés Hincapié Education: PhD Economics, MSc Economics, BSc Industrial Engineering Profession: Tenure-Track Professor in the Department of Economics at UNC - Chapel Hill. Other: Host of The Mix(ed)tape Podcast, Dancer of Cobo Brothers Dance Company Column Name: Afro-Latin Mix(ed)tape: This column will be join with Mix(ed)tape co-host Melissa Villodas. Melissa Villodas, PhD LMSW LCSW-A is the co-host of the Mix(ed)tape Podcast, a project that takes an anti-racist approach to center the contribution of Black people and culture across Latin America and its diaspora through dance and music. She is a recent PhD graduate from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the role of connectedness and where we live on the health and wellness of marginalized groups. Melissa received her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in 2015 from New York University (NYU), and Bachelors of Arts in English writing from Nyack College in 2012. In her free time, Melissa enjoys dancing and has been dancing to Afro-Latin music for 6 years. Melissa started her dance journey in 2016 with Lorenz Latin Dance Studio in the Bronx, NY and has been dancing with the Cobo Brothers Dance Company since 2019.

(Title inspired by the song Vámonos Pa’l Monte, by Eddie Palmieri)

Thinking about culture from the Latin American Diaspora, which includes Latin@s in the United States, usually evokes flavors, sound, and movement.. Latin@ culture is rich, tiene mucho sabor, on all three fronts. From the beats that make up our favorite rhythms to the seasonings that embellish our cuisines, people everywhere profess their love for Latin@ culture! But good food, music, and dancing are only a partial (albeit popular) manifestation of the richness of our culture.

What is less known is that this culture has been forged in fire. Much of what is celebrated and interpreted through art in our culture today is rooted in resistance, resilience, self-expression, self-preservation, as well the beauty, the pain, and the necessity of the mundane. The widely accepted staples of our culture have evolved from a painful history of colonization, slavery, and genocide that are often, and understandably, hard to revisit. However, looking deeply into the mirror to engage with our history allows us to recognize and appreciate the meaningful contributions of our ancestors and wrestle with the parts of our collective history that elicit pain and that to this day require action.

Recognizing the power of music, dance, and community as a representation of our culture, our monthly column seeks to investigate the Afro-diasporic roots of the rhythms and dances many of us grew up with, underscoring the experiences of the Black members and participants of the culture. We seek to build an understanding about how Afro-descendant people largely created and sustained these rhythms and dances that have exploded and have been commercialized over time. We aim to highlight the Blackness in the music and dance we love.

Our main goals are to educate ourselves and our readers, as consumers and enthusiasts of Afro-Latin culture, on its Black roots, highlight the work of Black artists, dancers, and scholars across the Americas, and develop a practice of anti-racism in our interactions with all cultural products of Afro-Latin culture we partake in.

Video by Elise Mahon, UNC Research

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