(Title inspired by the song Picoteando Por Ahí, by Henry Fiol)
We will never forget the year 2020. The arrival of the coronavirus to all corners of the globe highlighted a series of issues that needed confrontation. Here in the United States, one of the most resource-rich countries in the world, large health and economic disparities that already existed were grossly magnified. Although the coronavirus itself did not discriminate by race or socio-economic status, its effects disproportionately ravaged socioeconomically disadvantaged communities of color. We were once more reminded of the immense need to confront the powers that drive systemic racism and bring so much suffering to our communities of color.
As if that was not enough, in May of that same year, we were faced with another violent act of racism, one that was not hidden within systems but fueled explicitly by fear, hate, and discrimination. We witnessed a horrific video in which George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered under the knee of a white police officer.
With the world at a standstill and many of us under stay-at-home orders, we were confronted by these events that required us to have conversations about the disastrous consequences of white supremacy – violence, inequity, and the devaluation of Black lives.
Recognizing the power of music, dance, and community in Latin culture and in our everyday lives as Afro-Latin dancers, we decided to launch a podcast that would help us to uncover how racism emerges in a place many might not expect it – the Afro-Latin dance scene. We started this journey of podcasting with self-reflection. Each of us, with our intersectional identities that have shaped our experience in the world and in our dance communities, took turns at finding our ‘why’ in this endeavor.
[Mel]: My intersectional identities as a Black, U.S.-born Puerto Rican woman from a low socioeconomic background has shaped how I have understood the way I fit in across several contexts including educational and cultural spaces. I realized that being of Puerto Rican descent provided access and inclusion in the Afro-Latin dance scene but my racial identity as a Black woman is often isolating without the “Puerto Rican” qualifier. I approach this investigation understanding that my identities shape how I see and navigate spaces, and that those experiences inform my analysis of social problems.
[Andrés]: My intersectional identities as a Black Latin American man product of miscegenation, born and raised in Colombia from a lower-middle income family with separated parents shape the ways in which I exist as an economics professor and researcher, as a dancer, and as a podcaster. Living in Latin America for 26 years as an afro-descendent, cisgender male, and taking after the identity of Afro-Latino in the U.S. have given me perspective to approach our investigation recognizing something important: the need to deconstruct a view that centers Blackness solely on the U.S., and the need to integrate the intersectionality of being Latin American, considering the devastating historical consequences of many U.S. interventionist policies in the region.
Listen to the whole Picoteando Por Ahí podcast episode here: