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News, views and events detailing the Black presence in the Americas.

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c8964f42-7560-11e2-a681-0019bb2963f4_t300.jpgBy Karen Juanita Carrillo


When Guillermo A. Baralt published the original Spanish-language version of "Slave Revolts in Puerto Rico: Conspiracies and Uprisings, 1795-1873," there was a strong reaction to its contents. To research the book, Baralt combed through municipal archives and old news reports to find documentation of over 20 revolts by enslaved Africans and a high incidence of self-liberated Blacks in Puerto Rico before slavery officially ended on the island in March of 1873.

"Up until the book's publication, the conventional wisdom was that slaves in Puerto Rico were docile, had no reason to rebel and were generally treated well," Baralt notes in his 2007 preface to the English-language version of the book. "Nevertheless, as 'Esclavos Rebeldes' demonstrated, researching the municipal records of many towns on the island during the period between 1796 and 1848 revealed a radically different story."

Puerto Ricans of whatever skin color will invariably insist that they are from a culture where there is traditionally little racism. Because most Puerto Ricans are indoctrinated with this understanding that they have a pan-ethnic island heritage, there is often an underlying belief that race prejudice has never been practiced on the island--and that if it ever was, it is certainly different than the Black/white race-based dichotomy that was, and in many ways still is, in force in the United States.

Many Puerto Ricans have been taught the famous Fortunato Vizcarrondo poem, "Y tu aguela aonde ejta?" ("And where is your grandmother?"), which details how white-skinned Latinos will boast about a European-based heritage while not acknowledging their African roots--the title literally refers to their Black grandmother, who is hidden away toward the back of the house. But this poem indicates, with its apparent disparaging of African heritage, that race relations have not been so rosy.

There is little historical understanding that Puerto Rico also enslaved people of African descent and kept them in that position based on their Black skin color--slavery in Puerto Rico was no kinder or better for enslaved Africans than it was anywhere else in the Americas. Wealthy Puerto Rican landowners used slaves to help produce their crops. To maintain their businesses at a profit, they were often cruel to the people they owned. However, Puerto Rico's slave owners were frightened of their slaves. They believed the Haitian Revolution was due to have a terrible effect on all of the Caribbean colonies, a fear confirmed by later uprisings in Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, Cuba and Venezuela.

Baralt writes about the increase of the slave population on the island and the subsequent rise in revolts. After the Haitian Revolution, the need for more Puerto Rican sugarcane plantations increased. Haiti had been the source of 40 percent of the sugar consumed in the world, and after its revolution, there was an opportunity for other Caribbean islands to fill that role. As Puerto Rico increased its population of enslaved Africans, it tried to augment its sugar output, but the influx of recently arrived African-born slaves, who were known as "bozales," often led to more individuals unwilling to accept that the rest of their lives would have to be lived in slavery.

11:16 pm est          Comments


 By Karen Juanita Carrillo

Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News


The country of Peru has slowly come to recognize a treasure in its midst. The “cajon,”  the traditional wooden box drum of Afro-Peruvians, was only recognized as a Peruvian national instrument by that nation’s federal government in 2001, and this was only because Spanish Flamenco musicians had begun using the instrument and praised its numerous rhythmic abilities.

The instrument is a wooden box or drawer that drummers straddle while tapping with an open
palm or fingertips.

There are numerous theories about the origin of the cajon. Enslaved Africans in Peru are believed to have used old shipping crates and turned them into drums because there was a ban on African music, Spaniards believing it might help slaves organize uprisings. Another theory holds that the cajon is actually similar to boxlike instruments that were traditionally used in Angola.

The instrument was, for most of its history, solely relegated to the realms of Afro-Peruvian music. But today, with its national recognition, Peru promotes use and knowledge about the cajon in its schools and museums and through countrywide programs.

On Nov. 1, the regional Organization of American States gave the cajon international recognition during a gala ceremony in Washington, D.C. Theceremony also payed homage to recently deceased actor and musician Rafael Santa Cruz, as well as to singer Jose Escajadillo, who has written over 600 waltzes.

Santa Cruz died suddenly of a heart attack at age 53, just this past August. The author of “El Cajon Afroperuano” (Lima: Cocodrilo Verde Ediciones, 2004), Santa Cruz was a recognized promoter of the cajon. In 2013, he organized the gathering of 1,524 cajon players during the International Peruvian Cajon Festival. The 1,524 cajon players came to Lima’s Playa Mayor and set a Guinness World Record for most cajon players playing at the same time.


10:34 pm est          Comments



Web application motivates Afro-Peruvians to recognize their identity in the INEI 2017 National Census of Population and Housing

 What does being Afro mean? Whom is it determined by? How is it determined? Are there common elements? Does self-recognizing as an African imply negatively highlighting my difference? Do the words morenos, zambos, mulattos, blacks, refer to an African heritage?

In a context such as Peru, where there is little discussion about racial and ethnic identities those are some of the questions that Afro children, youth and adults have in relation to news of the next National Census which will include a category allowing for the self-identification of Afro-Peruvians. 


The Virtual Afro-Peruvian Census (Censo Virtual Afroperuano)

is a web application that calls Afro-Peruvians to participate by responding questions organized into fourteen themes such as health, education, employment, racism, and identity amongst others. To participate all you have to do is enter our website and click “Iniciar Censo”. A confirmation notice sent to your email address will provide you with the rest of the steps to follow. 

The information collected will be available through an interactive map which will display how many people are participating with the virtual census and in what countries or regions they live. 


 “The Virtual Afro-Peruvian Census takes into account all Afro-Peruvians including immigrants which while living far away from Peru encounter new living conditions which are important to recognize. All of us should understand why we should be included in a census; it’s an opportunity to understand our reality and propose new politics and public policies for our communities”, 

states Mónica Carrillo, President of LUNDU.

With this initiative LUNDU hopes that Afro-Peruvians will utilize digital tools and innovative technologies towards development. 


Motivated by this important opportunity to know more about the contemporary reality—socio-economic conditions related to health, employment, housing and education, amongst other issues, LUNDU Centro de Estudios y Promoción Afroperuanos previously launched the blog 

where people can find out more about Afro roots and identity through the life histories of well-known public figures such as Carlos Mosquera, of the group Fiesta Negra, Pierr Padilla Padilla Vásquez of Colectivo Palenke, actress Nadia Calmet, and former football player and representative of the Association of Professional Football Players of Peru, Sandro Cavero, amongst others. 


Lima, November, 2014.


We thank-you for your assistance disseminating this press release.

Translated by Sonia Medel 


LUNDU Centro de Estudios y Promoción Afroperuanos

531 – 7425 / 989 – 838 – 515 / /




7:58 pm est          Comments


Afropresencia´s board member Monica Carrillo, performing at Psychlotron with Martin Fuks and Natalia de Campos!.



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12:31 am edt          Comments

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In partnership with:
LUNDU Center for Afro-Peruvian Advancement 



By Lisa Scott


Interviews with over 30 Jamaican immigrants on their pre-migratory perceptions of New York and England

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Miriam Jimenéz Román  (Editor), Juan Flores (Editor) 


The book focuses attention on a large, vibrant, yet oddly invisible community in the United States: people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. The presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States (and throughout the Americas) belies the notion that Blacks and Latin@s are two distinct categories or cultures. Afro-Latin@s are uniquely situated to bridge the widening social divide between Latin@s and African Americans. At the same time, their experiences reveal pervasive racism among Latin@s and ethnocentrism among African Americans. Offering insight into Afro-Latin@ life and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and antiracist politics, The Afro-Latin@ Reader presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black Latin@s in the United States. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



By Karen Juanita Carrillo



The proof of any group's importance to history is in the detail, a fact made plain by this informative book's day-by-day documentation of the impact of African Americans on life in the United States.  One of the easiest ways to grasp any aspect of history is to look at it as a continuum. African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events provides just such an opportunity.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Karen Juanita Carrillo


The View from Chocó: The Afro-Colombian past, their lives in the present, and their hopes for the future is an introduction to the lives of Blacks in Colombia. Afro-Colombians live in a resource-rich yet remote region of Colombia. They only recently won recognition as one of that nation's distinct ethnic groups. But Colombia's on-going civil war has led many Afro-Colombians to reach even farther than their nation's borders for recognition: many have made their way to the United States as refugees and as political activists working for peace in their homeland. The View from Chocó introduces the lives and struggles of a too-long neglected community of Colombian Blacks. 

 Click here to view and purchase the book.





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