‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:36Z by Steven

‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

The New York Times

By Maira Garcia, Sandra E. Garcia, Isabelia Herrera, Concepción de León, Maya Phillips and A.O. Scott

The “In the Heights” cast includes Daphne Rubin-Vega, left, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera (rear), Olga Merediz, Gregory Diaz IV, Dascha Polanco and Jimmy Smits. Warner Bros.

The film, set in a New York neighborhood known as the Little Dominican Republic, didn’t cast dark-skinned Latinos in lead roles. Our writers discuss how that absence reverberates.

In the Heights,” the long-delayed Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway musical, has been heralded as a step for more Latino representation in Hollywood, but a conversation has emerged about colorism and the casting of the film.

The New York neighborhood at the center of the story, Washington Heights, is predominantly Afro-Dominican. In an interview, Felice León, a video producer for The Root, asked Jon M. Chu, the director, and some of the stars about the lack of dark-skinned leads in the film: “As a Black woman of Cuban descent specifically from New York City,” she told him, “it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the fact that most of your principal actors were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people.” Chu said it was a conversation and something he needed to be educated about. In the end, he said, they “tried to get the people who were best for those roles.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is a part of the film’s creative team, which includes the writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, addressed the criticism last week in a statement on Twitter. He apologized for falling short in “trying to paint a mosaic of this community.” Several prominent Latinos came to Miranda’s defense, including the pioneering Latina actress Rita Moreno, who later backtracked her comments. It’s not the first time Chu has had to contend with questions of identity. His box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians” also had to address similar issues when it came to the casting of Asians and Asian-Americans in the film. (The lead actor in that film, Henry Golding, is biracial.)

I asked five critics and reporters at The Times to weigh in on the criticism and what it means for representation in the arts. These are edited excerpts from the conversation. MAIRA GARCIA

Read the entire article here.

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PHOTOS: What It Means to Celebrate Afro-Latinidad in the Time of Black Lives Matter

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Justice on 2016-07-15 01:39Z by Steven

PHOTOS: What It Means to Celebrate Afro-Latinidad in the Time of Black Lives Matter


Isabelia Herrera, Music Editor

Photography by: Itzel Alejandra Martinez, Photo Editor

Itzel Alejandra Martinez

When Remezcla headed to the fourth edition of New York City’s Afro-Latino Festival this weekend, surrounded by colorful dashikis and bold #BlackLivesMatter t-shirts, we were reminded that the political utility of the Afro-Latino label is more urgent than ever. Speaking with festival attendees, families, and musicians, it became clear that celebrating Afro-Latinidad in times of black trauma isn’t about diverting the focus of anti-racist movements, but about highlighting the diversity of black experiences. As the nation reels from the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and as police violence continues to rattle black and brown communities, Afro-Latinos are uniquely positioned to combat anti-blackness in Latino communities. To that end, we spoke to a group of festival attendees about their Afro-Latinidad in the context of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Here’s what they had to say…

Red the entire photo-essay here.

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On Her Second Album, Xenia Rubinos Finds a New Language to Talk About Latinidad

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-10 19:00Z by Steven

On Her Second Album, Xenia Rubinos Finds a New Language to Talk About Latinidad


Isabelia Herrera

At a time when the political utility of the Afro-Latino label is as urgent as ever, it’s easy to forget that the journey to embrace that identity isn’t always immediate. Before recording her sophomore album Black Terry Cat (ANTI- Records), Boricua-Cuban artist Xenia Rubinos did not identify as Afro-Latina. So when she embarked on the recording process this time around, Rubinos envisioned the album as a vehicle to explore her brownness and blackness, to rediscover her place in the African diaspora.

That’s why hip-hop is Black Terry Cat’s lifeblood. “I was listening to a lot of hip-hop at the time. It was a new exploration for me, getting into Slum Village and KRS-One, as well as going back to Erykah Badu, which was starting to become my daily diet,” she explains. Rubinos lays those influences bare on Black Terry Cat; the record vibrates with clanging percussive interludes, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and deep pocket backbeats. It’s a clattering, experimental triumph that leaps from thick funk basslines to spooky horn sections and then to broken-down hip-hop beats, like a kid playing with Legos. Above it all, Rubinos’ warm, smoky voice flutters about, revealing a vocal dexterity and a slew of alter egos the listener is constantly trying to catch up with…

Read the entire interview here.

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