Latino USA

Author Archive

#1504 – Afro-Latino

African cultures run deep through Latino identity—from music to food, and so much more. But are Afro-Latinos under-represented and under-served? We ask Afro-Latinos across several generations what they think, and learn about the Garifuna, a Honduran Afro-Latino community which has been migrating to the U.S.

SOMOS: Afro-Latino

As we focus on Afro-Latino identity and issues, we wanted to start by going to people who live it every day.

In this segment we hear four people talk about what being afro-latino means to them. We hear from an entrepreneur, an author, and two sisters trying to educate others through the internet.

They tell us about facing racism, their issues with the media, and the way people have reacted to them over the years. “Somos” means “we are.”



Anthony Otero, a Bronx native, Syracuse University alum, Afro-Latino blogger, and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, has aspired to be a published author for most of his life. He wrote his first novel as a therapeutic outlet while recovering from his divorce and realized that his story can shed light on a man’s side of a love story—an underrepresented angle.
His first book, “Hanging Upside Down”, is a fiction novel that explores the pressures men face after divorce, the consequences of letting good intentions go astray, and how a single turn of events can change the world as they know it. With support from his family, friends, and fellow Latino alumni at Syracuse, Anthony delivered a whirlwind, twist-turning, and explicit story of a man rediscovering the world around him before finally facing his “global warming.”


VictoriaArzuVictoria Arzu is the co-founder of Proyecto Más Color. Victoria is a first generation Honduran-American of Garifuna descent. Victoria was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and later moved to Katy, TX where she spent her middle school and high school years. Victoria graduated cum laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Victoria now attends Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and aspires to be either and immigration or an international lawyer. Victoria is very passionate about social justice and equality and would like to see that reflected in Latin American media. Since she was a little girl she had noticed the racial inequities and stereotypes portrayed on Spanish soap operas, and with Proyecto Más Color she aspires to put an end to this. Her dream is to see positive and honorable portrayals of Indigenous and Afro-Latinos integrated into the daily programming of Univision and Telemundo. Victoria is 26 years old.




Sophia Arzu is the co-founder of Proyecto Más Color. Sophia is a first generation Honduran-American of Garifuna descent. Sophia was born in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, but she spent most of her childhood in Katy, TX. Sophia and her parents later moved to Georgia where she spent her high school and college years. Sophia now attends Georgia State University and is studying Communications & Journalism. Sophia enjoys listening to music and producing YouTube videos. From a young age, Sophia has noticed the racial disparity in Latin American television shows and her dream is to put an end to the discriminatory nature of Latin American media so that one day, her children can see Afro-Latinos like her on television. Sophia is 21 years old.





 Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist. Martinez currently serves as Content Producer at NewME, a customizable support platform that transforms cool ideas into great businesses. She previously served as Technology Editor at Black Enterprise, the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans, where she oversaw the editorial strategy for technology across the company’s platforms. Her work and insights have appeared on various media sites including TheGrio, Madame Noire and The Root, as well as Arise News and NPR’s Latino USA.

The Honduran-American added entrepreneur to her title, launching, an online destination celebrating diversity among Latinas. Founded to fill a void in the representation of Afro-Latinas in both mainstream as well as Spanish-language media, offers profiles of Afro-Latinas across the globe, celebrity news, career advice, lifestyle coverage and exclusive interviews with today’s hottest celebs.

The Bronx, NY native has contributed to Latina Magazine,,, Syracuse Record and The Post-Standard. You can follow her daily musings on Twitter at @janelmwrites.

The Garifuna Exodus

For centuries, the Garifuna people — descendents of both Africans and indigenous Arawak people from the Caribbean — have lived peacefully in seaside towns on the North Coast of Honduras. There’s always been a trickle of migration from the community to the United States – especially the Bronx, where the largest Garifuna community outside of Central America lives.

But starting last spring, the trickle of migrants became a flood. Hundreds of Garifuna from each town left, thousands all together, embarking on the dangerous journey through Central America and Mexico to the U.S. border. It was mostly mothers with small children. They showed up in places like the Bronx, seeking refuge with family members, wearing GPS ankle monitors placed on them by U.S. immigration officers who detained them. They await court dates in limbo, unsure if they will be forced to go back to the homes they fled.

Immigration surged in Central America in general last year, mostly in response to rising levels of urban violence. But the Garifuna were migrating for another set of reasons: racial discrimination that makes economic advancement really hard for Afro-Hondurans and the ongoing seizure of traditional lands by government, business interests and drug traffickers.

Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop spend a week reporting in Garifuna communities in Honduras, trying to find out why the exodus is happening, and what people are doing to stop it.


Photo by Marlon Bishop


Marta Moreno Vega: Decades of Wisdom

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega has, for decades, helped to define Afro-Latino identity within and outside of the United States. She joins Latino USA to talk about it, equity, and cultural capital.

Marta Moreno Vega was born in El Barrio “Spanish Harlem” of Puerto Rican parents born in Puerto Rico. Dr. Vega, an Afro Puerto Rican, has dedicated her professional life to developing culturally grounded institutions placing the history and culture of African descendants in the Diaspora in the time clock of world history. She is founder and president of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, an international not for profit organization located in New York City which she created in 1976.


The Fearless Cool of Buika

Afro-Spanish flamenco-soul-jazz singer Concha Buika is as talented as she is fearless. Growing up on the island of Mallorca in an immigrant family from the tiny former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa, Buika says her mother was “a happy mama” despite raising several kids by herself in a strange new country.

That undying appreciation for life has been bred into her music as well. With help from frequent producer Javier Limón and an album collaboration with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, Buika seamlessly blends her influences and interests with deep emotion.

Buika talks about her art and music, her childhood, and why she believes women are united by their experiences.



Sabiduría: Outsider Within

To close out our show focusing on Afro-Latinos, we get a bit of wisdom from friend of the show Janel Martinez.

Janel reads to us an adapted version of a post she featured on her site It’s called “Outsider Within.”

A Photo Essay: The Garifuna Exodus

Since last year, high numbers of Garifuna people from Honduras – of mixed African and indigenous Arawak heritage – have been migrating to the United States. They say they are fleeing discrimination and seizure of  traditional lands. Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop reported on the Garifuna exodus for this week’s episode of Latino USA. Below, check out some of the photographs he took while he was there.

Norma Quioto lives in Barra Veija, a small Garifuna community located on a spit of land between the Caribbean Sea and the Laguna de Los Micos, a lagoon.

Next door to Barra Vieja is Miami, one of the more traditional-looking communities in the country. Houses here are made of manaca, or dried coconut palm fronds.

Barra Vieja residents build a house together. Many Garifuna communities have a system called manovuelta – basically, “you help me build my house, I help you build your house.” It’s a form of communal living.

Carlos Castillo, democratically-elected head of the town council in Barra Vieja, shows off his photo in a Honduran newspaper. The article reports on an attempted eviction of the community that happened in September 2014.

Residents believe the eviction was related to the nearby Indura Beach & Golf Resort, a $120 million dollar tourism project owned by the Honduran government and business interests. Garifuna communities have been fighting against the development of the resort since the mid 1990s.

Residents believe the eviction was related to the nearby Indura Beach & Golf Resort, a $120 million dollar tourism project owned by the Honduran government and business interests. Garifuna communities have been fighting against the development of the resort since the mid 1990s.

Members of the Garifuna at Barra Vieja pose under the tree that serves as a town square. “We don’t want any tall buildings here,” says Raymond Grant. “We want to keep living how we’ve been living.”

Luis García is a drum-maker and community leader from Sambo Creek. His family has been making drums for generation. He says that knowledge is fading out in the community.  “When four young people who might have learned to make drums migrate instead, that’s four less drum makers,” he says.

Luis Garcia’s infant daughter doesn’t make drums yet, but he wants to teach her one day. For the meantime, she enjoys banging on them.

Rolando Sosa, better known as Chichi Man, plays guitar in his back patio in Sambo Creek. The music he plays is parranda, sometimes referred to as the Garifuna blues.

To get to the Garifuna community of Vallecito, you have to drive East towards the Mosquitia rainforest for many hours. It’s a dicey part of the country, where the majority of drugs that come through Honduras are trafficked.

Vallecito is a swath of ancestral land that the Garifuna have won title to in a Honduran court. At mid-day, women prepare beans for a communal meal.

Miriam Miranda is the leader of OFRANEH, a grassroots political activist organization that agitates for Garifuna rights. She wants to see Vallecito become a sanctuary for Garifuna around the Honduras and beyond who have been displaced, so they don’t feel they have to migrate to the U.S.

N                                             There are only a few full-time residents at Vallecito, but many young Garifuna come for short stays to help develop the project. Here, a plan outlines the day’s work – clearing land, planting land, repairing infrastructure.

Erlan Diego, 25, is a youth leader in OFRANEH. “Being here at Vallecito is like being in the time of my great-grandmother, living without electricity, without technology, with a feeling of brotherhood,” he says. “I want to live this way for the rest of my life.

The Garifuna cuisine is based heavily around seafood – seafood stews, fried seafood, grilled seafood. Before you can cook the fish, you have to chop the fish.

Young Garifuna men take a break from working at Vallecito.  In the background, women plant yucca and peppers.

At night – the music beings. “We’ve brought back some of the song that only the old women knew,” says Yillian David, 29. But drumming is about more than having fun. “Culture is a powerful form of resistance,” says OFRANEH leader Miriam Miranda.

All photos by Marlon Bishop. Marlon’s reporting in Honduras was supported by Round Earth Media 

This Week’s Music: Afro-Latino

-Beiba by Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective

-EL POWER Cumbia (Afro Kumbe Remix) Ft. Locos por Juana by Kanye West

-Timbales y Bongo by Mongo Santamaria

-You Ain’t a Killer by Big Punisher

-Afro Blue by Mongo Santamaria

-Afro-Sound (Remix) ft Palenke Soultribe by Locos por Juana

-Africana (Prod. by Yeti Beats) by Los Raka

-Yau by Aurelio Martinez

-Nando by Aurelio Martinez

-Milaguru by Aurelio Martinez

-MidNight Cumbia (Afro Kumbe Remix) by M83

-Afro Cuban Ritual by Mario Bauzá

-Relax and Mambo by Machito

-Drume Negrita by Instituto Mexicano del Sonido

-Garifunasty by K. Sabroso

-Hoy Es by Café Tacuba

This Week’s Captions: Afro-Latino

#1503 – Gaming the System

We examine diversity in gaming, the way the NYPD may have played themselves by slowing quality of life arrests, and learn about a community garden that sneaks in a little computer programming.


THIS WEEK'S SHOW: In this week's show,…

This Week's Captions: Money...

THIS WEEK'S SHOW: From Puerto Rico to…


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