According to this very fresh piece of NPR reporting, the "black is beautiful" Negritude consciousness movement building just below the radar in parts of Latin America has a new beachhead, especially for teens and young adults: Reggaeton.
What's interesting to me is that "blackness" infused in this very popular fusion of dancehall reggae, rap/hiphop and several Latin styles could very well be a bridge to would be Afro-Latinos in the United States. Barely 3% of US Latinos identify themselves as black, despite the fact that a great many more would appear to be of at least as much African descent as the average self-identified black American.
Puerto Rican reggaeton star Tego Calderon
challenges Latinos' black "unconsciousness"
God knows Latin America needs to come to terms with this truth: African heritage is the third leg of their racial/cultural stool. One speaker in the story tells of confronting a "black" Dominican policeman standing near the border with Haiti holding a big stick "to beat the blacks" who might be crossing the border. The confronted with the truth that if he was there to beat blacks he should start with himself, he insisted that he wasn't black, he was Dominican.
This denial, a clear inheritance of the Spanish colonial past, is the basis for a pernicious intranational/intraethnic racism in many Latin American societies. The further away you are from "pure" white, or the closer you are to Afro or Indio, the lower your class of citizenship.
The piece suggests black consciousness will deliver Afro-Latinos from their oppression. But going through the looking glass to emerge somewhere in 1969, at the start of the black consciousness/black power movement here, will not bring the true healing that is needed. And while it could have a strategic political impact in some Latin countries, I don't think it actually plays to the US Latino political reality.
As I've said many times, nobody comes here from Latin America to be part of a racial minority group, especially not the black racial minority group. It's one thing to wake up in, say, the Dominican Republic, realize that the vast majority of your countrymen are a shade of brown, not pink, and rethink your aspiration toward whiteness. It's quite another to wake up in the still 74% white US and be persuaded to discard your identification of upward mobility with whiteness.
Moreover, it's just plain dumb. The axle of the wheel being reinvented is the 19th century "one drop rule". It's a formulation that I believe will not (and does not deserve to) make it past 2020. Afro-Latinos in America, like the rest of us, are going to have to find their way past this false black-white dichotomy, to land in a place where culture, nationality and ethnicity exist in separate planes and so-called race is beside the point.