14 Songs for Survival in the Time of Black Lives Matter, as Chosen by Bocafloja

The past few weeks have been heavy for black and brown communities. Last week, protests erupted all over the country after police murdered Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while just one day later in Atlanta, GA, a man was found hanging from a tree shortly after a KKK revival meeting. As we celebrated our country’s independence on the Fourth of July, Deeniquia Dodds was shot dead in Washington D.C., adding to a long list of black trans women killed at staggering rates. Just yesterday, we mourned the one-year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death at the hands of police last July.

As communities grieve digitally and IRL, many Latinx people have shown public forms of solidarity through protests, writing, and social media. Just days after the fourth annual Afro-Latino Festival, it is crucial to acknowledge not only black/Latinx solidarity, but black Latinx identity itself. As we were reminded through performances from artists like Los Rakas, Mekanic Informal, and DJ Bembona, many of us are black by identity as much as by descendance.

Also featured at the festival during Friday’s Talks at the Schomburg Center for Black Research was the film Nana Dijo by audiovisual artist Bocafloja. The documentary, shot in black and white and featuring beats from the producer himself, is stunning. Through interviews he captures the diversity of Afro-Latino experiences, showing the pain and joy caused by the colonial legacy of mestizaje, which is often invoked to obscure blackness and Latinos’ African roots.

Today, Bocafloja shares a Black Lives Matter playlist, featuring Afro-Latino artists from across the continent. Featuring sounds from the Bronx-based activist/hip-hop group Rebel Diaz, chill reggae-fusion rapper Yung Ragga, unapologetic feminist Cuban duo Krudas Cubensi, and Afro-Cuban poet Aja Monet, the playlist showcases the diversity and power of black Latinx art. In explaining the anti-black and anti-indigenous sentiment found in our communities, Bocafloja says that the Black Lives Matter movement has “everything to do with our existence and represents our road to liberation.”

“There is no way to open a dialogue about the complexities of Latin American identity without placing blackness as one of the fundamental elements in the conversation. Mestizaje was created as a political strategy of erasure that facilitated the establishment of internal colonialism after most processes of independence in the region. Music can keep sharing our story.”

Stream the playlist on Apple Music below.