In many territories, June is recognized as Pride Month—a colorful month that reminds us we exist and visibly resist thanks to the strength and struggle of Black and Brown trans women, for whom it was never an option to remain silent due to a racist and hetero-patriarchal system.
In Peru, June is also commemorated as the Month of Afro-Peruvian Culture. In fact, in 2006, Congress declared June 4 as the Day of Afro-Peruvian Culture, in honor of the birth of Nicomedes Santa Cruz, a figure known for his artistic and academic contributions that have been key to claiming our history. Then, in 2014, the state saw fit to declare the entire month as so due to the various events that are organized around this date.
The time allows us to intentionally recognize and vindicate the contributions, struggles and legacy of Afro-Peruvian people to the country. It is a month of celebration, but also, an important month to make visible the systematic inequalities that we continue to experience 365 days a year due to structural and institutional racism.
Victoria Santa Cruz—multidisciplinary artist, academic and author of the iconic poem “Me Gritaron Negra“—has filled our lives with courage and pride with phrases like: “Al fin comprendí. Ya no retrocedo. Avanzo segura. Ya tengo la llave,” referring to the process of vindication of her Blackness.
She is part of a living legacy of ancestral resistance. Her existence, her denunciations and achievements have been fundamental for many of us to find the key to not hesitate, recognize and rise up permanently and collectively to resist this racist and unjust “normality”.
We honor the struggle of Victoria, Nicomedes, and all those who came before. A struggle that has not yet ended and therefore, is the engine to continue working for those who come as well. June has come to an end, but our fight, heritage and legacy are more alive than ever. Here are six amazing Black artists, activists and leaders making waves in Peru.
Additional reporting by Xime Izquierdo Ugaz.
“I am a human being, I care a lot about my culture and my community,” Abad says. He describes himself as “Afro-Peruvian by inheritance and homosexual by nature, seeking my way and purpose on earth. An interior designer, and creative focused on commercial and residential design. I also dedicate myself to abstract and textured handmade murals. I really like to include art and natural elements in my designs.”
“Beyond my visual practice,” he tells us, “I am also a dancer and interpreter in the cast of the Afro-Peruvian Ballet of Callao, which I joined three years ago when I decided to give my second passion and the search for my roots a space in my life.” You can follow his designs at @isometricastudio.
“I am a 25-year-old multidisciplinary artist, known as Yanna. I grew up in a neighborhood on the margins of Lima, San Martín de Porres, with a mother from Chincha and a father from Puno,” Yanna tells us. “Recently, I released my first single, “Marcaperu,” which highlights the contradiction of the Peruvian state to sell itself as a foreign brand without really taking care of the needs of the country’s most vulnerable populations. With my work, I seek to bring to the table different themes of social issues from my own experiences to self-heal and share that healing with others through a musical connection.”
Orlando Sosa Lozada
“Fat, fag, and Afro-Peruvian in constant decolonization and depatriarchalization. I started my activism a little over 8 years ago,” Sosa Lozada tells Remezcla. “My activism has been transforming in these years from a personal, family and collective review of life experiences linked to racism, homo/lesbo/bi/transphobia, fatphobia, among others. Currently, I focus on research and community education on gender, ethnicity and human rights issues, from an intersectional and decolonial approach as a way of denouncing these structures of oppression that discriminate… violate and murder us.”
“I consider it essential to wage on a way of creating knowledge from the community, Sosa Lozada says, “taking personal and family memories as a starting point to rewrite our history in our own terms and from our own voices while highlighting that our history has been subjected to structural whitening… In addition, I believe with total conviction in these non-hegemonic forms of activism that also bet on the healing of all the emotional and spiritual wounds caused by colonialism and that come from many generations, demanding the recognition by the people, groups and institutions that historically have exercised all forms of oppression.”
“My name is Malcon but I am known by the stage name Prince Malcon. I am a dancer, model, performer, activist, and cultural organizer with an academic background in public relations and content creation. I was born in 1997, in Caracas, Venezuela of Venezuelan, Colombian and Andean descent (from a Venezuelan-Colombian mother and a Peruvian-Andean father),” Malcon explains. “I identify as a Black and Queer/Afro-Latinx fag. My career as a dancer & artist has led me to travel and train in different countries such as Ecuador, Argentina, Chile and Mexico. It’s important for me to create more visibility for the LGBTIQ+ community. I started the Vogue House ‘Kiki House of Prince’ and became the pioneer of the Peruvian ballroom scene in 2019. Part of my work as a disseminator of ballroom culture in Peru is to promote cultural events and create safe queer spaces in which participants find a place where they are respected and celebrated.”
You can learn more about Kiki House of Prince at @kikihousofprince.
“I am a queer afro-feminist cultural organizer from Peru. I am my grandmothers. I am my neighborhood. I like to write poems and dismantle patriarchy. I am also an industrial engineer specialized in innovation, strategy and scalability of projects. Recently, I won 2 scholarships to study an MA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at NYU. Upon returning to Peru, I plan to develop projects to increase the flow of money and education within the Black and LGBTI+ communities, through alternative economies that become massive using technology, thus trying to break with the historical cycle of impoverishment of our communities. In Peru, only 36% of women manage to get a college degree,” Vasquez tells us. “In the case of Afro-Peruvian women, the percentage drops to 10%. There is no data on how many of us are also part of the LGBTI+ community.”
She is currently the coordinator of commercial projects related to technology and co-organizer of “Cabritas Resistiendo en Cuarentena,” a virtual festival by and for QTPOC. Learn more about her campaign here.
Ernestina Ochoa Lujan
“I am Ernestina Ochoa Lujan, Afro-Peruvian activist and leader of AMUNETRAP [Asociación de Mujeres Negras Trabajadoras del Perú or Association of Black Women Workers of Peru].”
As a defender of the rights of Black women for over 27 years, one of Ochoa Lujan’s main legacies has been to establish the first union of domestic workers of Peru—Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadoras del Hogar del Peru (SINTRAHOGARP). “I was the Vice President of the International Federation of Domestic Workers for 10 years, where I experienced a lot of racism for being the first Black woman in this role,” she shares. “Recently, with AMUNETRAP we were part of the dialogue for the initiative to declare July 25, as the National Afro-Peruvian Women’s day, to coincide with the International Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Day… I am currently fighting for the passing of the new domestic workers’ law.”
You can learn more about Ernestina here and more about AMUNETRAP here.