In light of the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, over 35 executives from the Latin music industry and over 100 Latinx artists have come together as the Conciencia Collective. This is not only to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement, but to also address and tackle the anti-Blackness ingrained within the Latinx community towards the Afro-Latinx (or Black Latinx) folks.
When the murder of George Floyd made national headlines in late May, people in the United States and around the world took notice of the systemic racism and police brutality killing people in the Black community. Protests in support of the Black Lives Matter are ongoing as deaths of more Black people, like Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery, caused at the hands of police become public. Even though media coverage of the BLM movement is waning, Conciencia Collective is a reminder for Latinx folks to continue to support Black and Afro-Latinx communities in the fight for change and justice.
Conciencia Collective is led by Gloria “Goyo” Martínez of the Afro-Colombian group ChocQuibTown. The collective in collaboration with mitú hosts weekly live chats on Fridays with Latin music artists in support of the Black Lives Matter (or Las Vidas Negras Importan) movement. The first episode on June 26 featured Martínez and Puerto Rican rapper Rafa Pabön. The focus of the conversation was them speaking on their experiences as Afro-Latinx artists and using their music to send a message.
Martínez reminds us that systemic racism is also affecting the over 100 million Afro-Latinx people in Latin America. She calls for education in schools in both the U.S. and Latin America to cover the roots of that racism and Black history, and for better representation and opportunities for Black people in music and the media. Last month ChocQuibTown released “Somos Los Prietos.” Prietos is a derogatory term used against Latinx and Indigenous folks with darker skin complexions that the band reclaims on their song. Pabön called music a “tool” to raise awareness of the injustices against Black people. He recreates Floyd’s last fatal moments with the police in his music video for “Sin Aire,” including the knee-to-neck hold.
There are intersections, or layers, to the discrimination Martínez has faced in her life as an Afro-Latina, as a Latina, and a woman. The second episode from July 3 featured Mexican-American pop star Becky G and Colombian singer-songwriter Kali Uchis. Both women acknowledge and discuss colorism in the Latinx community and the privileges they hold as Latinas with lighter skin complexions. Afro-Latinas are not afforded those same opportunities. Roxana Curiel, an assistant professor from the University of Scranton, mentions in their conversation the existence of white privilege among Latinx people in both the U.S. and Latin America. That’s something white-passing, or light-skinned, Latinx people benefit from in contrast with people in the Afro-Latinx community who do not hold or experience that same privilege.
Becky G and Uchis commit themselves as allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and to speak out against the injustices faced by people in the Black and Afro-Latinx communities. Both women continue to use their massive platforms to amplify the movement. They’re among the 100-plus Latinx artists across multiple genres that have released statements in support of BLM, including Anuel AA, Farruko, Myke Towers, Jessie Reyez, Guaynaa, Carla Morrison, Jesse & Joy, Lauren Jauregui, Chiquis Rivera, and more.
Expect to see more artists speaking up as part of the Conciencia Collective’s live chat series on Fridays. For third episode (on July 10) Tatiana Hazel, Pabllo Vittar & Urias, and Lauren Jaregui will be discussing LGBTQIA+ and Black trans women issues within music and culture. For Latinx people wanting to learn more about the Black Lives Matters movement and unpacking the anti-Blackness in our community, these chats are a great start.