African NYC was traditionally in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn at the other end of the (A) Train. But all of New York City, Latin culture and even American culture are very African. Africans and African Americans built our city and country. Black history is American history. Much of our coverage is of African culture even if we don’t call it that.
Most popular culture of the United States has African roots: from gospel and ragtime to the blues, jazz, country, rock, salsa, hip-hop, reggaeton and trap. In the U.S., the appropriation of Black culture by White artists is continual.
In the Americas, many communities practice African culture even though they are generally not considered Black. These include Argentine tango, Bolivian caporales, Brazilian capoeira, Cuban son, Dominican merengue, Mexican fandango, New York salsa, Puerto Rican bomba, Uruguayan candomble, Venezuelan tambor and others.
Black culture is a core part of who we are as Latins, and who we are as Americans of the United States.
GREELEY SQUARE PLAZA
(near Herald Square)
Tuesdays to August 31
FREE with pre-registration
Thursdays to August 5, 2021
FREE with pre-registration
HARLEM & VIRTUAL
August 6-15, 2021
Monday, July 12, 2021
July 19 – August 22, 2021
There is more African NYC below, but first let’s break it down with some of the other African pages.
NYC’s African festivals include the West Indian Day Parade , African American Day Parade, and…
African New York City includes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Apollo Theater, Jazz at…
There are many famous African New Yorkers. What makes someone a New Yorker? When you’re…
The African world includes many famous Africans and people in the diaspora in the Caribbean,…
African culture covers many rich traditions in Africa and the diaspora. Most of the popular…
More African NYC
Saturday, August 28, 2021 🇺🇸
July 5 – August 29, 2021
MET OPERA HOUSE Lincoln Center 🎼🎵 September 27, 2021 – June 11, 2022 🇺🇸🇦🇷🇨🇦🇫🇷🇮🇹🇲🇽🇪🇸🇵🇷
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 🇺🇸📚
CATHEDRAL OF ST JOHN THE DIVINE
Morningside Heights, NYC
Saturday, June 17, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Jackson Heights, Queens
Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 7pm
Ends June 30, 2021
116th St between Malcolm X Blvd & Fifth Avenue
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Regions of Africa
The African regions are: North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa and the African Diaspora.
The African Diaspora
Africa is a very big and diverse continent. A U.S. education tends to treat Africa as a monolith, but it is bursting with rich and unique cultures.
Whether it’s on our African pages or not, much of our coverage is about culture with African roots. We struggle with our definitions of what is African. Is jazz from New Orleans, the Caribbean or Africa? It’s all of the above, and also has Arab and East Indian roots.
Consider Machito and His Afro-Cubans, the band that defined Latin jazz, and the first to promote the fact that they were Black. Is Machito Cuban where he was born, American where he became famous, or English where he chose to live his last years? He is all of the above.
We are aware of four African culture groups that are related, but unique in their own ways.
- There is the African culture of Africa. There are many different cultures and many great ancient civilizations in Africa.
- There is the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s blended with the culture of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and English colonizers. It’s everywhere in Latin America, even in places you don’t think have African culture, and is celebrated by people who you wouldn’t think of as African and don’t consider themselves African, but the local culture is absolutely theirs. They are not just stealing it. They live it.
- There is the African Diaspora in the United States which developed from Congo Square into most American popular culture. Regardless of your heritage, African culture is an inseparable part of who we are as Americans of the United States.
- There is the African Diaspora in Europe. Less than nine miles separates the two continents so there has always been a lot mixing in both directions. More recently, the children of colonizers went home to Europe.
Regardless of the heritage of the performers, gospel, blues, jazz, swing, country, rock, disco, hip-hop, salsa, reggaeton and Latin trap are mostly African culture through the Caribbean. Popular culture of the United States is really African.
We need to talk about faith too. Islam and Orisha faiths are faiths of Africa. They have been demonized by colonizers, but it’s wrong. There are no demons, only demonizers. These are faiths like all the others. In the Medieval Era, Islamic culture was more advanced than European culture, so Europeans copied a lot from the Islamic world. Orisha faiths have many similarities with the ancient Greek faiths and Indigenous faiths around the world. They are based on nature.
The “good trouble” across our country now is unfinished business from our colonial past. It’s long past time to decolonize our own heads and cherish the richness of African culture in the United States and around the world. It’s an important part of who we are.
Africa is mother and Beyoncé is right: “Black is King.”
Black Lives Matter
Thank you Black Lives Matter for your courage and persistence. To get more real, lasting change, we need to put all this energy into voting and the census (vote.org).
Reevaluating every way we represent African culture is forcing us to decolonize our own heads. Each thing we clean up reveals something else we need to clean up. We are working on it.
From the Editor
Africa is mother, the mother of all humanity. So literally, if you are not African, you are not human.
If you’re not African, you’re not human”Keith Widyolar, Editor-in-Chief, New York Latin Culture Magazine (2018)
African culture is a difficult topic because Latin culture in the Americas and even in Europe has a lot of African in it. In the truest sense, most of our coverage is African culture – even if we don’t call it that. Language and our U.S. cultural training fail us.
African culture dominates U.S popular culture. Puerto Rican salsa and Latin jazz legend Eddie Palmieri nailed it when he said at the 92nd Street Y:
“The Spaniard brought the African and the African put everyone to dance. In the United States, they took away the drum and we got the blues.”Eddie Palmieri at the 92nd Street Y
The blues is the root of American music of the United States. Jazz, country music, rock and everything that followed are built on the blues. In a way, much of the United States was built on the blues. Wall Street was literally built on the blues at the corner of Pearl St. African spirit cannot be broken.
If Spain, Portugal and France are mother countries, then so are African nations. The stories just haven’t been told well.
As Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute once said at the Avalon Ballroom in Harlem:
“We have to tell our own stories because nobody else will.”Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, CCCADI
Forgive our ignorance. Our education failed us, but we want to know better. We want to tell these stories, because they are our stories too.
Keith Widyolar, Editor-in-Chief
African-American Culture is Mostly Caribbean, and Caribbean Culture is Mostly African
“You may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Maya Angelou, from “Still I Rise,” 1978