African NYC News
Dance Theatre of Harlem does pop-up performances inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s sculptures in the Kusama garden at the NY Botanical Garden in The Bronx, Sat-Sun, Oct 16-17 from 2-5pm. From $25. 🇧🇷🇨🇺🇭🇹🇺🇸
The Visitor, based on Thomas McCarthy’s 2007 movie about NYC immigration, is a world-premiere Off-Broadway musical at The Public Theater in NoHo, Oct 7 – Nov 21, 2021. From $90. 🇺🇸
The Metropolitan Opera presents Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center Mon, Sep 27 – Oct 23. From $130. 🇺🇸
Tue-Sun, November 9-14, 2021
Sep 26, 2021 – Feb 27, 2022
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 🇺🇸📚
CATHEDRAL OF ST JOHN THE DIVINE
Morningside Heights, NYC
Saturday, June 17, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Previously in African NYC
Pass Over, Antoinette Nwandu’s play about living Black in America, is on Broadway at the August Wilson through Oct 10, 2021. Ages 15+. From $39 🇺🇸
The Secret African City
Yale Historian Dr. Robert Farris Thompson calls New York “The Secret African City” and he is right. The African Diaspora built New York, the United States and Western Europe.
A surprising amount of both Latin culture and American culture of the USA originates in Mother Africa. Many people deny themselves, but being Latin in the Americas means being at least part Black or Indigenous.
It’s “secret” because since colonial times, we had hide our culture or risk serious abuse. In the Caribbean, there is an entire parallel universe. You can be looking right at it and not know it, unless you know how to read the signs.
In what became the USA, the English took away the drum and we got this endless flowering of African American culture in Gospel, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Latin Jazz, Swing, Country, Rock, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Reggaeton and Trap. Most of the popular culture of the United States is African Diaspora culture. We are the secret African country.
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
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Tuesday-Saturday, August 17-21, 2021
Workshops 4pm, Shows 7:30pm
Thursday-Saturday, August 12-14, 2021
ROBERT F. WAGNER PARK
Battery Park City
Sunday-Friday, August 15-20, 2021
Lower East Side
Wednesday-Sunday, August 11-15, 2021
MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
El Barrio, East Harlem
Thursday, August 12, 2021
August 16-31, 2021
SKINNY’S CANTINA ON THE HUDSON
Manhattanville (West Harlem)
Friday-Saturday, August 7-8, 2021, 3-8pm
HARLEM & VIRTUAL
August 6-15, 2021
Monday, July 12, 2021
July 19 – August 22, 2021
July 5 – August 29, 2021
Ends June 30, 2021
116th St between Malcolm X Blvd & Fifth Avenue
Saturday, June 19, 2021
African New York City
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.
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 Very Caribbean, and Caribbean Culture is Very 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