Exploring the Latino Metropolis: A Brief Urban Cultural History of US Latinos

Afrolatino Interactions

Studying Latinos in New York implies a degree of understanding the fusion between Latinos and other ethnic groups. Latinos, namely, Puerto Ricans, have had very significant interactions with African Americans in New York City. According to urban journalist Raquel Rivera, this interaction is born from “low socioeconomic status initially ghettoiz[ing] Puerto Ricans together with African Americans” (29). Rivera elaborates on this topic further, arguing that common experiences, such as exclusion, strengthen the bond (31).

An example of the fusion between Latino and African American culture in New York is the Hip-Hop movement. It was a “cultural manifestation” that served as a “quintessential contemporary expression of structural and cultural congruence” (Rivera 31). Structural congruence is another way of describing the manner in which African Americans and Latinos face similar challenges. Hip-Hop serves as more than just a cultural movement; it has implications as a logical expression of a common political experience. Shared experiences are not merely geographical; political suppression, economic inequality, and a shared resilient spirit are all essential factors that contributed to the political and artistic expression that is Hip-Hop. 

Nevertheless, there is a degree of ambivalence in the Afrolatino community, specifically as a result of mestizaje. Mestizaje refers to miscegenation, a term “built into the language of the community and nationality” that can be a point of difficulty for individuals (Rivera 33). To acknowledge one culture (African American or Puerto Rican) over the other is like “denying a part of one’s self,” which presents an internal struggle for many Afrolatinos (Rivera 33). Ultimately, while there have been many instances of cross-cultural interactions, some challenges still remain, especially in urban areas such as New York City.
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