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Latina Icons Tribute Series Celebrates 7 Afro-Latinas for Black History Month


Desi Sanchez as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. (Image: Latina Icons)

Afro-Latina sheroes like La Lupe, Celia Cruz and Amara La Negra have gotten me through days when I needed a musical ode to my beauty, intersectional identity, and pride in my Blackness. I’ve found comfort in La Lupe’s “I do what I want — try me” attitude, the message in Celia Cruz’s “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” and Amara La Negra’s unapologetic stance on who she is.

When I found out several of my sheroes would be recognized in a photo tribute, I was excited to see!

Linda Nieves-Powell, well-known New York playwright, filmmaker, and photographer, is honoring Afro-Latina musicians this Black History Month. Nieves-Powell launched Latina Icons last year, bringing back the popular photo series to highlight 7 Afro-Latina trailblazers during the annual celebration of Black identity and culture. The photo re-creations honor Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Irene Cara, Esperanza Spalding, Amara La Negra, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and La India.


Jenny Saldaña as La Lupe (Image: Latina Icons)

Nieves-Powell recalls vividly moments in her childhood where she was picked on and bullied for her Latina identity. She admits it took its toll, however, she’s not only healed but used the arts to incite pride and affirm the beauty of all Latinas.

“My hope for the site, and for the initiative, is that general audiences learn about these wonderful trailblazing Latinas, as well as recognize the diverse beauty of our community,” says Nieves-Powell to  “But most importantly, for me, this is about identity and how I can help those in my community, who do not feel they meet the standard of beauty in this country, to create their own identity and standard of beauty.”

When you enter the Latina Icons site, you’re welcomed by a powerful message written by Afro-Latina activist, writer and speaker Sofia Quintero.

“…Linda’s Afro-Latina Icons is more than just a reflection or affirmation,” Quintero writes. “It takes a stance that because of enduring anti-Blackness, anti-Latino racism and misogyny, especially on social media, has become more important than ever to take. Her stance is this: these Afro-Latinas are icons to everyone. Music is the universal language, and so by choosing to recreate these gorgeous artists as they appear on their album covers, Linda reminds us that they are beacons to everyone across race, ethnicity and gender. And to select women across decade and genre – from La Lupe to Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes to Amara La Negra, she asserts that Afro-Latina genius is not rare.”

The Afro-Latina icons are cast by seven models, including transgender model, Marisol Leyva, sister of Selenis Levya of Orange Is The New Black.

Who’s your favorite Afro-Latina icon? Let us know in the comments section.


[Click here to see all of the iconic portraits.] 


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