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Afro-Mexican Artists Battle Colonial Rhetoric Of Black Mexican Culture

"We decided to do this exhibition to subvert and revolutionize certain conceptions brought forward by academia."

In Mexico, there’s been an identity battle between the people and its government to define and recognize authentic Afro-Mexican culture. While Africanity has been left out of the country’s history, one rasta artist and musician, Ras Levy, has been advocating for this portion of the population’s visibility for more than 15 years. His creations, along with those of other artists pushing the movement forward, helped to get the Mexican government to officially recognize the African ancestry present in their country in 2015. This lead to the country allowing the nearly 1.38 million Afro-Mexicans to label themselves as "black" on the 2020 national census forms.

In the one of many events to push forth a narrative that “subverts and revolutionizes certain conceptions brought forth by academia," to one more honest to black Mexicans and their culture, Levy created the “Mexico Negro” exhibit. Making use of the art of socializing, Levy uses music, discussion and pachanga to “expand on the art and recognize ourselves in it.”

#Danzadelosdiablos #RasLevy #MexicoNegro Mayo 2017, Galeria en los #rolloschilangos

A post shared by Ras Levy (@ras_levy) on

In order to transform a canvas from a blank slate to relatable art, for “Mexico Negro,” Levy uses authenticity. One of his pieces features Emiliano Zapata whose symbolism is important to the Mexican culture because, as Levy puts it, “his fight was relevant.” But this specific piece also serves as a history lesson as it reveals that Zapata had some African heritage, while his pueblo was "home to several Afro-Mexicans.”

Levy tells Remezcla that his style can be compared to the role of the sound engineer in the dub music genre—which grew out of reggae. Just as the sound engineer remixes existing samples to create a new sound, Levy describes his process as taking pre-existing elements “that have already been created and re-envisioning them through colors, strokes, history, spirituality, etc.”

The “Mexico Negro” exhibit is on display in Mexico City at Rollos Chilangos. While Levy doesn't see his work traveling further than the borders of Mexico City and Afro-Mexican spaces, in terms of the diaspora, he believes the future holds a unification of "one African Nation."

#MulatadeCordoba #MexicoNegro #RasLevy

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Miss Spain Angela Ponce Becomes First Trans Miss Universe Contestant

Angela Ponce didn’t walk away with the crown during last night’s Miss Universe pageant (Dec. 16), but she did end up being a winner in her own right. Ponce, who represented her country of Spain, is the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

“This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusion and freedom,” the model wrote on Instagram Friday (Dec. 14). “And today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.” Catriona Gray, the 24-year-old Miss Philippines, walked away with the crown over models from South Africa and Venezuela, who came in second and third.

Ponce, 27, was crowned Miss Spain back in June, beating out 22 contestants for the win. At the time of that win, she told The Associated Press, “If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me.”

The pageant, formerly owned by Donald Trump, lifted its ban on transgender contestants in 2012. This is the same year that Jenna Talackova of Canada threatened legal action against the organization, who was rejected because she was not a “naturally born” female.

Congrats on making history, Miss Spain.

 

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Que honor y orgullo poder ser parte de la historia de @missuniverse. Esto es por ustedes, por aquellos que no tienen visibilidad, ni voz, porque todos merecemos un mundo de respeto, inclusión y libertad. Y hoy estoy aquí, representando con orgullo a mi nación, a todas las mujeres y a los derechos humanos. • #missuniverse #missuniverso #confidentlybeautiful #thailand #bangkok #roadtomissuniverse #67thmissuniverse #angelaponce #spain #preliminar

A post shared by ANGELA PONCE (@angelaponceofficial) on Dec 14, 2018 at 5:27am PST

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This includes J Balvin being one of the most streamed artists on Spotify, Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy scoring stellar Grammy nominations, the rising appeal of Harlem rapper Melii, the return of Wisin Y Yandel and Bad Bunny sprinkling the gift that is Latin trap on your getting ready playlists.

But there were also artists who took big risks like Kali Uchis' coy yet forward voice in R&B, Jessie Reyez's dynamic voice and collaborations with the likes of Eminem and many more.

Check out our favorite albums from the best and brightest Latinx artists of the year below.

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Popular Celeb Spot 'La Marina' Shut Down After Drug Bust

Adored by celebrities like French Montana, Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio, New York hot spot La Marina might be closing its doors for a good after a drug bust led to a suspension of their liquor license.

A statement released Dec. 6 by the New York Liquor Authority (SLA) broke down the case, which overlapped with an investigation by the NYPD in July. Bar manager Christian Mendez, 33, was arrested in November on felony charges after he was caught selling large amounts of cocaine, oxycodone and other drugs to undercover NYPD detectives. Their investigation into the venue also revealed 72 violations of the state liquor law like selling liquor to minors and impaired customers.

Chairman Vincent Bradley and Commissioner Lily Fan condemned the venue and hope to yank their liquor license for good. “When a bar manager is able to traffic and sell these types and quantities of narcotics from within an establishment it is incredibly alarming," Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano said.

“Licensees have a responsibility to ensure their establishments are operating within the law, and the SLA is obligated to take emergency action as it is clear that this licensee has failed to take any meaningful actions to protect the public.”

La Marina was also hit with sixteen violations of the ABC Law, including seven counts of operating disorderly premises for permitting the trafficking of controlled substances, six violations for fire, health and more safety code violations. Their inspection grade in July was something close to an F minus for mishandlings of food, shoddy plumbing and the presence of mice and flies.

The venue has been a staple in the area since its opening in 2012, attracting big celebrities and brands like Red Bull and HBO. The New York Post notes La Marina has a 15-year lease, where they make up to $7 million a year in revenue.

Their social presence hasn't acknowledged their current status, but their calendar for upcoming events has been scrapped from their website.

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