July 4, 2016 ~ Issue 10
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Welcome to a very special edition of Es Mi Cultura, entitled:

“Los Hombres”
As the title suggests, this issue spotlights just a few of the men who are doing their part to further advance our Afro-Latino culture. Through various arts, cooking, and education, Los Hombres featured in this issue are a great representation of people who put their all into the things they are passionate about.

This issue contains a lot of great information and is worth the lengthy time it may take to read through everything…ENJOY!

"Chef Joseph “J.J.” Johnson is in good company. As one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” honorees, he joins such luminaries as actress Olivia Wilde, singer Bruno Mars, basketball star Kevin Durant, and CNBC anchor Kelly Evans.

It’s a fantastic achievement for this up-and-coming chef, who made the Food & Wine category of Forbes’ tally of the brightest stars under the age of 30 in 15 different fields. He’s really making a name for himself as executive chef at The Cecil, an Afro-Asian-American brasserie in Harlem and it’s sibling jazz club, Minton’s. But with all his success and recognition, J.J. never forgets where he came from.

The first indication that he had a passion for food came when he was just seven years old, after seeing a commercial for The Culinary Institute of America. “I told my mom I wanted to be a chef,” J.J. recalls. “She said ‘You should be a doctor or a politician. Why would you want to be a chef?’” But he was hooked after watching his Puerto Rican grandmother serve up butternut squash soup and other ethnic dishes."

Read more: Here

"With “Wake Me Up”—the 2013 mega-hit he sang and co-wrote for Swedish DJ Avicii and saw climb to #1 in 102 countries across the globe—Aloe Blacc proved himself a singer/songwriter with an irresistible power to capture the complexities of human emotion. 

“After working with so many different styles of music over the years, I’ve found this place somewhere between folk and soul that feels really true to my vision,” says Blacc, who began writing rap lyrics at age nine, put out his first hip-hop mixtape in 1996, and released his soul/R&B-laced debut album Shine Through in 2006. (A Southern California native born to
Panamanian parents, Blacc is also well-schooled in salsa music, and has closely studied everything from psychedelic rock and funk to reggae and dancehall.)

“One of the reasons it was so great to work with Khalil is that he understands all the genres that have influenced me—from jazz to folk to Brazilian music to pop—and knew how to help me tap into those influences and make it sound amazing,” Blacc adds."


Against the odds and amongst the dreamers, Dubwork, a self proclaimed dreamer, brings us a flow and vibe that can be described as dedicated to the daily grind… And the dreamers. With his newly released mixtape STILL DREAMING, featuring 17 original tracks, Dubwork takes his inspirations, dreams and inner voice to the masses. Born Lenny Lavergne to two Dominican Parents, raised in New York City, and relocated to New Jersey in his pre-teens, Dubwork or “Flaco” to friends and family, uses his music to fuse his East Coast American and Afro-Caribbean roots.

“Since I was young, my parents have listened to both English and Spanish music” he says. “Name any song from the eighties- English or Spanish- I will know it. Not to mention almost everyone of my uncles can play a musical instrument”.

Dubwork's own love affair with music began back in his childhood, surrounded by music lovers. Raised in the “Golden Era” of hip hop, he began rewriting song lyrics to personalize them, and to align with his own experiences. He then went on to writing and performing his own original lyrics, and won the Faces in the Crowd competition during a performance in NYC at the famed SOB’s.
View Dubwork's Music Videos
Anthony Otero, a Bronx native, Syracuse University alum, Afro-Latino blogger, and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, has aspired to be a published author for most of his life. His blog called Volume 2 chronicles his journey toward self publishing his first book, Hanging Upside Down and his second novel, The Book of Isabel.

Hanging Upside Down, is a fiction novel that explores the pressures men face after divorce, the consequences of letting good intentions go astray, and how a single turn of events can change the world as they know it.

He currently resides in Harlem, New York and works for Barnard College.
Louis Ortiz is an aspiring author finishing his debut novel. Before applying the final touches, he gives the manuscript to his longtime friend, Naomi, on the eve of her life-threatening operation. The manuscript, entitled “The Book of Isabel,” is an autobiographical story set in 1999, where Louis first learns to come to grips with lost loves and strained friendships.

Taking place in Syracuse and New York City, this story within a story is a continuation of “Hanging Upside Down,” that explains Isabel’s role in Louis’ life and asks the question, do friends really last forever?
Leo Sheridan is a Actor, Director and writer based in Washington, DC. Previous theatre credits have included the national Broadway tour, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Touchstone’s production of Step up 2 and High school the Musical. Recently he completed his short film in which he wrote and directed, Maybe Today

What is your Caribbean heritage?
LS: “DC native-
AfroLatino (Dominican)

What would you want people to know the most about your Caribbean heritage?

LS: “AfroLatinos are garnering a lot more attention these days. We come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Sadly, many of our people deny their African heritage and only claim the Latin portion- but through education and awareness this is changing. I’ve always been proud to be who I am, and never chose one or the other.”

How has your Caribbean heritage influenced your work?

LS: “Storytelling has always been a deep part of Caribbean culture. It’s in my blood. Its always honestly added more fire and energy to my own scripts and characters I’ve played.”

 What do you love the most about being of Caribbean heritage?

LS: “I love that there is not a definite look to any of us. The culture is loud and colorful. Everyone is family. Even if you’re not from the same island. The food, the dancing, the stories all come with a weight of respect among the community.” 

Read more of Leo's Interview with Dougla Girl Creates:

Mr. Kevin Alberto Sabio was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and is the youngest of three children of Honduran Garifuna immigrant parents. He is an author, screenwriter, activist, published journalist, and an advocate for the cinematic and literary arts. He attended Newbury College in Brookline, MA as a Mass Communications major, and graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT majoring in Video Production; having been a student activist on both campuses. He was a volunteer for the Black film festival circuit in New York City for five years, from 2001-2006.

Mr. Sabio is the founder and organizer of the Universal Africana Literary Arts Movement & Expo (formerly the Black CapaCity Literary Arts Festival), an independent, grassroots event aimed at highlighting and promoting the endeavors of African descended people in the various fields and industry of literature; from authorship, to publishing, to distribution. He is a former active member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association & African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). He has lived in the states of Florida, Virginia, and Maryland, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Mr. Sabio is the author of: “Raise Your Brown Black Fist: The Political Shouts of an Angry Afro Latino” (Authorhouse, 2010), a collection of online political essays speaking on race/race relations, African American and Latino history, politics, political ideology, and Afro Latino issues and affairs; “Raise Your Brown Black Fist 2: MORE Political Shouts of an Angry Afro Latino” (Outskirts Press, 2011), the followup expanded sequel to book 1; “In My Lifetime: Funny Stories of Life Experiences” (Outskirts Press, 2014), a comedic memoir collection of shorts stories detailing events in the author's life, and the funny ways in which he handled them; “The Chronicles of The Black Fist” (CreateSpace, 2015), a superhero fiction novel about an educator-turned-crime fighter battling to protect the city of his birth;  “Demure Nights” (CreateSpace, 2015), an erotica novel about an out-ofwork Graphic Designer who turns to the world of Male Escorting to make ends meet; “Spittin' Lyrics N Waxin' Poetic” (Draft2Digital, 2015), a collection of poetry and rhymes in eBook format; and currently, “Drum Speaking: Tales From an Inner City Griot” (CreateSpace, 2016), a short story anthology spanning many different literary genres.
José Luis Vilson is an Afro-Latino math educator for a middle school in the Inwood / Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, NY. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in mathematics education from the City College of New York. He’s also a committed writer, activist, web designer, and father.

He currently serves as a board member on the Board of Directors for the Center for Teaching Quality and the president emeritus of the Latino Alumni Network of Syracuse University. He writes regularly for Edutopia and Progressive Magazine, and has contributed to The New York Times,, Education Week, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa NY. He has also been featured at PBS, Mashable, Idealist, Chalkbeat NY, TakePart, Manhattan Times, and the Fusion. He co-authored the book Teaching 2030: What We Must Do For Our Students and Public Schools … Now and In The Future with Dr. Barnett Berry and 11 other accomplished teachers, and profiled in two other books: Teacherpreneurs (Berry, Byrd, Weider; 2013) and Teaching with Heart (Scribner, Intrator; 2014).

He was named one of GOOD Inc.’s GOOD100 in 2013 of leaders changing their worlds and an Aspen Ideas Scholar in 2013. He has also spoken at TEDxNYED, Education Writers Association Annual Conference, Netroots Nation, and the Save Our Schools March. His blog,, is well-regarded, named one of the top 25 Education Blogs by Scholastic, Education World, and University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s Teach 100.

José is the founder of EduColorEduColor seeks to elevate the voices of public school advocates of color on educational equity and justice. We are an inclusive cooperative of informed, inspired and motivated educators, parents, students, writers and activists who promote and embrace the centrality of substantive intersectional diversity.
This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and EducationGraduating from Syracuse University with a degree in computer science, Jose Vilson left campus with no job and a few hundred dollars to his name, propelling him (eventually) to his calling: teaching middle school children math in a public school in Washington Heights / Inwood, Manhattan. From his own background as a boy growing up on the drug-tainted, community-centered projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this book takes the reader on the coming-of-age story of a naïve young man struggling to mature through the first few years of his career, balancing the lows of murder, poverty, and academic failure to the highs of growth and eventual triumph.
Ezequiel Bertho is a singer/songwriter and producer from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, who records under the name Algodón Egipcio (Egyptian Cotton). He makes an unique brand of electronic pop music with an experimental edge, grabbing influences from genres as varied as R&B, shoegaze, folk, hip hop, noise, African music, and many more. Earlier this year, he followed up his debut album La Lucha Constante (Lefse, 2011) with La Confianza Ciega (Arts & Crafts Records/Ponk, 2016), a very diverse collection of songs with layered textures and lyrics that deal with the decomposing reality of his home country. He's now touring Mexico, where he now resides, and already working on new music for future releases.
La Confianza Ciega is an album with numerous layers that reveal themselves with every listen, plagued with synthetic textures and unexpected song structures that defy pop music's traditional meaning, but keeping its memorable quality through melody. This time around, Algodón Egipcio lets go of the effects that drenched the songs found on La Lucha Constante, showcasing his voice up close and giving the beats a leading role. The result is a diverse, fresh, and exciting album that adopts elements from various places, like R&B, Afro house, noise, Caribbean music, experimental electronic music, and more, producing a particular sound. 
View Algodón's Music Videos
"Why Are Some Latinx Black?"  perfectly sums up how/why
Black people are Latino. 

Penned  By, About, and For Us!

Undocumented and Black

Hip-Hop Political Party in Cuba

6 Spanish-Language Animated Movies That Give Pixar a Run For Their Money

25 Tweets That Sum Up The Dominican Salon Experience 

9 Afro-Cuban Artists & Intellectuals You Should Know

Celebrating Beautifully BLACK Latinas

Understanding How Deep Latin America's African Roots Are

Playlist: Now That's What I Call Afro-Latino Music!

Festival Afro-Bahia Celebrates Culture of the Brazilian State

Embracing Afro-Latina Identity 

The Kinker the Hair, The Better

An Afro-Dominican Guide, Part 1 

Finding Garifuna Food and Culture in a Harlem Home

Elizabeth Acevedo on Poetry's Impact & Afro-Latina Identity 
"Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop."

Es Mi Cultura is published every first Monday of the month by Tamika Burgess. Tamika is a Afro-Panameña, NYC- based writer, blogger, and copy editor. Learn more about her by visiting
View past issues of Es Mi Cultura: HERE
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