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Afro-Cuban Counterpoint: Re-envisioning Race, Representation and Resistance in the Hip-Hop Feminist Imaginary

Kiley Jeanelle Guyton Acosta


In this research I draw from personal communications and interviews of hip-hop activists Las Krudas as well as lyrics, images and commentaries by other CUHHM raperas featured in Cuba’s Movimiento hip-hop magazine (2008). I first investigate why Cuban hip-hop feminists problematize misrepresentations of blackness in the cultural imaginary and examine how raperas of African descent use performance to revise popular notions of womanhood and sexuality on their own terms. I then reflect on the symbolic ways these performances enrich contemporary theorizations of black feminism; described as afrofeminismo (Afro-feminism) as it pertains to Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. In my analysis of hip-hop afrofeminista expression, I identify the resistance motif as a common thread linking contemporary black feminist cultural production throughout the African diaspora. Collectively, these artists’ counter-hegemonic messages reject the act of passing for white through repressive beauty practices. Instead, raperas consciously abandon colonial ideologies through the re-inscription of their bodies as sites of Afro-centric pride, beauty, strength, social agency and autonomy. They display visual vocabularies of resistance to blanqueamiento (the colonial ideology of racial whitening) by integrating Afro-centric body art, dress and adornment into their aesthetic presentation and musical expression. Through the act of challenging influential discourses such as blanqueamiento, Afro-Cuban women re-envision ethno-racial identity on their own terms and claim agency in their representation within the cultural imaginary. My research situates afrofeminista resistance discourse within a transnational Afro-diasporic narrative.


African diaspora; Afro-Cuban; Afro-Latina; Afrofeminismo; Black Feminism; Blanqueamiento; Cuban hip-hop; Mulata; Racial identity; Transnational

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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