Herenica Africana refers to the African Heritage within Latino culture.

Latinos are not a race. Many of us don't even like the word "Latino". Even more of us identify with our country of origin over identifying as a race or singular identity. We are a patchwork of cultures. European, indigenous and African.

The African roots in Latin America are often downplayed, seen as "outside" the stereotype of what it means to be Latino.  However, African cultures have had a profound impact on the development of Latin culture and continues to have influence today.  Starting before Spain and Portugal were colonial powers and continuing on to today with influences from jazz and rap.

People from North Africa, The Moors, ruled the Iberian Peninsula for over 700 years. They had a profound influence on Spanish culture.  The Moors introduced their cooking styles (such as sauteing things with garlic and olive oil) as well as bringing their ingredients (such as spices, rice and citrus fruits). their language Arabic (thousands of Spanish words have roots in Arabic) and architecture (such as the Alcazar of Seville).

While the Spanish Inquisition forced non-Christians to either leave Spain, convert to Christianity or be executed, the cultural customs left behind by the Moors could not be expelled.  When the Spaniards began to colonize the Americas, they brought with them these customs, which became the bases for the various type of Latin American cuisines and customs.

The influence of the Moors in Latin America cultures is obvious through their use of the Spanish language and usage of Moorish ingredients such as cilantro, oranges and cumin as well as the prevalence of rice dishes such as arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).

These cultural traditions and languages have mixed with the local indigenous populations, other European cultures that immigrated to Latin American and African cultures from people brought from West Africa to the Americas to create a variety of Latin American cultures.  Each unique to it's own Latin American country.

 

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