20 Mar New NWIG article: ‘Constructing spiritual blackness; Rastafari in Puerto Rico’
An advance article in the New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (NWIG) on spiritual blackness in Puerto Rico, by Omar Ramadan-Santiago. NWIG is published by Brill Academic Publishers in collaboration with KITLV.
In this article, Omar Ramadan-Santiago addresses how his interlocutors, members of the Rastafari community in Puerto Rico, claim that they identify with Blackness and Africanness in a manner different from other Black-identifying Puerto Ricans. Their identification process presents a spiritual and global construction of Blackness that does not fit within the typical narratives often used to discuss Black identity in Puerto Rico. Omar argues that their performance of a spiritually Black identity creates a different understanding of Blackness in Puerto Rico, one that is not nation-based but rather worldwide. This construction of Blackness and Black identity allows his interlocutors to create an imagined community of Blackness and African descent that extends past Puerto Rico’s borders toward the greater Caribbean region and African continent. In the first section, Omar discusses how Blackness is understood and emplaced in Puerto Rico and why this construction is considered too limiting by his interlocutors. He then address their own construction of Blackness, what he refers to as “spiritual Blackness,” and how they believe it diverges from Afro-Boricua/Black Puerto Rican identity. In the final section, Omar directs focus to how Africa is centralized in the construction of spiritual Blackness.