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African Roots in the U.S. Latino and Latina Tree Jan Rog / English 152. African Influences on U.S. Latino and Latina Literature. per·spec·tive    noun A view or vista.

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african roots in the u s latino and latina tree jan rog english 152
African Roots in the U.S. Latino and Latina TreeJan Rog / English 152
  • African Influences on U.S. Latino and Latina Literature
per·spec·tive    noun
    • A view or vista.
    • A mental view or outlook: “It is useful occasionally to look at the past to gain a perspective on the present” (Fabian Linden).
The appearance of objects in depth as perceived by normal binocular vision.
    • The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole: a perspective of history; a need to view the problem in the proper perspective.
    • Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view: the perspective of the displaced homemaker.
    • The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance: tried to keep my perspective throughout the crisis.
Discuss in groups.
  • What does it mean to be Latino or Latina?
  • What cultures are the roots of Latinos and Latinas today?
  • Why is it important to search for one’s roots?
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
  • Spanish and Portuguese explorers, priests, soldiers, and colonists.
  • Africans
    • Slaves from the TransAtlantic Trade
    • Africans from Spain (with influence on Spanish culture)
Lessons about life, family, and identity, passed down from generation to generation
  • Lessons about creation and the workings of the cosmos passed down through the generations
  • Often becoming a reality to many
Oral traditions
    • “speakers” or priests
    • historical lessons
    • prognoses
    • oracles
    • riddles
    • cosmogony
  • Legends
  • human narratives
  • ties to nature
  • enduring truths
  • faith and actions
  • qualities of the people
  • all possibilities are possible

Influences in MestizaCulture

  • Indigenous, Spanish, and African oral traditions occurred in the Mestiza culture
    • Legends, psalms, biblical accounts, troubadour ballads from Spain
    • Poems, myths, historical narrative, and cosmic revelations from indigenous peoples

Magic in Tales

  • Shape Shifting
  • Time Travel
  • Mind over Matter / Mind with Matter
  • Communing with the Dead
  • Creating a New Reality
  • Distinguishing Enemies
  • Seeking Help
  • Rewarding Friends

Select one story and read!

  • Quetzalcoatl
  • Aztlan
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • La Llorona
  • Chac Mool
  • The Jaguar
Select an African tale and read!
    • Quarcoo Bah-Bohni (The Bad Boy)
    • Anansi and the Blind Fisherman
    • N’Gor Niebe
    • Which did you choose? Read it and determine how it compares to your Mexican tale.

Song and Dance

  • Song and Dance / Indigenous, Spanish, and African Influences
    • Symbolic Representation
    • Relating History, Social Lessons, Events
  • Often in the oral tradition
    • Ballads (Las Baladas)
    • Couplets (Las Coplas)
    • Legends (Los Cuentos, Las Leyendas )


  • Addresses issues without requiring literacy
  • Informs, educates, and inspires action
  • Current as well as historical
  • Non-threatening, but is it?
  • Presents the uncommon perspective
Can we re-examine our histories to find there are more influences than we first thought?
  • Can we take a traditional interpretation and begin to consider it in a new light?
  • Can we be comfortable with a new understanding of the past?


  • Traditionally, Malinche has been seen as a traitor who consorted with Hernan Cortez.
  • Research has uncovered. . . .
    • Enabled Cortez to negotiate rather than slaughter
    • Communicated and facilitated peaceful/ less violent transition
    • Spoke out against cannibalism and human sacrifice
    • Was the daughter of a noble Aztec family; passed over for a male heir; ended up as a slave
la llorona reflection with water
La Llorona: Reflection with Water
  • Recast the story:
  • murderess - ->
  • sorrowful - ->
  • vain - ->
  • vengeful - ->
  • weak - ->
  • victim - ->
  • misunderstood - ->
  • abandoned - ->
what does it mean to recast our stories
What does it mean to recast our stories?
  • Consider how Sandra Cisneros recast La Llorona and created the strong women of Woman Hollering Creek.
  • What does it mean if we recast our own stories? Can we allow new roots to be added to our current roots?
  • What do you think?