Constructing Spiritual Blackness

Omar Ramadan-Santiago
2021 NWIG  
In this article, I address how my 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. I argue that their performance of a spiritually Black identity creates a different
more » ... anding of Blackness in Puerto Rico, one that is not nation-based but rather worldwide. This construction of Blackness and Black identity allows my 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, I discuss how Blackness is understood and emplaced in Puerto Rico and why this construction is considered too limiting by my interlocutors. I then address their own construction of Blackness, what I refer to as "spiritual Blackness," and how they believe it diverges from Afro-Boricua/Black Puerto Rican identity. In the final section, I direct focus to how Africa is centralized in the construction of spiritual Blackness.
doi:10.1163/22134360-bja10004 fatcat:qtqkdtqtvzgspbjvuzpb2tp5o4