Black Puerto Rican Identity and Religious Experience by Samiri Hernández Hiraldo

By Samiri Hernández Hiraldo

Loiza is a Puerto Rican city identified for most sensible representing the African traditions, a neighborhood of a regularly black inhabitants suffering from profound racial discrimination and poverty. yet many Loiza citizens strongly determine themselves in spiritual phrases, strategically handling their person, familial, gender, generational, neighborhood, nationwide, and racial identities via a religious prism that successfully is helping them do something about and rework their tough reality.

Based on 12 months of fieldwork, this examine exhibits how believers adventure their faith in its a number of dimensions. Writing as a local ethnographer, the writer bargains the private spiritual histories of a lot of Loiza’s citizens, a few of whom she follows northward to the us as they re-create nearby and political barriers. Hernández Hiraldo performs the function of player observer, a social scientist with affection for her matters, who shared crucial facets in their religious lives together with her. Her narratives demonstrate an strangely nuanced figuring out of the position of religion within the lives of Loiza’s people.
Arguing that realizing and respecting the facility of faith during this neighborhood is key to addressing and remedying its social difficulties, Hernández Hiraldo contests the characterization of Puerto Rico as a culturally homogenous nation with a monolithic church. She analyzes the altering nature of Catholicism at the island and the demanding situations it faces from the community’s different denominations, specially the Pentecostal church buildings, a lot of that are suffering to maintain their congregations. 
 

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One might expect that these two principles were also part of the religious systems of earlier inhabitants of the island. As I will discuss in chapter 3, the coming of European Spiritism at the end of the nineteenth century brought about a public distinction between folk Spiritism and scientific Spiritism as well as a distinction between Spiritism in general and witchcraft in particular, although these practices have been mixed with Santería and other Afro-Caribbean religious elements. This has happened more openly in the last decades for reasons discussed in the chapters ahead.

The former term normally refers to upper- or middle-class, young, light-skinned people, who prefer rock music. The latter term refers to lowerclass, young, dark-skinned people, who prefer salsa music. Sacred music was another area where one could experience the greater significance given to the jíbaro theme over the African theme. In Las Cue- 22 / Black Puerto Rican Identity and Religious Experience vas I heard a few stories about how some young individuals, most of them from Pentecostal churches, were encouraged to think that plena (which is considered an urban, Afro-Rican rhythm, though it is now performed more by light-skinned Puerto Ricans) and bomba (which is considered the genre closest to the Puerto Rican rural black community) were secular and pagan music rhythms that were therefore almost prohibited to them.

They form the focus of chapter 8, in which I look at the interplay of unconscious and conscious motivations manifest in these women’s everyday lives and through their physical appearance. I also draw special attention to the motivations of sexual maturity; relationships with significant male figures; affirmations of self (as mothers and women) and as community members; adoption of specific doctrinal stands; and strong convictions of personal social mission. The ages of these two women plays a big role in their capacity for a kind of managing of personal religious identity.

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