Victoria Santa Cruz
Victoria Santa Cruz is an Afro-Peruvian composer, activist, and choreographer that produced work centered on her cultural background. Victoria Santa Cruz was born into a family of artists and dancers who contributed to her own fundamental understanding of art. Santa Cruz is famously known for producing that works to attempt to reclaim and reconstruct forgotten black experiences and practices in Peru. Santa Cruz’s poem Me Gritaron Negra (1978) is an example of a piece in which Santa Cruz attempts to reclaim the black experience.
Victoria Santa Cruz © and courtesy the artist
Me Gritaron Negra (1978)
In 1978, Victoria Santa Cruz wrote the powerful poem, “Me Gritaron Negra“. Santa Cruz’s poem serves as a social commentary on race and the othering of the black body. The poem emphasizes the experience of Victoria Santa Cruz illustrates the internal developments that occurred for her as a result of the reclaiming her identity as a black woman. Santa Cruz is able to define and restore her blackness in the midst of racism and white noise.
Below find the English translation of the poem:
They Yelled at Me: “Black!”
Below find the performance of Me Gritaron Negra
Victoria Santa Cruz Performance © and courtesy the artist
In a 2007 interview, Victoria Santa Cruz explains the origin of this poem. Santa Cruz’s young experience with racism sparked the creation of this poem. At the age of 8, Santa Cruz was the only black girl amongst her friend group. “One day there was a little girl among them with blond hair,” she said in a 2007 interview. “And she immediately said, ‘If the little black girl wants to play with us, I’ll leave.’ And I thought, ‘Who is she?’ She had just arrived and was already dictating the law. What a surprise it was when my friends told me, ‘You can leave, Victoria.’”
It was this painful experience that led Santa Cruz to become conscious of her identity as a black female in the Americas. Santa Cruz would go on to utilize her reclamation of black identity “to discover life” through the celebration of black identity.
This poem served as a response to the act of othering the black female body. Santa Cruz’s poem reclaimed her blackness and restored her Afro-Peruvian identity through the process of destigmatizing the black female body.
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