Angela Townsend: Her Art and Afro-Latina Experience

When I meet this young lady she was poised and quite, but after while I learned that she is silly, funny, and genuine. I believe she is one of the most beautiful people I've meet in a long time with a strong and energetic spirit .  As I learned about her I grew to see and appreciate her more, she is like a younger sister to me because she is forever curious and asking questions. Yet, a big part of our "connection" is that we both share similar backgrounds in being Afro-Latina and have natural hair! This is a large factor within both our lives because we are still searching to see what it means to be "Afro-Latina"  in order to gain a better understanding of ourselves.  Another connecting factor  is that we are both passionate about art. she is a dancer and I am a dabbler.  Even though we differ in experiences I know we have similarities, but we will learn a lot from one another.

Basic Knowledge:

 Birthday: December 12

Favorite Word: "foo"

Spirit Animal: Giraffe

Her Art:

What is your favorite kind of dance?

I'm a salsera para siempre! I'll always love salsa. But I also enjoy cha-cha, and I'm not great at it but housing is really fun too

Would you ever teach others to dance?

Yes, I would love to teach salsa classes. This summer, my cousin and I are actually planning to make a lil sum by teaching salsa, bachata, and hip-hop to children in Chicago. I'm so excited!

Do your cultures influence you style of dance?

 My culture definitely influences my style of dance. I am African American and Puerto Rican. Growing up, there's always salsa playing, there's always people dancing, there's always food, there's always something! It's amazing. My mother and aunts also love to dance, and until recently, I hated dancing with them. (Another random fact: I'm very shy. I can perform in front of thousands of people, but ask me on the spot to dance for you and i won't).

What do you wish to do with dance?

I have always wished to compete and better my art, but now that i'm in school i'm trying to figure out how to make that possible. I don't want to lose it. I plan on continuing to dance, learn, and join other groups that will help me grow. Maybe even start a salsa team at UMD!

How do you feel about being an Afro-Latina?

I have just recently started hearing other stories of people growing up looking black but are actually Latino, and I have always struggled with that. From elementary school to the beginning of my freshman year in college, I've had an identity struggle, trying to figure out or explain to people what i am. I look black, but when i speak or dance or something, people are like "wait, what are you?" "where are you from?". A lot of people are surprised that a dark-skinned girl with nappy hair speaks Spanish. It's even funnier, when Latinos ask me. Especially in Chicago.

There's a huge community of Puerto Ricans in Chicago, and most look like your stereotypical Puerto Rican, but most of them have never been to Puerto Rico. I've been to PR many times and would always see African looking people spitting hot fire Spanish. I realize, oh there are people that look like me that are 100% Puerto Rican, but people in the states don't know that. i'm actually planning a brown bag series discussion about being Afro Latino. While doing research, i have learned that of course there are many "black" Latinos, more slaves were sent to the islands and south america then in the US. Similar to the US, many dark latinos are oppressed and don't have as many privileges than the European-descent Latinos. It's very interesting but it's a movement. More people are speaking about what Afro-Latino is, what they identify as, and their experiences with it.

Why is it important to you?                                                                                

  Identifying as Afro-Latino is important to me because, i have finally figured out who i am. Although it's another label, it is the CORRECT label. I am no longer divided as just black or just puerto rican, which was a huge part of my experience. I'm all-in-one and it cannot be divided. Afro-Latinos are beautiful and so rich in culture and history.

 Perspective on Angela:

Who do you think you are?

Who do I think I am? In all honesty, I am still learning about myself everyday, so I'm not exactly sure. As a freshman in college and being far away from home (Chi-City), there's a lot of things happening that I've never experienced therefore I'm reacting to new things. What I do know is that I am a beautiful dark-skinned girl, Afro Latina, that loves to love, and a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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What is your thing?

 My thing. lol. I am a salsera. I've been dancing salsa since the age of 4, and because of my move to Maryland, I recently stopped dancing with the most amazing dance group in the world, Gifted Souls . I have found some dance groups in DC but I decided to stop dancing for a little bit to get better acquainted with this campus and getting involved before venturing out. Salsa has always been a huge part of me, my culture, and my family. The music alone just makes me feel so damn good. Like I can feel the trumpets, timbales, the clave, through my body. And then dancing...it's an amazing feeling.

 What is the message you want to convey?

 The message that I hope people receive from me when they meet me or get to know me is to love. I really believe that people just need to be more patient and love one another over anything.

 Personal Philosophy

Okay so one day my boyfriend was talking to his dad, and his dad told him in relationships it's not 50% that each partner should be giving. Each should be giving 110%. My tattoo is CX which is the Roman numeral for 110. This also means for me to do everything wholeheartedly and more. Do everything 110!

 Random fact
 My brothers and I almost died, getting chased by pitbulls in Puerto Rico.

How did you come across your medium?

 Like I said before, I started dancing at the age of 4. My mom put me into a dance school and i was taking jazz, ballet, and latin classes. The latin class teacher, Ms. Rebecca, was also a family friend and from there on i continued to dance with her. I performed at salsa conferences in Chicago and even went to Puerto Rico to perform. BY the age of 11, I decided to move on and join another dance group with older kids. It was kind of rachet but the people were amazing and I continued to grow as a dancer. By the time I was 13, I joined a fresh new dance group, where no one had any idea how big we would be. The director, Rocky Quinones, took like 20 something teenagers and broke down every little thing. I blossomed, as well as many other dancers. This group was Gifted Souls Dance Company. We were a hip-hop/salsa dance company. We've traveled to Houston, Milwaukee, Orlando, Miami, Puerto Rico, Dallas, New York, and more. Hopefully, this summer I'll be dancing with them again!

Talk about your style both in how you dress and how you create.

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 I'm not really sure what my style is. I like to think that it's very diverse and versatile. One day I'll be mad urban with kicks on, some acid wash jeans, a bomber jacket, and stupid big hoop earrings. The next day, I might be wearing a fuzzy pink sweater and a dress. lol. If I were to put under one word I'd say "urbanified-simple-fun-cutesy-with-a-touch-of-sexiness". that's one word. With my outfits, I don't like to be too matchy but sometimes it happens. I like to look effortless, but I don't think that happens. I basically get ideas in my head, and if i think its bad ass, I'll try it on and throw something extra on, or take something off so it's not too much/too simple. It's a complicated process, but whatever works works, and whatever doesn't ,doesn't. I am also inspired by Rihanna, stylish ladies on  instagram, and my fashion-forward friends too (like you Felicia, I gotta follow you on IG btw).

What's your perspective of society today? or rather something that "grinds your gears' about it

 Something that really grinds my gears are girls hating on each other. It's such a sad and ugly thing. I hate drama and shit-talking, even though i know im not perfect. But i do check myself. I think as women, we need to love and support each other to climb up the ladder. We hate on pretty girls, we point out every flaw on another chick, just so much negative energy in this society just coming from girl-hate. Imagine all that being being love, oh. Something would def change!

Who/what inspires you? Do you have a muse?

I hate to admit it because ever since my freshman year of high school, i'd be called her name and people would say i sound like her (even though i don't), but i really do love Rihanna. She is a fearless woman, crazy at times but that's because she is fearless. Her style is ridiculous. She can rock almost anything. I like her music, and she's just a bad ass. I would love to raid her closet. or become best friends with her. and then raid her closet. DISCLAIMER: Rhianna is not her inspiration, but rather her mother and grandmother inspire her.

Favorite Disney movie

Well  I love a lot of disney ish. But the one that comes to mind (even though it's not a disney movie but i always thought it was) is Prince of Egypt. I can sing the whole movie.

 Reach Angela:

If you want a new friend,even learn how to salsa, or just think she is a cool person feel free to contact her via:

Facebook: Angela Townsend

Instagram: @lalaamorena

Felicia taliaferro