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The Afro-Peruvian Women Leading the Black Movement in South America

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

Get to know five women who have become the leading voices of the Afro-Peruvian movement.

The image of a smiling Black woman, complete with red kerchief, sits above the word "Negrita," emblazoned on the bright red packaging of various sweets. The brand name stands out, as if taken from the refrain of Victoria Santa Cruz' emblematic poem, Me Gritaron Negra (They Yelled 'Black Woman' at Me).

Negrita is a familiar mammy trope, similar to the United States' Aunt Jemima. Both are set to become relics of their stereotypical past—the Peruvian version declared gone in late June, when AliCorp, the largest Peruvian consumer goods producer, announced the change of the name and image of its brand Negrita after 60 years of existence. Calling the image "inappropriate," the company said it will continue "inspiring respect, inclusion and equity…to build together the society we want."

Black Peruvian actress Anaí Padilla Vásquez, who was integral in the company's decision to remove the image, said, in a post on Facebook: "growing up and living under a stereotype like this generates a lot of damage, pain and even rejection of your own identity." She called racism one of the "largest pandemics in the world" and said the move by AliCorp is an "important and historic action in the fight against racism" in Peru.

Many Afro-Peruvians identify with the global fight against anti-Black imagery that ultimately informs and fosters anti-Black discrimination and violence. According to the Peruvian government, as of 2017, there were close to one million people of African descent in the country. Half of Afro-Peruvians have been insulted at least once on the street and four of every 10 have felt discriminated against in their workplace, in shops or other public spaces.

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