If you can’t get enough of Amara La Negra and the way she redefines the way people think of Latinas as a proud Dominican woman with a luscious afro and dark, beautiful skin, you’ll be happy to know that more representation of Afro-Latinas is coming to a TV near you soon. In the next offering though, we’ll get to see them in a very unique and spiritual light.
According to Deadline, production company Big Beach is developing a series that is the brainchild of Chicago-bred writer Taynya Saracho, the showrunner of the upcoming Starz show, Vida. The series, titled Brujas, will tell the story of four Afro-Caribbean/Latinx women residing in Chicago and will “explore the relationships and community born out of the growing identification with the Bruja movement.”
“Bruja”or a “brujo” for men, is defined as one who practices folk magic, or traditions that take roots in certain aspects of the Yoruba religion, involving celebrating orisas, connecting with ancestral spirits. Yoruba religion has also influenced Santeria, Umbanda, and Candomble for Afro-Caribbeans, and Afro-Brazilians.
This movement is nowhere near new, but it’s been gaining more attention over the last few years through music and imagery, including in Beyoncé’s short film, Lemonade. In it, for example, and in performances from the album afterward (including at the Grammys in 2017), the singer paid homage to Yoruba goddess Oshun. She is known as the goddess of love and fertility, among many other things.
In a recent profile of modern-day Latinx brujas, Broadly said, “The rituals involved with brujería have traditionally been meticulously passed down from generation to generation. The practices typically involve cleansing, ancestor worship, lighting candles, and honoring the earth (through goddesses Oshun and Elegua, for instance).”
And a number of women have shared their familial and first-person experiences as brujas. On her page, Negra With Tumbao, author K. wrote about her experiences as an Oni Yemaya with an incredibly strong sense of intuition and connection to orisas. She actually sensed the impending doom of a young woman she used to teach and tried to protect her from it:
Living in this skin has made me overprotective and guarded. Being a bruja makes you privy to the evils of the world. We see sh-t you don’t necessarily want to see and it can’t be erased. There are spirits who invade your space day and night and you may or may not be able to turn them off. I’ve had to barter with spirits to give me a break because mentally and physically- they were draining me. Let’s not mention the headaches. We carry EVERYBODY’S weight, energies and emotions. It’s a thankless job. However if we don’t do it, we run the risk of going mentally insane.
This is a matter of life or death for us.
Black girl magic is real but be careful what you ask for.
And writer Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez wrote about her family’s sensitivities in a piece called “Why every Latina should embrace her inner bruja“:
The women in my family see ghosts. The women in my family get feelings about things, and react according to those feelings. The women in my family are essentially brujas. They would never call themselves that, of course, because they are religious and conservative and carry deep within themselves those same negative assumptions associated with that word. But this type of spirituality does not come from Christianity. This has other roots, deep roots. I will pass this sensitivity on to my children, and teach them to acknowledge and cherish those feelings, that intuition, and to react accordingly.
Brujeria culture as the premise of a show sounds pretty entertaining already. It also excites us that Saracho already has writing credits on shows like How to Get Away With Murder, HBO’s Looking and Devious Maids, and that Big Beach is behind classic independent projects like Little Miss Sunshine. No word just yet on when Brujas will premiere or on what network (Starz maybe?), but we’ll definitely be watching when it’s finally picked up.