This Ancient Form Of Resistance Saved Black Lives

Afro-Puerto Rican women in Bomba dance attaire
Leslie Taylor-Grover
May 4, 2021

The sugar trade in the 17th century was cruel to our ancestors. As we fought for freedom and tried to avoid enslavement, we found a way to survive that still exists – and it even showed up during the protests against the murder of George Floyd.

It starts with the thunder of drumming. Then comes rhythmic jerking, clapping, stomping and gesturing. Before we know it, the music has taken over and we’re in a trance, allowing all the negative energy to flow from our bodies. What is this powerful form of resistance?

In Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, we have used “Bomba” dancing for over 500 years to resist enslavement, oppression, and racism. When we were prevented from speaking, writing, or singing, Bomba allowed us to communicate with each other. There was something else about it, too.

Since its origins in West Africa, it’s strengthened our people by helping to preserve our bodies, heal our minds, and communicate with our ancestors. Incredibly, Bomba hasn’t lost its power today, as it continues to be performed to counteract racism and oppression across the globe.

Bomba dancing is more than just moving our bodies or drumming. When we are fighting against the insidious efforts of white terrorism, we must defend our minds, bodies, and spirits. This ancient dance preserved our ancestors and continues to help us today!

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