In October, Netflix announced that it would release a show called Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch) and people freaking out.
The show is set in both the past and present and follows Carmen, an African slave in 1646 Cartegena, Colombia who is about to get burned at the stake for falling in love with a white Spaniard man. After promising a wizard that she would not use her powers, she is transported to 2019 Colombia, and she has to navigate in an unknown world. But as the Netflix synopsis says, “once a witch, always a witch.”
What makes this show so revolutionary is that it follows an Afro-Latina woman, something that’s rarely shown in Latin dramas. Now, I’m not Latinx, but I often hear my friends talk about the lack of representation of Afro-Latinx people in telenovelas. And when they do show up, they’re usually in some sort of servant position, even though Afro-Latinos make up a huge majority of Latin cultures. But besides the fact that we’re going to get to see a glimpse of Afro-Colombian culture, we’re going to see a whole new form of witchcraft: Brujeria.
Witchcraft is popular in many cultures, but I’ve always felt that media depictions of it have been very… white. I mean, how many times can we tell the stories of the Salem Witch Trials and make reboots of Bewitched and Sabrina the Teenage Witch? But when pagan religions of Africa, the Caribbean and even that of New Orleans, are depicted in the media, they are often shown as something more sinister.
I personally feel that it was done intentionally. I mean, I was unrealistically afraid of voodoo and Santeria growing up. Brujeria is around five hundred years old, give or take. It takes most of its influences from both African cultures of the slaves that were brought to Latin America and Catholicism of the Spaniards. And yet despite its prominence in these cultures, they’ve rarely gotten a chance to be front and center in pop culture.
I’ve been obsessed with witches ever since I was a kid. Hermione Granger, Sabrina Spellman, Samantha Stephens, the Sanderson sisters; I loved them all. But one thing always stood out: not a single one looked like me. It wasn’t until I was old enough to watch The Craft, that I saw someone that resembled me. I’m so grateful that Netflix is finally telling the story of an Afro-Latinx witch the way it should be told.
Siempre Bruja officially drops on Netflix on February 1, 2019.
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Photo: Netflix / YouTube