All Santeros Aren’t Created Equal

Keka Araújo
7 min readFeb 6, 2020

As the pilgrimage back to African Traditional Religions continues to gain momentum, many people believe that because folks are initiated into certain traditions; they have integrity. Allow me to be the first to tell you that it’s not the case.

As a diasporan woman, I come from a family of santeros. I was extremely proud to start this journey. Albeit was 20 years in the making, I am indescribably fulfilled to be an olosha/ santera in the Lucumi tradition. It’s an insurmountable joy that many will never have the pleasure of knowing.

However, this faith does not come without its challenges.

Upon moving to Florida, I had to find a religious home. I did but it was different than the houses and people I had been exposed to while living up north. It was predominantly white latinos which honestly made me feel a little uneasy. It’s not to say that all white santeros are trash, but I feel more comfortable with my own folks. It is what it is. And my former godbrother, Michael Hendley or Osun Muyiwa reassured me that this house was cool. In 2016, I became an official member of the house after receiving my elekes, warriors and Olokun.

I crowned on Aug. 29, 2018. My Iya in ocha is Yemaya and my Baba is Babaluaye. I spent my iyaworaje isolated from people with the exception of traveling for work, grocery shopping and visiting my godsister and the occasional visit from Osun Muyiwa.

I had a hiccup in the initial part of my iyaworaje when my former godsister, Josie Sainz or Josie Vega, also known as Omilana posted a problematic video of a Chinese makeup artist in blackface. As a white Puerto Rican, it’s apparent that she may not have understood why it was a problem. And it’s my job to educate the ignorant. So I did. Not only did she become combative, she threatened me in a public forum. Maybe as an iyawo, I shouldn’t have responded. But as an adult woman who has birthed a child, I don’t take kindly to people let alone strangers speaking to me recklessly. Not then, not today and not ever.

I addressed my feelings about trash ass white Latinos and my iyaworaje together and I meant every word I said.

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Keka Araújo

Opinionated, bilingual diasporan activist. Editor-In-Chief at Negra With Tumbao and Senior Editor at MADAMENOIRE. Opinions are mine!.