Afro Latinas- Racial tensions in the United States have increased and become recorded more frequently. From white neighbors calling the cops on black families hosting birthday parties in their own backyards, to police officers profiling and using excessive force against men of color, the laundry list of racist acts and abuse sadly continue to pile high. This article provides uplifting words when dealing with racism and Police Brutality in 2020 and beyond.

What is are Afro Latinas?

For those in Black, African and Latinx communities, it is important now more than ever to continue to actualize changes in local policies that directly impact these groups. For black and brown women, it is equally as important to maintain semblance of hope for a better future. The term Afro Latina is fairly new to the discourse of race, internalized racism, and race relations amongst communities of color. Afro Latinx simply means an individual who is Latinx with African roots.

If you are from the Caribbean or Latin American countries, and your lineage doesn’t lie in white or native blood, then you can most likely identify as Afro Latinx

Who Should Identify as Afro Latinas?

In the Caribbean, Latinx groups internalized racist notions that stem from pitting white passing Afro Latin folks against darker skinned folks has been a deeply ingrained issue. What people fail to realize is the only difference between a Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Haitian, etc with Afro roots, is where the slave ship stopped. If you are from the Caribbean or Latin American countries, and your lineage doesn’t lie in white or native blood, then you can most likely identify as Afro Latinx.

Know Thyself

People suffer from identity crisis simply because they have internalized all kinds of rejection and degradation from others. If you have to question whether you are Black, yes, you are. Trust me, those that know they aren’t Black always have to go extra mile to pretend that they are. No matter the insults on your heritage and how history had been fraudulently written, it is important to know yourself.

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Don’t Confuse ‘Mixed’ with ‘Disorder’

Some Afro Latin representation carries the connotation of a confused mixed identity when in fact there should be no confusion. Afro Latinx folks are black. They know it and embrace who they are. Though the 4C hair, tight coils and kinks, darker skin, lighter skin, and all already gives it away, they are not like some folks who have no idea who they are let alone how they should be treated. Being Afro Latinas is a beautiful coco rainbow of humanity. Being mixed doesn’t translate to a lack or order. Ignorance, on the other hand, can keep people confused leading to self-hate.

If you are Afro Latina; you close your naked eyes to open the inner ones, and you stretch out your hands for inspiration and support during every tough time that your race and identity are questioned. More importantly, gain knowledge and stay grounded.

Here are some empowering words from Afro Latinx women who are here to change the game! 

The Poet X and With the Fire on High, author has paved her own path as one of the new wave Afro Latinas challenging literary constructions and narrative. She is blunt and gives her characters a refreshing passion while telling relatable stories for the little dark skinned brown and black girls that are afraid of living a bold life. Acevedo builds a platform for young Afro Latinas to be seen and heard! 

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“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”

~Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X 

Image: With the Fire on High novel

Notorious for her fierce comebacks and inspiring intellectual and education remarks to those who question her authenticity and identity, Amara La Negra redefines embracing all aspects of blackness and Latin culture. Blending her African and Dominican heritage, La Negra never ceases to impress as a performer, advocate and TV personality on VH1’s Love and Hip Hop: Miami. From her beautiful hue of ebony to her vibrant natural afro, La Negra embodies self love, and rejects internalized racist notions from both communities that at times try to tear down her sense of self. In response to all the self hate she says:

  • “My advice: Be proud of who you are. Be proud of the skin you’re in. You’re one in a million. There’s no other you, and you got to embrace that shit and rock out. Don’t try to fit in. Don’t try to mimic what you see in the magazines, ‘cause all of that is photoshopped anyway. Everything you see from mainstream media is bologna. It’s conditioned us to believe all of us women should look a certain way – our bodies, our hair. It’s bologna. Stop admiring how stars appear on the covers; direct your attention to who they are as people. And most of all, if you want something, go get it. You only have one life. The only thing we’re guaranteed is death.”

~Amara La Negra 

Image courtesy: Wiki Media

Another popular Afro Dominican is Monica Veloz, a rising beauty YouTuber who shines brightly in her videos. She makes a valid point in regards to the curiosity and sometimes degrading remarks that some people associate with her identity as Afro Latina. She exclaims that: 

“Being Afro-Latina cannot be a storyline. Something that’s gonna go away. It’s not something that’s gonna just be trending. My skin is not a trend, my skin isn’t a hashtag, my skin is not something that you can just, you know, use to make views.” ~Monica Veloz 

Image: YouTube

With previous positions as editor for New York Times Magazine and Premiere, Veronica Chambers is one of the best go getting black women that gets things done! From her memoir Mama’s Girl, Chambers dives deep into the world of blackness, Latin roots and womanhood. She has no fear in embracing the controversy that surrounds a mixed identity. 

Image: Wiki Media
  • We are more than we imagine ourselves to be. It’s what we tell our children, our parents, our friends. But how often do we tell it to ourselves? And if we do, how often do we prove it? How often do we challenge ourselves to do something new?”~

Veronica Chambers 

Representation of Afro Latin women has become a huge topic of discussion when it comes to hiring writers, directors, and actors of colors. Straying away from typical white narratives and shifting to more POC, female gaze, queer, and disability inclusive storylines are essential to fostering a more diverse entertainment industry. For actresses like Reagan Gomez- Preston, an underrated glowing 90s TV queen, she explains the struggles she faced with breaking into the industry with a mixed race identity. 

  • “I was told early on that I could not audition for Latina characters because I’m black. And as much as I adore Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek, there are many amazing Latinas who don’t look like them. Afro-Latinxs also deserve to be represented, in all aspects of life” ~ Reagan Gomez- Preston, Latina Magazine 
Image: Wiki Media

In the vein of powerful entertainment and industry women, Mimi Valdes, acclaimed producer, director, writer has never varied from her roots. Executively producing films such as Hidden Figures(2016), black lead stories are important to bringing about the representation that the mainstream entertainment world so desperately needs! Valdes explains that one facet of the Afro Latinx identity cannot exist and be truly recognized without the other. 

“The idea of Blackness among Latinos isn’t discussed as much as it should(be)and it’s tragic because so much of that African Culture is so dominant.” ~ Mimi Valdes 

Image courtesy: IMB

There should never be shame in understanding and fully embodying a powerful identity such as being Afro Latina. Having these conversations about race relations and the complexities that surround the history of being Afro Latinx are important ones that should be continued especially during times these times when communities of color need to stand strong and stand with one another against systematic, institutionalized, and internalized forms of racism and inequality. 

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