As an Afro-Latina women I am honored to identify with two incredible heritages . My black heritage as well as my Latina and Panamanian heritage. This is something I take pride in and I encourage the rest of you to be proud of as well. Despite the discrimination and rejection we have encountered from our people being Afro-Latina is a powerful thing. At some point in our lives we have been pressured to choose and we been told we weren’t “Black enough” or we weren’t “Latina enough”. Its okay to embrace both heritages, this was the significance behind the word multiracial. Familiarize yourself with both cultures, teach the world about them and celebrate them.
In the back of your mind, deep in your soul and within your heart you should know that being Afro-Latina is such a unique thing. Now if you don’t know now you know.
As Afro-Latinas we have the privilege of having two different backgrounds that are brought together. It is like living the best of both worlds because of the differences in our culture in the black and Latino community. Waking up in my Abuela’s house versus waking up in my Aunty Lois house it is truly a different experience. As soon as I open my eyes on a Sunday morning I can hear the rhythm of Salsa music playing through my ears. I can smell the aromas of traditional Spanish food coming from upstairs from Arroz con Gandules , Ensalada de papas , Tortillas, Empanadas and the list can go on. When staying over my Aunts house I wake up hearing the old school vibes of Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, The Temptations, Patti Labelle and Earth Wind and Fire.
Like my Abuela, my Aunty Lois is preparing some of her best dishes which smell so amazing her homemade corn bread, fry chicken, baked macaroni and her steak. In both cultures Sundays are treated like holidays, family come together feast and catch up on things. This is how exciting and fun blending of cultures are in my family and many of yours as well. I know you’re thinking being Afro-Latina is awesome now!
With having African and Latino roots I descend from two very strong groups of people. We understand the trials and tribulations our ancestors faced in the past and this had a huge impact on them. Because of the obstacles we been through and how we seized control it makes me even more proud to identify with being an Afro-Latina. It influenced me to educate myself on both sides of my heritage. I encourage you to do the same.
Yvonne Latty a well-known journalist, author, filmmaker and professor at New York University, she identifies with being Afro-Latina. She shared her story with the Huffington post Latina Voices section about growing up as a black Latina. Latty made a point that is very essential to both heritages, “I am fiercely proud of my African and Latino roots. I am a woman who knows what it is like to be called a “ni**er” and the challenges of being black in America. I also understand the challenges of Latino immigrants, because I was raised by one.” It is important to be conscious and to be mindful of your history and your heritage because it benefits you in the long run. Our story and our purpose is unique and it proves our power on this earth.
People assume that because we are black Latinos we don’t speak Spanish and if we do we get this huge surprised face. People assume that because we identify with our Latino roots we also have to know Spanish. Many has told me how am I Spanish if I don’t speak Spanish. Easy because my house hold was Americanized and we spoke English. Hence, in my mother’s family the majority of my family speaks Spanish. In the Spanish culture everyone does not speak Spanish the same each may have their own dialect. The way a Panamanian speaks Spanish can be different from how a Dominican talks Spanish. My Abuela is an Afro-Panamanian of a darker shade and speaks Spanish fluently and has impacted her career. So don’t judge a book by its cover.
Our Hair Texture
Afro-Latinas hair texture is very unique because they can vary. Our hair could be thick, coarse, straight, curly, wavy there is no telling how it’s going to be. It is a beautiful thing having a multiplicity of different types of hair textures within a group of people.
There is this image that sits behind many people’s heads that the whiter and the lighter you are the more beautiful you are perceived. There is another concept that if you were dark-skinned you are less attractive and didn’t portray what beautiful was according to society. So at a time it was okay to say “White and Light is better than Brown and Dark.” Ever heard of the word opinion or perception, that is exactly all it ever was. It wasn’t factual and it wasn’t true. Brown skin represents beauty and strength and its nothing wrong with being a shade darker because your skin is rich. Most of our Afro-Latinos are different shades of brown which reflects nothing but magnificence and elegance.
We live in a society now which people want to be darker and will do anything to get the way. Well we don’t have to do anything to ourselves because our skin is natural. No matter how many times people deny you of being Latina because you are black or call you a derogatory word in Spanish let them know this. You are black and beautiful and are just as Latina as them but you have a twist. You are an Afro-Latina and you are unique.