Discovering who you are and determining your identity is an essential component to everyday life. It is something that one will have to come across at some point of their life. It takes questioning and evaluating what community makes you feel most content while still taking into account your own culture and traditions. For Karen Espinoza, this is an experience that she had to go through in order to find out who she was and today embraces it. Espinoza is a New York native, who obtains Honduran roots and is prideful of her culture. Espinoza identifies with the Afro-Latina Community.
Tell me about the Honduran culture. How does it impact you?
Being Honduran is something amazing to me. Honduran culture is very similar to most Latino cultures. Most of our foods are the same, but there are just different names for the food. We are very strong on culture and dance which is called “Punta.”
We are very strong on family we spend most holidays with each other. And I can honestly say, what I’ve learned most about Honduran culture is that holding on to tradition and culture is very important. Speaking Garifuna is still very common and eating certain traditional foods is something we do frequently.
How are Hondurans of a darker shade treated?
Hondurans of darker shade are treated the way any darker person would be often, although I do not see much discrimination. I believe we are seen as the minority or the poorer population, less educated , etc.
Is there an Afro community there?
Yes we do Garifuna’s , which is a mixture of West African and Indigenous people that came together and created the Garifuna population. And since then there’s been a massive migration throughout Central America.
Have you ever struggled with finding your identity?
I have struggled finding my identity most when I was in high school. I remember having two separate groups of friends, my Hispanic friends and my African American friends. I always knew that mixing the two would not be a good idea. So I hung out with both groups separately almost all the time.
I struggled so much with my identity because I knew I came from a Spanish speaking family but I related more to my African American friends. And to be quite frank I felt more comfortable being around people that had the same color as me.I remember many negative comments I would hear about black people and it would make me very uncomfortable because in my mind and the way I saw myself was, as a black person that spoke Spanish.
Do you identify with being Afro-Latina?
I identify with being Afro- Latina now more than ever. I love every aspect of it and how diverse it is and how it varies from many countries. It’s a beautiful thing.
What does being Afro-Latina mean to you?
I didn’t even know that being an Afro-Latina was an actual thing, until I entered college. That’s when I actually found my identity, but in high school it was very difficult for me because I related to both black and Hispanic culture. But I felt stuck in between.
Do you see a positive light shed upon Latinos who have African descendants?
I believe now that there is a positive light shed on us being Afro- Latinos, but before it was something that wasn’t spoken of, among people.
Do you think Afro-Latinas are well represented in the media?
Being Afro-Latina to me means the best of both worlds. Having ancestors from Africa that later on found themselves in Honduras and created such a mixed culture is what an Afro- Latina is. Seeing parts of your culture that are so similar to your African friends and parts that are similar to other Spanish speaking countries is the beauty of being Afro- Latina. It’s the mixture that creates an Afro- Latina.
Are you proud to be an Afro-Latina ? If so why?
I am proud to be an Afro Latina because to me it’s something different that many people can’t say they are. And it makes me feel special because I have such a mixture that is so different.
Do you think in the future there will be a larger community of Afro-Latinos?
I believe there already is a big community of Afro-Latinos but they are not out there as much as other cultures. I do believe that in the future more Afro- Latinos will speak about their culture and more attention will be drawn to our culture.