A huge part of living life is discovering who you are and learning where you fit in culturally. Once you hit that stage in your life where you are content, at ease, and satisfied with who you are; the next step to take is to embrace who you are and live your life to the fullest. We learned this in a phone interview with Former Bad Girls Club personality Stephanie George.
With being a new mom and a new Instablogger she carries an encouraging yet positive outlook on life , even with her very eventful schedule. It is imperative that she uses her platform to promote self-love, empowerment and inspiration for women, new moms and most of all Afro-Latinas around the world.
Did you identify more with your Salvadorian or African-American roots? If so, why? Or did you identify with both?
Stephanie George : I can say half and half. My father is Haitian and African- American and my mom is from El Salvador. When I grew up I was raised with my grandparents, mostly because she was young so I only spoke Spanish. So I was 100 percent Salvadoran until my mother got married to my step-father whose African-American. From then on it was basically half and half. I am from Elizabeth, New Jersey which is Spanish and black so, honestly I can say it is very 50 /50. When I was with my dad I spoke English and when I was with my mom I spoke Spanish.
At what stage in your life did you begin using the term Afro-Latina?
SG: I was probably 21. I didn’t even know it existed until I was in Brazil. I went to Sao Paulo and I was explaining to somebody my heritage and they said, ‘OH! your Afro-Latina. I was like Whoa! It was literally like a whirlwind.
Like Wow! There is a freaking term for where I belong because all your life your like I am mixed, I am mixed, I am mixed. I didn’t know you can still be a Latina and still embrace your Black side. I thought you had to pick either your Latina or Black, or you had to be split down the middle. It was literally like finding a jewel. It was like wow I found out where I belong because, with being mixed it’s kind of like you’re on a journey and now there is a term for it, Afro-Latina.
There is a large population of black people in Brazil. How was that experience?
SG : I am from a small town in Jersey, it’s either your Puerto Rican or Black, there is not even Salvadorans here. To go to a Latin country in Latin America, South America and see black people I was like whoa they speak Portuguese some speak Spanish. I couldn’t believe it’s not like what you see on TV. The only Afro Latin person I could think of was Celia Cruz, she was Cuban. So I didn’t identify until someone pointed out for me and I was like wow there is a term.
What does being Afro-Latina mean to you?
SG :It means everything to me. Afro-Latina for me, it’s like teaching my son his Spanish side but still remaining in touch with his African-American side. Like you can be Black and speak Spanish it’s no problem, it’s not like it’s a severity. It is a very small percentage of us but it’s growing every day and to just keep him true to it. When you’re younger and you’re mixed your like “Oh! my hair.” My mom didn’t know how to do my hair when I was younger because she was Spanish and my dad was black so it was in the middle hair. So it’s like embracing your uniqueness, everyone’s unique.
This group of Afro-Latino’s is now coming out , everyone’s embracing it. It’s really like keeping in touch of yourself, being pro Black and pro Latina. People look at you like, “Oh you speak Spanish I thought you were just black girl,” which is kind of offensive, but you got to make it known there’s this group of people who are bilingual and we are unique. It just embracing who you are; everyone’s going to become mixed at a certain point. Just really about keeping in touch with your culture whether it’s being Black or Latina.
As a Personality & Afro-Latina, do you feel like we are misrepresented in the media? If so, how do you think we can go about identifying our community more?
SG :I feel like right now, coming from a Hollywood perspective we are very sexualized and as soon as you tell them what you are they’re like “Oh Exotic”. It rings bells like, “Oh! She’s so different.” We just have to show more, we are a minority when you think about it, we are women we are African-American and Latin American. When we speak we speak from several different directions from Spanish, Black, American and a female. I feel like speaking out more about the way we grew up ; we did face challenges of beauty and faced the challenges of different cultures and just being a woman is very important. Whether you’re going to be a writer, an artist, a chef, making your voice heard about how you feel, about your heritage, or just how you feel about the world?
On your season of Bad Girls Club, you embraced both of your roots? Why was that important for you?
SG: I wish they would have showed me more speaking on the phone in Spanish to my mother. It was important to me because I knew there were a lot of me out there. I knew that there was a lot of girls who had curly hair and had a Black dad and had Spanish mom and didn’t want to jump in the pool and get their hair wet. People would be like, “Why you don’t jump in the pool?” and I’ll say, “Nah! Girl I got this blow dry!” It was important to me because growing up I was bullied for being mixed.
EWW! Why is your hair puffy?
EWW? Why is your skin not color?
EWW? Why do you eat rice?
If there was one thing I wanted was for people to know that it’s okay to be yourself. You can’t help if your mixed, you can’t help your sexual orientation and you can’t help your religion. I wanted to make a statement it’s okay to be whoever the hell you are. I didn’t really give a F**K about having the whole world like me. I cared about just the five who are just like me, liking me.
Did you associate more with the Black community or Latino community more? Did you ever feel like you had to choose?
SG: Let’s say I identified with the Latin American community more because they were more accepting. It might sound racist but I was called light-bright and white girl like light skin, once your Spanish your Spanish they will call you Negrita but your still Spanish.
I felt comfortable being accepted as a Latina, the Black community has colorism, they go by light skin vs darker skin other than just being Black. So I identified more with being Latina. It really depends on where you live and different points in my life I identified with being Latina and certain points I identified as Black. It really depends on where you are in your life.
From the black community I wasn’t black enough, then from the Latina community I was too dark. It was important when I finally found a term that represented me. It’s like a sign of relief you’re like, “Oh that’s what I am.” You spend your life trying to accommodate the other ethnic group and you’re like wait a minute why I can’t just be myself. Why isn’t their another word for being mixed other than being mixed or checking mix. It’s Afro-Latina, I have curly hair and speak Spanish, I have Spanish and Black descent.
It is what it is , you know.
As a new mom, will you instill your Afro-Latina pride into your son? Was it infused into you as a child?
SG: Yes!, Afro-Latina pride. My man is Black, so it’s from both directions. I still have to teach him Spanish I can’t just say you’re a black man. I still have to teach him the Latino in me. I am more Latina with my son. He is going to know I’m mixed, but my man is not going to be able to teach him that he is Spanish. He has a Spanish nanny and we speak to each other in Spanish only in front of him and my man speaks to him in English. It’s going to be important to show him his heritage but since I’m mixed it’s my importance to show him we are still Spanish.
How will you use your platform to raise awareness about the Afro-Latina community?
SG: What I do is I work for Instagram. I am a social engineer and nobody really knows it because I am behind the scenes. What I do is I connect people to other people. If you get a platform whether you’re on TV or not, any type of platform you have to touch what you identify with. Just like the gay community, it doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, if you’re a trash man, or a TV personality, they uplift the group they identify with so why not!
Even if you’re a teacher you have to use any type of platform you have to help those who are stuck in the middle, or feeling weird about themselves, or not really identifying or embracing themselves because that is what TV is for; not for yourself it’s for other people that’s why people watch you.
What is next for Stephanie George?
SG: Right now, it’s so weird to say, but like some people like it some people don’t. I am a mom before anything, what I got in the works right now is not only blogging more like video blogging is helping young women that are on their own not only moms, but just moving out. Teaching them how to cook, teaching them natural remedies, and teaching them how to make natural makeup. Teaching them how to be good moms, just good women for themselves just good hearted.
People can say, “You were a bad girl, what do you know about being good?” It’s like I was so young. I didn’t have any guidance. I was a sheer rebel, sometimes you hit rock bottom to get yourself up. It’s never too late to change, I know what it felt like moving out at 16 and having your own apartment and not knowing how to cook or knowing how to iron, not knowing how to fix things. You have to learn on your own it’s not about being spoiled, “Oh your mom did it for you,” it’s like no I have to teach myself to be a women and there’s nothing wrong with that.
All these tutorials of doing hair and makeup and that’s cool but everyone can’t afford to be wearing Gucci foundation. I also went to school for that; I went to hair school a long time ago and people don’t know I graduated as a teacher from Aveda in SoHo. I have the background for it, but it wasn’t like I always had the money. I wanted to go out and have good time and look good, but I didn’t always have the money to do my hair. Sometimes it’s like being a mix girl , it’s hard to blow dry your hair, not everybody wants to go out with curly hair.
It’s more like doing life hacks, showing you how be a good mom and showing you how to embrace being a good person with yourself and not for other people, eternally embracing yourself and your situation. And knowing to embrace the simple shit in life, there is so many people wearing Louis Vuitton and it’s so unrealistic. How about someone doing something real about being a good mom, being a good student or a good woman? All I want is female empowerment for everyone. It is very hard being a woman, even if you married to a man. Life is very hard on a female; I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is. I fight for everything female.
” I really fight for being a woman. I really fight for being a minority and I really fight for being an Afro-Latina.”
– Stephanie George