The Afro beauty seen in San Juan, Puerto Rico is absolutely breathtaking. Bringing visibility to Afro-Latinos is essential because they are often underrepresented compared to other Latinos.
Hence, thanks to projects like Afros in San Juan who is devoted to highlighting the Afro-Latina beauty on the streets of San Juan. This ongoing project will preserve the existing black culture in Puerto Rico and celebrate blackness in all walks of life.
This Women’s History Month we recognize Content Creator of Afros in San Juan Valerie Moreno for her hardwork and dedication.
What was the passion behind implementing AFROS IN SAN JUAN?
My love for curls mostly, but also my desire to see more projects showcase Afro-Caribbeans.
AFROS IN SAN JUAN documents Afro-Latinas natural beauty and sheds a light upon this existing community. Why was San Juan, Puerto Rico an important location to photograph these women?
Well I live here so it’s definitely easier to find real people to be my models but also because there are so many beautiful Afro-Latinas that need to be photographed. If you walk the streets of Puerto Rico, you will see “Boricuas” of every color imaginable. It’s beautiful to see and I’m doing my part to showcase that.
Do you believe there is a lack of acknowledgement upon the black community in Puerto Rico?
If I judge by the amount of black people I see in mainstream media outlets here in Puerto Rico or in politics for example, I would say yes, there’s a lack of acknowledgment. Puerto Rico would not be what it is without the rich history and culture that came from Africa and it’s in every Puerto Rican’s DNA.
Do you believe Afro-Latinas are underrepresented in the photography? If so, why is that?
I think there’s definitely a growing movement showcasing natural hair and black women including Afro-Latinas, which is wonderful.
However, I would say that within the Latino community, Afro-latinos are underrepresented not only in photography but in many other things. I recently read an article of how only now, some countries are adding “black” as a category in their census. I find that very troubling.
How can we better raise consciousness about the Afro-Latina community?
Art is definitely making a way, but I would also say conversation, education, reading and definitely traveling.
What necessary steps did you take to bring awareness to your project? What advice could you give to someone who is interested in developing a similar project?
– I tried to maintain my focus clear, in terms of who I photograph.
– I tried to photograph as many different skin shades and body types as I can so that everyone can relate.
– I try to be kind and stay open in order to learn about how my other brown sisters live their lives and how I can better portray their beauty.
-It’s not only about the photograph, it’s caring about their stories. Stories about overcoming pressures from society and even those closest to them, pushing them to straighten or relax their natural curls. Each photo is a-=n expression of acceptance of who they are and victory over systematic attempts to make their “natural” = something that needs to be fixed.
-I try to push myself and learn something new as I go.
-start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.
What was the reaction/feedback to your project in San Juan versus the states?
I feel that overall, there has been a great acceptance on both parts. I feel very fortunate and supported.
Have you seen a change in how Afro-Latinas are represented since the start of the project until now?
Well, I just started my project in August 2016 so it may be a bit early to tell or answer this question but I’ve received quite a few emails with testimonials from people who have been positively influenced by these portraits and have started (or are now considering) wearing their natural hair.
What are long term goals for the project and how can individuals be a part of it?
I would love to create a book with the images of these beautiful people.
For now I would say join the party over at www.instagram.com/afrosinsanjuan by following the page and sharing with your friends.