2017 can officially be called “The Year of The Woman” or “El Ano de la Mujer” if you will.
We saw major strides in the name of feminism and sisterhood as we nominated a woman to run for president. We saw a statue of the courageous girl be placed in the path of the bull statue. We saw passion and commitment at work through the hundreds of rallies about women’s rights and empowerment. We as a unit, stood up and made our voices heard on subjects like equal pay, right to birth control , importance of consent and the pursuit to shatter the glass ceiling to name a few.
We donned pink hats, marched arm and arm with other women and brought along the children to witness history, as they are the ones who will take the baton from us to continue on the fight. 2017 can be summed up into a 4 word popular phrase, “The Future is Female”
2017 felt like taking the aura of the 90s Spice Girls, a dash of general badassery, a heaping of “Nevertheless she persisted” , and a sprinkle of unity to create the year of the REAL life Wonder Woman.
But what happens when the marches are no more and we return to the daily throes of life? What happens when some women revert back to non constructive behavior/ thinking patterns, that in the long time, hurt fellow women and the movement as a whole?
Afro-Latinas in particular, have a very important role to play. While we are among the least represented culture group, slowly through outlets like #IAmEnough, we are able to be represented more. Not only are we culturally diverse (sharing experience with black and Latina women respectively) but we have the power to use those similarities to make a change in our communities through principles like sisterhood, inclusion, empathy and compassion.
Often times black women are stereotyped. I’ve heard anything from we as black women are notorious for our snappy attitudes, we are too strong, too opinionated and independent to a fault.
The same applies to Latinas. We are stereotyped as hotheaded, fiery, unwilling to compromise, hot witted women who are better served working jobs like house maids and in the service industry.
If we are fighting a world of long standing stereotypes, why do we also fight one another?
Social media and pop culture has done a wonderful (sarcasm) job at making it seem cool to have women beef with other women. I get it, it makes for entertaining TV and it’s all about ratings and the mighty dollar, but at whose expense?
Now don’t get me wrong, of course non WOC (women of color) are also fighting other non WOC on shows like The Real Housewives. The difference is sometimes society gives certain groups a pass, while others are ridiculed to no end. That again pushes us back from our mission.
Each week millions of people tune into to watch grown women of color revel at being petty. We follow along as women who look like us plot the downfall of another woman who also looks like us. We in turn, take that energy and have fake beef with any woman we come into contact with. We get our chisme and snicker at the next woman. We are automatically on the defense with women we know nothing about. We make up in our minds not to like someone without even getting to know that person. We scream we want equality, but we don’t give one another respect.
That energy is dangerous and counterproductive at best. We are wrecking what some have tried so hard to build and maintain.
There’s sometimes a lack of community and support between women in general, more pointedly between black and brown. Who better to stand in the gap than an Afro-Latina? Who can relate better to the struggle of both black women and Latinas?
As Afro Latinas, we can play a unique role in unity and healing. We have the power to help change the narrative because we have a horse (or two horses if you will) in the race. We are stakeholders and key players.
According to the Department of Labor, in 2015, black women accounted for 59.7% of the active participation labor force. That means that over half of black women are kicking ass and taking names in various jobs across the country. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, artist, writer and the list goes on.
The same study showed that Hispanic women’s participation in the active labor force has nearly doubled over the last 20 years. More Latinas are being accounted for when it comes to women making their mark in the workplace.
Hispanic women account for the 30.4% and the 26.6% of women who hold down jobs like sales/office and management/ professional jobs, respectively.
Those two facts alone show we cannot be conquered if only we get on the same page. We are in positions of power to make effective change.
We are represented all over the world as we break down barriers. As Afro Latina women here are some things you can do to create a better environment in our community and community at large to foster a strong sense of sisterhood:
1. Believe in the power of sisterhood.
We are here to help uplift and encourage one another
Speak on the importance of inclusion and diversity.
We are literally the poster children of what happens who two cultures are accepting and uplifting of each other.
2. Be the example.
Always speak well of other women. Be sympathetic to the needs of others. Be open to listening
3. Show up for your sisters
Root for them, clap for them. Even if you disagree, know every woman has a journey. It’s our responsibility to see each one to the finish line
4. . Always be in pursuit of a solution.
Know your voice matters and that your actions towards other women matter too. Even when you think you aren’t making a dent in the women empowerment, every little bit counts. Your kindness counts and it’s important.
As Afro-Latinas, we have been given a great tool to help this idea come to fruition because we represent both the strength of the black woman and the tenacity of the Latina. That power is your inheritance, your tool and your gift.
It’s just up to us to use it and make a change.
Kayla B. is a contributor for #IAmEnough. She is a proud Afro-Latina and the founder and blogger for Saltlight and Co.