I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country I’ve loved, embraced, and cherished – yet in so many ways, it has not responded the same way to me. While I’ve tried to fit into a mold that would make it easier for people to understand who I am, I’ve often felt marginalized because I look too Black for the Latino community, others believe I talk too white to represent the Black community, and I’m an anomaly to the white community.
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country that offered me the opportunity to go to private school all my life – kindergarten through college – to receive the best education alongside the children of presidents, CEOs, and world leaders. Yet I have worked twice as hard to prove that I am just as smart and talented to get my foot through the door of opportunities that were handed to them just because they were white.
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country where I earned honors degrees, was installed in the Collegiate Honors Society, graduated a Dean’s List student and Summa Cum Laude, yet was called “a stupid idiot” and “crazy” by a white male at my first full-time job post my Master’s Degree. In front of all the offices around mine, he yelled these words, and not one white employee on the floor came out of their office to stop his rant. They silently listened and opted to let me fight my battle alone. Needless to say, I quit the same day.
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country where the church I grew up in, which was primarily Central Americans, was lead by an Afro-Latino. Yet while a message of love was preached, people chose who they wanted to “accept” and I was often called “ugly” or “monkey” by those who didn’t look like me. It wasn’t until I grew into my own skin and beauty that the name-calling ceased and boys started to notice me.
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country where my own Latino community held were prejudice against me because of the color of my skin. Racism ran (and still does) deep in the Latino community. While parents liked me as a person, they prayed and hoped their sons wouldn’t get serious with me because the notion of darker-skinned children in their bloodline was unheard of. They loved me, but not my race. I was considered “una negra linda” (a Black woman who was beautiful; not to be confused with a beautiful Black woman. There’s a difference).
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country where my own Afro-Latino community would tell me I was beautiful because I had lighter skin, but my hair needed to be tamed. They would suggest I marry outside my race to have beautiful children with “good hair” so it would be “easy to manage.”
I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country that has brought me experiences that have marked me; this country has cut deep wounds in my heart that have left scars so tender that sometimes looking at them brings tears to my eyes as I think about my own 3 girls who will one day have to face the cruel reality of this world without me to protect them. As a mother, my heart grieves to know that from a young age, I have to teach them to be stronger than most, to fight harder than most, to believe that they are beautiful and worthy even when the world tells them they are not. My heart breaks to know that if we don’t all do our part to end racism, my children will inherit a battle for which they never signed up to fight.
It’s time to check your heart, America. Because at the core, racism is an issue of sin. Until we can all admit that we are sinful creatures in need of a savior, we will never give God room to yank the weeds of sin so deeply rooted that suffocate the fruit of love. Love covers a multitude of sins. But we can only give real love when we’ve received the love in its true essence. God is love. As His children, we are called and instructed to love the way He loves. Can you imagine a world like that?
And because I’m His child, know this, America. I’m an Afro-Latina born and raised in a country that I refuse to let define me. I may be in this world, but I am not of it. I belong to the Ruler of the Universe, the Creator of all men, the Master Artist of humanity. He made no mistake when He created me in His likeness and His image. He made me beautiful; He made me wonderful. With His very hands, he crafted my hair texture, toned my skin to perfection, breathed his own breath in my lungs, and watermarked me with His Spirit.
Wherever I go, I am a reminder of His creativity. Wherever I meet people of other colors, I am reminded of His unending color palette. When I sit and talk to individuals, I realize that our physical makeup and blood are more alike than our exterior differences – evidence that Creation is an extension of One Creator.
Know this, America, before I am an Afro-Latina, I am a human and creation of the Most High. That alone should be enough for my life to matter.
Meet Franchesca Chavez
Franchesca Chavez is a social influencer, author, and entrepreneur. Her blog, FranchescaChavez.com, shares her thoughts around ministry, marriage, and motherhood. She is the co-founder and Executive Pastor of Hope Center, a church plant in the DC Metro area and the author of “I See You,” a 7 day devotional to help women reclaim their God-given purpose! Franchesca aims to use her platforms to inspire and build people.
She believes with all her heart that everything in your life is designed to unlock your maximum God-given potential. A dynamic teacher and speaker of 10 years, she earned her Masters Degree in Sociology from American University and has coupled her educational and ministerial backgrounds to effectively lead in ministry and her career. Presently, she is happily married to her best friend, Sergio Chavez. They reside in Maryland with their 3 daughters – Kalea, Nadae, and Naviyah.