For Black History Month, #IAMENOUGH and the Eva Longoria Foundation are collaborating to highlight Afro-Latina changemakers. Learn more about the Eva Longoria Foundation’s work to empower Latinas through education and entrepreneurship at @evalongoriafoundation on Instagram.
We’ve learned how influential and necessary the work of journalism is in the world today. It has the power to impact individuals’ and society’s perceptions and sentiments. Media is where many of us become educated and we rely on it to keep us grounded and aligned with what happens in and beyond our community. Journalism plays a vital role in which voices are heard and which narratives become dominant.
The underrepresentation of Afro-descendants in media is a self-reinforcing cycle with our lack of recognition in the Latinx community. Jada Gomez, the editor at Medium, is an Afro-Latina journalist whose work creates space for the voices of fellow Black Latinx people and Black Latinas to be heard. Her contributions have helped increase the visibility of a community that is often overlooked in the media.
After years of persistent erasure within the music and television industry, change was overdue – and Jada Gomez has helped make that change and break down barriers.
What does Afro-Latinidad mean to you? Do you think that its meaning has changed or evolved over time, or by the way it is depicted in the media?
Afro-Latinidad is the celebration and acknowledgment of Afro-Latinx people throughout the diaspora. The terms we use may have changed over time, but the way we celebrate our culture has been passed down for generations. In terms of representation, it’s come a long way, but there is still a ways to go before we have a wide variety of depictions of Afro-Latinx people and our culture.
As a journalist, have you used your platform to bring visibility to Afro-Latinas?
Yes, I hope that I have brought visibility for Afro-Latinas over the years! It’s been an honor to represent my culture in spaces where they have been none before. I hope that others will be encouraged to pursue their dreams and know that they aren’t alone when they see me.
Have you ever faced any discrimination as an Afro-Puerto Rican / Honduran within your journalism career and how did you overcome that obstacle?
I’ve definitely experienced discrimination as a Black woman, double-edged at times because I am Black and a woman. I’ve regularly experienced microaggressions by folks who would never consider themselves racist. I’ve been talked over in meetings by white colleagues, even as a leader. I overcome those obstacles by sticking to my objective of being an effective leader and leaning on Black colleagues who have become friends because no one gets it like someone else who experiences it.
What role should the media play in helping to end anti-Blackness within the Latinx community?
It begins with consistent representation and listening. Last summer, we saw an increase in Black representation in everything from commercials to news stories. But it can be continued by featuring television shows with an all Afro-Latinx cast. It should include conversations across the diaspora to finally acknowledge and root out anti-Blackness within the community. It won’t happen unless we genuinely talk with each other and really listen.
Where does the future stand with the representation of Afro-Latinas in the media?
The future will include Afro-Latinas telling their own stories. It’s happening in YA literature, thanks to authors like Elizabeth Acevedo. As we claim ownership of our narratives, we’ll see more representation because it’ll come directly from us and our experiences.
How has your work helped bridge the gap ofthe erasure of Blackness within Latinx media?
I hope that by being both Afro-Latinx (from my Honduran roots) and African American (from my Bahamian roots), I am a living example that Blackness can never and should never be erased from Latinx media and the Latinx experience.
How crucial is it to continue to celebrate and highlight Afro-Latinx womanhood?
It’s natural to feel empowered and feel better about yourself when you see images of women like you thriving. We should always celebrate our wins, our energy, and our light.
How can we better increase Afro-Latina representation across all media platforms?
We need more of our projects greenlit, whether streaming, or in theaters, or in literature.
What’s your strategy to maintain your online presence and represent our community?
As long as I am writing, I will always share the stories of the people I meet. And eventually, I’ll write a couple of books that will show wholesome brown girl nerds living their best lives! I am working on my first book now.
Read more of Jada’s work here: https://jada.medium.com/