Identity in the Afro-Latino community

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Just recently I wrote about identity in the Latino community. And with it being Black History Month, it makes sense to discuss another topic that people seem to ignore: Afro-Latino.

To be Afro-Latino is acknowledging your African roots. Latinos after all are a combination of Spanish, Indigenous, and African roots. To deny any of these is, in my opinion, frowned upon.

According to the Pew Research Center, “A Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults shows that one-quarter of all U.S. Latinos self-identify as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean or of African descent with roots in Latin America. This is the first time a nationally representative survey in the U.S. has asked the Latino population directly whether they considered themselves Afro-Latino.” And this study was in 2016; I can imagine that the number is much larger.

More recently, identifying as Afro-Latino has had more to do with physical traits.

While some believe identifying as Afro-Latino is a personal choice, others argue it has more to do with a person’s physical traits—skin color and hair texture, for instance. Black Latinos lack the privilege that lighter-skinned Latinos have, with an experience that’s more akin to the racism and struggles of African-Americans.

Some celebrities have been very vocal about their identity like Amara La Negra and Julissa Calderon. During her time on Love & Hip Hop: Miami, Amara was very adamant about speaking on identity. She said, “And anytime there are cops, I go into a total panic because even though I’m Afro-Latina, we feel the same fears as the African-American community. Until you talk to us, you don’t know that we’re Latino. We’re seen as black and we have the same fears. I’ve felt the pressure all my life.”

Unfortunately for others though, identifying as Afro-Latino comes with some controversy. In 2019, Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada publicly stated that she was Afro-Latina, citing one of her co-stars claiming that she was trying to be Black. While there never really is a good or bad time to claim identity, the timing was off and some fans were calling her out. In the past, Evelyn stated she was Puerto Rican and not Black. Other notable Afro-Latinos include Celia Cruz, Cardi B, Ozuna, Tego Calderon, Miguel, Kid Cudi, among others.

I believe you should be able to learn and grow and identify with what you feel is right. Just like in the LGBTQ community, it’s a journey of self-discovery. Staying true to yourself is very important in our community.

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