I was asked to pen a piece for Black History Month for Latino Connection Magazine. In this article (printed in Spanish & English), “Soy Una Orgullosa Afro-Latina,” I explain why I am proud of my roots. I thought it was important to make this essay personal because I always get questions about identity and why it’s important to me.
Is identity important to you? Why do choose to identify the way you do? Let us know in the comments section or connect on social media! Check out my piece below.
My name is Raquel and I’m from the south side of Chicago.
I am Afro-Latina.
I am a very proud Afro-Latina!
Some may ask why do you choose to label yourself? What does it mean to be an Afro-Latina? Who do you think you are? I’ll get to the last question shortly, but let’s discuss what it means to be Afro-Latino/a.
As stated in the introduction of “The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States,” Afro-Latino/a identity is defined as “…people of African descent in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and by extension those of African descent in the United States whose origins are in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
When I get questions about my identity I want to scream, ‘Learn from history! Did you know that there were more African slaves taken to South America and the Caribbean than the United States? Did you know we are a mixture of races and cultures? Did you know that Africans have migrated around the world way before slavery?’
There are many Latinos with visible African roots, but they often deny it. The reason I use the term Afro-Latina is to celebrate who I am. Can I be proud of who I am?
Growing up on the south side of Chicago was different because there were no other Black Latinos/as where I lived; everyone was always inquisitive about my background. Perhaps it would have been different if I lived in New York, where it is more diverse. However, living in Chicago was not the same because most of the neighborhoods were segregated.
When I was younger I often visited Puerto Rico and it was normal to see Puerto Ricans who had different skin tones, eye colors, and hair textures. They spoke Spanish. They were Boricua. However, when I would return to my specific neighborhood in Chicago, to the mainland, our idea of what represented Latino/a identity was very limited. I rarely saw Black Latinos/as on television, in movies, or magazines—specifically positive representations. As I became older, I learned of how Black Latinos were not only invisible in the United States, but oftentimes they experienced discrimination in Latin America and the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean.
5 years ago I started the blog, BoriquaChicks.com, because I wanted to read about celebrities and everyday people who owned their identity and were proud of their culture. It was created to highlight those individuals like myself, Afro-Latinos/as who needed an online space to explore who they were and to question mainstream media depictions and stereotypes of Latino/a identity. While Afro-Latina is a label, it accurately captures who I am (as well as the thousands of other beautiful men and women who read my blog).
As a Latina I feel comfortable embracing my blackness. No matter my physical appearance, no matter the evidence in food, language, music, and history, it is deeper than that…my soul screams that I am AFRO-LATINA and proud of it.
Latest posts by Raquel (see all)
- Meet Elza, Latinx Multidisciplinary Artist & Instructor - February 4, 2019
- Meet Kleaver Cruz, Founder of The Black Joy Project - October 8, 2018
- Things You Shouldn’t Say or Do When Your Friend is Going Through A Divorce - October 1, 2018