Latina magazine asked Boriqua Chicks to write an article about what Afro-Latinas may be tired of hearing. Below is the updated article, “8 Things Afro-Latinas Are Tired of Hearing,” that was originally published here. When writing this article I thought about the many comments, messages, and emails we have received…and tried to imagine what Afro-Latinas may be tired of hearing. I hoped that this article would inspire others to think twice before making assumptions. Check it out below and leave a comment or tweet us your thoughts.
It’s unfortunate to encounter others who express shock about your racial, ethnic, and/or cultural identity, so they make insensitive statements. Afro-Latinas (Latinas of the Black Diaspora), also known as Latinegras, Blatinas, or Black Latinas have been ignored in the media for a long time. Moreover, they have not always been celebrated or acknowledged with the respect that they deserve, due to their physical appearance and the ignorance that exist about Afro-Latina identity. Check out 8 inappropriate things that people who identify as Afro-Latina may be tired of hearing.
1. “But you don’t look Latina.”
Hmmmm….really? What exactly is the Latina look? Don’t be fooled by the same images you constantly see of Latinas in the media. There is not one physical appearance for Latinas. Latinas actually come in different shades, have different hair textures, and have different physical characteristics. It is offensive to question my Latina identity because you aren’t aware or you are in denial about the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Latin America’s ties to Africa.
2. “You must be African-American.”
While there are some who identify as Afro-Latinas that have a parent that is African-American; there are others who don’t—both of their parents can be from Latin America or the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Don’t make the assumption that all Afro-Latinas are African-American too. Black does not always mean African-American. Here is a little less known fact…there were actually more slaves that were sent to Latin America and the Caribbean than the United States.
3. “Is that your biological mother or father? You look different.”
Wow! How dare you ask me that? That’s kind of personal. Just because my biological mother or father may not share the exact same physical features as me, doesn’t mean we aren’t related by blood. Perhaps you should travel to Latin America and the Caribbean; you will see people in the same family that range in many beautiful skin tones, eye colors, hair textures, etc.
4. “You should straighten your hair. You would look so pretty.”
If my hair is naturally curly, kinky, or coily and I like to wear it this way, don’t judge me. When you say this, you are telling me that only straight hair is beautiful. False! Whether I rock my hair curly or straight, I am beautiful. As the gorgeous Latina natural hair bloggers, Daily Baez (Daily Curlz) and Miss Rizos say, “I love my pajón (afro)! Pajón power!”
5. “You must be mixed because you are Black.”
Get over it! Latinas can be Black! I have strong African roots and I am proud of that. However, you must remember that there is diversity in being Latina. Whether you are a light or dark-skinned Latina, your ancestry could reflect Spanish, African, Indigenous, Asian roots, as well as other groups. Don’t immediately minimize my status in the Latino/a community because I am Black or anyone else’s because it makes you uncomfortable.
6. “Why do you speak Spanish? How do you know the language?”
I speak Spanish because it is the language of my people. If you hear me speak Spanish, please don’t automatically assume I’m not Latina. When you question a Black person as to why and how they know the language, you are subscribing to a stereotype of who a Spanish-speaking Latina is. You are too caught up into what you think a Latina should be. On the other hand, if my accent doesn’t sound like yours or if I don’t speak Spanish at all, that also doesn’t make me less Latina!
7. “Oh, do you like Celia Cruz’s music?”
YES, I do like Celia Cruz’s music. Do you? Am I not a real Afro-Latina if I don’t? Don’t put Afro-Latinas in a box. Perhaps all Latinas… all people should be exposed to the wonderful types of music that Latinas/os create. Ask a Latina that doesn’t look like me the same question.
8. “Why are you emphasizing your blackness? We are all Latina. That’s divisive.”
For so many years, I had little to no positive images of Latinas in the media who looked like me. Moreover, so many Latina celebrities who look like me will never get the opportunity to play a Latina character because they don’t fit the Hollywood stereotype. Many dark-skinned Latinas also experience discrimination and rejection in the United States and around the world because of the way they look.
Essentially, I am not ashamed of my African roots and I want others who look like me to be proud too.True, we are all Latina; but, me acknowledging my Blackness is not meant to be offensive, it is meant to celebrate the beauty in being Black…such as there is beauty in being from a specific island in the Caribbean or country in Latin America.
D I S C L A I M E R :: In this post I imagine what Afro-Latinas may be tired of hearing. I do not represent all women who identify as Afro-Latina. So this may not be your story and it’s okay.
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