Afro-Latina: Who gets to Claim Afro-Latinidad?

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Who gets to claim Afro-Latinidad? That's the question I posed to my niece Ashley, 23. Her response was quite shocking. Ashley shared that when she was younger she would tell her fellow classmates that she was half Black and half Dominican. There was always that one person that would say “no you are fully black, you’re not Dominican.” Why? Because she doesn’t speak Spanish. She struggled with owning her Afro-Latinidad because others wanted to define her narrative. The idea that being Latina is only about language is ludicrous. 

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This question has been asked for far too long in the Latino community. Afro-Latinos like me grow up with questions like will I ever be black or Latina enough? How do I chose?  As an Afro-Latina you are often taking off one coat and putting on another depending on who you are with. We get to navigate two worlds that aren't always welcoming of our story.  In my post Parenting in the Hyphen: My Life as an Afro-Latina Mom, I touch on this a bit. This conversation with Ashley sent me on a mission to find her some answers. In my search I had the opportunity to hear a great round table discussion on just that. Who gets to claim Afro-Latinidad? Does Ashley? 

 My niece Ashley with her natural hair loud and proud 2017

My niece Ashley with her natural hair loud and proud 2017

Maria Hinojosa facilitated a great Latino roundtable with Amilcar Priestley, co-director of the Afro-Latino Festival and director of the Afro-Latino Project; Marjua Estevez, senior editor of Vibe.com; M. Tony Peralta, contemporary artist and owner of the Peralta Project; and Jamila Brown, owner of HUE, for an honest and open conversation on Afro-Latinidad.

Hear how her guests respond to questions like: What's it like being both Black and Latino in the United States? Who gets to claim Afro-Latinadad?

I’m glad I asked Ashley the question because it gave us a chance to talk about our heritage, who we are as a people and the importance of never ever letting someone else tell you who you are. Princess, you are Latina and Black, own it all because it’s what makes you shine! 

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Shine bright princess!