It's Black History Month! With that said, I love to celebrate Black History Month, not just in February, but all year long! Even still, February is a great time to reflect on the contributions of people of African descent here in the US and around the world. This year I have seen a rise in many Latinos of African descent sharing their views, struggles, triumphs and experiences on being Afro-Latino, Lati-Negro, or "Black" Latinos. I love it!
As a Latina of Afro-Puerto Rican heritage I have often found myself in "two worlds". Completely identifying as a Latina and very proud of it, and yet also finding many similarities to my brothers and sisters across the Diaspora who identify as African-Americans. The question "Are you Black?" is one that many African-Americans ask Latinas such as myself whose African roots are definitely visible. We find ourselves saying "Yes, and No" at the same time. While not "African-American" we are "Black" due to our African Heritage, although in Latin America there are many, many variances that are not so cut and dry. The "one drop rule" is very different for many Black Latinos for we are a mixed people that embrace the African, Spanish and Indigenous sides of our culture.
In identifying ourselves, it is often a personal choice and many Latinos default to the country or territory that their ancestors came from. Many Latinos do not want to just identify with just one aspect of their culture, but the other roots as well. There is also, in some circles, a denial of African ancestry or even shame associate with it. In other circles, it is widely embraced. The question "Are you Black?" can be confusing or a struggle to answer. Many Afro-Latinos feel if they answer the "Are you Black?" question, it may deny the rich Spanish and Indigenous ancestry that also runs through their veins. This conversation is one that is emerging and extremely interesting!
More and more Afro-Latinos are exploring their roots and celebrating the richness of Latino culture, that encompasses all "races" within in. Afro-Latinos have a voice and a very significant part in the mosaic that is called Latino. I am seeing more and more Latinos seeking to learn about a history that many do not know about. This February, we have an awesome opportunity to start to learn more about the roots from Africa that have influenced the Latino culture throughout the ages, if we have not yet started this journey.
This Black History Month, in partnership with our African-American brothers and sisters across the Diaspora, let us also celebrate and explore the Afro-Latinos that have also lent their talents,lives, and triumphs to the beauty of the mosaic of Latino culture in Latin America, The United States and to the world. Tune in February 6th, to The Vanessa Oden Show where we will be discussing what it means to be "Black and Latino" in the United States. Listen to the voices of Afro-Latinos as we share our experiences, triumphs and struggles of identifying as Afro-Latinos.
Vanessa Magali Oden is the Host of The Vanessa Oden Show "Entertaining News and Discussion with a Latina Twist!" Follow Vanessa on Twitter @VanessaOden
E-mail Vanessa: firstname.lastname@example.org