Afro-Latinos Are Part of The Black Community Too

Saida do Olodum/ Roberto Viana /Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

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As we know, Blackness is not a monolithic identity and a vast array of cultural and ethnic influences combine to give it its defining features. The little black history we learn in school teaches about slavery and colonization but barely scratches the surface about where all our ancestors ended up and the multiplicity of ethnicities that developed as a result.

Millions of Africans were shipped off the coast of Africa during the slave trade with the majority landing in the Caribbean and Latin America.For the ones who landed in Latin America, the acculturation process that occurred over time as well as race-mixing led to identities that blended elements of African and Latin cultures together.

As interracial marriages and mixed children were on the rise, Europeans in many of these countries started importing other Europeans in an effort to “lighten” the Blacks races in Latin America. This contributed to intense colorism and denial of Black identities.

Nonetheless, these hybrid cultures developed their own religions, languages, music, dances, food, and art to reflect their unique racial identities. Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Colombians, Afro-Bolivians, and dozens of other Afro-Latino groups draw from both rich cultural heritages…

A quarter of U.S. Latinos identify as Afro-Latino, but in a country like Brazil over 50% of the population is of African descent. While in America, it is likely that Afro-Latinos would just be called “Black,” other countries use nearly 100 terms like “zambo,” “lobo,” “pardo,” or “mestizo” to describe their racial makeup. While some of the terms are purely descriptive and point to each parent’s country of origin others carry with them negative connotations.  

Put simply by one Afro-Latino, “Being Afro-Latino is being a bridge builder, standing squarely at the crossroads of pan-Africanism. We exist with the knowledge that Blackness is global in its scope. No one has hegemony on Blackness and we are the proof!”

Although the stories all basically start the same with Europeans stealing Africans, the unbelievable diversity that resulted from our presence all over the world is remarkable. Blackness is so complex and infinite that there are no bounds on our ability to continue expanding our collective consciousness and celebrating ourselves.

Our Afro-Latino brothers and sisters share in a common history of cultural preservation and innovation that will never forget where it all started --Mother Africa.

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