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¿Tu eres Latina?! Oh, I didn’t know…

You might recognize this potentially familiar scenario. You are at a hair salon, in an elevator or even going out to get your mail and two people who speak Spanish look at you and assume you can’t possibly be Latina and don’t speak Spanish because you look a certain way (in my case, I’m Afro-Latina) and proceed to talk about you as if you don’t exist. What do you do? You have to make a split decision to break out your Español to put these oblivious people back in their places or just brush it off as ignorance and racism and walk away. Is it worth it to address it right then and there?

This very scenario has happened all too often within our community and enough is enough. Ya. As we all know, we have widespread origins in Europe, Africa, and Asia and every time I hear the term “looking Latina”, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Who determines what “looking Latina” is?   Is “looking Latina” only having light or olive skin and long, straight hair (pelo bueno)? As if it wasn’t hard enough to decide to check one, three or all boxes on the 2010 Census and grappling with dichotomous self-identity, there’s the constant struggle of dealing with strangers I encounter, marginalizing my ethnicities into their own boxes based on appearance, whether I want them to do so or not.

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In the media, why should we be surprised that entertainers like these in this article are Latino? Is having a Spanish last name also what makes someone Latino?  Does waving a flag and attending Latino specific focused events make someone Latino? Having pride in one’s identity manifests itself in different ways. Specifically being a Latina with African descent, it’s no secret we exist everywhere. The African diaspora was widespread as the map clearly displays and millions of ancestors carry on the legacies left behind. So why in this day and age are Latinos with dark skin still shocking? Institutional racism is obviously not something that can be fixed overnight but actually letting go (not just promising to let go) of stereotypes, doing more than having Spanish food theme cafeteria days in corporate settings and not rushing to judgment on appearance will affect change. Unity is preached often but it really is a must within and among communities of color.  Progress is achieved when the initial question and the associated one of “What are you?”, posed with an expression of utter astonishment are no longer asked and we just are without having to prove anything to anyone.

Check out A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans 

 

By Being Latino Contributor, Carlita. Born and raised in The Bronx and currently living in Los Angeles, Carlita started her blogging/writing career back in 2010 and has since written for fashion copywriting and music sites. Carlita is new to the Being Latino familia but looks forward to what the future holds.

About Being Latino Contributors

Being Latino contributors consists of individuals and partner organizations. They join us in our goal of providing our audience with a communication platform designed to educate, entertain and connect all peoples across the global Latino spectrum. Together we aim to break down barriers and foster unity and empowerment through informative, thought-provoking dialogue and exchanging of ideas. Giving a unified voice to the multitude of communities that identify with the multidimensional culture that is Latino.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. ingrid says:

    Agree…. love the picture .. love the content….

  2. Alexandra Morbitzer says:

    Yes, yes, YES! I completely love this. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves too. Judging someone’s “Latino-ness” based on ability to speak Spanish, surnames or facial structure is absurd, annoying and offensive. I’m with you on this!

  3. Danie Ruiz says:

    Raul is correct in the FB comments is correct. When it comes to the racial and ethnic diversity of Latin America, the majority of Latinos in the US are embarrassingly ignorant. They have bought into the US myth that all Latinos are brown and/or have a Spanish last name. Further, they are given an incomplete history of migration to Latin America from different parts of the world which continues to this day. It wasn’t just Spanish/Portuguese, Natives, and Africans but people from all over the world The big three were the first, but not the only groups. Believing no one else went to Latin America is as absurd as believing it is only people of British, Native, or African descent who currently populate the US and Canada.

    A big part of the problem is that “Latino” media perpetuates this ignorance. Rather than address the issue, racist TV stations (Univision/Telemundo) and film-makers refuse to cast non-stereotypical Latino actors,e.g those of Black or Asian descent. Diversity in Latin America is never even discussed.

    Rant against ignorance over, I promise. :)

  4. Carlos Dipres says:

    I guess someone miss ” La Hispaniola” in your map.

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