“Afro-Latinos are not half Latino and half Black. They are both fully Black and fully Latino.”- Jameelah Xochitl Medina
Being una Latinegra never really took on much meaning for me until I left my small town of Providence, RI. At home people always spoke to me in Spanish como nada. I clearly look like I am from the African Diaspora and that was never an issue…
After reading Afro-dectomies and other Hollywood Secrets, I was in no way shocked or taken aback. Although the blog post has been taken down after a cease and desist letter, you can read more about it HERE. Author Alisa Valdes, writer of The Dirty Girls Social Club, blogged about having her book turned into a tv show and being disappointed when finding out her characters would be “white-washed.” After reading how Alisa was reassured that her vision would not be destroyed:
“She assured me that as a Latina, Luisa “gets it”
I knew it could only go down hill from there. Those words me cayó como bomba. It certainly reminded me very much about feeling invisible and my experiences with it.
I have spent most of my adult life here in Washington, DC. I moved here after undergrad and joined many social groups and the biggest being a Latino Professional Meetup. Slowly I began to see that I wasn’t one of “them”. At many of these networking functions, I was looked upon as a novelty: la morena que habla español. Many if not most of the members were fair skinned Latinos or “indigenous” looking. I remember being part conversations spoken in Spanish and then when I was turned to it automatically went to English or some mezcla of hip-hop-jiveturkey-English that they must have heard on television, “Ey ledy, wassup?” So surprised about Alisa’s new show?… Not so much.
Black and Latino are not mutually exclusive. What happened to Alisa was perpetrated by a Latina and for Hollywood… Are we surprised? Are we not entertained? Some of our own people cannot see Black as part of the Latino equation. Although Hollywood plays a major part in Alisa’s ordeal, it begs a larger conversation: How do we see ourselves and our people? I believe as Latinos, we must take inventory on how we deal with our own issues concerning race and the African Diaspora as well. I look forward to seeing how this plays out but in the end….
…guess what? I am Dominican and Puerto Rican and I am brown and I have coarse hair and high cheek bones and “African” features… I still can make a mean-ass pernil y arroz con habichuela… I exist. We exist. Hollywood can’t erase that. Deal with it.