An Afro-Latina with an Afro

 No, I do not look like Amara La Negra. You are only saying that because we both have afros.

             Being an Afro-Latina you always feel divided. You are proud of your Latino roots, culture, and family. On the other hand, other individuals continue to erase your Latinidad because your body has high amounts of melanin. My identity as an Afro-Latina is always being questioned by others. Others think that because I do not have the same skin tones as Jennifer Lopez or Shakira, that I cannot possibly be Latina. 

            Individuals completely disregard my accent. They do not notice that the tone that I express myself is Cuban even though I am full blown Dominican (one of the side effects of being raised in Miami). When people get the chance to hear me speak in Spanish, they are shocked because someone who is not a white Latina can speak Spanish. In addition, people are fascinated by the fact that I can roll my Rs because Afro-Latinas are actually forbidden to roll them. 

           There is always a constant battle with yourself because you too, forget that you are Latina. Then, you start to think that you are African American. But then you remind yourself that you are not. There is this constant mental war because you have to convince others that you are not African American. Not only do you have to convince others that you are Latina, but you also get bullied because you are trying to separate yourself from an identity that is not yours. It is like, how do you have the audacity to change your own cultural identity without my permission? Black girls are all the same. Stop trying to escape from the Black or African American race box. 

            You have to educate tan Latinas too. They are some white Latinas that are ambiguous. They are obviously not as pale as Bella Swan in Twilight, but they do look like they stayed out in the sun for too long. Having to deal with those Latinas that try to jump on the Afro-Latina bandwagon is annoying. It is annoying because there are those that try to make themselves look like a victim. The JLOs blame their shortcomings with the claim that they are being discriminated against because of their Afro-Latinanidad. I always find myself constantly (lively) debating with my friends because they somehow got into their heads that they are going through the same struggles that I am. For example, are you constantly being asked if you are wearing a weave because you literally just washed your hair? Or being asked why is your Spanish too good? Even though English is my second language. Or how can I dance bachata or merengue?

            Are people always asking to touch your hair? Or have someone else’s greasy fingers IN your hair? Yes, the stranger at the fast food restaurant, please proceed to touch my hair with your hands that I have no idea where they have been. Professors even join in on the game. During my time abroad in Italy, I had to deal with a sociology professor, who focuses on identity and culture, touching my hair, after I repeatedly told him not to. 

             Being Afro-Latina is tiring. It feels like a part-time job. You always have to explain to others what is Afro-Latinidad. You have to mandatorily become a professor on race and ethnicity. For example, having to explain that not all black people are straight out of Africa or from the United States. Another example is that some individuals are fascinated that black people have curly hair. PSA: the afro in Afro-Latina does NOT mean a Latina with an afro. It just happened to be that I am a Latina with an afro. "Afro-latino is not about being Black and Latino, Afro-Latina means to be a Black Latina/Latino hence why the term Afro-latino came about in the late 70’s."-Rosa Clemente, Ph. D candidate at UMass Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

              Not only do I specialize in race and ethnicity, but I also have to become knowledgeable in hair. Even though I have an afro-and afros have one of the tightest curl patterns, there are individuals that constantly try to invalidate my curly hair because it is not 2A or 2B. Or why is it that I claim to have curly hair, but it is not the pattern of Zendaya’s wavy/curly hair?

            Being an Afro-Latina is not only about being able to speak Spanish (shout out to the Afro-Latinas who do not speak Spanish!). Afro-Latinas experience high levels of self-doubt, anxiety, and many identity crises. Moreover, some Afro-Latinas experience the denial of our African roots which causes serious identity crises later in our lives. In addition, we always have to live in a constant web of racism and microaggressions. While also having to tiptoe around people so you do not hurt their feelings.

            I am proud that Amara La Negra is educating others on being Afro-Latina/o. I have tremendous respect and admiration for her because I could only imagine how tired she gets on having to go on all these interviews and explain her existence. Just imagine having to explain your existence to others for your entire life! I lost hope in the thought that people actually want to get to know who I am. Instead of being asked who am I? What are my passions or hobbies? It is always been, and will continue to be, what am I? 

Watch Amara La Negra's Interview on the Breakfast Club: