Being Afro-Latina Is Not Just Another Trend

A cringeworthy video featuring Love and Hip Hop Miami’s Amara La Negra has been making rounds on the internet for several days. The Dominican born singer came face to face with a producer, Young Hollywood, whose ignorance of Amara La Negra’s Afro-Latina’s pride came bubbling to the surface. But he’s surely not alone. Many people find themselves scratching their heads when the term “Afro-Latino/a” is used.

So what is an Afro-Latino/a?

Simply put, it’s a person of predominant or significant African origin that was born in Latin America, or whose family is from Latin America.

That’s it?

Yes, that’s it. The African diaspora spans across continents. While an African-American has historic ties to the United States being a descendant of slaves, an-Afro Latino/a has historic ties to any number of Latin American countries being the descendant of slaves as well. African slaves were forced into manual labor in Latin America as well. Instead of cotton fields, they worked cocoa, coffee, and sugar farms.

It has been reported that the average African-Americans has up to a quarter European blood, likely from the United Kingdom. The same can be said for Afro-Latinos, whose mix is of Spanish blood and or indigenous blood.

So one parent is black and the other is Hispanic?

Being Afro-Latino does NOT mean one parent is black and the other is “Hispanic.” The common misconception is an easy conclusion to come to, but being Hispanic is an ethnicity and not a race. You can be of any race and still be Hispanic.

Why is this such a “trend” now?

Amara is not the first nor the last Afro-Latina to find pride in being black. Traditionally, many older generations have shied away from referring to themselves as black. However, the legendary Queen of Salsa, Afro-Cubana Celia Cruz spoke proudly of being black. She set a standard of what it means to be Afro-Latina and proud - a standard that many Afro-Latino's are just beginning to follow. The lyrics to “Azúcar  Negra” (1993) is just one of her many songs where she sings of “carrying the rhythms of Africa in her heart” and how her blood is made of “black sugar.”

Zoe Saldana, Lala Anthony, Soledad O’Brien, and Dascha Polanco are also prominent Afro-Latinas who identify as black women descending from Latin America.

So no, being Afro-Latina is not some new trend. Nobody is pretending to be anything that they are not. Being Afro-Latina does not diminish how “Hispanic” you are, and it does not nullify your blackness either. You can be BOTH.