Celebrating Black History Month: 5 Afro Latinas You Should Know About

This Black History Month, I am taking the time to not only appreciate and uplift the voices of the Black community but to also do the same for the Black voices amongst the Latinx community. It is crucial to remember that the Latinx community comes in all different skin tones and all must be celebrated! So, whether you have heard of these powerful Afro-Latinas yet or not, prepare to be amazed.

  1. 1. Amara La Negra

    Based on her stage name, it is obvious that Dominican Amara La Negra is proud to be Afro-Latina and embraces it in her career. She is a singer that starred in Love & Hip Hop, where she is known for the famous scene in which she refused to get rid of her afro when her producer criticized it. Amara has spoken about the issue of colorism in the Latinx community and fearlessly stands up for who she is. She has had quite the career as well: she joined both Celia Cruz and Tito Puente as a backup dancer prior to her singing career. Some of her famous singles include “What a Bam Bam,” “Insecure,” “Se Que Soy, There’s No Way,” and “Ayy.” Trust me, you will not be disappointed when you listen to these upbeat and empowering songs!

  2. 2. Celia Cruz

    Celia Cruz is known as the queen of salsa music, and it is no surprise why. During her lifetime and career, the Cuban singer released over eighty albums and songs! She is known for her incredible voice, yelling "¡azúcar!" throughout her songs, and her eccentric personality and style. Celia Cruz is also credited with popularizing salsa music in American pop culture, and in 1994, received the National Medal of Arts, the highest national honor an artist can receive in the United States. Her life and success is still honored today in Latin music: J Balvin references her in Cardi B’s “I Like It” when he raps “como Celia Cruz tengo el azúcar.” If you have not listened to the queen of salsa, I highly recommend you listen to “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” and dance your heart out.

  3. 3. Julia de Burgos

    This Boricua artist is well recognized for her outstanding poetry but was also an advocate of Puerto Rican independence and a civil rights activist for women and African and Afro-Latinx writers. She released three books that are collections of her poems, many of which detail the struggle of oppression. Julia de Burgos is recognized as Puerto Rico’s greatest poet and was posthumously granted a doctorate in Human Arts and Letters by the University of Puerto Rico. To this day, her poetry is studied globally in both Spanish and literature classes.

  4. 4. Miriam Jiménez Román

    Miriam Jiménez Román is known for her immense contributions in the study of Afro-Latinx culture through her activism and writing. This Boricua author co-wrote [email protected] Studies Reader: History and Culture in the United States, which is a collection of essays, memoirs, articles, poems, short stories, and interviews that detail the Afro Latinx culture, which at the time of its publishing; had little recognition in both society and scholarly studies. Thus, Miriam Jiménez Román opened the door for recognition and scholarly study of the Afro Latinx community. Simultaneously, she does not shy from detailing the social struggles of colorism and belonging to two races that have largely been seen as separate. Thanks to her work, there has been a surge in the study and appreciation of the Afro Latinx community.

  5. 5. Ariana Brown

    Ariana Brown is a Black Mexican American who has portrayed her experience as an Afro-Latina throughout her poetry. Her poem “For the Black Kids In My 8th Grade Spanish Class” details her middle school years in which she was bullied and found community, friendship, and pride in a group of Black peers in her eighth grade Spanish class. Throughout the poem, she recalls empowering moments of realization: “Blackness- the gift my father gave me- is the most human thing I have ever been blessed to be” and “you gave me permission to love being Black.” Ariana Brown has received two Academy of American Poets Prizes and inspires young writers through workshops and conventions.