Who are Afro-Latinos?

Shout out to Enrique Iglesias and the producers of his “Bailando (English Version)” video for spot lighting Afro-Latina dancers or, at the least, dancers that look Afro-Latino with their naturally curly afro hair.  It would be befitting as they filmed the video in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where a great majority of the Latinas look just like those females.  They do not fall under the stereotypical Latina image but they are Latina nonetheless.  I did notice that in the Spanish version of the video, they did not have these Afro-Latina dancers anywhere in it but in the English Version they appear.  Maybe it’s because the Jamaican artist, Sean Paul is on this version and so they wanted to appeal to a broader, “diversified” **cough** audience.  **Pause**  But I can’t help but wonder how the Spanish-speaking Afro-Latinas feel when they don’t see themselves represented in the Spanish version of the video especially since it was filmed in the Dominican Republic.  Smh.  Anywho…

The Afro-Latinas in Enrique's "Bailando" Video

The Afro-Latinas in Enrique’s “Bailando” Video

“Who are ‘Afro-Latinos’?”you may ask.

Well, in the simplest way that I can explain according to my ethnicity, experience and research:

People who consider themselves to be Afro-Latino are persons who are born in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries of the Caribbean and Central and South America and/or  were raised within the cultures therein.  Upon sight, people are more likely to identify them as African or of African descent than of Spaniard or Spanish or Portuguese descent.  They have a distinct Afro-Hispanic or Afro-Portuguese culture that derived from the times of colonialism and slavery within the Americas. It is complicated for some but usually clear for those who consider themselves Afro-Latino.  Afro-Latinos embrace this modern title for their identity and accept themselves to be both of African and Latino descent.  

I have been intrigued by Afro-Latinos and Afro-Latino cultures as I am the off-spring of a Latin-Caribbean  Puerto Rican and an Afro -Caribbean Dominican; And not Dominican from the Dominican Republic but Dominican from the island of the Commonwealth of Dominica.  They are pronounced differently and are two different countries but I will hold that info for another blog post.  I consider myself Afro and Latino Caribbean by ethnicity but I do not relate to the Afro-Latino culture because I was not raised within it.  I was raised within West Indian culture which is the cultures found within the English-speaking Caribbean islands that once belonged to Britain. Once again that is additional information that will be covered in another blog post. When persons look at me, especially when I am in the Americas, they usually think I am Dominican (from the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rican (which I am!) or Cuban and it makes complete sense because I look just like them!  Not to mention I grew up, went to school with and lived around them too.   The only difference is that I can not relate to the culture as much and I do not speak Spanish which I got ridiculed for all my life by Latinos.  However, I have embraced the fact that I am Latino and in and after my college years decided to learn more about the Latino cultures.  This is where I stumbled over the term “Afro-Latino.”  Later I found out that Afro-Latinos are not just found in the Caribbean islands but in the countries of Central and South America.  I recently attended a Colombian Festival in Houston, Texas and saw so many Colombians who look just like me!

Here's me with my curly fro.

Here’s me with my curly fro.

An additional bit of information is that there are six other African countries that were colonized by the Portuguese which Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea but I do not believe that they are considered Latin, however, their cultures are very similar to Afro-Latino cultures. While searching for more information on Afro-Latinos, here are some insightful videos and links that I came across that may help the reader to better understand how this “race” and culture emerged:

  • In this video, Afro-Latino celebrities talk about how they identify themselves, their struggles in the entertainment industry and the media and the discrimination they face from other races and within their own races and homes.

Mun2.tv, Black and Latino in the US

  • In this CNN short Afro-Latinos talk about their lives as being Black and Latino.
  • This is a trailer to what was supposed to be a detailed documentary on Afro-Latinos and their cultures.  It starts with the inception of Afro-Latino culture and where the culture stands today.  Unfortunately, though I have looked, I have not found the complete documentary.
  • In this episode of “Black in Latin America” the comparisons of Haiti and the Dominican republic gives one insight on the Afro-Latino identity, the discrimination that they endure and the self-hatred that they have to overcome within their country.  There are about 2 to 3 other episodes which expound more on the Afro –Latino experience in the Caribbean (like Cuba), Central America (Mexico) and South America (Peru and Brazil) and you can find them all on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RlG4b3LV9o And here is a blog that I follow, Los Afro-Latinos, that spotlights the Afro-Latino experience from its history to the present contributors to the culture. HERE are some celebrities you may know but never knew they were Afro-Latino!

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