I am starting to blog because I want to engage in a public forum that is not dominated by the corporate media. I want to use this space to contribute to ongoing discussions about "Afro-Latinos" in the United States and in the rest of the Americas. "Afro-Latino" is often viewed as a "new" category put forth by Latinos and Latin Americans who have finally recognized their African ancestry and self-identify as "black." Afro-Latina/os are folks who reject mestizaje ideology in Latin America and Latino cultures, which have historically celebrated racial mixture while silencing the marginalization of African descendants in the Americas. Yet claims that this is a new identity are largely inaccurate because many Latinos have recognized their blackness for a long time. Afro-Latina/os are not recent immigrants who have suddenly encountered U.S. racism, but in fact are people who are well-acquainted with race in the U.S., many of whom have lived here for generations. One only needs to read Piri Thomas's classic Down These Mean Streets, or to listen to the tunes of Machito and his Afro-Cubans to become aware of the long history of Afro-Latinos in this country. Thus, I view "Afro-Latino" as a term that refers to Latinos of African descent who were born and raised in the United States (or have spent significant parts of their lives in the U.S.). I make a distinction between "Afro-Latino" and "Afro-Latin American," the latter to me is a term to describe afro-descendientes who live in Latin America. Therefore, I define Afro-Latina/os as people with roots in Latin America and the Caribbean who also live distinct experiences as African descendants in the U.S. While Afro-Latina/os are African-Americans in a hemispheric sense, and they share many cultural commonalities with U.S. Americans of African-descent (commonly referred to as "African-Americans"), I suggest that they also live a distinct experience due to their unique "Latin" cultural backgrounds. In short, Afro-Latina/o identifications disrupt the general tendency to see Latinos as "brown" and African-Americans as "black." In fact, this blog aims to highlight the connections between these populations that are often overlooked in many debates on "black/brown" relations today.
I do not pretend to have the only "Afro-Latino" perspective. Instead, I want to use this blog as a way to comment on a range of subjects, including race, politics, sports, and popular culture. Some of the blogs will directly relate to Afro-Latinos, others will not. Ultimately, I hope this forum contributes in a modest way to enhancing our understanding of changing racial understandings in this country. Given that we are in the midst of a historic presidential campaign with an "African-American" candidate, it seems that we are in a perfect moment to reflect on the ways racial ideas are changing and how they might embolden challenges to ongoing social inequalities.
Hasta la próxima