A Mosaic Called Afro-Latinidad
By Viviana Lopez Green
Senior Director, Racial Equity Initiative
Black History Month lends the opportunity to recognize the intersection between the Black and the Latino experience. As we honor Black Americans this month, we invite Latinos to reflect on how our diverse racial backgrounds—including Afro-Latino, (and other racial identities)–can help position us to strengthen our multi-racial, multi-cultural community.
In observance of Black History Month, UnidosUS offers this list of content resources to deepen our understanding of the “Afro-Latino experience” while placing an intentional emphasis on the nuances and singularities in the mosaic that we call “Afro-Latinidad.’’
Dialogues in AfroLatinidad
This podcast features interviews with scholars, writers, educators, artists, and community leaders “who share their passion for Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx Studies, the significance of their intellectual, creative, or community engagement.”
Las Caras Lindas Podcast
This podcast explores the intersection of blackness in Latinx communities “by shedding light on the neglected and untold stories of Afro-Latinx people.” Las Caras Lindas podcast is a collective of artists, activists, and community members.
This podcast explores Blackness in America, the Caribbean, and the larger diaspora. It brings insights, history, conversations, and testimonies that reveal and explore the many angles of Afro-Latinidad and its connection with Black American History.
This video podcast is “a storytelling celebration of multiculturalism and multilingualism in the Latinx/e community.” Season 2, Orgullo en AfroLatinidad: Being Black AND Latinx, includes a series of interviews with Afro-Latinos that proudly celebrate their culture and share their paths of self-discovery.
Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Family Lore” is the first novel for adults by Acevedo, who is a New York Times-bestselling author of young adult novels such as “The Poet X,” “With the Fire on High,” and “Clap When You Land.” The book tells the story of one Dominican-American family through the voices of its women “as they await a gathering that will forever change their lives.” The book will come out in September of this year.
When Trying to Return Home: Stories by Jennifer Maritza McCauley
This moving collection of stories about “belonging, the meaning of home, and how we secure freedom on our own terms” explores a century of Black American and Afro-Latino life in Puerto Rico, Pittsburgh, Louisiana, Miami, and beyond. “A Most Anticipated Book of the Year” for The Week, Today, People en Español, among others.
Stories of Gabriel by Esther Alix
Several intertwined stories about a close-knit community take place in the South Bronx. “’Stories of Gabriel’ is not a love story, but a story of several interconnected loves that have been lost or found, new or lasting. All take place just blocks apart. The vibrant Latinx Caribbean culture of the neighborhood is brought to life by debut fiction Dominican American writer Esther Alix.”
Neruda On the Park by Cleyvis Natera
This New York Times Editors’ Choice “follows members of a Dominican family in NYC who take radically different paths when faced with encroaching gentrification.” Natera’s debut novel is a vivid story about family, friendship, community, “and about the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.”
Agridulce by Dhayana Alejandrina
Agridulce is divided in two sections: Lo Agrio (Bitter) and Lo Dulce (Sweet). The poems in each section speak to accepting life’s ambivalent nature. In the words of Dhayana, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2009, “I use poetry to bring life to all the emotions we experience in this life journey, showing that to live is to embrace the good and the bad.”
YOUNG ADULT BOOKS
Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess
This book tells the story of Sicily Jordan, “a Black Panamanian fashionista who rocks her braids with pride—who learns to use her voice and take pride in who she is while confronting prejudice in the most unexpected places.”
The Making of Yolanda la Bruja by Lorraine Avila
“Lorraine Avila brings a story born from the intersection of race, justice, education, and spirituality that will capture readers everywhere.” Highly praised by Elizabeth Acevedo, this book will be published in April 2023.
Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American by Jasmine Méndez
“In this memoir for teens about growing up Afro Latina in the Deep South, Jasmine writes about feeling torn between her Dominican, Spanish-speaking culture at home and the American, English-speaking one around her.” “Islands Apart” is a story about identity, but mostly about reconciling aspects from the different cultures that can inhabit the self.
VIDEO & FILM
“The Ritual to Beauty” (Trailer)
As described in The New Yorker, “for the women in Shenny De Los Angeles’s family, hair relaxers meant a mix of beauty and pain. Going natural was both a privilege and a liberation.” In this experimental short film, three generations of Dominican women explore their relationship to “beauty rites” through spoken word and poetry. 2022 LOLA award winner “The Ritual of Beauty” is a meditation on learning how to love yourself by embracing your cultural and racial identity.
Los Patines (Trailer)
Black Colombian actress Loren Escandon directs Los Patines, a short film about “an Afro-Colombian orphaned girl who dreams of freedom, a normal childhood, and a pair of roller-skates” while she’s forced to work as a domestic servant.
Daughter of the Sea
“After the death of her grandfather, a young woman experiences a spiritual awakening when she is called by Yemaya, the orisha Goddess of the Sea.” With this evocative caption, audiences are invited to watch the “Daughter of the Sea,” directed by the talented Afro-Boricua Alexis García. Shot in Puerto Rico, the film is an ode to ancestors and Latina women.
Nydia Simone, founder of Blactina Media, is a Panamanian-American actor, writer, and content creator, from New York City. Her company’s mission consists of “amplifying and empowering Afrolatinx/Caribbean narratives in every medium.” Through “The Plátano Pipeline,” Blaclatina Media is also opening doors for Afrolatinx and Caribbean professionals in Film/TV.
AFRO-LATINO SCHOLARS & STUDIES
Panama in Black: Afro-Caribbean World Making in the Twentieth Century by Kaysha Corinealdi
On a rich array of sources, this research presents the Panamanian isthmus as “a crucial site in the making of an Afro-diasporic world.” The book traces the multigenerational activism of Afro-Caribbean Panamanians in their navigation of anti-Blackness, xenophobia, and white supremacy. By doing so, “Corinealdi offers a new mode of understanding activism, community, and diaspora formation.”
‘Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality’ by Tanya Katerí Hernández
This comprehensive book about anti-Black bias in the Latino community “unpacks the misconception that Latinos are ‘exempt’ from racism due to their ethnicity and multicultural background.” Law professor and comparative race relations expert Tanya Katerí Hernández explores the “interwoven fabric of discrimination” and examines the cause of these issues.
Related Content and Resources
- Afro-Latinidad: The celebration of a multifaceted identity
- ALAS II: Welcoming AfroLatinx Youth
- Black History Month 2021: Here’s How UnidosUS is Exploring the Intersection of the Black and Latinx Experience
- Celebrate Afro-Latino voices with the UnidosUS reading list
- Afro-Latinos are part of the American story