“What are you?” is a question that my sister and I have been asked multiple times. This usually occurs when the person hears our surname or when we speak Spanish. We are Black and Latina at the same time with immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. This isn’t special. However, there was less representation growing up in the greater Los Angeles area in 1980s and 90s.
I thought it would be interesting to interview my sister, Lissette, on the Don’t Mix In Podcast to discuss our experiences as Afro-Latinas on the West Coast, in Los Angeles. These are our experiences. Here are some of the themes from our conversations:
You can listen to Episode 54 of the Don’t Mix In Podcast here:
Afro-Latina Af·ro | \ˈa-(ˌ)frō \ La·ti·na /ləˈtēnə/ noun
1: a woman or girl who is a native or inhabitant of Latin America of African ancestry.
2: a woman or girl of Latin American origin with African ancestry living in the U.S.“Op-Ed: This Is Why We Need Afro-Latinx Added to the Dictionary” from Remezcla
In 2016, the Pew Research Center issued their first nationally representative survey to ask Latin-Americans whether they identify as Afro-Latino. They found that 1 out of 4 Latinos in the U.S. identify as Afro-Latino—which means one in four people in the United States would need to check both the “Black” and the “Latino” box on census or application forms.Source: Oprah Magazine
What is Afro-Latina?
We get into the question of what is Afro-Latina or Afro-Latinx? How do you define it? Then we get into how prevalent slavery was all over Latin America. Therefore, being Black and Latinx is not unique. We also get into the challenge of how to explain the concept of Afro-Latinx twenty years ago when the term was not widely used.
Dime En Español
Que eres?” Es una pregunta que mi hermana y yo nos han hecho muchas veces. Esto generalmente ocurre cuando la persona escucha nuestro apellido o cuando hablamos español. Somos negros y latinos al mismo tiempo con padres inmigrantes de la República Dominicana. Esto no es especial.
We explore how that the African roots in Latin America permeate the music, the food, and the overall culture. Another topic we discussed is how we didn’t fit in our neighborhood. The West Coast had very little Dominicans, at least in our area there were very few. So, our family was a bit of an anomaly in our neighborhood. Likewise, we really didn’t fit in when we would visit the Dominican Republic.
Lastly, we had a discussion on hair and how we decided to wear our hair curly. And, how we need to those people at the mall selling flat irons to stop asking us if we want to straighten our hair.
Give the episode a listen and let me know what you think!