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Defining Afro-Latinx

Influenced by Conscious Contributor Vandalena @_vandii

There is an ongoing battle that people face when it comes to how they racially identify versus how they ethnically identify. Race is a social construct which groups humans in a certain category based off of their shared physical appearance (i.e. skin tone, face structure, etc.). Ethnicity encompasses the various cultural traditions, religious practices, food, music/arts, etc., of various communities. We must be sure that we are identifying others how they choose to be identified as and to always engage in respectful conversation if we aren’t clear on what any parts of their identities mean.

Recently, there has been much curiosity about the intersectionality of “Afro-Latinx” as an ethnic identity. People are asking various questions in respects to what this concept means, where it is derived from, who can identify and how it manifests culturally in different countries. To better understand what it means to identify as Afro-Latinx, we must first break down each aspect and describe its roots. The term “Afro” was coined in the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement, to describe someone of African descent. During this time, people wore their hair in Afros as a sign of pride in their roots and where they came from. “Afro” comes directly from the word “African” and is used to describe African descendants. “Latinx” originates from the word “Latino” (for men) or “Latina” (for women) which is used to describe people from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Because Latina/Latino are gendered identifiers, Latinx was constructed to be inclusive to people of all gender/non-gender identities. Whether you are LGBTQ+iA, non-gender binary, or even if you are feminine and/or masculine and choose to identify as “Latinx” you can because it does not take away from anyone’s Latin roots; it is being more inclusive to an array of gender/non-gendered identities.

Now to bring both “Afro” and “Latinx” together to form “Afro-Latinx”, it is important to understand the history of slavery. Starting in the 15th century, the transatlantic slave trade had begun. This “trade” was the forced dispersement of enslaved Africans from West Africa to the Americas. Most were forced to South America, Central America and The Caribbeans. During the transatlantic slave trade, enslaved Africans were often raped and killed by European colonizers and many African women were forced to reproduce with those in the location they were sent. Also during the time, the Indigenous people of Hispaniola (now known as the Dominican Republic and Haiti) were killed and raped by European colonizers and forced enslaved Africans to reproduce with the indigenous people, therefore manifesting a culture of people with African descent. Furthermore, with African people being brought to these various countries, they also brought with them their traditions and cultural practices. So, “Afro-Latinx” is the combination of gender fluidity with people of African descent who are from Latin countries. From Brazil to Venezuela, Panama to Puerto Rico, and Colombia to the Dominican Republic, Afro-Latinx is prominent and ties back to a history of the enslavement and forced dispersement of African people.

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