You Must Write It
Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
If you are looking for a call to action, this is it. There is a unique story within us, tying us to the rich history, culture, and traditions of those who came generations before us. Still, it also connects us to the human experience. We all have different genders, shades, and ethnicities, often separated by language and location, but we are united as humans despite everything. We each carry a story inside of us waiting to be told, so go and tell it.
In recent years there has been a rise in self-expression. These days we are no longer bound by the boxes and classifications of gender norms. Here in America, the veil many have spent hidden behind has lifted. The injustices of black Americans everywhere have set off change reactions around the world against police brutally bringing about reform in a system plagued for centuries by racism. Still, all of this and the heritage and experiences of the Afro-Latinos have been overlooked.
Now and then, I see Afro-Latino actors hidden in roles as Black Americans, not cast as Latinos in films because we aren’t “Latino” enough. Seeing an Afro-Latino in a movie role speaking Spanish is still a novelty and a rarity. Spanish telenovelas, which are within the fabric of many Hispanic households, seek no actual representation. A study done by Annenberg Inclusion Initiative studied inequality in 1,300 popular films and found that from 2007–2019, “Only 6 Afro-Latinos worked as leads/co-leads across the 13-year time frame.” When Amara La Negra hit the television screen on Love & Hip Hop Miami as a dark-skinned Latinx music artist, Amara La Negra’s instantly questioned her skin tone. When In The Heights hit the big screen, it failed to represent dark-skinned Latinos adequately — leading to a much-needed conversation about Colorism.
The thing is that Americans did not write Afro-Latinos out of history; our people did. The lack of representation in media and the arts stems from the Colorist ideals that have plagued the Latinx community for decades. The Latinx community has tried to separate itself from its Afro roots. So why are we not being represented in film, television, or life? We, afro-Latinx unable to perfectly politically fit into a box. We check black, Hispanic, and maybe a little Irish. We carry the melting pot in our bodies. We are what happens when the lines between race and ethnicity are blurred, and that is a line no one is willing to cross, it seems, no one wants to acknowledge.
Be empowered by this, my afro-Latinx people, those undercover super spies; for us to be seen, for us to be heard, we must tell our own stories. Tell the richness of how we got our thick, coarse hair, curves in our hips, and the bronze hues of our skin. If there is a story to be told, it is ours, and it is time we start telling it.