I'm an AfroLatina

It happens at least twice a week; I welcome a guest at my job and they give me this look of helplessness as they start speaking to me in their best version of Spanglish (of which I am fluent as well). They don't realize that I, too, speak Spanish and the looks of relief and confusion never get old. 

With one quick 'Si, Hablo Español!' They are relieved of the task of playing charades in attempt to ask for a table for 4. Why is it such a shock as they learn I speak Spanish? Because I'm an AfroLatina, and while I look inherently Dominican to those who've grown up around Dominicans and know the tell-tale signs; I appear to be a non-Spanish speaking black woman to Spanish speaking people hailing from Europe and parts of South America, who oftentimes look like the folks on our grandma's Telenovelas. See; Argentina, Venezuela, Spain.

Okay, so an AfroLatina? Que es esto? Well, it means that while I identify as a Latina - I also identify as a black woman. Whereas that's MY interpretation of being an AfroLatina, there are many more ways to explain this delicious swirl of African diaspora, merengue, mangu and black pride. Most caribeños are a mixture of Taino Indian, African slave and European ancestry; while some Latinos have had a difficult time accepting their origins, I am fully aware of my ancestral ties.

Identity is an extremely important thing to me, as I have learned how to be compassionate and tolerant of others through learning about my own identity. Of the many faces that I wear, the most apparent is my ethnic background. I am a brown woman with a big auburn fro whose kinks and coils are the subject of many conversation. On my journey through self awareness I have come into my own - time and time again, by exploring the many nuances of my identity. I am an AfroLatina; I am equal parts bachata and hip hop, I am equal parts tres golpe and sweet potato pie. I am equal parts black and Latina. A perfect balance of deep roots and new beginnings. 

I strive to uplift the Latino culture and empower my fellow Latinos and show incredible support to my Afro-Latinas who are on a journey through and to self awareness, just like me. I advocate for the rights of MY black people. I am fully supportive of the BlackLivesMatter movement and respect and honor all of my sisters and brothers who are out there putting in that work. I am a mixture of black pride y orgullo en ser Latina. 

I exist so that I may teach people to love their complexities and complexions, their kinks, their curls and so that they may find peace in learning of their true origins.

Latinos are one of the most racially diverse and culturally rich groups of people and it's time we start embracing our identities and honoring our ancestry and those who came before us.

- Frankie Reese.

{image credit: tatiana nancy for the peralta project)