Colorism in the Afro-Latino community

Photo credit: Sydne Vigille 

In the midst of Miami’s rising star Amara La Negra, the topic of colorism within the Afro-Latinx community is being addressed head-on.

Amara La Negra is an Afro-Latina singer, who during the filming of VH1’s new show Love and Hip-Hop: Miami, was criticized by music producer Young Hollywood. Young Hollywood condemned Amara La Negra’s natural afro by referring to it as ‘un-classy’ or something just ‘cool’ instead of a natural trait from her culture.

Microaggressions like this have always been common in the Afro-Latino community from both African and Latin cultures since the Transatlantic slave trade that introduced whitewashing during colonialism.

The term Afro-Latinx is commonly defined as either a person of African descent who resides in a Hispanic region or a person with ancestors of Latin and African origins.

Until recently, people who identified as Afro-Latinx were not acknowledged by other cultures due to their lack of Latino culture’s physical characteristics or their inability to meet either culture’s stereotype. According to CNN, 14 million black Mexicans were just now included in the U.S. census despite their existence as Afro-Latinx for centuries.

The average Afro-Latinx faces mild to extreme colorism in their family from both the African and Latin aspect.

Colorism is the favorable treatment given to people of lighter skin which is more commonly expressed in Latin culture. Generally, people who are more involved with their Latin family face the more extreme lashings of colorism due to the Latino culture whitewashing over the years.

On Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s campus, the student population is diverse, including various ethnic backgrounds including Afro-Latino students, faculty, and staff.

Sarah Austin, a Jamaican and Nicaraguan first-year Business Administration student at FAMU, said her experience with her Nicaraguan elders as a darker Afro-Latina pushed her to view lighter skin as more desirable when choosing a relationship partner.

“Growing up I was told by my grandma to like men who are lighter to keep up the culture’s appearance. Hearing this did sort of program me to be attracted to white guys more at a young age. I’m glad I attended an HBCU, it has helped me learn to love my African American culture and surround myself with people who look like me.”

Despite the attention that Amara La Negra has brought to Afro-Latino injustices within the Latino community, many people feel as if others will still refuse to accept their Afro-Latino peers.

John Lee, the president of Unidos (the only Hispanic organization on FAMU’s campus) said, “I believe that the Latin race would be more accepting about the Afro-Latinx community if they were educated on the fact that we are all one in the same, just that we have African ancestors.”

One of the biggest problems people in the community face is having their Latin culture discredited because of their African ancestors or their language barrier with other Latinx members.

Trevonte Reid, a Honduran and African American first-year pre-nursing student, stated “Most people don’t really know I’m Hispanic unless I tell them that my mother is of Hispanic descent. Attending a dominantly Hispanic middle school did instill a certain pride within me to embrace my culture and be more open to telling people about my Afro-Latino identity.”

There is no reason that Afro-Latinx people should have their heritage questioned because of the color of their skin. All Latin people need to embrace one another to truly have unity amongst all Hispanic people.