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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Representin'

Black American Traveling
to Black Latino America



FancyPanamaHat

During my first trips to Perú, Ecuador, Panamá and Colombia, and as I was passing through El Salvador and Mexico, I wanted to show off my ethnic pride and immediately be marked by the people around me as a black-American. In each Latin-American country I visit, I try to seek out black communities so I can get a taste of black Latino cultures. I wore t-shirts with pictures and names of Muhammed Ali, Tupac Shakur, Luther Vandross, and Barack Obama, all of which collected quite a bit of attention. Before leaving to return to Oakland, CA, where I have been living throughout my adult life, I cleaned and gave all of those t-shirts to anyone who wanted a souvenir from an African-American traveler.


Untitled-7
Wearing my Barack Obama shirt while visiting Ecuador
and buying my first my first panama hat.

Upon my return to Oakland from places like Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, and even Cuba, from years back, I wanted to show off my language and cultural exposure by wearing t-shirts of one of Perú's largest black communities, Chincha; my sentimental favorite international (predominately black) soccer team Ecuador, and the t-shirt representing the University of Havana where I spent an early summer studying Spanish. I even wear clothes that were handwoven in Ecuador, like my panama hats and alpaca knit sweaters. When my Peruvian-American friend María told me that I come across as a foreign black person, I took it as a compliment.


El Sol instructor

Sporting a t-shirt representing a large,
culturally rich, Afro-Peruvian community.

Each of those shirts, worn here and abroad, served as conversation pieces. In Latin-America, I easily attracted curious new friends. Here in the states, I not only get curious looks from American citizens, but I attract curious new friends from the countries I represent with what I'm wearing.