Friday, April 12, 2013

Latina Magazine Criticized for Celebrating Black Heritage

Latina Magazine recently celebrated Black Heritage with a focus on “Afro” Latinas. Among the overwhelmingly positive comments from readers, there was one dissenter who expressed what I hear occasionally from other Latinos; a point that I don't understand. I copied and pasted what she wrote verbatim:

Why are you trying to separate us? It used to be that we were all Latinos. Now, not so much. Now it's "Afro-Latinos" Thank you so much Latina Magazine for making things much harder but pointing out why don't belong in your eyes. I expect this from the African American community because they don't understand how we don't apply the one drop rule but I would expect more from you. DIVIDE, DIVIDE, DIVIDE....THE SAME TO BE THE IN THING TO DO. NOW WE DON'T FIT IN ANYWHERE. THANKS FOR ADDING TO THE BULLSHIT.

This is where I am confused--I remember when Latina Magazine neglected Latinas of color all together. In my travels to nine Latin American countries, I've observed blatant discrimination against Asian, Indigenous, and Black Latinos. Who is doing the dividing here? In Latin America, you generally do not see Latinos of color working in hospitals, office buildings, banks or at the airport unless they are cleaning floors or maybe working as security guards. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez are the only two Latin American leaders I know of who stood up and addressed the racial divide in their countries.

¡En Cuba, no hay negros ni blancos; solo Cubanos!
In Cuba, there are no Blacks or Whites, only Cubans!
José Martí, the Father of Cuba
Here in the USA, I used to watch Spanish television like Telemundo and Univisión to practice my Spanish, and felt disheartened to notice that the actors and newscasters do not reflect the diversity of the Latin-American community I've grown accustomed to seeing in my own community and during my travels. This really burst my bubble, because at one time, I too believed that Latinos were all one regardless of color. I'm not White, I'm Puerto Rican one would say; I'm not Black, I'm Dominican, another would say. Yet,  Afro-Latino actors and actress have been traditionally playing African-American roles because they cannot get roles in the Latino TV or film industries like their White counterparts..

I truly understand the writer's concern for Latinos Unidos (United Latinos), however, it seems to me that Latina Magazine should not be blamed for the division in the Latin American community. This division has been prevalent since the arrival of the conquistadors.