With my ardent interest in Afro-Latino history and culture and my inspiration to celebrate them, I received a very interesting question from one of my blog readers:
“I would like to hear your honest opinion on why so many black Latinos are in relationships with whites and mestizos? Being born and raised in Miami and interacting with Latinos on a daily basis, it is rare to see a black Latino couple. With all this talk about Afro-Latin culture and identity, a basic question comes to mind. Are they really black?”
As I read this correspondence, I thought of my father whose second, and successful marriage till death, was to a white woman. My father was rejected by African-American and Puerto Rican women because he was a single parent of two crumb snatchers—my brother and me. All his second wife knew was that she loved the man, and she accepted my brother and me as well. I was best man at my father's wedding, and know first hand that love is love, regardless of race.
Therefore this is hardly a complaint, but an objective question based on a casual observation. When I think about it, I myself have never seen a black Latino couple in the U.S., and found very few throughout my Latin-American travels.
What is even more stunning is that while I'm admiring the black woman in the countries that I visit, it is the non-black women who were admiring me. My trip to Venezuela was an exception where I found women of all colors open, friendly, and approachable. Now that I plan on moving to Ecuador, I wonder if I will be the only black man strutting around with a black woman on my arms or will I, too, end up falling mutually in love with a non-black woman who sees more beauty and value in me than a black woman?
It has been brought to my attention that in communities throughout Latin America, people are told from their youth that they have a duty to “mejorar la raza (improve the race)” by marrying someone white or as light-skinned as possible so the children will be less black, thus making it easier to overcome discrimination and assimilate into the mainstream.
Marisól, a dark-skinned Afro-Peruvian friend, had children by a white man, and those children grew up and got married to Europeans. When you look at her grandchildren, you would never know that they have a black mother or grandmother.This is the idea behind mejorar la raza/improve the race.
I decided to share this reader's question with some Afro Latinos I know, and here are the range of responses that I received:
- It's not just Latinos, my Filipino, Indian, and Polynesian friends are all pushed to marry lighter.
- I believe that love is love, I myself am with a redheaded Irishman.
- I've dated women all over the color spectrum. However, women of lighter shades generally show more interest towards me than the darker. Just my personal experience.
- Quite simply opposites attract!
- Don't think that some of us haven't taken an interest in an Afro Latina, but when you see them going for the mestizo look, I had to accept it and see who was paying me the attention after a while—mestizo and white women.
- I'm Dominican. In the beginning, my father gave me a hard time for dating a black man, but when I looked at my mother's side of the family, they were black too. This is all so hypocritical and dumb; deep rooted ignorance.
- Because we want to, plain and simple. I date an Italian-American man and I find nothing wrong with it!
- I've only been asked on a date by a black guy once in the last year, but asked numerous times by mestizo men. I guess opposites attract cause black men sure aren't looking at me.
As I stated earlier, love is love. However, personally, I could not commit to a woman because she is a member of some perceived ideal race. That is not the way I want to live my life. On the flip side, I know many black males who are attracted to black women, but opted for women of other races because they felt more accepted with less drama. And based on statements here, there are some black women who experienced the same.