Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cultural Exploration

Exploring Black Latino
(Afro-Latino) Cultures

It was a well-rewarding 25-day vacation through El Salvador, Perú, and Ecuador, and am already planning my next trip, which will include Colombia and/or Chile later this year. I'm in love with the Spanish language and various Latin-American cultures, specifically those with African roots.

A few African-Americans and Latinos, including those in the Spanish-speaking countries that I've visited, assume I'm Latino. When they hear me speak, they think I may be Cuban or Puerto Rican. The Cubans will beg to differ, but I've been influenced from an early age by New York's Puerto Rican community. I've been criticized openly by a few African-Americans for being a sell-out to my own race, and by a few Latinos as being self-loathing wanna-be bored with my own culture. Of course, I know better than this because I spent most of my high school and college years reading up on black history, which made me proud of my heritage.

I've been criticized for being a sell-out to my own race and a self-loathing, wanna-be bored with my own culture.

One Latino told me that he feels sorry for me. My question was why? Because he couldn't give me an intelligent answer, I reckoned, perhaps, he was bored with his own culture and could not understand why anyone else would enjoy it as much as I. In truth, I'm no different from the Xicano (Mexican-American) who embraces hip-hop culture, or the Boricua (Puerto Rican) who communicates in a soulful African-American lingo, or the Quisqueya (Dominican) who enjoys the African-American theater like I do. The one thing that we are all have in common is that we are expanding our horizons and experiencing other cultures as well as our own.

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