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.


  1. Recognition is not the same thing as being divisive. There are still tons of Latinos that don't know there are black people in places like Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, etc. B/c all they see, the only people who really get recognition, praise, fame are light or white Latinos. So it does matter that we have recognition for Afro-latinos as well as other peoples that are sidelined and discriminated against in Latin America. Otherwise they'll forget how bad it is in places like Brazil.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Marona. Especially the part about tons of Latinos that don't know there are Black people in places like Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, etc. It truly amazes me that that so many Latinos are not aware.

  2. Thank you for posting this! More messages like these need to get out.

  3. My response to people who have an issue with Afro Latino celebration, or Indigeno Latino, or Asiatico Latino, etc, is that they are fools. We celebrate different cultures within Latinidad all the time. We celebrate national cultures. Colombian Latinos are not Peruvian Latinos. We celebrate regions. Coastal Latinos are not Mountain Latinos. We celebrate communities, be they Jewish, Palestinian, Japanese, etc. The fact of the matter is that Latinidad is not a monolithic block, but a multiplicity of ethnic trends that share similarities due to culture sharing across language channels. There is a difference between being ethnically aware and being ethnically obsessed. Color aware and color obsessed. A woman who is raised in an Afro oriented Latino culture should have a right to celebrate her culture. A woman who is called a negra all her life definitely has that name as an aspect of her identity. In the same token, many afrodescendants who are obviously so, still have been raised in the mainstream and do not actively identify as a sub group ethnicity. To celebrate them in a coattail fashion, if they don't do so, other thanh to poit out that Afrodescent people are in the mainstream, would be disingenuous. Some like Adriana Zubiate, are accepted fully in the mainstream and aren't referenced as Afro-Latinas, so neither do we need to. Even though we can recognize her afrodescendencia. Others, like Tatiana Espinoza, grew up and identify as afroperuana, and thus have to have that identity recognized. Yet, these women could be sisters. It is the life experience that matters, not some social imposition by another.


Anonymous comments will be ignored and deleted.