Sunday, April 3, 2016

Anti Blackness in the Latino Community

While banking in a predominately black and brown city of Cartagena, Colombia, I felt as though I needed sunglasses in the bank because it was so white inside. There were no black or brown employees.

A young black woman attended an event for a black fraternity wearing her hair short and natural.  Her mother calls in the middle of dinner, and others at the entire table stopped breathing in utter astonishment because she was speaking Spanish. When the phone conversation ended, several people  commented , “I thought you were a sister!” “A Dominican-American one!” was her  abrupt reply while taking advantage of a much needed teaching moment.

As a black American, I myself  had more than my share of teaching moments first learning that slave ships headed towards Latin-America more than a century before heading to the U.S. From my personal travels through Latin America it was quite evident that black people experience racism in their own countries as well. So why shouldn't this sister from the Dominican Republic, a descendant of slaves, be considered a sister?

Latinos here told me more than once that there is no racism in their home countries, which is so untrue. They just don't have the hate crimes and police brutality (with the exception of Colombia) like we do here. I myself experienced some of the racism that Latin Americans claim not to have, such as being racially profiled in stores, being addressed rudely at airports, or having difficulty catching cabs.

Although, I historically made good, friendly connections with Latinos in this country and abroad, most of whom are not anti black, I have met many non-black Latinos in this country who enjoy or inspire to enjoy the “white privilege,” like presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz  (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Florida) while living in the USA. 

Other Latinos, including some black ones,told me that they are all united regardless of color. That too is a myth. Look at the major Latino TV stations like Telemundo and Univisión with its perpetual discrimination against Latinos of color . 

The Latin-American media projects false impressions that all Latinos look alike. I've also observed the same discrimination in Spanish-speaking countries with large black populations like in shops,  in office buildings, public transportation, and government offices. In the predominately black community where my Afro-Peruvian goddaughter lives, there are no black medical personnel, school teachers, or police officers.

 These white Latino supremacist, and brown Latinos claiming to be white dishonor the legacy of their ancestors consisting of black and indigenous people’s struggles throughout Latin-America. They also dishonor the rhythms that they enjoy listening and dancing to, such as merengue (Dominican Republic), bomba y plena (Puerto Rico) , tambor (Venezuela), cumbia (Colombia), festejo (Perú), jarocha (Mexico), and son montuno (Cuba), all of which have African roots like the American blues, not to mention the foods that they eat, such as mangú, which came from the influence of African slaves.

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