Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Racial Confusion among Latinos & African Americans

 Two Black men portraying their Puerto Rican Pride
in the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in New York

Why is it so challenging for so  many people, especially African-Americans and U.S. Latinos, to understand that there is a difference between someone's race and someone's culture? Two individuals can be of the same race, but of an entirely different culture and speak a different language. Another two can be of the same culture and nationality, but a member of an entirely different race.

I was working as a counselor in San Francisco, California when an African-American woman who noticed my Spanish and pictures of Afro-Latinos on my wall; looked me right in the face and asked me to confirm that I'm black. Likewise, a Mexican-American woman with whom I engaged in a Spanish-speaking conversation, which included a discussion of my traveling through Mexico City, told an African-American co-worker, behind my back, that I am not black.

Afro-Bolivians jamming to their own
version of black
music  called "Saya"

Here in New York, when blacks from the Dominican Republic first began migrating here in droves, they insisted in heavily accented English, "I'm not black, I'm Dominican." They too were confusing their race (black) with their culture and nationality (Dominican). I have not heard them make such a blusterous comment since I moved back to New York from California. At least, not yet. But then again, I do not discuss race with Latinos, especially Afro-Latinos, until I get a better understanding of their ethnic awareness.

Black women of Guatemala

The other day, I was communicating with a Puerto Rican who happens to be a staunch Trump supporter on Facebook. He strongly insisted that I am not of his race. Since I never met him face to face, I don't know what race he is, but I had to ask him if he has ever been to Loiza, a city on Puerto Rico's east coast where descendants of African slaves (people of my race) lived for centuries. Bomba and plena music that is popular in that area has the same African roots as African-American blues and gospel music. That did not set well with him.

Afro Uruguayan "Candombé" dancer at a Carnival
in Montevideo, the nation's capital

What upset him even more was when I shared my travels through nine Spanish-speaking countries and sought out people of "my race" who viewed me as a "brother" from another "culture." He abruptly ended our little debate and wished me happy holidays.

Latin-American countries such as Cuba, Panamá, Colombia, Perú, Ecuador, and hell, even Bolivia, Argentina, and Uruguay; countries where I have Facebook friends that are on my list of places to visit are "saying it loud, they are black and they are proud," and are struggling for black civil rights in their respective countries.

I'm showing a good friend from Ecuador,
South America around New York City

During my Latin American travels, I noticed that the racial discrimination for employment and housing is much worse than that of the U.S. In Peru, there are TV shows that stereotype Afro-Peruvians and Indigenous people as stupid, silly, and dishonest. In high-end stores, I've been racially profiled as not having enough money to purchase their items. In Ecuador, I had trouble catching cabs because drivers thought that I was a poor Afro-Ecuadorian out to commit a robbery.

On positive note, the police force in Latin-American countries, with the exception of Bogotá, Colombia, are not finding bogus excuses to shoot and kill or brutalize innocent, unarmed black and brown people as so commonly practiced  here in the U.S.A, which is why many black families, one whom I know personally, feel much safer living in Latin America.


  1. Please don't spread your U.S. ideology of race. I can't stand it when you black Americans come to Latin America and telling everyone that they're black because you're so insecure of your own nationality and race.

    1. Edmundo, you obviously have reading comprehension issues. I stated facts supported by photos. If you know anything about the history of Latin America, you would know that there was an African slave trade and that racial discrimination exists to this day.

      Go back and read my post thoroughly this time, then do a little research, and you will then be ready to debate me—and still lose!

  2. I just went through the "He is not black" thing a few months ago at my new job. It was so crazy that some of the Spanish speakers wouldn't except my real name (Marquis). They would just keep asking for my real (Hispanic) name. But to talk to your point; it is as if latinos see nationalty as the end factor for everything. Which would be fine if we did't here and experience discremenation based on the color of our skin in their countries. I think in the end they need to realize we are not trying to make them us. We are just calling a spade a spade.

    1. "a 'spade a spade'" LOL! But, I here you, though :-)


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