“The Pineapple Diaries” is giving voice and representation of Afro-Latinas who are just trying to navigate the complicated and double sided swards of their identity. On the second episode of the first season, character Maite Lopez gives a powerful monologue about finding a balance while juggling her Latino, American, and black identities. From her mother constantly asking her when she is getting married and giving her grandchildren to not fitting in with the entire Latino or African-American communities, Lopez is constantly pulled in different directions. She even discusses the confusing narrative brought on by having a quince and how a girl is expected to dress up as a woman and present herself as a woman but still not being allowed to have a boyfriend because of strict traditions and rules. But, in the end, she knows that everything is going to be okay.
“I found my identity in the confusion. The confusion, it is my identity; my beautiful and mixed up reality,” Lopez says. “I found my identity in my broken Spanish, in my gorgeous skin, in the way I wear my hair, in the palm trees on the island. Waiting for the orange line on a cold winter night and cooking locrio and wearing my African head wrap and anything and everything that confuses you. I found my identity in the traditions of my history and in the doors that have been opened wide for me as a modern woman in this world. I’m going to be okay, because I am, right now, right before your eyes, everything I am.”
Last week, Gina Rodriguez rightfully received public backlash for saying the N-word on multiple occasions because she is not a black person, but the discourse seems to have spilled over to Cardi B (who is a black person) for her use of the N-word. Many people cannot conceive of the fact that some Latinxs are black and some of them are not. So many questions can be answered by visiting the public library or utilizing those Twitter fingers to do some online research, yet many of the loudest folks on the internet have a tenuous grasp or race and identity.
Cardi B is accused of not being black again.
Cardi B was accused of not being black and saying the N-word. An issue that has been ongoing in her career as she has constantly asserted that she is Black and Latinx. In February 2018 the “Bodak Yellow” sat down for a Teen Vogue interview with Zendaya, where she talked about the public’s confusion about her race and cultures.
“One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m black.” she told Zendaya. “Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know it.”
When accused of not acting black she asked, “How do you act like a black woman? How do black women act?”
Cardi B then shared a video defending her blackness yet again.
Cardi then shared a video from two years ago where she talked about how black publications have taught her about blackness and learning to love her natural hair. Other supporters noted that the reason why everyone is confused is because Latinx and black history is simply not taught well if at all in schools.
“The majority of African captives were enslaved in Latin America & the Caribbean. folks don’t know these histories. the real question is how come? why do American educational institutions (k-12) do such a piss poor job teaching about race, slavery, settlement, and colonialism?” One Twitter user wrote.
Afro-Latinxs exist. Some Latinxs are black people. Say it again. Say it again.
Cardi B is of Dominican and Trinidadian descent. These are two Caribbean nations with large black populations who are descendants of enslaved Africans. Nicki Minaj is also from Trinidad and Tobago and has a similar skin tone to Cardi B, yet her blackness is never called into question.
Caribbeans, like many ethnicities that are colonial products, can be born in a spectrum of skin tones and features. Some of us are born black. Being black is a beautiful thing, but the social experience of a Latinx who looks like Celia Cruz is much different than one who looks like Gina Rodriguez. Afro-Latinxs have to navigate anti-black policies and anti-Latinx policies in ways that lighter-skinned Latinxs do not.
According to Pew Research, 1 in 4 Latinxs identify as Afro-Latinx and Latino Carribeans are more likely to identify as such.
“The multiple dimensions of Hispanic identity also reflect the long colonial history of Latin America, during which mixing occurred among indigenous Americans, white Europeans, slaves from Africa and Asians. In Latin America’s colonial period, about 15 times as many African slaves were taken to Spanish and Portuguese colonies than to the U.S. Today, about 130 million people of African descent live in Latin America.”
The Afro-Latinx identity acknowledges the treatment of black Latinxs in the social construct of race relations, without erasing our Latinx heritage so that we no longer have to “choose” which fits best.
Can Latinxs say the N-word?
Anyone who is a non-black person of color does not get a right to say the N-word. That includes non-black Latinxs. Having a small percentage of African ancestry does not make you a black person, it only means that your ancestors were black.
To quote Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, “My identity is the descendant of many different identities. I am the descendant of African slaves. I am the descendant of Indigenous people. I am the descendant of Spanish colonizers… I am a descendant of all sorts of folks. That doesn’t mean I’m Black, that doesn’t mean I’m Native, but I can tell the story of my ancestors.”
If you would not be called the N-word by a racist then you do not get to reclaim it, period.
While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous.
There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well.
People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.
“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”
You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.
The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos.
Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.
Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair.
How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.
While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day.
How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.
It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage.
During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”
So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?
As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.