Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

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A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

Culture

A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

¡Voice Latina! / YouTube

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is the outgoing president of the National Lawyers Guild and her departure has taken a sudden turn. After years as an attorney, many are now accusing the attorney of posing as a Latina.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is facing mounting scrutiny and backlash for her claims that she is Latina.

According to a post on Prism, Bannan has a history of claiming her Latinidad. The post points out several interviews the attorney has given over the years with different publications where she explicitly claims that she is part of the Latino community. In one YouTube video with ¡Voice Latina!, Bannan explicitly says that “as a woman, as an individual, as a Latina” she is inspired to do the work she does because of her hero Oscar López Rivera.

People are calling on others to do better about who they choose to represent various communities.

Representation matters, especially when it comes to the issues that are facing our various communities. It is important to make sure that the representation reflects those being represented. According to Prism, Bannan has been pushing a narrative that she is of Puerto Rican and Colombian heritage for over a decade. She has even spoken out as a Puerto Rican woman that is fighting for the island’s statehood.

There are multiple media moments when Bannan claimed Latino heritage, according to reports.

Prism points to an interview conducted in 2007 where she allegedly told “El Diario” that her heritage was “a little bit Spanish, a little bit Colombian, and a Sephardic Jew.”

“I am racially white, and have always said that. However my cultural identity was formed as a result of my family, both chosen and chosen for me, and that has always been Latinx,” Bannan wrote on Facebook Monday following the story. “My identity is my most authentic expression of who I am and how I pay honor to the people who have formed me since I was a child.”

The story is garnering so much attention because of Hilaria Baldwin and her claims of being Spanish.

Baldwin misled people into believing that she was of Spanish descent when she was a white woman born in Boston. Prism was able to decipher that Bannan is a white woman born in Georgia whose family immigrated from Ireland, Italy, and Russia.

READ: Why Do People Care If Hilaria Baldwin’s Spanish Accent Is Fake Or Not, Anyway?

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Tia Wood Tik Tok Star Gained Followers By Showing Off Her Culture

Things That Matter

Tia Wood Tik Tok Star Gained Followers By Showing Off Her Culture

Photo: tiamiscihk/Instagram

tia wood dedicates this November is National Native American Heritage Month, a month that is dedicated yearly to the recognition of the indigenous peoples and tribes who are native to North America.

The month is incredibly important because it serves to shine a spotlight on the many groups of people that have been historically oppressed and colonized by European settlers. And thanks to the accessibility of the internet, it is now easier than ever for educators to use social media to educate the world about indigenous cultures.

@tiamiscihk

HAIR TEACHING.❤️💇🏻‍♀️ #hair #indigenous #WellDone #canada #nativeamerican #selflove inspired by @the_land ✊🏽

♬ dear katara – L.Dre

One of the most engaging and informative educators online is Tik Tok influencer Tia Wood, a singer, dancer and artist of the Plains Cree people of Canada. Tia Wood’s stunning and colorful videos spotlight her indigenous heritage and have gained her a massive following on Tik Tok.

Tia Wood gained internet fame when her Tik Tok video of her mother helping her dress in traditional Plains Cree garb went viral. The touching video shows Wood’s mother reciting the haunting poem ‘Brown Eyes’ by Nadia McGhee, while brushing her hair, braiding it, and helping Wood get dressed. The powerful verses tell a story of the pervasive nature of European beauty standards and the insidious effects they can have on a brown girl’s psyche.

“Her eyes are blue/Yours are brown,” the poem goes. “Hers represents the ocean/Yours represents the ground/You’ve always hated your eyes/And wished that they were blue/But your eyes have a tint of gold/So rare it must not be true.” And on it continues.

The performance itself is breathtaking. Wood begins the video looking forlorn, ostensibly unhappy with her appearance. But as Wood’s mother continues to help her daughter dress in her traditional clothing, Wood’s face brightens, her mood transforms. She sees the beauty of her own face, body, and culture in its own right.

The “Brown Eyes” Tik Tok video racked up over 6 million views and gave Wood more of a platform and a voice to educate her followers on indigenous culture, customs, and history.

On her Tik Tok account, Wood shows her 1.3 million followers the beauty of her people’s music, clothing, and art. She dances, she sings, she interprets Western music through an indigenous lens. She educates her followers on why cultural appropriation is offensive. She explains why the story of Pocahontas was not a princess fairy tale.

Indigenous influencers like Tia Wood are using the power of social media to challenge widely accepted European standards of beauty. We are lucky that we live in a time when learning about other people’s cultures is as easy as the click of a mouse.

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