One Salvadorian-Canadian photographer is trying to change perceptions of the racial diversity on the island of Puerto Rico. Valerie Moreno moved to Puerto Rico four years ago and noticed that the racial makeup of the people there was vastly different from what she had experienced in popular media. She was surprised when everyone didn’t look like Jennifer Lopez and soon realized that the island was rich with racial diversity. In a Huffington Post article featuring Moreno, she says that she didn’t know much about Black Latinos and diversity in Puerto Rico. She says: “Why? Partly because of my ignorance but also because every Puerto Rican I saw in movies and pop culture looked very much like J. Lo ― culturally homogeneous.”
Photographer Valerie Moreno is hoping to shed light on Puerto Rico’s diversity and change preconceived notions about Puerto Ricans with her photography in her Instagram account Afros in San Juan.
She makes sure, that as someone who is not Afro-Latina, she is not exploiting or overtaking the conversation, but rather she aims to “lend whatever privilege” she has to benefit the people she captures.
She often includes her subjects’ words as captions and interviews them to get a better idea of how to represent them. In her interview with HuffPo she says:
“I simply want to document the people I’ve seen around me and their words, so that when people look back at this generation and our contributions, they remember some of the beautiful, real faces that were here at this point in time. Because, why should a black person be a hidden figure in their own country?”
The images feature the bright colors of Puerto Rico as backdrops for Afro-Latinas.
The subjects come in all shapes, colors and sizes.
The photos also feature subjects holding fruit and foliage that is native to Puerto Rico.
Side by side, they seem to highlight one another and show all the natural beauty of the island.
Model Mominatu Boog is one of Morena’s muses and is featured often on the account.
A model of Liberian decent living in Puerto Rico at the time of the project, she is featured in some stunning photos in the series, again highlighting the diversity of those in Puerto Rico and the beauty of the island itself.
Puerto Ricans of all ages are included in the series.
The wisdom in those grays speak volumes.
The series really is a beautiful reminder of Puerto Rican diversity.
This Afro-Latina keeps Puerto Rico in her heart and pocket. ¡Ahí na ma!