Olympic Gold Medalist Jasmine Camacho Quinn Talks Being Black and Puerto Rican: ‘At the End of the Day, I’m Both’
At this point, the fact that folks still have to explain that Afro-Latinos exist has gotten pretty old. Despite what some ignorantes have to say, Latino is not a race and Latinos can look like anyone from Harry Shum Jr. to Amara La Negra to Anya Taylor Joy. But still, so often Black Latinos are forced to defend themselves and their identity.
Like Olympic Gold Medalist Jasmine Camacho Quinn, the first Afro-Latina to win a Gold Medal for Puerto Rico—and the second athlete ever to do so for the island.
After Camacho Quinn won the gold medal in the 100 meters hurdles, some haters claimed that she wasn’t “truly” Puerto Rican because she was born and raised in South Carolina. All the criticism was confusing, considering other Boricuas like Jennifer Lopez and Lin Manuel Miranda were also born and raised in the U.S., and no one ever questions their Puerto Rican-ness.
Considering that nearly 6 million people who identify as Puerto Rican live in the U.S. while the island’s population is only 3.2 million, it makes sense that athletes who are a part of the diaspora would want to rep what they know as their motherland.
Camacho Quinn, for her part, doesn’t let the haters phase her. She knows who she is and stands strong in it. “When it comes down to it, you can’t let other people define who you are,” she said in a recent interview with Essence. “At the end of the day, I’m both. Nobody can take that away from me.”
When Jasmine Camacho Quinn won the Gold Medal in hurdles for Puerto Rico, the significance of the occasion wasn’t lost on her.
Speaking to reporters afterward, she explained why it was important to her to wear her hair natural with Puerto Rico’s national flower Flor de Maga in her afro puff along with her signature long lashes and big hoops. She needed to look like herself to inspire other girls who looked like her that they could one day be Olympians too.
“[When I saw myself on camera] it made me cry more. I’m representing people that look like me. It does matter,” she says. “It was different seeing myself on camera. I thought, this is a strong image. And I guess it was because a lot of people made art behind my image. But I didn’t consciously think about it. I just knew this was myself.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and to celebrate the unique identity of American Latinos, Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky has partnered with Camacho Quinn for their “What Glory We Are” campaign.
“What Glory We Are” is a campaign that “celebrates the unique duality of the Hispanic American experience as 100% Hispanic and 100% American.” Hence, the tagline: “We are the Spirit of the 200%”.
As Buchanan’s Whisky Director Joyce He wrote in a statement: “Through this new campaign, we’re proud to shine a light on this diverse community who truly embody what it means to live life at 200%: a unique identity that celebrates their culture, traditions, and passions as both 100% Hispanic and 100% American.”
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