Let's get into it: Latin@ vs. Black
This post is too damn much for me to just sit here and see this kind of logic (or lack thereof, better yet) come onto my dash.
Identity is such a difficult topic to discuss, especially when it comes to race & ethnicity, as it’s a very personal expression and affirmation of our own experiences (in relation to a larger collective) and us navigating the spaces we create within that identity.
Let’s understand some keywords first (because I swear to WHITE BABY JESUS IF I GET ANY ASKS FROM ANONS CONFUSING SHIT I CAN ATTRIBUTE IT TO SOME INTELLECTUAL DEFICIT AND NOT ME USING BIG WORDS.)
Black (person): any member of the African diaspora
Diaspora: the scattered population with origins within a smaller geographic location
African-American: a Black person living in the United States of America, with cultural traditions stemming from their displacement into the country by the Transatlantic Slave Trade (often interchanged with Black, although the two have separate meanings); created as a reaction to terms such as “Negro”
Afro-: prefix used to emphasize African heritage or influence on something, sometimes used as a reaction to invisibility or Otherness within that group
Hispanic: a term created in order to classify all Spanish speakers into one box on the census form; this term means “of Spain” and erases any Indian or African identity a person from Mexico, Central America, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, or South America might have.
Latin@: a person from Latin America (anywhere in the above-mentioned regions); this term is preferred over Hispanic because it does not deny the large influence of pre-existing American Indian culture and African culture brought over by the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Spanish: a person from Spain; another word for Castilian, the most popular language of Spain and the majority of its former colonies (often interchanged with Latin@ although this is wrong as fuck)
Racism: institutionalized discrimination of an ethnic group, often based on phenotypical or linguistic differences
Shadeism/Colorism: discrimination of certain (usually dark but sometimes light) skin tones due to conforming within a Eurocentric standard of beauty; often happens in post-imperialist countries
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s make something clear: Latin@ and Black are not mutually exclusive terms. Meaning that you can be Latino and Black at the same damn time. Latin@ does not define a race, but rather expresses that people from Latin America come from miscegenation and often are multiracial. That’s why you have people like Celia Cruz, Roberto Clemente, and Arturo Schomburg identifying as negro and Latino simultaneously. Because Black is a term describing race and Latin@ is a term roughly describing ethnicity.
When Latin@s who are more visibly African in origins (or Afrolatin@s) deny what they are (like this lady) it’s due to anti-Black propaganda fed to the masses in Latin America largely due to North American influence (the last thing antebellum US wanted was Latino Blacks and American Blacks thinking they could be like Haiti and revolt against imperialist rule. In fact, most of the reason why Haiti’s economy remains abysmal is due to French and US influence but they don’t tell you that in US History II, do they?)
That’s why you’ll find loads of colorism within countries like Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Not to mention other countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, and even right here in the United States of America. The post-colonial identity is, largely, a reaction to what European rule did during their control. In countries with a huge American Indian influence, indio is an insult because calling someone out on their other-than-white heritage is hurtful; negro or prieto is also used derogatorily.
Articles like that woman’s are problematic because it just falls right into that cycle of anti-Black (self-)hatred. Latin@s in the US often do not claim their Black heritage and opt for a raceless identification with the terms Hispanic and Latino. But the truth is that most of Latin Americans are mestizo or mulato, or a combination of both. This obsession with race and skin tone was enforced by the Spanish caste system which treated lighter or Spanish-educated people as better.
Black slaves in the US faced an entirely different struggle from Black slaves in Spanish colonies or Dutch colonies or Portuguese colonies. That’s why we all have a different culture but are still part of the African diaspora. So, being Afro-Dominican and being African-American are two totally different things, but for the most part we all have the same point of origin. And our differences in self-concept and self-expression are just due to who colonized us. (Did you know that babies born to Indian or Black mothers & Spanish fathers but educated in Spaniard customs was considered white in the Dominican Republic? It throws the contemporary American understanding of race out the fucking window, I’ll tell you that.)
Will Latin@s ever claim their Indian and African ancestry for good? I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck. But you won’t deny that shit in my presence because I’ll get your life together for you REAL quick.
The island of Haiti & Dominican Republic was the first fucking stop for stolen Africans in the New World. The Black Experience in the Western Hemisphere STARTED in DR and Haiti, and denying that is an insult to every African man, woman, and child brought over on slave ships to our fucking soil.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES FOR Y’ALL (taking y’all to college real quick wepaaaa)
Black behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops by Ginetta E. B. Candelario
Merengue : Dominican Music and Dominican Identity by Paul Austerlitz
The Dominican Republic: A National History by Frank Moya Pons
Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview by Audrey Smedley
Introduction to Dominican Blackness by Silvio Torres-Saillant