afro latino
Dascha Polanco Is Forced to Explain the Existence of Afro-Latinas to Charlamagne
During an interview on The Breakfast Club, Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco found herself having to explain her identity as both a Latina and a black woman.
By Kara Brown

Charlamagne suggested that because Nina Simone was African American, perhaps people are upset that a Dominican woman is playing the role. This, of course, is wrong—if only because being Dominican does not actually preclude someone from resembling Nina Simone. Dascha touches on this point by explaining that as an Afro-Latina, she is both Dominican and a black woman. This confuses Charlamagne, who retorts, “What’s that?”

Laments for the English-Speaking Latina

    Is english your first language?
My only language.
     Where are you from?

I get all the questions
And have none of the culture.
All of the accent,
And none of the language.
I am the Nuyorican, Dominican York,
Native born, Brooklyn.
The Hyper-Americanized Latina 
The Hyper-Pigmented American 
Who can’t talk in her “native tongue”
But still wears her skin brown
And her hair in curls.
I belong to everyone and no one,
Which is the very worst way
To be alone.
I belong to no where.
The one they laugh at when
She tries to speak
And words get tangled on the tongue,
In Spanish,
And English, sometimes too.
Do I pronounce the “h” in this?
I can never remember.
La Gringa.
La Americana.
The one who’s not enough
In any language, 
In any color.
Too white at home.
Too brown everywhere else.
I belong to no one.
I belong to no where.

-Daniella De Jesús

Afro-Latina women relate their personal stories and advocacy for racial equality

“My housewife mother turned into a raging warrior woman when the principal of my elementary school questioned whether her daughter and the children of my public school had the intelligence to pass a citywide test,” Marta Moreno Vega writes in her essay.  She knew then she was loved and valued, and she learned that to be an Afro-Puerto Rican woman meant activism was her birth right.

Hers is one of eleven essays and four poems included in this volume in which Latina women of African descent share their stories. The authors included are from all over Latin America—Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela—and they write about the African diaspora and issues such as colonialism, oppression and disenfranchisement. Diva Moreira, a black Brazilian, writes that she experienced racism and humiliation at a very young age. The worst experience, she remembers, was when her mother’s bosses told her she didn’t need to go to school after the fourth grade, “because blacks don’t need to study more than that.”

The contributors span a range of professions, from artists to grass-roots activists, scholars and elected officials. Each is deeply engaged in her community, and they all use their positions to advocate for justice, racial equality and cultural equity. In their introduction, the editors write that these stories provide insight into the conditions that have led Afro-Latinas to challenge systems of inequality, including the machismo that is still prominent in Spanish-speaking cultures.

A fascinating look at the legacy of more than 400 years of African enslavement in the Americas, this collection of personal stories is a must-read for anyone interested in the African diaspora and issues of inequality and racism.

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Finding The Third Root: Afro-Latinos”

Alicia Anabel Santos is a New York born Dominican Lesbian Writer who is passionate about writing works that empower and inspire women to find their voices. A self-identified Latina Writer, Performance Artist, Producer, Playwright, and Activist, who after reading one too many stories about women she could not wholly relate to, decided to write her own tales that would honor women throughout Latin America and at the same time represent the American-born Latina experience which led her to launch the New York City Latina Writers Group.

Alicia Anabel recently published her memoir, Finding Your Force: A Journey to Love and is currently completing a historical fiction novel titled, The Daughters of the Revolution. Her one-woman show, I WAS BORN, was selected as part of the ONE Festival in 2011, held in NYC. Santos has worked for renowned magazines BusinessWeek, Glamour and Domino, but it was an article published in Urban Latino Magazine, “Two Cultures Marching to One Drum,” that would change the direction of her life. In 2008, she joined Creador Pictures as Writer /Co-Producer of its first documentary, “Afro Latinos: La Historia Que Nunca Nos Contaron / AfroLatinos: The Untaught Story”, a project that will change the way the world sees color and race relations in Latin America.

“AfroLatinos: The Untaught Story” is a documentary that illustrates history and celebrates the rich culture of people of African descent. The documentary covers the story from how and when slaves were brought to Central and South America to the identity-related issues in the Hispanic community today.

Alician Anabel lives in Harlem, NYC with her daughter Courtniana. She is a freelance writer and activist against sexual and physical abuse towards women and children.

Rise Africa received the opportunity to interview Alicia Anabel. Here’s what she had to say… (read interview)


So I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

The pic on the left is about 7 years ago, where my depression was at an all time high. I hated myself, and everything about me. My identity was directly tied into all the negative shit I grew up being told about myself. I felt like every day I was alive was torture. It really was the hardest state of my life.

Fast forward to the pic on the right. And one of the most important things I did for myself was to embrace myself. Embrace who I was. Embrace everything that I was taught to hate. And to stand tall as a proud Black queer person. 

Am I 100% healed? Am I completely free of all self-esteem issues? Am I no longer suffering from depression and anxiety? Hell no. But one things for sure, I am happy to be alive. And #Blackout is a reminder to me of what gives life to me. I no longer run from my Blackness. I’m not ashamed of it. I embrace it. It feeds me as I give energy to it. I embrace my Blackness, and it nurtures and lifts me up. I move forward in learning to love myself, because my Blackness loves me. 


There are more descendants of Africans who speak Spanish or Portuguese than English.

Brazil has the largest population of Blacks in the world second ONLY to Nigeria!

The Caribbean was often a stop in the transatlantic slave trade to “break” the African before being sold to the Americas.

Haiti was the first BLACK independent nation in the Western Hemisphere , defeating Napoleon and others from France, with the power of Voudon (Voodoo). As a result, Haiti ,was punished by all of Europe through tariffs, taxes and other ways!
Black and Latino
What does it mean to be black and Latino in the U.S.? Featuring interviews with Latino actors Laz Alonso (Avatar, Jumping the Broom), Tatyana Ali (Fresh Prince of Bel Air), Gina Torres (Suits, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) and Judy Reyes (Scrubs), musicians Christina Milian ("Dip it Low") and Kat DeLuna ("Whine Up"), and journalist Soledad O'Brien (CNN), among many others.

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