With Pan-Africanist ideology regaining popularity, the increased awareness and acceptance of the African diaspora within America and beyond, as well as the lifting of voices that speak on why Black and Latino are not mutually exclusive, we often find ourselves asking: “What exactly is Afro-Latino?”
The answer to that question is simple. Afro-Latinos are people of African descent in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean; also extending to those of the diaspora living in the Americas whose families can be traced to either of those two regions. Although the definition was just nicely and neatly packaged, I will be remiss if I don’t mention the ongoing conflict surrounding the label Afro-Latino. This is largely due to many Latinos struggling with the remnants of colonialist thinking, coupled with many non-Latinos within the diaspora increasingly having to consider redefining Black(ness), particularly in the United States. Of course, this is reflective of the complicated histories of Africans and their descendants in the Americas.
Although it gets turned on and off, one thing is for sure – Latinos surely demonstrate pride in our African roots through music, food and some religious practices. Of course, being of African decent is deeper than that, but it does account for important parts of our cultural, political and spiritual foundation and that’s something to celebrate.
Speaking of celebration, although Hispanic Heritage month has technically ended (September 15-October 15), there’s no reason why we can’t keep the party going! Of course the ways that you can observe are endless, but here are some suggestions that will feed your soul through music, education, literature, social media, film, food and philanthropy:
- Attend an Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance or CALJE (Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble) event, or join one of their music education programs;
- Virtually connect with a few Afro-Latina bloggers who are in various ways innovating, inspiring and moving the needle with their social justice initiatives;
- Deepen your understanding of global Afro-Latino history with articles, abstracts and opinions at The Afrolatin@ Project and/or join their ongoing twitter chats, in addition to seeing what’s going on with the Afro-Latin family throughout the Americas with the African American – Latino World blog;
- Read The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States for your next book club meeting;
- Host a viewing party for the documentary Negrita, which will definitely prompt a great post-movie discussion;
- Put on your philanthropic hat and hold a fun dinner party, collecting donations for International Youth Leadership Institute, with recipes inspired by these Afro-Latino chefs; or
- Dance the night away with an Afro-Latin Party or relax and pay homage to the African diaspora with the smooth grooves of Arturo O’Farrill.
Whatever you do, know that acknowledging and celebrating Afro-Latino history and culture throughout the year, will add tremendous value to our lived experiences.
Natalie Diaz is a contributing writer to The Burton Wire.