Being an Afro-Latina in the U.S. hasn't been easy. Between fighting racism in school, in the workplace and at home, in addition to fighting an identity crisis and validation from both sides, the day-to-day for an Afro-Latino becomes exhausting.
Non-black Latinos, constantly question my identity like, "You're Mexican? No way! I thought you were black?"
And I'm constantly arguing with them about how race and culture are two different things, and how black Mexicans, Colombians, and other black Latinx exist.
Racism is just as prominent in Latinx communities as it is among white communities, and this is why:
THEY DENY OUR EXISTENCE IN ORDER TO EXCUSE THEIR BLATANT RACISM AND ANTI-BLACKNESS.
By denying the existence of Afro-Latinx, non-black Latinx get to have "brown pride" to stand up to white supremacist, but be completely anti-black in their own supremacy in the same breath.
Latin American countries are anti-black because they're also ruled by white supremacy. White Latinos exist because of colonization, and white supremacy is taught. Anyone with a proximity to blackness is hated.
I don't even want to get into how much racism I've experienced in non-black Latino communities, but let me tell y'all, there have been "pro Trump" rallies where I live, and tell me why a good half of the "pro Trump" people are Mexican? This sh*t is heartbreaking and further proves my point.
So here a few things Afro-Latinx and non-black Latinx can do to put an end to this horizontal racism.
1. Check your family members.
Believe it or not, the most racist sh*t I've ever heard has been from my own family—the non-black side. So when a family member says something racist or anti-black, check them. Sit with them and explain the parallels of the black community and the latino community. Give them a little history lesson if you have to. Don't let these racist things go unchecked, because it just gets passed on from generation to generation to a point where the majority of the non-black latinx community has become extremely anti-black.
2. Check your friends.
I was in a collective that focused on women, queer, trans, and femmes of color. I constantly talked about being Afro-Latinx and constantly hosted workshops that recognized and uplifted Afro-Latinx. One of the members, who was a non-black Latinx, told another non-black Latinx, "Why does she have to talk about being Mexican? She already has her own struggle to speak on." My own struggle being that I'm black.
At that point, the person they were talking to should have said, she has both experiences, so she's allowed to talk about them. BECAUSE BOTH OF THOSE IDENTITIES CAN EXIST AT THE SAME TIME, AND IF THEY'D JUST REALIZE THAT, THEY WOULDN'T BE SO ANTI-BLACK.
So please, check your friends.
3. Check yourself.
Whenever you have a thought revolving around today's social issues, ask yourself, how is this affecting the black community?
Remember that racism is like a pyramid, with black folx on top as the most oppressed. Don't make things about yourself, because even when it comes to immigration issues, Afro-Latinx with no papers have it just as bad, if not worse.
4. Check the children.
I have heard the most anti-black sh*t from children. Most recently, a non-black Latinx 10-year-old I know was having a party, and I was helping her mom decorate and plan it. A conversation came up about people bringing their own blankets, and we made a silly joke about BYOB. The 10-year-old then said, "Bring your own black person," and laughed.
At first I was this guy:
Then I got a little upset and told her I didn't like people who were racist, and she got sad. She was so embarrassed that she started crying. I had to calm her, but after, I explained to her what I had gone through in school when I was her age. I explained how hurtful things like that are and how it can negatively affect someone, even hurt loved ones, like me. She understood and proceeded to ask questions. Oh how the public education system has failed our children in teaching them the right history and, in addition, tolerance.
Check the children. If you don't, they'll grow up to be ignorant and hateful like the people they learned it from.
5. Check strangers.
Next time you're at the grocery store, or something, and a fellow non-black Latinx feels comfortable enough to express an anti-black sentiment, check them. Yes, even if they're strangers. Tell them straight up, "That's racist," and see how quickly they try to defend their statement. Checking people like that, even if you don't know them, leaves them shook and thinking, am I racist?
Those small callouts get people thinking, and that's a step towards fighting horizontal racism between our communities.
Ultimately, we're all in this together. The closer our communities become, the stronger we are.
Un pueblo unido jamas sera vencido.
A people united will never be divided.