Originally publishes February 26, 2017
No I do not look like Sofia Vergara or Shakira and it does not make me any less Latina than them. No I am not mixed. Yes I speak, read, and write in Spanish. No I am not from Mexico. My skin is brown because my roots eventually trace back to Africa. I don't know my entire family tree but I know where my rhythm and flavor comes from. No we are not all the same. No we do not all know each other, do you know everyone in America?
I am from Panama I am Afro-Latina.
I am 100% Panamanian let’s be real no one gives a breakdown of every ethnicity they have running through their veins. (And if you do you're stupid) .... My beautiful skin is brown making my race black, Hispanic is my ethnicity. Spanish was my first language. A lot of the world is ignorant to the fact that Latin countries consist of a melting pot of skin colors but unless you travel or do your own research you would have never known that. I fought for so long for my own label. Fortunately I didn't suffer like some people I have encountered to find an identity in a world that doesn't acknowledge an Afro-Latino. Some struggled because they were teased or bullied or even just hated themselves because they did not "fit in" they didn't look like the people around them. Within my family both sides maternal and paternal it is a mix of the different beautiful shades and growing up in the states I went to school on a military base so although people did not understand how I was "black" and spoke Spanish I was surrounded by a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Regardless, I knew I was special I did not doubt my beauty the problem wasn't me it was the ignorance of the world. Now instead of getting upset at those who don't know, I inform them.
Plenty of times when amongst other Hispanics who unknowingly start to talk negatively or lie about me in Spanish, not knowing that I understand every single word, I ever so politely each and every time say a little peace to them leaving them in shock at the fact that the little brown girl understood and responded back in Spanish. I've even gotten responses "Oh I didn't know you spoke Spanish." Why does that matter? How about we not assume and out of respect just not talk about people!
The hair that grows out of my head is curly and at times has a mind of it's own, but no I will not straighten it or chemically alter it to be straight to please anyone. My hips love to move to the beat of the conga drums I love salsa, merengue, bachata, reggae, dancehall, kizomba anything that moves them (all point back to African influence btw). I love to eat paella, tortillas Panameñas, holadres, but also love me my comida de pobre (poor mans food) pig feet, ox tails, gizzards etc. I love my culture that happens to be a mixture of European, indigenous, and African customs = Latino.
I love me and what I am and where I come from. With that being my foundation I have been able to fall more in love with myself the more I genuinely learn. I encourage you all to explore the world and broaden your minds to what is really out there. Know that self hatred, racism, ignorance is something Afro-Latinos deal with as well. For the girl who is searching to fit in, find it within you first. Standing out is the most beautiful and freeing feeling. In a society where being
black/brown is seen as a curse be the blessing the earth needs. For the Latino/a that thinks their country doesn't have Afro's look again. For the African American that thinks we did not and do not endure the same issues think again. Knowledge is power and love helps overcome all.
I want this post to open your eyes to the world. Love yourself who you are what was naturally given to you and where you come from. When you see someone don't assume you know them and their history by the color of their skin.
Yo soy Afro-Latina Soy Panameña !