Hispanic Heritage Month: The importance of Afro-Latinx identity in the diaspora. | Opinion

Hispanic Heritage Month: The importance of Afro-Latinx identity in the diaspora. | Opinion

By Omaris Z. Zamora

As a second-generation Black Dominican born and raised in Chicago’s Puerto Rican Humboldt Park neighborhood, I understand that there are contexts in which my dominicanity is invisible or misread at best.

My experience as a Black Dominican woman in a Puerto Rican neighborhood has meant that my accent in Spanish at times was more Puerto Rican than Dominican. However, it also meant that because I was read as being “too Black” to be Puerto Rican or even Mexican, racism within the Latino community haunted me at every corner.

My experience is not unique. The importance of an Afro-Latinx identity in the diaspora is often at the crossroads of invisibility and misrecognition rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy.

Moreover, Afro-Latinx womanhood is hyper-visible, yet in the same ways invisible and unrecognizable in spaces where Latinidad or Blackness must meet certain standards or check off certain requirements.

When we dismiss or make invisible the experiences of Afro-Latinx women, we render them into the realm of social and physical death – meaning they do not exist; hence the gendered and anti-Black violence they have experienced never happened.

To push this thought further, we can ask: How can we count demographic statistics in public policy, health, education, economics, gendered violence, and anti-Blackness if we do not know how to account for Afro-Latinx women?

Often, we gather data about Black American women or Latinas. Still, Afro-Latinx women are erased from the data, from the census, and ultimately from transnational narratives around gender, migration, and anti-black dialogues.

My scholarship is dedicated to recovering and re-integrating the importance of Afro Latinx narratives into an interdisciplinary field of study that challenges notions of Blackness, Latinidad, gender, sexuality and transnational migration.

As Afro Latinidad becomes a concept that the broader public engages with, I urge us not to lose sight of the political and socio-economic realities that Black Latinx move, live and breathe within.

Afro Latinx studies are not just about the definition but situated knowledge; not just about history, but about world-making; not just about Black Latinx experiences, but the possibilities and portals that the contributions of Afro Latinx open and make possible. Doing and supporting Afro-Latinx Studies and Afro-Latinx scholars and communities is a political commitment, and we should never forget that.

Omaris Z. Zamora is an assistant professor of Afro Latinx studies with the Departments of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

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This News is Published from Google Alert – Hispanic Heritage Month.

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