La melaza que llora: How to Keep the Term Afro-Latino from Losing Its Power

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2015-10-31 00:53Z by Steven

La melaza que llora: How to Keep the Term Afro-Latino from Losing Its Power

Latino Rebels

Jason Nichols, Lecturer in African American Studies
University of Maryland

Me quiere hacer pensar/ que soy parte de una trilogía racial/ donde todo el mundo es igual/ sin trato especial/ se perdonar/ eres tú que no sabe disculpar/ so, como justifica tanto mal/ es que tu historia es vergonzosa/ Entre otras cosas/ cambiaron las cadenas por esposas —Tego Calderon, “Loiza”

Recently, it has become en vogue for Latinos (Latinx) to acknowledge their African “roots.” This understanding is a leap forward in racial formation for many in a region that is often known for hiding their Black grandmother in the closet. However, acknowledging her existence doesn’t always mean taking her out from behind that closed door.

Rosa Clemente is one of the first to contextualize Afro-Latinidad as an identity that is becoming more what she calls “trendy” than progressive. The Bronx-born Puerto Rican activist alludes to the fact that Afro-Latino identity has fed into, rather than disrupted the myth of a multicultural democracy that is often the dominant narrative in Latin America. Puerto Ricans and some other Latino groups have always acknowledged that they have African ancestry, but it is couched in the idea that the people are a perfect blend of the African slave, proud and noble Spaniard, and the humble native Taíno. This conception is problematic because it is a convenient way to deny institutional and in some cases individual racism. When Venezuelan TV personality Rodner Figueroa called Michelle Obama “planet of the apes,” he quickly defended himself from accusations of racism by stating that he comes from a racially plural family. Clemente doesn’t reject the term Afro-Latino completely, but states that there is a difference between identifying as Afro-Latino and identifying as Black, with the latter being a more progressive racial identity. Unlike many who believe in Latin multiracial democracy, Clemente states that she does not acknowledge the Spaniards in her lineage because she would “never claim my rapist.”…

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