As mentioned in the previous posts, as this website focuses on identities throughout the diaspora, the Afro-Latin movement has been hijacked and is now being controlled by the racist media market. As stated in the earliest posts, these media, known as HISPANIC(now extinct), LATINA MAGAZINE, UNIVISION, and many other, are here to further a racist agenda aiming to support the Spanish/Portuguese heritage and colonial narrative. The purpose is to further the jealousy of the Spaniards towards the Natives, preserve the exclusion of the latter and replace them as the original people/creators of the area. These Latin media not only always promote White Criollos, but they also put their emphasis on the mixed minorities so as to lie to non-Caribbeans and South Americans regarding the history of the region. According to them, South Americans and Caribbeans need to be introduced to the world as this welcoming population, made of exoticism who live in lands where the citizens do not make no distinction between races. The fantasy evolving around the triracial heritage of the Latin American hemisphere is a political tool used by the colonial agents to downplay the horrific legacy left by the conquests. Many colonized Caribbeans, South and Central Americans do not realise that their ancestors were raped and would rather take pride in the history of the invasions for they were colonized and manipulated.
In this prospect, the movement of Afro-Latinidad which was little by little becoming important in the underground movement around fifteen years ago, only featured the pure Black Latinos, hence people who looked like their Kongo and West African ancestors. They had little to no admixture. Yet, almost two decades later, the movement has become mainstream, is now promoted by Latin media and represented by mixed Black Latinos, who sometimes are not even African at all, but simply confused Tainos with brown skin. As activists from BLM became more visible, and as black aesthetics became a part of pop culture thanks to an improbable family of Armenians who fetichize gullible Black men, many found a joy in claiming a new found blackness they did not care about in the 2000s.
The Afro-Latin movement was hurt for several reasons. First of all, it was never supposed to go mainstream. Indeed, as globalism becomes more and more present, both Blackness and Indigenous identities are being isolated on purpose. The media do not want to highlight Blacks and Natives at all for they do not recognise themselves in them. In order to promote the Afro-Latin narrative, it was therefore more than important to highlight a political, cultural movement which would prove to be inclusive of others. Indeed, the pure Black Latinos have always been a threat to the Latin conquerors for many of them were originally resistant, fighters, as the history of Haiti, Colombia, the Quilombos of Brazil and the Mambis of Cuba showed. Therefore, allowing a political movement such as the Afro-Latino one to become global would have encouraged a new generation to stand up and overthrow the colonial systems of Latin America. Until this day, the most rebellious original Afro-Latin groups found in Colombia among many other countries, are still silenced by the Latin media which aim to showcase a false image of Latin America, a place where nobody sees race.
This political inclusivity has therefore favored the exploitation of the movement by mixed Black Latinas, who sometimes do NOT even look West African or Central African at all. It is more than important to precise that it is totally normal and amazing to see mixed Black Latinas represent their African lineage, yet, there is a problem when the mixed Black Latins are now the new faces of Afro-Latinidad, replacing the original ones as well. However, many mixed Black Latinas want to use the argument of inclusion to breakdown what blackness looks like originally. In the American sphere, PURE Blackness is more than visible and is NEVER ambiguous. Indeed, the original enslaved Africans were taken from West Africa and the Kongo area. They are Negroid and visibly Black with 4C type of hair. Today, this group still exists and spread throughout the region. In that sense, the desire to center blackness around inclusion is nothing less than colonial erasure, orchestrated on purpose.
Yet, women such as Julissa Bermudez have been claiming Afrolatinidad, interview people about Afrolatinidad when they are not even visibly Afro-Latinas at all. There is nothing on her face which highlights a clear West African or Bantu heritage. Still, no one has ever questioned her on it. Actually, most ambiguous-looking women who look like her are more often praised for deciding to stand with Black people and not go somewhere else. Though Julissa is doing the best she can to advance the movement – I salute her-,it is problematic that, today, the new faces of Afro-Latinidad look like her. The darkest Afro-Latina interviewed and tolerated is Amara La Negra but why? Because her features are still Caucasoid, and though extremely dark, she is still mixed with Native and Spaniard too. The pure original Negroids are once again excluded and made to stay in the kitchen.
Veronica Vega also constitutes another problem.
She was heavily attacked on social media for her blatant arrogance, disrespect and lack of consideration for Amara’s stuggles in the Love and Hip-Hop show from Miami. In the first season, at the end, Vega sided with Young Hollywood, a racist Latin producer who called Amara a “Nutella Queen”, and did not even stand with La Negra, even going as far as calling her “a fake a-ss Afro-Latina”. Like many White Mestizos, Veronica Vega had that arrogance to think that she would be the automatic star of the show for looking like the authentic Latina the media like. She would have never thought Amara would become the original star and that people would side with her. Vega, like most White Mestizos, was unconsciously raised to think that Blacks have no say, are happy beings, who don’t need a voice and deserve to stay in the back as long as THEY are comfortable in their White Mestizo privilege. Veronica Vega can talk about BLM and defend Black Americans all day long, yet she is one of those White Mestizos who like to further the colonial narrative claiming that there is no racism in Latin America and that everyone is B-L-A-C-K. She was angry with the discourse of Amara and made sure to side with a colonial entity which was against La Negra since day one, understand Young Hollywood.
Worst, Vega released a very vulgar song in 2015, entitled PAY ME. In that track, the singer repeats the N-word with no shame. When interviewed upon this issue, she simply stated that she had an African great-grandmother and that she considers herself a Black woman. In an exchange with N.O.R.E, a Black Boricua, in Drinking Champs, Veronica Vega claimed to still be Black as the rapper/podcaster yelled that “Cubans are Black”, which is not totally true.
Recently, Cuban-Boricua rapper Fat Joe claimed that Latinos are BLACK. Though Joe visibly has a Negroid heritage -he does not have Caucasoid features at all but looks like a White-skinned Bantu, well kind of- his remark really highlighted something important. First of all, the Caribbean region, outside of Brazil, is the place where the majority of enslaved Africans were sent to work. There, they left a tremendous influence.
To be honest, Latin American culture is African, then Native and finally European. The continent is Afro-Indigenous in essence in two-thirds of the sphere. Yet, though the Africans were brought massively to the area, it is not true to claim that all Caribbeans, all Boricuas, Cubans, Dominicans, Haitians are Black. Many are Germans, Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Persians, Palestinians, Syrians, French, Corsicans or even Koreans who colonized the area as well over the centuries. There is a Korean-Cuban community. In this matter, though exposed to Afro-Cuban culture, essence, religion, spirituality and identity, does this mean that a Korean-Cuban is Black too? No. They can feel an attachment to African culture, for sure, but they are not African by blood. And many new Afro-Latinos want to use this confusion to erase the facts. First of all, Black Latinos have not disappeared and are still visibly Negroid and Black. The claim of “everyone is Black” is just another form of erasure towards these original Black Latinos the media do not want to show.
Actually, the White colonizers need to promote mixed people so as to still be included in minorities’ issues. The colonizer is scared of being forgotten, rejected by those he dominated and conquered. The elevation of the mixed bodies allows him not to stand isolated in a sphere he was never a part of in the beginning. This is why new Latin media such as PERO LIKE, MITU and others want to promote the diversity first, so as to not talk about the real issues of race, domination and above all genocide against the Natives and the original Black Latinos (cf, Colombia)
However, Veronica Vega, Julissa Bermudez or Kat Deluna are not the Korean-Cubans or the Corsican-Puerto-Ricans at all. Indeed, they truly have direct African ancestry and the issue there is even more important to adress. Though Julissa does not look West African or Bantu, what can be done for the ambiguous-looking people like her or/and White Mestizo Latinos such as Veronica Vega who truly feel an attachment to African culture, Africa and their heritage? We all feel a disdain towards Veronica who used her great-grandmother to shut down Amara, but what if she had shown some support instead? Could our opinions be different towards her? Would we look at her as an ally? There are still many White Mestizo Latinos in Cuba, Puerto-Rico or the Dominican Republic who are White, Mixed, Octoroons but who support Black activism, are not ashamed of their African heritage and also stay in tune with their heritage by practicing santeria, lucumi and many other forms of spirituality. Where do White Mestizos who want to represent their African heritage stand?
This is also the problem faced in América Latina. Though some DNA companies can not be trusted, the relations one has with race differ from a space like the United States to the Caribbean. Indeed, the Spanish Caribbean, counts millions of “false White people” who look Caucasoid, but carry up to 45 per cent of African DNA. Why? Because many of these people are the descendants of multigenerational mixed people who intermarried and stayed together for centuries. Though they have no visible black heritage, their parents looking as white as they do with some admixture, they were still raised in African culture and consider themselves to be Afro-Caribbean. Yet, they face the same rejection for being white in color.
Whiteness in Latin America actually needs to be valued again. There are indeed two kinds of white people in the space. The first are the whitest looking mixed individuals, such as the octoroons for example and the other ones are the real White Criollos, the Kat Von Ds, of German, Dutch, Spaniard, Italian, French or Bulgarian descent. Dilma Roussef, Gisele Bundchen, and the millions of Italo-Argentinians, German-Chileans or Scottish-Argentinians are some of them. In this case, the mixed Whites from the Caribbean are not purely White and will not have the same relation to power contrary to the others. In that sense, the perception of blackness in the Caribbean is twisted and constructed. A large group of White Mestizos actually carry an enormous amount of African Negroid genes. The mixed White Mestizos will have an advantage upon the Blacks but will always be considered to be low by the pure White Europeans found in parts of Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and even Mexico.
Though Blackness in Latin America is ALWAYS VISIBLE (West African/Bantu Kongo stock), it is also impossible to base one’s strict identity on the quantification of black blood for lineages are also intertwined with culture and therefore, belonging to the Afro-Latin group is also more difficult than one thinks. Therefore, the ORIGINAL Afro-Latinos must be the first faces to be represented, yet, their mixed descendants, who also include the Whites, should be taken into account as well through separate groups. It is extremely important for the White Mestizos like Veronica Vega to have their own category. Indeed, the only reason why Veronica Vega allowed herself to speak on the behalf of Afro-Latinos is due to the fact that mixed Black Latinos have become the new faces of Afro-Latinidad. Therefore, by posing next to an original Afro-Latina woman in the Dominican Republic with deep Negroid West African features, Veronica Vega somehow showed that she knows who she really descends from.
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