As the fights for Black Lives Matter progressed, the conversation regarding Afro-Latinos has also become much more whitewashed, for mainstream. With public figures such as Amara La Negra, the new wave of Afro-Latinos was here to represent and highlight their academic, artistic or personal works, testimonies. Yet, once again, many were met with disdain from the African-American community as many members refuse to acknowledge the African heritage of the Spanish speaking Caribbeans, when in culture and blood, the latter are even more African than the Black Americans whose ancestors -many not all- had been, unfortunately, forced to cease practicing their indigenous beliefs so as to submit to a White Jesus. As we mentioned it in previous articles on the website, the mainstream Creole media which control the “Latin” market will only promote whitewashed Black figures to represent Afro-Latinidad so as to support the racist Spanish propaganda of “mestizaje” and claim that Latinized America is a space where racism can not exist as everybody is mixed.
During the conversations linked to the expression of black pride, and the attachment to African heritage, as many Black Boricuas and Spanish speaking Black Caribbeans would express their pride in African spirituality, the Afro-Latin movement would also give light to either white Mestizo imposters who also wanted inclusion all the while contributing to the erasure of black Latin bodies, or individuals, though aware of being White in color, who were always proud of their African ancestry, beliefs, cultures and who never found a safe space to create their own space. The Black American community would therefore reject the latter all the while playing both sides as Black American women were the first to create a safe space for Jessica Krug until courageous Black Boricuas decided to out her.
Instead of opening the conversation for what it was, many Black Americans would rather engage in a battle to become the blackness police towards the Afro-Latinos. This reaction was also deeply rooted in the political shift which followed the ending mandate of war criminal Barack Obama and the then new election of Donald Trump. Indeed, many Black Americans, were tired of police brutality and felt they had been played and abandoned by Obama, their first mixed race president, especially due to economy and the increase of “Hispanic” immigrants. In 2016, the creation of the ADOS movement was one important illustration.
A part of Black Americans now feel threatened by the emergence of Mexican immigrants who are said to become the most important minority in the decades to come. In a desire to preserve and protect their ethnic group, the movement, it is clear, is also clearly rooted in capitalism. Though they were always despised by white institutions, Black Americans still want to be the “first” and unique minority in the United States, especially due to the horrific period of slavery. Though the movement of ADOS has all the rights to exist, it is important to assert that the Black Americans were the ones who built the United States and bled for it through exploitation, forced labour and mental manipulation. They have, therefore, all the legitimacy to protect themselves. Yet, their goal is also greatly rooted in a desire to detain all the capitalistic advantages of the minority market within the minority realm.
Many other Black Americans reject the ADOS movement considering it to be divisive towards other Black Caribbeans. Yet, in a desire to protect their blackness through the perpetuation of black marriage, the Spanish speaking Caribbeans who are trying to claim their blackness are still met with confusion or rejection. This disdain is rooted in capitalism as well. Indeed, even the most pro-black African-American is still programmed to feel superior to others as they belong to the most influencial political area on earth, the United States. Therefore, their experience towards slavery, colonialism and brutality are deemed to be more important than that of a Black Peruvian, a Black Cuban or a Black Boricua. Black Americans have now the arrogance of their dominant white politicians who consider that their vision of the world is superior and more coherent than anybody else. The experience of a Spanish speaking Caribbean or Peruvian is not important for they come from the “southern world”, the “third world”. Therefore, their account regarding slavery is not deemed as essential as that of the Black Americans.
The main problematic issue when it comes to Afrolatinidad concerned race. The United States is a racist country which does not acknowledge race-mixing. Individuals are either Black, White, Asians, or Natives. As long as the “purity” of the white leaders was preserved, they never cared about the identity of their “minorities. Therefore, the nation has been crushing many lives through identity and confused many. For this reason, Northern Blacks who live in Northern Europe, Canada or the United States do not understand how one individual can have so many heritages in them. Many feel threatened to face confident individuals with multiracial lineages within their blood. Out of disdain regarding their place in capitalistic hierarchy, the Spanish speaking Caribbeans are not trusted by Black Americans who do not recognise them as being Black enough. In that effect, it is more than important to stop trying be understood and accepted by northern spheres but rather re-evaluate each other’s places through our own lenses.
Just like in the history of Ancient Africa, before Arab and European slavery made us “Black” or” White”, we belonged to lineages and not to colors. Skin color can not be a valid signal, testimony to a true African origins. In that effect, the Panafrican propaganda which only focuses on West African/Bantu descendants is not accurate at all as it surpasses particularities instead of understanding and embracing them. As Spanish colonizers in South America, Borinken or Cuba kept the traces of the origins of the enslaved Africans, modern day Black Cubans know about their African lineages. It is the lineage which will allow an individual to go back to their original region and know about their provinces before they were deported, not the skin color. It is the lineage which will allow one individual to go back to the culture, the language, the customs, not the skin color. In that sense, Caribbeans and North Africans need to stop trying to look for an approbation of their blackness through the Northern Black experience as most Black Europeans from the North and Black Americans from Canada and the US, were forced to deny their customs and were reduced to their color. It is their colors which gives birth to cultures and not the lineages. Such reversal happened after the colonizers rebuked them for being who they were. However, in ancient times, especially if one reads the geography of the Bible, it was the bodies of the people which defined the frontiers, not the lines and these peoples were referred to according to their lineages, not their skin color. Therefore, the invasion of the Romans, the Greeks in Africa which happened centuries ago proved one thing specific. The borders of Africa were not recognised as the they are today. They were seen as spaces populated by a certain population. Indeed, Africa was not a single continent, but a vast space, populated by different nations which occupied the area over the years and were referred to by their nations/lineages.
As a consequence, by the time the Romans had invaded the area, many ancient peoples had left the continent to move outside of the “said” African borders. They had the freedom to leave and were not forced to remain attached to the land due to their blackness. The ancient Romans, though white, had Black citizens as Black Europeans have always existed since ancient times. Neither the Romans nor the Greeks evaluated their culture through skin color, but rather through shared cultures and customs. In that sense, North Africa was already whitewashed but that issue never changed the fact that the North Africans from that time had kept their lineages and knew they descended from the Blacks. The concept of white Africa was pushed by racist authors such as Ibn Khaldun who always wanted to deny the Hamitic Black heritage of the North Africans and wanted them to be Semites, as well as French historians by the time they colonized the region in the 19th century. The problem of Panarabism also hurt the protection of blackness and African customs as well among the people.
Due to toxic black identity politics, Black Northerners have decided to base the essence of blackness/Africanness on skin color only, arguing that if parents do not look visibly “black” they are not “black”. Such dynamic is not only stupid, simple and reductive but it is also an insult to many multiracial North Africans, Middle Easterners and Caribbeans, South Americans who have been crushed by the barbarity of colonialism and colonial rape. The toxicity of blackness politics opposes elements which can cohabite. A White Mestizo from the Caribbean is also, through his whitewashed lineage, the consequence of colonial trauma as their ancestors were used by White colonizers to create a false whiteness and claim people who would turn against the Blacks. Yet, even like in Africa, blackness can not always be the color of indigenous faces. A descendant of Black Tuaregs who has been whitewashed for generations can be white but highlight much more African pride than a Black person.
Many White Cubans, though multiracial and white, have remained attached to their African ancestry and lineage as they keep practicing their heritages and customs. Though their Africanness is no longer visible they still belong to the lineage of their ancestors and represent them. Yet, due to their whiteness, they would not be recognised as Africans at all for they do not look African. Yet, if they were to get a DNA test, many of these White Cubans can carry up to 36 per cent of African blood as they descend from lineages of mixed white peoples who intermarried through several generations. At the same time, many mixed Black people, though visibly black, are sent to the black category when in reality, they are already mixed and their blackness belongs to the Tainos before the Africans. Many brown to black skin Boricuas falsely consider themselves to be Afro-Boricuas when in reality their Blackness comes from the indigenous brown skin Tainos. Other descendants of Africans in the Caribbean do not care at all about Africa and would only refer to themselves as Cubans, Dominicans or Boricuas while some White individuals with African ancestry can care more about Africa than them.
The fight for blackness can exist along with the acceptance of the multiracial white category whose ancestors were African Blacks, though became whitewashed as crushed by centuries of colonialism and sexual abuse. Indeed, if we mention the rape endured by enslaved Black women during slavery and colonialism, no one really talks about their children and the descendants of the latter. They would often become the Veronica Vegas and others yet, due to their whiteness, they are rejected by black people, (I have denounced Vega several times in other articles, please read it) when the modern day Black people who claim to be the guardian of Africanness no longer know who they are, where they come from and that their ancestors gave more importance to lineages than skin color.
As a consequence, pro-black activists need to stop erasing the results of colonial history as millions of us have been raped and diluted over five hundred years. It makes no sense to deny such important part of history by imposing an improbable toxic vision of blackness which is also rooted in self-hatred expressed by a desire to let mixed race people go and create their own categories. Since 1492, populations have changed and have been formed through different lineages which no longer are the “pure” ones from the beginning. Many hybrid populations between “Native Peruvians and Africans” were born and they can not be divided or classified as they belong to both and need to be respected as such as well.
In reality, even before colonialism and slavery, our identities as people from the southern sphere were never fixed at all but always in perpetual movement. It was common to borrow from a nearby population and include it into our own. In most South American populations now, even the British Guyanese, African and Indigenous practices have merged. Santeria, Ifa, Lucumi, of West African origins also include Native objects and rituals. The essence, through religion has become Indigenous and African and not just one or the other, at times. They reflect the races and origins of the descendants.
It is more than important, first of all, to recognise the multiracial white individuals as apart of the black experience first of all, as their testimony is important for history as they too, descend from those who were raped, to break away from the toxicity of skin color domination and go back to lineages. Multiracial white individuals, whether from North Africa, the Middle East, the Eastern part of Africa or South America/the Caribbean area an important testament for history regarding colonialism and where one can go from the point we are now. It is our duty, as historians, scholars and authors to create new categories which could heal and ease the minds and spirits of those who have been hurt and who remain rejected.
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