There are two types of Afrolatinidad. The one the mainstream racist Latin media promote and the one which remains hidden after so many centuries. Contrary to the false narrative promoted by many self proclaimed “Afro Latin” activists, the movement is moving backward for several reasons.
First of all, the problematic of blackness highlighted by the Black Latinized activists is based upon the black American criteria which define blackness. Instead of gatekeeping the experience, many Afro Latin activists want to find a certain approval from the black Americans, as they are, geographically speaking, the only black community which evolves in the most powerful country on earth. In that sense, the experience of a black Argentinian or black Peruvian is not deemed as important. The concept of blackness in the US is not based on common sense at all, rationality or historical facts but on apartheid and stupidity. Yet, blackness in the Caribbean is different. There, contrary to the black Americans who were forced to forget about their lineages, the people know about the line of their African ancestors, whether Igbo, Yoruba, Kongo or Wolof. At the same time, there, in the Caribbean, the concept of black and white has now become impossible to evaluate. Indeed, as the races were forced to mix by colonial agents from Southern Europe, millions of Caribbeans directly descend from two or three lineages. In that sense, they are neither black or white but multiracial or mixed. In the spectrum of black American analysis of race, such facts are denied when they are a reality.
Second of all, the movement of Afro Latinidad still places Iberians at the center and thus whiteness. The activists want to be accepted by the white dominant figures. In reality, one should, in the first place, reject the colonial and brutal term LATINO which refers to southern European populations and not to Africa at all. The Africans were, surely the most influential category in terms of politics, music, food, culture and dance but their identity is still attached to that of the European spectrum. Such problematic helps the colonizers more than one thinks especially when Spain and Portugal and France love to promote the politics of mestizaje to confuse the dominated, assert their illegal presence in an Afro-Indigenous spheres and shut down any claim of racism.
Finally, the black Latinized experience should, immediately, place the Native body and experience at the center of its identity. Indeed, in South America, there are still millions of citizens, whether from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia with direct African and Native ancestry and whose ancestors have mixed over four hundred years. It is along with the Native nations that Africans created most of the genres today and fought in times of colonial wars. In their jealousy, the Iberian colonizer refuses to recognise the Natives as the original ones and want to be perceived as the first one. For this reason, as long as it refuses to recognise and place the Native body at the center of Afro-Indigeous identity, the racial confusion will carry on.
Who is a Black Latino?
All those arguments aforementioned highlight the main reasons why the Afro-Latinized movement is getting out of hand. Now, the confusion takes place again and in reality, the modern day Afro Latinized movement is a great slap in the face to the hidden black Africans who are still not represented enough on television. The Afro-Latin movement, through its desire to stay closer to Whiteness/Latinidad, only promotes and represents mixed black Latinos wrongly thought to be the authentic ones. Zoe Saldana, Christina Millian, Lala Vasquez, Laz Alonso , Tatyana Ali are all of African descent but they are not the real authentic black Latinos. They are promoted due to their race mixing and their proximity to whiteness. A colonizer, especially those who never had any problem to mix such as the Spaniards or the Portuguese, want to see themselves within their oppressed ones. Zoe Saldana lies between black and white and so do the others. Such race mixing aspect is a false claim arguing that all South Americans, Caribbeans, Central Americans are mixed race. It is not true at all as many modern day black Latinos still carry zero to little foreign admixture, yet they remain hidden.
When confusing Afro-Indigenous and Indigenous Admixture
As evoked in an older article, white colonizers still want to claim our narratives. They wrote in their books that the Tainos/Arawaks have been whiped out by the Europeans, probably to give them a sense of glory in conquer. In reality, as late as the 19th century, Cuba, Borinken, Dominican Republic and so many other islands further south such as Trinidad and Tobago, still had full-blood Taino individuals. However, unable to know where to place them, the colonial institutions decided to call them black. For this reason, many modern day Caribbeans falsely think they are Africans when their black to brown skin is the legacy of their Arawak ancestors. In other words, millions of modern day Dominicans, Boricuas, Haitians, Cubans, are neither black or white but real Arawaks who are confused for they have been lied to. The Caribbean counts a great portion of Africans who have been overmixed with the Arawaks for centuries. Yet, due to their color, they would be counted as African when they are African and Native. Other Natives, and so even in South America and Central America are Natives however, they also carry African blood.
Yet, contrary to the Natives from Mexico, Central America and South America, the state of the Arawaks has been met with disdain. Their fate has been submerged by African history and their descendants ignored due to colonialism.
Therefore, the blackness of many Caribbeans today is the result of Africans and Natives. For this reason, Amara la Negra, Tego Calderon, Joseline Hernandez, Cardi B, Don Omar, Evelyn Lozada are the products of such intermixing. Other Taino Native with African ancestry would be embodied by celebrities such as Cyn Santana, Erica Mena, Indya Moore, rapper Cuban Link, Fat Joe, Big Pun. It is also possible to find Native Tainos heavily diluted by the Euro colonizers (such as Angie Martinez or Princess Nokia who still display Native features) who also carry African blood, though not visible at all.
The Afro-Indigenous blackness is real but it is not the REAL African blackness from the area
The Real Afro-Latino
The real Afro Latino has zero to little admixture. They look like their ancestors either from West Africa or the Kongo. They are millions yet they remain in the dark. Only mixed black Latinos have been placed to represent them in the media.
Contrary to what the propaganda of mestizaje wants to claim, race mixing did not happen everywhere in the region and many are still “pure” Native or African. The blackness of the real Afro Latino is not confusing, it is clear. The hair is kinky, the nose is broad and the skin color is often dark. They are the main ancestors of the modern day Afro-Indigenous group and of the multiracial white Caribbeans who now claim them.
African ancestry vs Being Black
As the issue of blackness has been raised, many white Caribbeans with African ancestry also wanted to come out. Veronica Vega also, somehow, highlighted that issue. Though she benefited from colorism, she used the argument of Africanness in ancestry as an argument to shut down Amara. However, if Vega had the audacity to claim she was black- when being a multiracial white woman with African ancestry and Native- thinking that African ancestry was the equivalent of blackness itself. Actually, Amara, of Afro-Indigenous heritage, and not a pure Afro Latin being, belongs to the darkest category of the mixed race group. She is not originally African like Dayme Arocena is.
And though she wants to represent her African heritage, Amara is also greatly eager to insist upon her Latinidad. She does not want to reject any form of colonialism at all but wants to remain close to that colonial space of Latinidad. Her support for Gina Rodriguez who kept trying to provoke black American women over the years out of jealousy, is a proof of that. Amara only wants black people to fit in the space of Latinidad. She greatly insists upon the label AFRO LATINA, not AFRICAN or BLACK. However, as ironic as it can be, the multiracial white woman Veronica Vega does not have any African features at all but has no problem claiming blackness, Africanness and used her platform to highlight dark skin Negroid bodies to her fanbase.
This proves that, the North still bases their relation to identity upon color when the Southerners remained attached to the lineages and then to the color. Therefore, blackness is not a proof of gatekeeping and cultural protection as white individuals with African ancestry can feel more African and closer to the African heritage than a full African Caribbean, especially in the Latin world.
The modern Black Latin movement, is therefore a curse for the real Afro Latinos who remain hidden and excluded from the media.
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