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YES - It’s Okay to Make the Distinction Between Black Americans & Black Latinos & Hispanics

January 4, 2018

 

Before you get all triggered over the title – YES they BLACK TOO!

 

Now that we got that out of the way…

 

Even if you’re not a Love & Hip Hop fan (raises hand) you may have seen the cringe worthy video clip that went viral of Amara LaNegra and Young Hollywood on Monday nights show.

For some of us, Young Hollywood’s anti-black statements were shocking, but for many it only showcased what we already knew about Latin America; that racism, colorism, texturism etc. is alive and well and it is just as prevalent as it is in the American community. To put it plain - the blacker you are, the more you are marginalized and discriminated against.

 

When Young Hollywood asks Amara, a proud, dark skinned, Afro-Latina, “Are you African, or is it just because you have an afro?” it highlighted a common mentality in the Latin community – that your Latin culture as a black person somehow absolves you of your African ancestry. That even standing in the face of black woman with an afro, you can remove her from her blackness because she is also Latina.

This mindset continues to cause friction and confusion between black Americans and Afro-Latinos because you still have an overwhelming amount of Afro-Latinos who denying their African heritage. This is understandably offensive to black Americans because most of us don’t have the option of turning to our culture to “opt out of blackness”.  We have to be black, and we have to be it all the time and nothing else.

 

From my observation, this kind of “othering” oneself away from blackness has created a level of sensitivity in black Americans so much that we get upset when black Latinos, Hispanics etc. are not necessarily anti-black but simply stating their non African culture. Afro-Cuban Juju speaks about this in her interview with VIBE.

It’s largely assumed that non American black people are ashamed of being so because let’s be honest, they usually are. This is no secret when it comes to black Latinos, Hispanics, Caribbeans and others of the African disapora - they take pride in being something other than African. This is especially true if they are mixed or on the racially ambiguous end of the spectrum like Young Hollywood or Cardi B.

 

It becomes difficult to distinguish who’s “self hating” and who’s not so black Americans have a tendency to force everyone into blackness even when they really don’t want to be there. We also do this with biracial people who proclaim they are “mixed and not black”.

Although I am not of the mindset of, “well if they want to other themselves then they’re not black” I also don’t believe in throwing us all in the same pot as if we’re exactly the same simply because we share the same race. Frankly, I’m tired of the whole social media shit show about who’s black, who’s not, who gets to define blackness, who doesn’t etc. but I’m also not going to pretend that all “blackness” is created equal and we share the same experience. There are different nationalities, cultures and ethnicities within our race and yes, there is also a cut off to blackness but we'll save that for another article.

 

I do not get offended when a half black person states that they are mixed and not black because it’s true. I do not get offended when an Afro-Cuban like Juju takes pride in their Cuban culture because it is part of who they are.

As you all know, we promote black women of all nationalities and ethinicities on DDS and will continue to do so. However, as a black American, I believe that we have the right to define and promote blackness how we choose in our country just as other blacks do so in their respective locations. I as a black American woman am not obligated to include every black woman in the African diaspora into my black experience and identity if they don't belong there. I am not obligated to use her image to represent me and I have the permission to reject it if her experience or phenotype isn’t familiar to mine and I am not “divisive” in doing so.

Just as Cardi B, Amara, Juju and others can make the distinction between themselves and black American women based on culture, looks, etc. so can I. This doesn’t mean I hate them or even that I don’t consider them my sisters, but no, they are not “just like me” and that’s okay.

 

I think it’s high time that black Americans accept the fact that blackness is not a monolith based on ancestry and DNA and stop trying to include people into our experience especially if they do not want to be there. Let’s make peace with the fact that we are all different and find the beauty in our differences. It’s only a bad thing if you make it one.

 

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