Making Space for Afro-Latina/x this Hispanic Heritage Month: Re-visited
Note: While the term Hispanic refers to people that descend from Spanish-speaking countries; often Latinos are included in Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. The terms are not interchangeable. Click here for a quick breakdown of the terms Hispanic, Latino/a, and Latinx which are used throughout this blog.
Last year I wrote a blog on making space for Afro-Latinas during Hispanic Heritage Month. At the end of that blog I said: “As non-black Latinos, we should be centering Afro-Latina/x voices every month, and every day for that matter, not just for Hispanic Heritage Month.” Afterwards, I realized that sharing how to do that could be really helpful. Here are a few ways to possibly help uplift Afro-Latina/x folks:
Here’s a scenario: An Afro-Latina/x is talking about how people in her family pick on her for having pelo malo (bad hair)…now is not the time to chime in with how you were teased for your wavy hair. You might be thinking to yourself: “Why not?” or “It’s the same thing.” I assure you it is not. Black women, Latinx or not, have been kicked out of schools, denied jobs, and fired for wearing their hair in its natural state. Yes, your feelings may have been hurt when you were made fun of, but a moment like this is not the time to interject. Don’t conflate being teased with systemic oppression. This applies on and off the internet. If an Afro-Latinx talking about their oppression makes you uncomfortable, think about why that is. Sit with that discomfort and learn to analyze it. If you don’t know how, the internet is a really great place to learn how to do that without asking Black Latinx to educate you. There is a wealth of information out there (and at the end of this blog) if you look!
When I say support, I mean financially. Is there an Afro-Latinx artist, creator, etc. whose content you like? Give them your money! They may have a Patreon which you can become a patron and subscribe monthly to view content. Another way to provide financial support is to send money via mobile payment apps like Venmo or Cash App if they post those links. The concept of giving this kind of support is based on the #GiveYourMoneytoWomen hashtag created by Lauren Chief Elk, Yeoshin Lourdes, and Bardot Smith. If you’re looking for Afro-Latinx artists to support, you can find folks by Googling. (I actually did this as an exercise for this blog and found this article.) The way I happened upon content creators was organic. I was following Latina Rebels on Instagram when they posted some of Bad_Dominicana’s work (whom I highlighted in the blog I wrote last year) and started following her. I was then led to other content creators.
Alternative: If you’re not in a position to give money, you can share, post, retweet, etc., creatives’ work and boost their mobile payment links.
Are you in a position to hire Afro-Latinx folks? DO THAT! However, make sure you are being intentional during and after the hiring process. Often employers, in an effort to be inclusive, hire Afro-Latinx and end up tokenizing them. This happens to other people of color as well. I mention this because while I am a white-passing Latina (which gives me a whole lot of privilege), I have experienced tokenization in the past. Having been the only or one of the few people of color in more than one workplace, I have felt isolated and that more demands were placed on me than other employees because I am bi-lingual. A first step in creating an inclusive and intentional hiring process could be reaching out to organizations or individuals that offer anti-racism trainings and workshops. They may have tools that can help with internal procedures.
As I have written previously, non-black Latinx folks dominate media in the U.S. and Latin America. However, this is not exclusive to media. We see fewer or no Afro-Latinx in government, education, and even the census. Opportunely, Alicia Garza and the folks of Black Futures Lab are conducting the Black Census Project, which includes a category for Afro-Latinx. Black Futures Lab “believe that having empirical data on the thoughts, feelings, and needs of Black Americans, politicians—who in the past have largely ignored the issues facing our community—can better serve us.” In the meantime, we as non-black and/or white-passing Latinx must leverage our privilege to uplift our Afro-Latinx comrades because we’ve got work to do.
Here are some resources that helped me get started on understanding privilege.