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The Afro-Latino Identity

The Afro-Latino Identity

Lolita Mojica

The identity of Afro-Latino culture is a complex one, with deep-seated roots dating back to the early days of colonialism. As Black History Month approaches, it’s imperative to recognize the Afro-Latino community, as it shares common ground with Black Americans through shared historical narratives.

As a direct result of slave trading and forced migration, many Africans ended up in South America. Since the beginning, factors like race and skin tone have made the Afro-Latino experience different than that of their Latino counterparts. 

This ethnic identity spans various countries, including Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, among others. Even in these Latin countries, however, people who identify as Afro-Latino typically describe themselves as racially Black. 

African influence can be found all throughout Latin American culture, especially in cuisine. Popular dishes such as mofongo (meat with green bananas) and arepas (corn cakes) share ingredients with African food.

Similarly, many traditional dishes from Latin America are inexpensive and were born out of scarcity, yet embody a richness of flavor and tradition that speaks volumes about the resilience and resourcefulness of its people.

In popular culture, notable Afro-Latinos like Zoe Saldana, celebrated for her versatile performances, Rosario Dawson, known for her impactful roles and advocacy, and Carmelo Anthony, a renowned athlete and cultural influencer, collectively stand out as compelling representations of the Afro-Latino presence.

Musically, the roots of styles like bachata, conga, rumba, and reggaeton can be traced back to religious and ceremonial rituals in Africa. This musical heritage will come to life on Feb. 25 at The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, hosting an “Afro-Latinx” music festival featuring live music, art workshops, and food.

This festival serves as an invaluable opportunity for individuals to delve into the Afro-Latino experience, gaining insight into the richness of these cultures. To learn more and RSVP for this free, family-friendly event, visit their website: https://molaa.org/events/2024-02-25/afrolatinxfest

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