Afro-Latinas are snubbed in just about every aspect of society, from media and business to government and academia, but their erasure doesn’t mean they don’t exist – or kick major ass in these fields.
On Saturday, some of these badass black Latinas got together at the #AfroLatinasWhoRock brunch awards. The event, hosted by Ain’t I Latina’s Janel Martinez and sponsored by the folks at Planned Parenthood, honored Afro-Latinas in academia, beauty, media and education.
Latina had a front-row seat at the awards show, and we want to share some of these mujeres’ Afro-Latina magic with those who weren’t able to attend. Get inspired by these quotes from the celebrated stars of the day.
1. Seven Brown
"There have been many instances where people want to make you one thing or the other, and they don’t want you to be both. I am both. I am Afro, and I am Latina," said Seven Brown, owner of Harlem Skin & Laser Clinic and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Uptown Magazine. "So to be recognized that way by my people and also for what I’ve done, it’s pretty overwhelming."
Brown's advice for Afro-Latinas? "Don’t let anybody define you. Be who you are. Be true to it."
2. Nadia Lopez
"There is not enough of us being celebrated. There is not enough of our stories," said the event's keynote speaker Nadia Lopez, who is an educator and principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. "I’m not an exhibit. I’m a person. My grandmother is a person. My mother is a person. And so when you see me, don’t ask me to say 'chair.' If you want to learn the language, I’ll show you, and I’ll also show you the rich heritage of where my family comes from. But don’t treat me like I’m less than."
3. Erica Nichole
"Your Afro-descended side and your Latino side, where you come from or where your family comes from, they’re both equally as important," Erica Nichole, creator of the blog Everything ENJ, said. "They should be studied and delved into. Know your culture, educate yourself and, please, accept yourself."
4. Marta Morena Vega
"There’s nothing better than to be proud to see yourself in your beauty and in your globalness. Through our veins run African blood, the Moors of Spain, the European, the Native American, the Asian – we represent the world, and we bring the solution to the world," said scholar and founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Marta Morena Vega. "There’s no pill that makes you an Afro-Latina instantly. It’s a matter of consciousness. It’s a matter of understanding your history, understanding the experiences of your parents and looking in the mirror and seeing who you are."
5. Crystal Roman
"There is an array of us, obviously from so many countries throughout the African diaspora, and these women are lost. We give these women a platform and place where you can see the diversity of them: small nose, big nose, light hair, dark hair, curly hair, coarse hair, straight hair, you know, Latinas, in general, have such an array of colors and shades and body types, so we want to show that," said actress and founder of the Black Latina Movement (BLM), a forum for Afro-Latinas in music, Broadway and film, Crystal Roman. " ... Latinas coming in, especially Afro-Latinas, wanting to come in the [media] industry, don’t feel like you have to appease others. Come in and be ballsy, and do what you want to do. This is about birth."