17 Fucked-Up Things That Have Actually Happened To Afro-Latinos
"I think you're pretty. You should thank the lord that you don't look like your father."
1. "'They're gorgeous, but you shouldn't have any more. One might come out dark like you."
"I am 100% Cuban, born in Cuba. I took my two oldest daughters who were two and four at the time to meet my light-skinned great aunt, who actually told me, 'They're gorgeous, but you shouldn't have any more. One might come out dark like you.' I was crushed. I was never aware I wasn't good enough in her eyes because I was not light-skinned. My parents said racism ran rampant before Castro in Cuba, and you can still find it all over large Cuban communities. It's a dirty secret we don't talk about."
—Monica Baldyga, Facebook
2. "They'd tell me I have to control my 'n*gga naps' and they always had something to say when I didn't perm my hair."
"I've had to deal with my own family's microagressions over my hair all my life. They'd tell me I have to control my 'n*gga naps' and they always had something to say when I didn't perm my hair. After I got older, I embraced my hair and had to let them know that it is my hair, and I do what I want with it. I've been natural for a year and a half, and honestly, I haven't looked back."
3. "My dark-skinned mom had to explain to everyone that she wasn’t babysitting and that he was her son."
"Until my light-skinned little brother was seven years old, my dark-skinned mom had to explain to everyone that she wasn’t babysitting and that he was her son. She handled it so eloquently every time, but the more it happened the more frustrated I got because it’s like they were saying we weren’t a real family because we’re not all the same color."
4. "My light-skinned Puerto Rican cousins wouldn’t talk to me."
"My light-skinned Puerto Rican cousins wouldn’t talk to me. I still don’t know them well. They made fun of me for my looks and would say that I’m not Latina because I’m darker than them. I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what anyone says about my ethnicity or race anymore. I am a black Latina, and I don’t have to pick one or the other."
—Gabby Womack, Facebook
5. "When he said I was his daughter, they didn't believe him."
"My whole family is Puerto Rican, but because my mom and I look black, and my dad looks white, every time I go anywhere with just my dad I have to prove that I’m not adopted. For example, yesterday we went to the store to get groceries and my dad decided to get my mom a bottle of wine. When it was time to check out, they tried to ID me (I’m 18) instead of him. When he said I was his daughter, they didn't believe him, and took the bottle away because unless you are parent and child, then they can’t sell you wine if you’re both not over 21."
6. "How did your mother have enough money to come to America? What did she do in Brazil? Clean?"
"A few years ago, I interned at a Brazilian establishment in NYC. All of the other interns were Brazilian, but I was the only black Brazilian there. One girl asked where was I from, not believing I’m Brazilian. She said, 'No, really, where are you from?' When I didn’t answer, she asked, 'How did your mother have enough money to come to America? What did she do in Brazil? Clean?' She was insinuating that as a black Brazilian, my mother had to be a maid (a very common job for black Brazilians in Brazil). Mind you, she was also Brazilian, but white. Between her questioning my identity and constantly talking about me in Portuguese, I didn’t stay at the internship for long."
7. "I think you're pretty, you should thank the lord that you don't look like your father."
"I'm Puerto Rican, Haitian, and Dominican. I have light-skin, black features, and very kinky/coily hair. I recently decided to start my dreadlocks, and one of my friends said, 'Who are you, Lisa Bonet? You're not black, you're Hispanic. You should straighten your hair again, it looked so much nicer and neater!' When I told my Puerto Rican mother what my friend had to say about my identity, she said, 'Well she's right, you're not black because you don't look like your father or your aunt, and your nose isn't that wide. I think you're pretty, you should thank the lord that you don't look like your father.'"
8. "My teacher told my mom, 'She doesn’t look Hispanic, but I bet you guys must get that a lot.'"
"I look predominately black. A lot of people assume that I’m mixed. My last name is Jacques, but it isn’t pronounced the French way, it’s pronounced “Hawk-es” because of my Mexican heritage. In the seventh grade, I corrected one of my white teachers and told her about my ethnicity. She simply laughed it off and continued to say it wrong until my mom met her at parent teacher conference and corrected her, two months later. My teacher told my mom, 'She doesn’t look Hispanic, but I bet you guys must get that a lot.'"
9. "Someone standing in line behind us rudely said in Spanish 'Wow I wish black people would stop coming to the HISPANIC farmer’s market!'"
"My family is from the Dominican Republic and a lot of my relatives have Afrocentric features. One time, my cousins and I took a trip to the Hispanic farmers market to score some of our favorite treats from 'back home.' Someone standing in line behind us rudely said in Spanish, 'Wow, I wish black people would stop coming to the HISPANIC farmer’s market!' I was absolutely shocked and I had to turn around and educate the young man on the history of the Dominican Republic. And I feel happy and proud to see people of ALL races coming to the Hispanic market to enjoy and appreciate OUR culture!"
10. "They said, 'If you put Hispanic/Latino, you are white.'"
"Years ago, when my kids were in school, the administrators marked them as white in their paperwork. They said, 'If you put Hispanic/Latino, you are white.' I said, 'BS, it should say Hispanic/Latino and give a race option because Hispanic/Latino is not a race, it’s an ethnicity.' And then later, when more options became available, my kids were marked as two different races because of their different skin complexions."
—Zakiya Ramos, Facebook
11. "Even though I identify as black, many people in Ecuador, my home country, tell me that I'm not."
"Even though I identify as black, many people in Ecuador, my home country, tell me that I'm not. Instead, they say I'm 'morenita', 'lavadita', or 'canelita.' These are Spanish words meant to celebrate the fact that my skin isn't dark. Most of the time, they even think I was born in the U.S. or some other place that isn't Ecuador. It's annoying AF."
—Nadia Angulo Bennett, Facebook
12. "They asked me to say something in Spanish, just to 'verify' my proficiency."
"I had a job interview at a leasing office and was interviewed by three white women. When they saw my last name and that I'm bilingual on my resume, they asked me what language I spoke. I told them Spanish, and they asked me how I learned. I explained that my family is from Honduras and they looked so confused. They asked me to say something in Spanish, just to 'verify' my proficiency. I agreed, and asked, 'Which one of you speaks Spanish so I know who I should talk to?' They just said, 'Oh we don't speak it, so just say anything.' I was taken aback, but I just smiled and said "No quiero trabajar con idiotas" (I don't want to work with idiots). They smiled and looked so impressed and said my accent was perfect. Of course I turned the job down."
13. "They've told me my natural hair is messy, and that I should straighten it because it's 'neater' that way."
"Both of my parents are Panamanian, so I'm 100% Afro-Latina. I've had people ask me to speak Spanish just to prove that I can. They ask me what my mother's maiden name is because my last name sounds very American (Scottish to be exact. Thanks slavery!) They've told me my natural hair is messy, and that I should straighten it because it's 'neater' that way. It's exhausting to basically defend my existence EVERY DAY."
14. "She thought because I was so young I didn’t understand my own damn ethnicity."
"When I was 13, I got into an argument with my dentist about my Afro-Latina heritage. When she asked me where I was from, I said Puerto Rico. 'No where are you REALLY from?' she said. So I had to spend half my appointment telling her that my entire family is from Puerto Rico, and that just because I’m dark doesn’t mean I’m not Latina. What pissed me off is how condescending she was. Like, she thought because I was so young I didn’t understand my own damn ethnicity."
15. "Where did u learn Spanish so well?"
"I'm a Spanish interpreter in hospitals, and every day I get asked 'You? You speak Spanish?' Followed by 'the look,' and then followed by, 'Where did u learn Spanish so well?' I'm so tired of it."
—Deysha Jones Reid, Facebook
16. "Whenever I say I'm black, a family member always says 'No, we are indios.'"
"I am half Dominican and half Colombian, so I'm a biracial Afro-Latina and as a Dominican, the biggest micro-aggression is the use of the word 'indio'. We use it as a way to deny our blackness, and claim something different because we are ashamed of being black. Whenever I say I'm black, a family member always says 'No, we are indios.'"
17. "You can’t be both, you have to choose one."
"As a little girl, I was bullied a lot for being Afro-Latina. Whenever I would speak Spanish to other Latinx kids, they would be in shock and say things like 'you don’t look Latinx,' or 'you can’t be both, you have to choose one.' It was disheartening because I didn’t really fit in any of the two communities for a long time. But as I discovered well-known Afro-Latinas like salsa singers Celia Cruz and Joe Arroyo, and actresses like Tatyana Ali and Rosario Dawson, I became more confident with embracing both cultures. My grandparents and mother were adamant about embracing our Afro-Latinx culture through representation and music, and that’s what ultimately saved me."
NEWSFLASH, PEOPLE: You can be black AND Latino!
Some responses have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.