Afro-Latinidad has historically been marginalized in Latin America and the U.S. and it’s the work of Afro-Latinx leaders that has ensured against their erasure. Mainstream images of Latinas rarely include Black Latinas so these women have taken it upon themselves to carve a space for Afro-Latinas. The lack of representation means young boys and girls aren’t seen themselves in books, film, and television when they are most likely already marginalized in their own community.
Miriam Jiménez Román is one of the most influential Afro-Latinas known for her seminal book, The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States. Inspired by her own experiences as a Black Puerto Rican in the U.S. she created space and launched conversations that centered Afro-Latinos. The Afro-Latinx leader died last year but her work and legacy continue.
Here’s a roundup of some of the Afro-Latinas you need to be following on Instagram who empower the Afro-Latinx community and make sure they’re represented.
Lisa Cortes – Director/Producer
Born to an Afro-Colombian father and African-American mother, Lisa Cortes grew up exposed to two different cultures equally. “Growing up, Ricky Ricardo and Charo defined for most Americans what a ‘Spanish’ person looked like. But in my household, I experienced a world where African and Spanish cultures were not mutually exclusive,” she wrote for PopSugar. She worked on the documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy (available on Amazon Prime) the broke down the voter suppression African Americans in the U.S. have experienced and the systemic disenfranchisement of Black people.
Janel Martinez, Journalist and Founder of “Ain’t I Latina?”
Journalist Janel Martinez established “Ain’t I Latina” because she “wanted to create a space where millennial Latinas can celebrate their diversity.” The Honduran-American identifies as Garifuna, a mix of Afro and Indigenous ancestry mainly in the Caribbean coast of Honduras and in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize as well. “Media can either uplift or erase, and for far too long the agenda has been the latter as it pertains to multilayered Black stories.” Both the website and Instagram account center conversations on Afro-Latinidad and work to combat the erasure and anti-Blackness Afro-Latinx face in their communities and media,” she wrote in a recent Instagram post.
Elizabeth Acevedo, Author and Poet
Afro-Dominican writer Elizabeth Acevedo has written three books with Afro-Latinx lead characters and has a whole poem about her identity aptly called “Afro-Latina“. She’s a National Poetry Slam Champion and the first woman of color to receive the prestigious Carnegie Medal for her debut The Poet X. She dedicated the book to “all the little sisters yearning to see themselves.”
Blactina, Founded by Nydia Simone
Nydia Simone is a Panamanian and African-American filmmaker who founded the platform “Blactina” in 2017 to carve a space for Black Latinas that she didn’t have growing up. “Growing up, I didn’t identify with Hispanics or Latinas at all because I would see Latina media, and I wasn’t reflected,” she told Oprah magazine. “Blactina” hosts events and webinars to amplify Afro-Latinx and Caribbean stories and also sells merchandise.
Brujas of Brooklyn, Professors
Afro-Indigenous Black Latinx twin sisters Miguelina Rodriguez and Dr. Griselda Rodriguez-Solomon founded the platform Brujas of Brooklyn as a way to demystify ancestral rituals. The sisters, who are Dominican and live in New York, both have doctorate degrees and are professors at The City University of New York (CUNY). Griselda teaches courses related to racism and is also a doula, kundalini yogi, and mother. Miguelina focuses on gentrification and both are devoted to holistic wellness and spirituality. They also focus on womb wellness, African spirituality, and dismantling anti-Blackness in Dominican culture.
Yo Soy Afro-Latina, Founded by Bianca Kathryn
Bianca Kathryn founded the lifestyle brand “Yo Soy Afro-Latina” to create a community that celebrates Afro-Latinidad. On the website, she shares that when she started visiting Mexico is when she finally felt a sense of belonging being surrounded by people who looked like her. This sense of community, along with her move to NYC where she was surrounded by fellow Afro-Latinxs, led her to found the brand. “My goal is to shed light on the beauty and the magnitude of Afro Latinas, to create a space where we are acknowledged, and to celebrate our beautiful, diverse culture. We’ve been here and we’re not going anywhere. This is our time to shine,” she shares on the site.