Afro-Latinxs have a history of marginalization in the U.S. and throughout Latin America that’s often lead to their erasure in history and in their communities. Afro-Latinxs make up such a large portion of the population in parts of Latin America and yet they continue to combat ignorance surrounding the legitimacy of their Latinidad. In Brazil, about half of the population is of African descent and in the Caribbean, Black Cubans make up about a third of that country’s population, according to PEW Research. In the Dominican Republic, black identity is much more complicated. The organization reports that estimates of Afro-descent in the Dominican Republic range from about a quarter to nearly 90 percent of the population.
Social media has provided a platform for Afro-Latinxs and a way to educate, empower, and amplify their community. While TikTok is known for funny videos and challenges, it’s also become a platform for educating people and calling out ignorant comments. We’ve rounded up some of the best TikToks that breakdown what it means to be Afro-Latinx.
You Can Be Black AND Latina
This is a clear and simple message that yes, you can in fact be both Black and Latina. Latin American and Caribbean countries including Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, and Dominican Republic have a large population of Afro-Latinxs yet anti-Blackness is prevalent. TikToker Abby breaks down how Afro-Latinxs have to deal with anti-Blackness, colorism, being told they need to “mejorar la raza” and the idea of pelo. malo. These toxic beliefs are also in part a result of many in LATAM siding with the racist views of the colonizer.
On Being Black and Mexican
Black Mexicans have a long and troubled history in Mexico and this TikToker breaks down how one of the most popular songs to come out of Mexico. The singer featured in this video is Sarah Palafox, known as Sarah La Morena, a Black Mexican ranchera singer who received racist backlash after videos of her singing went viral. TikToker Avante breaks down the roots of the song “La Bamba” which dates back to the 17th century, sung by members of an Angolan tribe in Veracruz on Mexico’s Gulf Coast.
PSA: Afro-Latinx = Black
TikToker Abby breaks it down in her “Ted Talk” explaining that being Afro-Latina means you’re also Black. There’s been a history of denial among Afro-Latinxs denying the term “Black” opting to identify by their homeland instead. This language is partly the cause of the continued discrimination Afro-Latinxs face.
When People Deny Your Identity
Afro-Latinxs notoriously encounter pushback from fellow Latinx along with others who can’t comprehend a Black person speaking Spanish. What’s even more frustrating is others can feel like they are more knowledgeable and deny or question Afro-Latinx identities. Que locura.
When You Hit Them With Fluent Spanish
The audacity of some people to continue to question someone’s Latinidad and then continue to do so after they speak fluent Spanish? TikToker Sofia, who was born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents, swiftly takes down the haters with her light-speed Spanish.
TikToker AfroLatinaMagic highlights the everyday biases and ignorance Afro-Latinas face like the disconnect for people between their skin color and their Latinx name. This brings to the forefront the total lack of awareness and understanding people have about Afro-Latinidad.
Latinas Come in All Shades
When it comes to what a Latina is “supposed” to look like the references are celebrities like Jennifer Lopez or Salma Hayek yet TikToker Tally is here to remind us that Latinas can look like her. Latin America spans 33 countries so to make the assumption that every person would be a certain shade of brain with a particular hair texture is not only ridiculous but impossible.
The Marginalization of Black and Indigenous Latinxs
Black and Indigenous communities have both been marginalization throughout LATAM and continue to experience prejudice and discrimination. While historically this has been issue, it remains prevalent today with white Latinxs continuing to exclude Black/Indigenous communities as part of Latinidad.
Black People Can Speak Spanish
TikToker Jamaly breaks it down explaining that outside of Africa, LATAM has the largest population of Africa descendants and yet people remain surprised when they see a Black person speaking Spanish. He included #panamanian and #costarican, both countries have Black communities and yet, like he says, people are still shocked when someone like him speaks Spanish. “Spanish is not a race,” he explains.
“La Negra” is more than a term of endearment
Afro-Latinx educator Paola Garcia breaks down why it’s problematic that JLo refer to herself as “la negrita” explaining that Amara La Negra got a lot of pushback for using the term. JLo, however, did not and so it shines a light on how darker skinned women continue to be discriminated against.