I’ve spent my entire life explaining who I am and where I am from.
Growing up in the Jamaica, Queens, section of NYC it was easy to blend in with my peers. I lived in a predominately African-American neighborhood where everyone looked like me.
At school, I was just another black girl until my friends came to my home, met my parents, smelled the food on the stove or noticed any of the spiritual items tucked into the corners of the house.
Oh yeah, I’m from Cuba I would explain and yes there are black people from Cuba.
As a young adult, I worked for Telemundo, made some really good Latina friends and even moved to a predominately Dominican neighborhood– Washington Heights/Bronx. I was still just another black girl.
When I spoke Spanish to my fellow Latinos they would respond to me in English, I couldn’t understand it.
I often heard: You don’t look Cuban/Where were you born?/Are both your parents from Cuba?
It was as if they couldn’t comprehend that a black woman, 5’10” with kinky hair, full lips and a round nose was speaking their language.
It’s my language too. It’s my culture too.
Today, I am a wife and mother. I married a West-African man and I live in the suburbs. Although, I’m not living in the Latino community my “bi-cultural” marriage, as I like to call it, gives me a new understanding and appreciation for what it means to be a Latina.
I am a work in progress but I know two things, I am proud to be a black woman and I am proud to be a Cuban woman.
I am creating this blog with the belief that that there are many other Afro-Latinos just like me. We are undeniably Black and undeniably Latino and our voices deserve to be heard, our stories told and our faces seen.
I don’t presume to speak for all but hope that each blog post will spark a conversation among many.