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What is Afro Latino and the Meaning of Heritage, Culture, and Identity

A good percentage of women are labeling themselves as Afro Latinas. Get to know why!

What is Afro Latino? Have you ever wondered? Although it is a relatively new concept for many, this term has been there for generations. Being Afro Latino is a mix of cultures, languages, and races. A sole identity where African and Latino origins converge to create their own history.

We must add that some Black-skinned Latinos, biracial or bicultural, don’t identify themselves as Afro Latinos. In fact, according to a study done by Pew Research Center in 2020, only 2 percent of adults in the United States and a mere 12% of the Latino population consider themselves Afro Latinos. From the latter, one in seven said they don’t see themselves as Hispanic.

This tells us, in theory, that “Afro-Latinidad” is as complex as its own meaning. We could say it’s more about taking fractions of history from that legacy our ancestors left, so it can be turned into a unique identity beyond the simple label of being “Latino.”

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Being Afro Latino in the beauty world

Thousands of Afro Latinas love beauty products just as much as Black women and Latinas. Between home remedies and recipes, inherited from their “abuelas” to the latest technology for curls, kinks, and natural hair, Afro Latinas have learned to embrace all that makes them feel comfortable and secure in their own skin. All that makes them feel proud of their mixed heritage.

The beauty of being Afro Latino is just that, a melting pot of colors and textures –not only when it comes to skin color but also hair and eyes— where everyone value and love their unique features as if this was an ode of pride, love, and gratitude to their DNA.

Afro-Dominican and American poet, Elizabeth Acevedo, captures this essence in her poem “Afro-Latina.” “A beautifully tragic mixture, a sancocho of a race history (…) we are the unforeseen children. We’re not cultural wedlock, hair too kinky for Spain, too wavy for dreadlocks.”

World Afro Day

frizz on natural hair

We know Afro hair is not unique to Afro Latinas or Latinas. However, today we want to celebrate, as every September 15th, what it means to carry countless generations and history over our shoulders, what it means to be proud of the DNA of your hair, to put in simple words.

Those curls and kinks aren’t more than the triumph of your ancestors; a victory now, more than ever, is helping empower Latina women to show themselves all-natural, loving each and every feature.

That’s how journalist and meteorologist Corallys Ortiz sees it: “For years, women of color have been judged because of their Afro hair; it wasn’t ‘professional enough,’ so we had to adapt and adjust to other beauty standards. I didn’t accept my curly hair for the longest time, but I love it today. And I feel that’s what’s happening now: more and more people are embracing and accepting their identity without straightening their hair with chemicals. That only means we are more comfortable wearing our natural hair than ever.”

Have you heard about the term Afro Latino before? How do you wear your Afro and curls with pride?

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