The Organization of Latino Unity hosts AfroLatinidad discussion

Last Thursday, the Organization of Latino Unity (OLU) hosted a discussion about AfroLatinidad to shed light on Black identity and African roots in Latin America and for Latinx people, which is often dismissed within the Latinx community. The event was a part of Black Solidarity Week.

The event opened by asking the question “what exactly is AfroLatinidad?” It is a cultural identity of Latinx people who have African roots. The reason they have African roots is because of the African diaspora, which occurred when millions of Africans were kidnapped and brought to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Attendees discussed how AfroLatinidad is dismissed within the community because of the stigma behind it. People who are Afro-Latinx often deny that part of their identity because of the negative notions and stereotypes that are exacerbated by colorism and dismissal of Blackness. Sometimes Latinx people, especially the elders, will call people with curly hair or darker skin “ugly” or try to deny their African roots. 

One of the questions asked in the discussion was “How is ‘Blackness’ dismissed and erased within our families and Latinx communities?” One student shared that sometimes some of their darker cousins are referred to as “la negrita,” which translates to “the darker skin one” while the student is praised for having fairer skin. 

Many more examples of how anti-Blackness manifests for Latinx people were shared, such as not wanting to tan too dark or bleaching their skin to match prevailing beauty standards. The Latinx community has a history of colorism and dismissing African roots, but the event emphasized that this can no longer continue. 

Many attendees offered solutions to change the dominant perspective and negative notions. They expressed that people should embrace the beauty behind AfroLatinidad, especially because much of it has influenced the Latinx culture. 

“I may not identify as Afro-Latina but it really warms my heart, seeing this coming to my school because it reminds me of my own family,” said Jaylin Rios, social media manager of OLU. “It teaches me more about their experiences and lets me reflect about my privileges.”

Rios then spoke about the importance of discussing topics like these at Ramapo and bringing awareness to multiculturalism. She said she loved seeing these events because it made her feel welcomed.  

“I would love to see more communities coming out to multicultural events to support multiculturalism overall. It’s a beautiful thing to see on campus and I think there should be more spotlight on it,” Rios said.

Senior Nicole Borrero shared a similar sentiment. “It made me feel really included, as well as seeing so many diverse people [in the Black Student Union.] I saw everyone’s perspective on all the different topics,” they said. “I felt seen and felt like my voice was heard by my peers.”

At the end of the discussion, empanadas were given out. More information about future OLU events can be found on Instagram, @olu_rcnj.


Featured photo by Jennifer Lopez