A few years ago I learned about the term “Afro-Latina.” I immediately could relate to this because I always felt a bit different. I like this term as it doesn’t make me choose, but it allows me to embrace the fact that I’m not just a girl from the island of Puerto Rico, but that I have strong African influences as well. I am a Latina of mixed race with African ancestry even though both of my parents are Puerto Ricans. What?
This awareness and transformation started about nine years ago when I stopped relaxing my hair and stopped constantly pulling it back in a bun because I thought that was the way I needed to look, especially in the professional workplace. It was then when I finally felt free; these natural curls of mine led me to this unknown freedom. I was even more surprised to find that learning about my hair texture led me to learn about my background which in turn led me to embrace my true self. I’m proud that I have realized that I’m an Afro-Latina and that makes me who I am today. I don’t like labels, but I wear this label with pride.
Parents, teach your kids to recognize their ancestry at a young age and to embrace it. For a very long time, I didn’t understand why we Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Colombians, etc. came in all skin colors and had different hair textures, sadly lots of people all around me, labeled my hair texture as “bad” hair. Unfortunately, this is not a mindset that’s limited just to older generations. There are many people today that will still use that term and think it’s acceptable. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if you have lighter skin or even straight hair. Being Afro-Latino is not exclusive to looking black; it’s specifically having African ancestry. That is why I proudly introduce to you these three beautiful local Afro-Latinas, flip the page and let’s see what they have to say…
By Rosa J Parra