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Thursday, October 1, 2015

PERCEPTIONS IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA 101: Latinos of African Descent Part I

copyright 2014 K. Omodele

"From lack of knowledge my people shall perish."  ~His Imperial Majesty Haile Seassie I

A youth cornered me the other day, talking about his girl.
"She's Puerto Rican and Black", he said, skinning his teeth with pride.  "Model chick -exotic." (His words, not mine)
I saw us 'bout to crash, so I grabbed the wheel, tried steering us toward some semblance or understanding.
"She's a Black Latina?"  My tone urged us to consider his statement more closely. "Like, Latina Negra?"
But his brows narrowed and he mashed the gas - BLAM - head first, straight into a wall of "schupidness."  (As old time people
used to say)
"Nah. Her mama Black and her daddy Puerto Rican."

"In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty"~Bob Marley
Jah knows in this day and age of information, this kind of miseducation is a mosquito NNNINGing in my ears.  Even the
media is at times remiss concerning the differences between nationality and race.  Latin American*  countries such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Columbia and Brazil are populated by people of various races and even mixed races.  Hispanic (or Latino) is an ethnicity not a race.

Saying someone is Hispanic** or Latino*** indicates that he or she is from a country that was once colonized by Spain or Portugal and that they speak Spanish or Portuguese.  How can a person look Hispanic or Latino when these terms don't specify ancestry - whether Amerindian****; African, European; or even mixed ancestry like Mestizo (European and Amerindian) or mulatto (African and European)?
Take  Shakira and Celia Cruz (R.I.P) for instance. Both are Latinas, but because of their different ancestries, they don't share a similar "Hispanic/Latina look."  Just like in the U.S. or U.K., the people of Latin American countries immigrated from all over the world, for various reasons in different seasons.  And yes, some of these Latin Americans are of African descent.

Sources - Webster's Third New International Dictionary
* Latin American - those parts of the Americas colonized by the Spanish or Portuguese:  of relating to countries of North, Central and South America whose chief languages are Romance Languages (excluding French)
**Hispanic (Latin Hispanicus. from Hispania- Spain Iberian Peninsula + Latin .cus =ic)- Relating to or derived from the people, speech, or culture of Spain or of Spain or Portugal:  often Latin American
***Latino- Latin American
****Amerindian- American Indian (Writer's note: Indian of the Americas; not restricted to U.S. Native Americans)

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