This week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile became two more names on the long list of black lives lost to police violence and brutality. As racist policing takes center stage, it’s also an important time for the Latino community to stand in solidarity with the black community. For one, Afro-Latinidad is an integral part of who we are. While the United States is usually the focus of the American slave trade, less than 4 percent of the 10 million slaves that reached the Western hemisphere wound up there – 25 times more slaves were sent to Latin America than the US.
As the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to gain traction – thanks to the tireless work of activists and organizers – it’s transcended borders and cultures. In an article titled “11 Major Misconceptions About the Black Lives Matter Movement,” the organization explains that though “disruptive protest and impassioned public speeches” about police brutality has become one of its defining features, it’s not a one-issue movement. Black Lives Matter tackles the public school education, food security, and safe and affordable housing. “Another is the complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex,” the site reads. “Many of the movement’s organizers identify as abolitionists, which in the 21st-century context refers to people who want to abolish prisons and end the problem of mass incarceration of black and Latino people.”
There are many reasons that blacks and Latinos are inextricably linked. However, we are also complicit in systems of black oppression. As Raquel Reichard wrote on Latina, despite “our proximity to black people and the Afro-Latinos in our [families], internalized and interminority racisms run deep in the Latino community.” Anti-blackness is ingrained in our community, and also something that is often swept under the rug. We have a long way to go to break down hundreds of years of white supremacy, but as Amanda Alcantara wrote on Feministing, “To refuse to be active in [the Black Lives Matter] movement is to deny ourselves an alliance that is not just necessary but mandatory in the fight for our collective freedom.”