Culture

This Instagram Account Is Celebrating Afro-Latinx Stories All Month Long

It was about a year ago – on her first trip to Nicaragua – that 26-year-old Brittany Chávez began to call herself Afro-Latinx. “Growing up, I always had identity issues,” she told me. “I have the dark complexion. I was always asked if I was mixed with black. Naturally, I denied it because I just didn’t know. Obviously looking at my dad, he looks black. He is black. But he’s extremely anti-black, and I just never questioned it because he never brought it up. ‘I’m Nicaraguan,’ he would always say. So I said the same, too.”

When she visited her dad’s maternal family in Ciudad Sandino, Chávez – who is also half Guatemalan – saw photos of her relatives and knew she could never again doubt her African heritage. As a kid, her dad told her they likely descended from the Mayangnas, who intermixed with both African slaves and the Spanish. “No one ‘fessed up to their blackness [during my trip to Nicaragua], but it did open my eyes and help me understand how rampant anti-blackness is in Latinx communities,” she said.

Now, Brittany – who along with Raquel García co-founded ShopLatinxBiz, a platform highlighting Latino entrepreneurs – is using her company’s Instagram account to spotlight the experiences of other Afro-Latinxs this Black History Month. Dissatisfied with the lack of attention given to Afro-Latinidad, especially on platforms like Instagram, Chávez wanted to provide a space for those who rarely see themselves reflected in the media.

Last year, Afro-Cuban/Dominican singer Juliana Pache visited Latino sites on the first day of Black History Month and failed to see any content that discussed being both Latino and black. “But I noticed on one of the accounts, they somehow managed to post a picture and article about a non-Latinx white woman that morning,” she told Ain’t I Latina. “I was low-key infuriated. Not because there was a white woman getting representation, but because we got none.”

As a result, Pache created the #BlackLatinxHistory hashtag, and others excitedly joined in – giving shoutouts to figures like Marta Moreno Vega, Roberto Clemente, and María Elena Moyano. Because black and Latino are incorrectly seen as mutually exclusive, Afro-Latinos have found themselves left out of the conversation more often than not. They also have to cope with others categorizing them as either not Latino enough, not black enough, or both. The ShopLatinxBiz Afro-Latinx series is a reflection of that struggle.

Brittany and her team upload anywhere between four to six stories a week on Instagram from activists, artists, and business owners. With this project, Brittany – whose made it her mission to combat anti-blackness in the Latino community – has found the things that caused her confusion in the past are now connecting her with others. “A lot of the submissions have experienced the same anti-blackness, confusion and otherness I described, which I found really interesting,” she said. “A lot of us Afro-Latinxs, especially the ones who appear more indigenous, are finally accepting their blackness, whether or not their family does.”

Check out a few submissions below:

1

"It didn’t help that I had cousins tell me that I wasn’t black."

2

"I didn't see many Black and or AfroLatin/a/o/x people in media, no one who looked like me growing up."

3

"My mother is Black whether it makes you uncomfortable or not."

4

"Anti-blackness is rampant in the Latinx community and it is our duty to combat it."

5

"I used to try and erase all of my most beautiful features."

6

"I feel that my ancestry allows me to explore the best of both worlds."

7

"I was very self conscious about any traits that gave away I was black because I wanted so badly to fit in."

8

"As an Afro-Latina chef, I’m heavily influenced by my diverse background."

View this post on Instagram

ShopLatinxBiz is celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth by sharing the stories of Afro-Latinxs. Here is NYC-based chef, Daniella Davis (@chefdaniella). . As an Afro-Latina chef, I’m heavily influenced by my #diverse background, fusing together these cuisines is not uncommon and is seen heavily in #Caribbean food. One of the best ways to highlight Black history month is to really celebrate the African contributions through food. Dishes such as #Dominican mangu, Cuban Quimbombo, #Venezuelan Rondon, which is where my family hails from are just a few that highlights the African roots. . Some of my most popular original dishes show my roots in both my #Latina, and #African heritage. I make a popular Moro, which is a black rice dish popular in Brazil and Cuba, but while I try to maintain its traditional recipe I add Caribbean spices such as allspice, and scotch bonnet peppers, along with green olives. Another original recipe would be my version of arroz con pollo, except I use a lot of cumin, and I add okra and I usually sear my chicken in palm oil which is native to Caribbean and African culture. Even my caribbean food tacos, and tamales which I’m known for as a chef is a dish where I naturally combine the two cuisines, putting things like #oxtail, and curried goat, as well as lightly fried fish with maduros too. One of my favorites that I like to snack on is a dish combining traditional Jamaican foods, and platanos, I top them with ackee and saltfish; Jamaica’s national dish. When eating certain Caribbean dishes naturally you see an influence of the #Spanish settlers as well, the heavy use of rice and plantain are throughout all of the Caribbean countries. Monfongo, a popular dish using platanos, and fried pork, is heavily influenced by its African inhabitants and the Spanish settlers who originally brought over the pig from Europe. Everyday foods that are popular in both Latino and Caribbean cultures are influenced from each other, without even knowing it. 🍛 ✊🏽✊🏿

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