Source: Courtesy of Michelle Ida Heng / Michelle Ida Heng
Michelle Ida Heng
CEO & Co-Founder of Everlaunch
When I first heard the term Afro-Latina
it was about four years ago. There was a sense of relief that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. It felt like my whole life was an identity crisis up until that point. I was shouting from the rooftops, like… YES! That’s ME! I am AFRO LATINA!
Being Afro-Latina means I get to identify as my most authentic self and that is something I am eternally grateful for. The term is an acknowledgment that I am both Black and Hispanic, not to mention, incredibly proud to be both. Unfortunately, being Black and proud was something denied to me pretty much my whole life due to my cultural upbringing. Growing up in a Dominican household where Spanish was my first language, I was forced to get my hair relaxed, and do crazy things like douse myself in cocoa butter so that I could “remain light-skinned.” Once I got older and was able to dictate how I get to live my life, I started my natural hair journey. I can say that it truthfully saved, changed, and elevated my life in ways I never thought possible. I began to heal and feel free of this shame that I had to carry — shame which wasn’t even mine to begin with. Once I learned the term Afro-Latina, I embodied it. It literally gave me confidence. It made me proud, and it helped me understand who I really am.