What Does It Mean To Be “Afro Latina?” 5 Latinx Women Discuss Embracing Their Black Identity

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afro latina women

Source: Taylor Balwin of Mama Photog / Leyanis Diaz

Leyanis Diaz

Business Consultant, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Advocate & Influencer

When I was three years old, my parents and I emigrated from Havana, Cuba to Miami. Growing up Afro-Latina, even in a city as diverse as Miami in the ‘90s, was tough. At five years old, one of my classmates asked me where I was from. When I told him I was Cuban, he responded, “I’ve never met a Black Cuban before.”

This was the first time I ever felt different — like an outsider or outcast. I felt like I didn’t fit in and like I didn’t belong because of the color of my skin, my curls, my culture, and my Cuban-ness. People always made me feel like I was too Black to be Latina and too Latina to be Black, as if I had to choose one. It wasn’t until I was an adult in college that I learned that I was Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latina, and that there were millions of people like me who identified as both Latinx and Black. It was in that moment that I felt powerful, proud, heard, understood and like I belonged. Identifying as Afro-Latina has given me an identity and a purpose.

Today, I am proud to be Afro-Latina. The term makes me feel powerful — like I can accomplish and do anything. It comes with the responsibility and understanding that I may be one of the first people who look and sound like me in the room or with a seat at the table. As the first person in my family to graduate from college and complete a master’s degree, the first Afro-Latina to have held the title of Miss Black Florida USA 2017, a business consultant, and an entrepreneur, I’m making strides in my field as a Black Hispanic woman, a demographic that’s often unnoticed and underrepresented. I choose to redefine and retell the stories told about women, immigrants, Blacks, and the Latinx community into stories of hope and resilience, leaving violence, poverty, and weakness behind in search of something better.

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