When I Declared I Was “Afro-Latina”

I first realized that I did not necessarily have a known race to claim when I saw that “Latina” or “Dominican” was not an option for anything other than ethnicity along with the fact that there were times where one was obligated to select a race. Also, both sides of my family comprise of many different skin shades yet young me never thought anything of it other than we were just Dominican. However, the history we are taught in school before we are allowed to select our academic path in college is extremely selective and limited, and there was hardly any mention of Caribbean history. When I decided to take a Caribbean history class at Colgate, my mind went for a ride. Mami and Papi have only told me so much about the history of the Dominican Republic, more so about the times of Trujillo, that I never knew about the origins of our land other than Christopher Columbus being our mortal enemy. “Afro-Latina” is a term that has always existed but was exposed to me during a lesson and became prominent on social media during this time. 

Eventually, I decided to do my own research. I came to realize that many members of my family, although they do know the history of our country, tend to not accept the fact that we do have significant African ancestry. Dominican is just Dominican, and that was that. There was no further conversation about how the country came to be. However, this notion is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, but it has to stop. Now, when others ask what I am, I will state that I am an Afro-Dominicana as a way to get the conversation going and to get my family a little more riled up, since many tend to look in confusion. Now, the next step of my journey and what I have decided to treat myself to for Christmas is an Ancestry.com test in order to continue the conversation. As Acevedo stated regarding her most recent change to the piece, “Learning more about the history of the Dominican Republic, of colonialism, of slavery and post-slavery Latin America was huge in shifting what I thought about myself. The more I learned, the more I was proud of how each of these facets survived in the United States. How the survival of my parents’ and grandparents’ way of life was an extreme rebellion. It’s easy to say ‘I want to sound and be like what’s perceived as the majority population’ but once I realized that what I was doing was rejecting the richness of my culture, I was able to find ways to begin celebrating and loving myself.”

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