I never thought I would be “coming out” because I was never hiding. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where identifying as simply “Dominican” was the norm — and still is, if you come from Latin America. When I moved to the United States 13 years ago, identifying as an Afro-Latina seemed redundant because, to me, being Dominican is synonymous with being of African descent.
I invite you to go check out my essay for Popsugar, Coming Out As Afro-Latina And Owning It, where I talk about my experience identifying as Afro-Latina in the United States, and the reactions I get from people when I do so. Also, why I think it’s important that we all learn to respect the identity of others. Coming out as Afro-Latina made me reinforce my belief that each person is the owner of their story and the ones who know their identity at the core. As humans, we are not here to define or label the experiences of others, we are all just in a joint journey in which respect, empathy and acceptance are necessary for all to live happily.
Besides sharing my own personal experience with afrolatinidad, I want to leave you with this beautiful poem I love, from poet Elizabeth Acevedo that describes the Afro-Latina experience. Enjoy!
“Afro-Latina, camina conmigo
Salsa swagger anywhere she go
Como: La Negra Tiene Tumbao!
‘Azúcar!’ Dance to the rhythm
Beat the drums of my skin
Afro-descendent, the rhythms within
We are the unforeseen children
We’re not a cultural wedlock-hair too kinky for Spain,
too wavy for dreadlocks- so our palms tell the cuentos of many tierras: read our lifeline.
Birthed of intertwine, moonbeams and starshine.
We are every ocean crossed.
North Star navigates our waters.
Our bodies have been bridges.
We are the sons and daughters.
El destino de mi gente.
Black, brown, beautiful.
Viviremos para siempre,
hasta la muerte.