Who better to understand the African diaspora identity than Latinos?
Especially considering that more slaves from Africa were trafficked to
Latin America than to the United States.
“There were 11.2 million
Africans who came to the New World in the slave trade and of that 11.2
million, only 450,000 came to the United States,” Harvard professor
Henry Louis Gates Jr. told us in a discussion about his PBS documentary
series Black In Latin America. “The real black experience, in terms of numbers, is all throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.”
This month should also be about African descendants, and their imprint
on the country as well. As HuffPost blogger Anthony Otero wrote,
“Latinos have a long history of African heritage within their linage
that is not brought to light enough. We are willing to recognize the
greatness of Roberto Clemente but are we prepared to celebrate his
More and more people are beginning to realize
that Latin America’s racial landscape is as diverse as their culture — a
fact that has been relatively ignored for far too long.
first glance, it may seem like the Latino community cannot relate to the
struggles and history of African Americans in the US. But, if you take a
closer look, you will see we have much more in common.
way or another, the African American community’s contributions have
benefited other minorities. That, in itself, is more than enough reason
for the Latinos to commemorate Black History Month.
instance, when you think of civil rights, Black and Latino children were
both segregated in schools. But, it wasn’t until the Supreme Court’s
landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation ended.
But, seven years before that, the Mendez family in California
fought for integration and brought “a class-action lawsuit with other
Latino families against four Orange County school districts that had
separate schools for whites and Mexicans,” according to NPR.
Mendez v. Westminster case went all the way to the 9th US Circuit Court
of Appeals. In 1947, they won, and segregation for those districts
These are just a few of the reasons we all need to take
the time to celebrate our Afro-Latino influencers. Think of the
Afro-Latinos making strides in Hollywood, like Lauren Velez or Naya
Rivera. And, don’t forget about bachata singers Romeo Santos and Prince
Royce. Still not satisfied? Check out 46 more Afro-Latinos making
serious moves in Hollywood.
So next time you think about Black
History Month, consider the contributions African-Americans have made to
the United States. But, also consider the fact that we all have much in
common as a minority community.