Afrolatinas beauty beauty standards black beauty
Navigating Anti-Blackness and Perceptions of Beauty as an Afrolatina6/28/2014
by Sharlia LeBreton-Gulley “So… You KNOW you’re Latina, right?” That was a legitimate assertion ...
by Sharlia LeBreton-Gulley
“So… You KNOW you’re Latina, right?”
That was a legitimate assertion once made to me by a proud Latino brother while I stood behind the counter at the Vitamin Shoppe in Pasadena California bagging his protein, testosterone booster and multivitamins.
“Actually, I’m African.”
My mom suggested me a few years ago that when prompted, I should respond that I am definitively “African” to inquisitions of my racial, cultural and/or ethnic background. Typically most people don’t even understand the difference between the three “distinctions,” so this wouldn’t be a problem if I began simply responding “African,” when asked my background, right? What I found though, was that most people simply could not accept that by me claiming an African identity , that I could look the way I do. I’ve gotten everything from, “But you’re so pretty,” to “ No, your grandparents or somebody must be mixed or something.” One of my sisters once told me her response to these intrusive questions was to reply that she is mixed, “[w]ith slavery and oppression.”
With over 180 million people of African descent living throughout the America’s, it is crucial to honor the unique experiences of the African peoples and their places of geographic displacement caused by the period of enslavement and colonization which by and large has helped to create the Latino/a identity. We are all well aware of the atrocities of these periods of history; the raping, mutilations, separation, religious perversions and the like, but for my original point, let’s just reexamine something to make it very palpable.
“I would never claim my rapist.”
This was a sentiment expressed in a lecture by Rosa Clemente (2008 Green Party Presidential candidate, Community organizer, Hip-Hop activist and Independent journalist) in a talk on the ”AfroLatina Identity and Critical Approaches to Blackness.”
“Black is beautiful,” but what is “black” and whose standard of “beautiful” are we using? The approach to blackness and concepts of beauty need to be critically analyzed and re-imagined further than a simplistic assertion. We need to look deeply into the identification and lack of identification with blackness and beauty especially within our Diaspora and our AfroLatino/a global community.