The duality that comes with being Black and Latino is often misunderstood and overlooked by broader society because unfortunately, we are taught to look at color first before getting to know who a person is. Although Latinos of African descent are often overlooked, creatives reflect on their personal experiences and multicultural identities, depicting their own unique experiences as part of the greater African Diaspora. We highlight poets who share their personal narratives loudly and with conviction, one word at a time.
A Latina of Dominican descent, Acevedo is a regular on the spoken word poetry circuit and is a National Slam Champion, Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, DC. In Afro-Latina, she passionately shares her journey of awareness and embraces her roots. “I know I come from stolen gold, from cocoa, from sugar cane. The children of slaves and slave masters. A beautifully tragic mixture, a Sancocho of erased history.”
For Ramirez, the 2012 Knicks Poetry Slam Champion, the celebration of his heritage emphasizes his pride in being a child of Africa. However, the generational nuances and criticism he experienced was not lost on him. “My hair grows out an Afro, my grandfather would tell me, ‘Stop looking like a n****r.’ I tell him, ‘I’m celebrating the way God made me.’ My grandfather smiled in the faces of my black friends like he had a lynch mob in his back pocket, his teeth the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments shredded into thirty-six different pieces of bigotry.”
A poet and playwright, Murillo was born to an African-American father and a Mexican mother. He is the author of Up Jump The Boogie, that allows audiences to understand his personal experiences through a collection of poetry.
A Los Angeles native of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, Marco shines the light on issues that tend to cause division among the Diaspora, when the struggles each one faces is valid and real in their own right. “They say I’m off white, high yellow, bright, bright. I do all the passing. They say my body a light; say real black and brown be shadows, cast aside, grounded, an offering to the wildest dark and die. Strut around God given, like I’m God given, like God done gave me all this sky. They say us light skinned women be church. Real black and brown bodies be four little girls. Birmingham black.”
Quiñones is an Afro-Boricuan writer and educator whose art explores the spirituality of languages, the meanings of diasporic identity, and the ancient and present art of verse. ‘Perfection’ aptly is a reminder to himself and others like him, that they are and have been absolutely perfect, just the way they are.
Rosa Valdez is from Baja, Mexico and a communications professional with over 15 years of experience.