Café con Leche. That’s the general idea of color in Latin America. The best of all worlds mixed together in an exotic, luscious, romanticized notion of identity. Generalization, exaggeration, and idealization have shaped Latin America and the Caribbean since 1492 when Columbus wrote to Luis de Santángel with promises of virgin, plentiful valleys full of gold.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Latin America is not café con leche, and colorism, race, and erasure of Afro-descendants and indigenous individuals occur on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, a 2021 Pew Research report confirms the impacts of colorism and anti-Blackness in the Latin Community.
As a consequence of colonization, skin colors in Latin America were categorized in a caste system like a Starbucks menu, reducing identity and personhood to shades of brown. Jenneil Charles explains how colorism comes from the racial biases that validate praising lighter skin while stigmatizing and establishing prejudice against darker skin.
The first step in the Latine community is acknowledging the inherited biases against darker skin. Beyond that, it is essential to understand the evident colorism, discrimination, racial inequalities, and extreme prejudice in Latin America. These eight Instagram accounts run by Afro-Latinas are a powerful educational tool.
Here is a brief summary of why you should follow them:
Amanda Pericles is the energy running @afrolatinas_, highlighting the diversity and beauty among Black women of Latin American descent while rejecting white supremacy.
Bianca Kea (@yosoyafrolatina), the founder of Yo Soy Afro Latina, a lifestyle brand and product line that celebrates the beauty, experiences, and culture of the AfroLatinx community. You can read our full article on Kea’s journey here.
Dash Harris (@diasporadash) is a multi-media journalist and entrepreneur, producer, co-founder of AfroLatinx Travel, and masterful Black Latina business owner. Her Instagram feed is filled with educational content on Black Latin history, contemporary racial injustice, and colorism in Latin America. Her podcast Radio Caña Negra delves into questions of Latinidad, femininity, and African/Black ancestry. You can read more about Harris’ commitment to connecting Black Latinos to their African roots here.
Janel Martinez (@aintilatina) is a Bronx-based writer who focuses on culture and identity and founder of the award-winning site “Ain’t I Latina?”. The website creates and shares powerful educational articles around Blackness in Latin America, colorism, and identity. Martinez’s writing is centered on Afro-Latinidad, focused on resisting the erasure of Blacks and challenging anti-Blackness ideologies in Latin America. She is featured in the brilliant anthology Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed.
Jenay Wright (@hashtagiamenough) is the creator and blogger behind #IAmEnough, a digital space devoted to self-assurance, pride, and confidence in the lives of all Afro- Latinas through authentic and organic narratives. Through her Afro-Latina Womanhood section, Wright focuses on the intersectionality between race and gender.
Nydia Simone, founder of @blactina, a digital media platform that amplifies and empowers Afrolatinx/Afro-Caribbean narratives.
Tamika Burgess, the writer, thinker, and storyteller behind @esmicultura, is a “resource for women who proudly acknowledge their African ancestry while staying true to their Latina culture.”
Additional educational Afro-Latin accounts:
Sessle (@theafrolatindiaspora), the man behind The African Diaspora, is dedicated to decolonizing and redefining the narrative of AfroLatinidad within the African Diaspora.
The activist page @afrolatinos.siempre.palante shares varied lifestyles, cultures, experiences, and history of AfroLatines globally. Their highlights are a particularly educating tool on the spectrum of Afro Latinidad.
Afro Féminas (@afrofeminas) is an Afro-feminist and anti-racist media outlet in Spanish. Their Instagram has a plethora of informative posts about history, femininity, mental health, book recommendations, etc. The magazine features interesting articles on cultural appropriation, religion, and pretty privilege. Their sister account, Afro Féminas Colombia (@afrofeminascolombia), offers a Colombian emphasis on the topic.
It is a wearying, repetitive, and false excuse to say that Latines “can’t be racist.” Colorism has been engrained in our brains and cultures for centuries, and to deny inherited biases about skin color is severely blocking the communication. No, we are not all café con leche, and it is time we recognize the evident colorism in our community.