The Other LA: Reimagining Afro-Latinidad
As a Blaxican and a native of Los Angeles, California, I have always struggled to construct a palpable ethno-racial identity that accurately reflects the transnational reality of my multi-racial experience. Attempts to classify myself using traditional racial signifiers like African American and Latino or Chicano only exacerbated the racial conflicts and divisions that I felt. In this feeling of isolation, however, there was an irony: I was never alone. Throughout Los Angeles, I found similar conflicts and crises of race, ethnicity, and identity in other multi-racial individuals and families. While Afro-Latinidad certainly typifies the story of Afro-descendants in Latin America and Afro-Latina/os in the United States, it often falls short in reflecting the reality of the children of African American and Latina/o inter-ethnic unions. In this vein, reimagining Afro-Latinidad represents the reframing of what it means to be Black and Latina/o in the context of transnational racial constructions. Yet this project symbolizes more than a shift in thinking or identity consciousness. It means unraveling and coming to grips with the complex labyrinth of racial, political, and economic changes being triggered by the intersection of African-American and Latina/o diaspora in the U.S. Understanding this ethno-racial juncture means understanding the multiplicity of Black and Latina/o identities in the context of U.S. racial construction.