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February 6, 2017    Issue #17

This month Es Mi Cultura shines a light on a particular group of people, the Afro descent women of Mexico.

Not that one group of Afro-Latinos from a specific country is more underrepresented than another… but I chose Mexico as the subject of Es Mi Cultura’s Black History Month issue because Afro-Mexicanos are a group of people who I am constantly asked about.

This issue is a little lengthy, with more features that usual. But I wanted to give these Afro-Mexicanas the opportunity to share their stories, feelings, passions, and experiences as it relates to their culture and background.

Reading about each woman has reaffirmed what I've known; we are all unique and different, but us Afro-Latinas have that one commonality, the ever so present feeling of exclusion. ~ Tamika Burgess

"I've been a YouTube blogger for over 3 years now and it has been a fun ride being able to connect with so many people around the world! I never imagined that YouTube would create such a platform for me to be able to reach so many people. Right now I am concentrating on my YouTube channel and making sure I produce great content to inspire and motivate other people when it comes to beauty, fitness and daily struggles we all face.

It takes up the majority of my life and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. I have a little baby project on the way that I am super excited about; I've been working on my makeup line for quite sometime now and I'm planning to release it in August of this year! So as you can imagine I am so hyped about that. It's something I've always wanted to do and now things are finally coming to light so look out for that!


For a long time it was hard identifying as an Afro-Mexicana because for so long Afro-Latinos weren't embraced. I'd have so many people question how I can possibly be Mexican because I didn't look a certain way. There was even a time when I stopped telling people who I was Mexican because I got so tired of explaining myself; people would constantly tell me how I couldn't be or sometimes that I was faking.

Throughout the years being proud to be Afro-Latina has become much easier because of people like Yaya Da Costa & Amara La Negra! Honestly, they are a couple of the people that I look up to because they're beautiful and their hair is kinky curly just like mine. They rock afros and show that all Latino/as don't fit a certain image that the media portrays. I'd like to one day make a difference in the media by being proud of all my roots and showing off my dark complexion and hair to let people know us Afro Latino/as exist!" ~ Linda Elaine
 YouTube & IG: iamlindaelaine  
Snapchat: JaMexicanBeauty
"I am a free-spirited connoisseur of all things natural; who finds solace in creating art through poetry. I put holistic living first. Music is my therapy, and I believe it can heal the soul. I am an entrepreneur with an unwavering passion for justice and the betterment of the community! I am Afro-Chicana or Afro-Mexican. My father being of African descent while my mother is Mexican or Chicana since she was born in the states. 

I work for a social media marketing company, and I am also the social media manager and director of community service events for Austin Justice Coalition, a local black and brown lead social justice activist group in Austin, Texas. I am working on a few projects that include a Saturday Mentor Program for black and brown youth that begun in Jan. 2017, and "Black Empowerment Week" in Feb. 2017. Please check austinjustice.org for more information. 

Being Afro-Mexican or "Chicana" can be pretty interesting for me. Sometimes I feel invisible because most people will assume my background. Right away many will deny me of being who I am because they will judge me based on my skin color. They don't think black can equal "Latin" by any means. Colorism is one of those things that blurs people's identities. 

After struggling to be myself for so long, I am ready for all Afro-Latinas(o), Blacks, Indigenous, Natives, and Aboriginals of the world to be proud of their culture and ancestry. I pray we remember how the world was before colonization. Only then will we find our peace. Only then will we understand who we really are, and how much we need each other. 

I am proud to be black and brown, and my soul is full of pride because of my roots. I see me as a bridge between the Afro and Mexican (Latin) communities. There is so much in common between the two people, and I believe it is essential that we unite." ~ Ishia Adams

 
"I currently live in Clovis, New Mexico Born and was raised in a very small country town. I have four sisters and four brothers we are all Afro-Spaniards, Afro-Mexican and as well as Afro-Rican. My profound passion is to help our people world-wide, to become a leading lawyer for our Black and Brown Community. To serve those who cannot speak out, to help those who are helpless, and to give justice to those who are incarcerated, and spending useless countless time being locked up for crimes they have not committed or crimes that are petty.

I am an activist I will continue to be activist and as well be an inspiration to our youth, to teach them the truth whether it be about our history, racism, or what is going on in today’s world.
 
There is always controversy when it comes to What am I and what I am mixed with. I get asked, 'Are you Black? What are you? Are you Indian? You look Exotic!?' All these questions come down to me being Afro-Latina. It is sometimes difficult, because I am Never Spanish, or black enough for either side.

Most of my Latina/Latino people do not accept me because of my skin tone, because I am not light enough to fit in or don’t speak fluent Spanish. I am also sometimes not dark enough for my African people. Till this day I am still not good enough to lead our people, I guess it's because I am not fully BLACK!

Some Conscious people like to put us in this category were we are called “PSEUDOS”! That has never stopped me, or pulled me away from being Afro-Latina! Being Afro-Latina gives me a broader platform to reach out to thousands who are just like me. To be able to continue to strive and continue to help each and every one that I can help. I want the world to know that being Afro-Latina is an amazing experience, and it is nothing to be ashamed of! I will change millions of lives, and touch many souls, not because, of my nationality, my ethnicity, or because I am Black and Brown. But because within me I am a Leader, a Visionary, a Goddess, a Queen and it all runs deep within My Platelet.

I have an Organization that consist of two people so far, we are still in the works of getting other people to join. We are Called Melanin Empowerment, we will all range from different ages, come from different backgrounds and we will all be unique in each and every way. Melanin Empowerment Focuses on sharing knowledge through developing networks, of like-minded people, as well as to encourage, empower our youth. To build, restrict, and enlightened our community. To create a diverse network of knowledgeable people. I will soon have a website up for Melanin Empowerment as well build a brand name to go along with it. I want to mainly focus on our youth, our youth need more leaders and teachers they can look up too and learn from as well. This organization will focus on how we can stop the senseless killings within this nation.

Are Mothers, Fathers should not be burying their kids at a young age. I am currently studying to become a Criminal Lawyer I am willing to fight for our people in the courtrooms. I believe we need more Black and Brown lawyers within the system to defend, fight and speak for our people. This system is not for us, nor was never created for us! I am only on a social media account which is Instagram @Afromexicanactivist.

Anybody who wants to be a part of Melanin Empowerment or just wants to ask questions or be informed of any topic you can directly message me, add me and I will contact you as soon as possible. I LOVE MY PEOPLE AND I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR MY PEOPLE I LOVE YALL! "
~ T’keiya (Yah Yah) Sandoval
"I'm Mexican and Black. Sometimes I call myself Blaxican. I am a 19-year-old freshman at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I plan on double majoring in history and music education. I grew up in Wisconsin, but also spent some time in California. I love to sing, and have been in multiple choirs since elementary school. I also enjoy tennis, soccer (¡viva México!), and reading a variety of books. 

Being in Wisconsin, there isn't an incredibly huge Mexican/Hispanic population. However, it is larger than many people may think. Normally my family travels to St. Paul for Cinco de Mayo. However this past year my mother, Mireya Sigala, decided to do something a little bit different. She put together a mini version of the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Eau Claire. She gathered leaders and members of the community to put it together.

Local Mexican restaurants provided the food and local shops provided beverages. A mariachi band even came! Even though it was small, I could tell that everyone enjoyed themselves. It was nice to have a little part of home show itself in, for most, a new environment. So what I'm trying to say is it'll be happening again this year and I'm super excited to help out!

In Wisconsin, there is a small Mexican population. So the Afro-Mexicanx population is even smaller. My features are very much defined as "looking black". So when I tell people I'm also Mexican, they're quite surprised. A lot of my friends, for the longest time, just assumed I was only black. However, the end result has always been "cool!"  Just pure acceptance.

When I'm out and about with my family within the Mexican community, It's also assumed that I'm just black. So while they speak Spanish to my family, they'll switch to English for me. Which sometimes stings, honestly. But I know that it's just not well-known that people of my mixed cultures are out there. Within them, I'm also easily accepted. When I lived in California, there were more mixed people than in Wisconsin. So when I said I was also Mexican, it wasn't as much of a surprise. Actually, a lot of my fellow classmates were Hispanic as well.

I have Tíos who live in Los Angeles. Once when we visited, we went to a Quince. When we arrived, I noticed there were quite a few stares in my direction. I'm awkward and shy so I tried to ignore it. But when I would greet people or be introduced, they'd smile at my traditional "she Mexican looking" mother, while with me they would give a quick glance and a nod. Their smiles would fade. It wasn't everyone! Just some...

Shout out to Blaxicans of Los Angeles (@blaxicansofla) is the first real thing I've heard of when it came to others like me. Specifically those of the Afro-Mexican community. It was a huge stepping stone in helping me find an identity for myself. They have some really good stories also." ~ Aliana Sigala
"I was born and raised in a tight Latino community in the South End of Toledo, Ohio. I am “Blaxican” which consist of being both half Mexican and half black; I’m a Pisces and a life lover. I’ve always had a passion for caring about people and went to nursing school for 2 years.

My love for art later drew me to take a different career path and I decided to pursue acting. I’ve starred in a local auto commercial in my hometown, I performed in NYC for IMTA (International Models and Talent Association) I didn’t place but later got the privilege of being an extra in the latest Batman Vs Superman film. I’m currently working as a server but have plans to move out West to further my acting career.   

Growing up in the south side of Toledo there’s a lot of culture here; the majority of the community's ethnicity is either of Black or Hispanic descent. My mother and most of my family are Mexican so I identify as Latina. I remember being teased a lot about my hair, all the other girls in my class were either just Mexican, just black or just white. Being that I am Mexican and Black I have very curly hair, my mother out of all her sisters has a long curly wavy, Hawaiian-like texture which maks my hair extremely curly. My shrinkage is really tight so my hair always seems shorter than what it actually is; kids used to call me “poof ball, afro or Jerry curl” which would make me feel insecure, and made me wish I was something else so I could have straighter hair.

Now at 24yrs old I can hardly wear my hair down without someone complimenting it or wanting to touch it. I appreciate my beautiful curls, they are a part of what makes me Tabby, I would much rather have a mane full of wild bouncy tight curls than limp lifeless hair.

Another struggle I’ve notice being Afro-Mexican is when someone is curious and asks me what I am, I tell them half Mexican half black and the first thing they say is “Oh, well you don’t look Mexican.” It’s discouraging to have someone who doesn’t share your ethnicity tell you what you are supposed to look like, but being a “dark” Mexican I just smile and confuse them even more when I tell them that I’m even lighter than both of my biological parents.

All in all, being Afro-Latina is truly the best, you get the best of both worlds both culturally and spiritually. Growing up Catholic and being installed with faith, learning about God, and becoming a woman in front of the church during my Quinceañera; from being enlightened about the evil eye (aojo) to being treated with old school Mexican cultural healing remedies when sick. I wouldn’t trade being what I am for anything, I love my forever changing shades of brown skin to my curly locks and lashes to my fully plump lips; I love being Afro-Latina." ~  Tabatha Brock

"The color of my skin has raised so many questions throughout my life. From childhood to adulthood, the questions have evolved, and somehow, it's been a little easier to answer them for myself.

I am bi-racial, African-American and Mexican American. I am an Afro-Mexicana, who is fluent in both English and Spanish! Being raised with my mother, who is Mexican American, it was wonderful. I felt at home and a part of this big, light-skinned family. I was the "chocolatita"​of the family and I loved it. I had no idea that beyond the walls of my families’ homes, I was different and I stood out. I never noticed the difference even as my cousin would fight racial battles for me at school. I was oblivious to that racism that my mother would handle. I was blinded by all of the love I knew and felt. It is safe to say that my family shaped my view on race . . . that there were no differences between me and them.

​My family life gave me a sense of strength and purpose to never feel like I had to fit in to an environment or space. I clearly do not look like everyone else​ . . . I'm unique. Feeling empowered to be who I wanted to be, allowed for me to flourish in the things that I love, like music. I sing and love anything to do with music. I have been blessed with opportunities to lead praise & worship for churches for over 23 years, and study classical voice while obtaining my bachelors of music from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

​I've been blessed with opportunities to sing in many spaces and meet many different nationalities which have now birthed a new desire in me.... to work with women. I will be putting aside the "performing" for a bit to focus on building the confidence in other women and empower them to flourish in their hearts' desires. I’ve made many friendships with younger girls who approach me after singing simply because our skin color looks similar, or our hair resembles each other's and being able to deposit some positive, golden nuggets in their life, means the world to me.  Embracing my curvas, my head full of curly hair, my voice, the color of my skin is what I hope radiates to other girls and women.  I hold my head up high knowing that I am loved, and that I love myself just the way I am.

I hope that by creating an environment for women who need to be uplifted, restored, loved on, and empowered, will impact my Latino and African-American community in a positive way.  So stay tuned!" ~Devi Renee Wiseman!

"Often in the US, Black becomes synonymous with those that are African-American which does not take into account the millions of African descendants/Black people globally that are in the world and in the US". - Rosa Clemente 

"I am a self-identifying Afro-Mexicana, an undergraduate at Washington State University studying Ethnic Studies and Sociology and currently conduct research on Afro-Mexicans! 

The aim of my research is to deconstruct the dominant narrative of mestizaje in Mexico (Mexicans only being of Spanish and Indigenous roots) which excludes African descendants. According to literature and modern-day influences, there is evidence that Afro-descendent Mexicans DO still exist in Mexico and are products of mestizaje. With this research, I've also had the opportunity of learning more about my own roots and history behind my family's ancestry in Mexico as well as the larger Afro-Latinx community." ~ Crystal Galván

Samantha Leyva is an Afro-Mexican pageant queen looking to improve the visibility of Mexico’s Black citizens. And although she looks different from the typical contestant, her ideals differ greatly, too.

A glance at her Facebook page reveals the following description, “Nurse by profession and proud Afro-Mexican. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Read More: HERE

Ariana Brown, San Antonio native and Afromexicana poet. Hearing your work, you’re very conscious of your racial identity, both in terms of your heritage and your external identity as a Black woman. Could you talk about why you think Afromexicana fits you best?

I came to Afromexicana because I realized that they didn’t have to be mutually exclusive of one another and I didn’t necessarily like the idea of separating [Blackness and Latinidad] so having them in one word became really important to me because I am biracial. I find that a lot of people still don’t really know how to talk about biracial and multiracial people’s identity. A lot of time I was divided into fractions in a neo-colonial way of thinking; I didn’t want to feel that I was only 50% of one thing. I always explain like being a member of two organizations; does that make you half a member of each? In any other context, that idea just doesn’t make any sense. So for me, saying that I’m Afromexicana gets across that I am Black and I am Mexican and the rest is left up to interpretation.

Read More: HERE

Penned  By, About, and For Us!




This New Bilingual Children's Book Teaches Young Latinas That Beauty Comes in All Colors

A Farewell Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Mexico Finally Recognizes its Afro-Mexican Population in Recent National Census 

To Be Black and From Dominican Republic 

Meet Daliyah, The 4-Year-Old Afro-Latina Librarian Who Has Read More Than 1,000 Books

Afro -Latinas & Our Role in 2017 and Beyond

BIG HAIR, DON’T CARE

Too Black For Mexico

5 Afro-Mexicans You Should Know

A Student Traveling Through Costa Chica Picked Up A Camera to Let Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story

Afro-Latina in America, pt. 1: what ARE you?

We Are Afro-Mexican

The Afro-Mexican Story

Black History Month in Mexico

The History of Afro-Mexicans

Afro-Mexicans Face Racism Daily In Mexico

Es Mi Cultura is published every first Monday of the month by Tamika Burgess. Tamika is a Afro-Panameña, NYC- based Writer and Educator. Learn more about her by visiting TamikaBurgess.com
View past issues of Es Mi Cultura: HERE
Follow Es Mi Cultura on Instagram & Facebook
Copyright © 2017 Es Mi Cultura, All rights reserved.


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