Why is identifying as a Black Latino/Afro Latino important to you?
For me, it is exactly who I am. That shows you everything of what you are. I say this to my kids. I want them to see the culture. They see us as Black and only know we are Latino when we speak the language. I came to the US at age 10. At that time there was not bilingual education. A lot of people lose their language because there was so much focus on integrating. They are both important, it is how I describe myself and how my kids describe themselves. It allows us to be who we are.
What has been the impact, both positive and negative of people not seeing you as a Black Latino/Afro Latino?
The negative side is, even when I am in other Spanish speaking countries. Panama is no different, my wife is lighter than me. They always go up to her to speak to her in Spanish and she has to say, he is the one that speaks it. They automatically assume that you are an outsider. I get asked a lot, where did you learn Spanish and I would have to answer I learned to speak English at age 10. Even when you speak it there is still presumption that I learned it from somewhere else. I hear a lot that I don’t have an accent.
The positive is that you can understand when people are speaking about you and then respond. ☺ I lean on the reading and the language. As an attorney most of my clients are Spanish speaking. You see it all over Latin America you hear don’t go to Loiza, in Puerto Rico, don’t go to Colon, in Panama, it is the same here, don’t go to Roxbury. What they are saying is don’t go to the Black area.
How do you Amplify/show up in a Latinx world that expects us all to look like J.Lo and Marc Anthony?
The type of attorney that I am, I intentionally work with Latino clients or in communities of color. I have an office in Dorchester and East Boston. I intentionally chose to be in areas that speak to who I am. I show up and do my job. I think people are apprehensive but then when I speak they relax but I do think it has something to do with me being an attorney. I don’t know if I would have the same reaction if I did something else. I don’t think it would be as welcoming as it is. There is a sense that Latinos in Latin America are doing a better job at addressing the racism. They are not and it is the same here. You look at who is in power in Latin America and they are all white.
Message for BHM– It is everybody’s history. It should be about all. Every history should be included. It should be celebrated by all not just Black Latinos. It should be that everyone does something during this time.
BIO: Danilo Avalon was born in Colon, Panama and at the age of ten (10) he moved to Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Avalon came to Boston nearly 30 years ago to attend Tufts University and Boston College Law School. Mr. Avalon is the founder and sole partner of Avalon Law Offices, P.C., where he and his staff handle personal injury cases, criminal law, immigration, business law matters, medical malpractice cases and other civil, criminal and administrative law matters. The law firm has been in existence for over fourteen (14) years in Dorchester and in 2014 opened a second location in East Boston. Mr. Avalon served as a founding board member of the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust – Milagros Para Niños Committee that has raised over 4 million dollars for the Boston Children’s Hospital. Mr. Avalon was a twice elected Town Meeting Member, in the Town of Brookline before resigning that position in 2013. He participated in many continuing legal education programs as a panelist for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys.
Mr. Avalon is the former President of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys and served as the Vice President of the Black Alumni Network (BAN) at Boston College Law School. Over the last three years Mr. Avalon has worked with several bar associations to prepare and bring forward candidates of color to help diversify the state and federal judiciary in Massachusetts. Mr. Avalon is passionate about education and finding ways to bridge the achievement gap amongst black and latino children. Mr. Avalon is married and a father of two children and has served as a soccer and basketball coach for a variety of teams in his community.