Amplifying Afro-Latinx Voices
Honoring our roots and emerging together.
For the third year in a row, Amplify Latinx highlights Afro-Latinx voices and elevates the complexities and diversity of the Latino experience in the US in celebration of Black History Month. The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” which focuses on exploring how the black families in the country have been “reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time.”
We are shedding light on the critical intersections of race, ethnicity, and culture in Afro-Latinx Diasporas and across Latin America through this visibility series.
Did you know?
Here are some statistics on Afro-Latinos in the US.
Seventy-five percent of the 53,784 Afro-Latinos in Massachusetts are Afro-Dominican or Afro-Puerto Rican.
Afro-Latinx are a growing population, which has increased some 57% since 2009.
In 2017, 73% of Afro-Latinos in the US were native-born citizens, compared to 65% of Latinos and 87% of Whites.
Today’s Afro-Latinx Leaders
Community Relations Director
Essex Media Group
“I think the best way for me to amplify is to stop contributing to romanticizing the microaggressions that are present in the Latino culture, and start educating people about what they represent and the harm they carry. As a journalist, I strongly believe that language matters, proper terms matter, so it is time to stop allowing others to use my color to determine my identity in any way. It’s also time to end my own complicity by remaining silent.”
Dr. Mariel Novas
Director of Partnerships & Engagement for Massachusetts
The Education Trust
“Wherever you go, there you are” – I live this mantra through and through. To make room for others who look like me, the best and only thing I can do is show up whole and take up space. I shine my light with pride, speak openly about my experiences and heritage, and hold people in and outside of our community accountable — with love.”
CEMDPCD Nonprofit Organization
“Being in Latino spaces and recognizing that one is Afro-Latina is like being in class and teaching everyone about a subject they think they know about but aren’t familiar with. …You don’t owe anybody an explanation of who you are. You just show them proudly and if they are confused or have inquiries, you answer them with a smile and patience. To change the narratives we must bring more awareness”
Head of QA, Sr. Director, Quality Engineer
“…It has been crucial for me to be clear on who I am, which meant understanding that my cultural history and ties are beautifully extensive. Reaffirming my identity—my blackness, my latinidad—and making space for people like me in all of the areas I walk through has been empowering, and contributes to the confidence I have today.“
Boston City Councilor At-Large
City of Boston
“I identify as Afro-Latina because I feel it best encapsulates the history of my identity. Being Domincan, I recognize that when our ancestors were abducted, the first port that they landed in was in the island of Española. That is why I claim my black roots. It is a part of how I speak and how I show up in this world. So I absolutely claim my Blackness.”
“…As our friend Alan West-Durán, author and Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages at Northeastern University, wrote in his article, “Afro Boricua?”– “Many of these terms, depending on attitude and tone, can be expressions of endearment, grudging acceptance, contempt, or condescension”.”
Afro-Latinx Historical Figures
We proudly spotlight 8 Afro-Latinx historical figures who, through their leadership, tenacity and courage, changed narratives, opened doors, and elevated the voices of Afro-Latinxs in Latin America and the US.
Vicente Ramon Guerrero
Quick Fact: Guerrero’s rise to power began with his job as an “arriero” – a mule driver that transports goods, as he became more familiar with the the increasing independence movement in Mexico.
Historical Impact: Guerrero led Mexican soldiers to victory in the Mexican Revolutionary War, gaining Mexico its independence from Spain.
Maria Grajales Coello
Quick Fact: Coello and her husband incorporated the art of self-defense in raising their children, prompting two of her sons to eventually become generals in Cuba’s Liberation Army.
Historical Impact: Coello symbolizes the women’s struggle and the fight for Cuban freedom from slavery.
Quick Fact: Ledesma was one of the first women to enroll in the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) and graduated in 1948.
Historical Impact: Ledesma displayed the beauty of Native and Afro-Latino life in her artwork, a concept that was not popular or existential in because of the Eurocentric views of the post-World War II era.
Puerto Rico & Cuba
Quick Fact: Thomas is known for being a poet and a best-selling author for his book Down These Mean Streets (1967).
Historical Impact: Thomas dedicated his time after prison to the Youth Development Incorporated, an organization that helped children understand that people can change for the better.
Jean Michel Basquiat
Quick Fact: Basquiat’s artwork addressed personal angst in his self-portraits, as he was an abstract expressionist painter.
Historical Impact: Basquiat utilized his art to highlight motifs from African, Aztec, Hispanic, and Caribbean cultures, as well as African American historical figures.
Thomas Vincent Ramos
Quick Fact: After moving to Honduras, Ramos focused his efforts on teaching and being a visionary leader.
Historical Impact: Ramos was leader and spokesman of the Garifuna people, requesting and successfully establishing a public and bank holiday to observe the Garifuna arrival in Belize, called Garifuna Settlement Day.
Florinda Muñoz Soriano (Mamá Tingó)
Quick Fact: Mama Tingó worked on her own farm for years with her husband, until a landholder reclaimed her land, sparking her fight for farmworkers.
Historical Impact: Tingó fought for the rights of farmworkers, winning the rights of more than 300 families to own their own land.
María Elena Moyano
Quick Fact: Moyano was assassinated by the Maoist Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group in 1992, resulting in over 300,000 people in attendance at her funeral.
Historical Impact: Moyano served as a community organizer, feminist, and Afro-Peruvian activist who publicly entered open conflict with a terrorist group in order to achieve her dream of peace.
Ways to Support
We invite you to contribute to Amplify Latinx to support our work throughout the Commonwealth. Your gift allows us to fulfill our mission of advancing economic and political power through civically engaged and empowered Latinx leaders. Thank you for your generosity!