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The story of Afro-Latin American history

The Mosaic hosted a lesson in diversity last week. This particular event is not a part of the Mosaic series, but it informed attendees about a specific group among the Latin Americans: Afro-Latinos. The event was hosted by Mosaic intern Gerardo Herrera-Cortes, a junior fine arts major. Shortly into the discussion, Herrera-Cortes introduced the term el sistema casta. They spoke of the history of Afro-Latinos as well as el sistema casta.

“Casta is a lineage, breed or a race,” said Herrera-Cortes. El sistema casta then is a ranking system in which certain groups or lineages are compared to one another in terms of significance or dominance. “The United States was not the only colonized area to have slaves.” In fact, four million slaves were brought to Brazil compared to 388,000 brought to the United States.

This topic brought up the discussion of discrimination among racial groups. Herrera-Cortes explained their experience with discrimination as a child. They had further stated that they would be asked if they were Mexican or Indian at the start of a conversation due to their relatively darker skin tone. This topic would be relevant to Afro-Latinx people. The identity of Afro-Latinx was a mystery to figure out for other foreign groups.

Herrera-Cortes played a video about Amara La Negra talking about the Afro-Latinx and beauty. In the video, Amara La Negra spoke about how being Afro-Latina was an obscure experience for many other people. She said that she has even been asked if she was black due to her really dark skin tone and her afro. The video can be found with the following link:

“Intersectionality is the accumulation of different forms of discrimination,” said Herrera-Cortes.

Intersectionality is evident in the Afro-Latinx as people are not common with this race of Latinx. However, Herrera-Cortes also stated that there were issues with being Afro-Latinx as well. They said, “issues with being Afro-Latinx include issues with classification among themselves.” This includes the notion that, “you are either one or the other, but not both.”

Herrera-Cortes included some additional facts regarding the Afro-Latinx racial group toward the end of the event. “Approximately twenty-five percent of the United States Hispanics identify as Afro-Latinx,” they said. “The media representation of Afro-Latinx has decreased since 2013.” In other words, not many people in the Latinx community identify themselves as Afro-Latinx. This leads to why this group is not as well known as the more familiar Latinx and Hispanic groups.

Even though it is obscure, the Afro-Latinx classification is still somewhat broad today. There are many well known celebrities that identify as Afro-Latinx. “Famous people by the likes of Bruno Mars, Cardi B and others identify themselves as Afro-Latinx,” said Herrera-Cortes.