Latin America been black and indigenous.
After all, indigenous people are by definition native to a particular place. So indigenous people in Latin America—the region in the Western hemisphere South of the U.S., where romance languages are spoken—yeah, they’ve been there.
Now onto the black part.
For those who are unaware, during the slave trade, over 10 and a half million enslaved people arrived in the Americas. Needless to say, slave ships made multiple stops before arriving at what is now referred to as the United States. According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American Slavery, over 90 percent of the enslaved were shipped to the Caribbean and South America.
Even after the emancipation of enslaved people in Latin American countries, their treatment was not much better.
Tanya K. Hernández is the author of Multiracials and Civil Rights and a professor at Fordham Law. She says that there is a long legacy of anti-blackness within Latin America.
“Well, what’s interesting about Latin America is that it’s not typically thought of as united states, with regards to having laws and rules of race restriction regulation. But what is fascinating to note is that after the emancipation of slavery [in Latin American countries], what you instead see is a turn to the use of immigration law to diminish the access and the mobility of recently emancipated slaves.”
Beyond bringing Europeans into Latin American countries to literally lighten the race (see: blanqueamiento [pdf]), Hernández says that there were restrictions on the lives of people of African ancestry—like the types of jobs black people could work, the Afro-spiritual religions that they practiced and even the quality of their education.
Today millennials are aware of the many ways in which “Latinidad” (i.e., Latinness, or what it means to be Latinx) is flawed and are calling for Latinidad to be canceled.
Afro-Indigenous poet and cultural worker, Alán Pelaez Lopez helped popularize the #Latinidadiscancelled movement, but many prominent voices like activist Zahira Kelly and journalist and founder of the blog Ain’t I Latina? Janel Martinez are also moving away from Latinidad.
“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities. And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”
Happy Latinx Heritage Month, folks! Or is it so “happy” after all?
See the entire video above.