September 21, 2021

A Conversation with David Rodriguez – PART 3

Rodney Norman

First of all, the term “Afro-Latino” was coined by Arturo Schomburg, who is considered “The Father of Afro-American Studies”, and an early pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance movement.  A highly educated man from Puerto Rico who realized the high number of Afro-Cubans and Afro-Puerto Ricans in Harlem at the time needed an identity to connect and define this demographic of people.  

HIDDEN HISTORY OF AFRO-LATINOS

Gracias to David Rodriguez, author of The Silent Majority and Washington’s Negro Friends (books can be found on https://afro-indios.com) for his visit on my web show ‘Conversaciones de Salud.’ 

David’s third and final question to us, left us wanting more: Embracing the All? – PART 3

“Before people can embrace a term, it has to be fully defined, so that the original meaning can bring full clarity to those who are still new to the term or have been misled by false narratives. 

First of all, the term “Afro-Latino” was coined by Arturo Schomburg, who is considered “The Father of Afro-American Studies”, and an early pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance movement.  A highly educated man from Puerto Rico who realized the high number of Afro-Cubans and Afro-Puerto Ricans in Harlem at the time needed an identity to connect and define this demographic of people.  

So, a term created amongst a middle class of talented melinated individuals in Harlem, New York and not some government agency, deserves better acknowledgement from the people.  

This same location in Harlem that now includes the Afro-Dominican community, is when and where the term “Afro-Latino” came to us, so it had a historical unifying effect, with future political potential.

Secondly, the term “Afro” itself does not only specify African, but the word also first denotes “a thick hairstyle with very tight curls that sticks out all around the head”.  Some Europeans with certain genetics can also grow natural afros.   This basic definition can apply to many people around the world of dark complexion (or not) that can grow an afro and are known for it. 

Examples of this would be the Polynesians, South Pacific Islanders, and the aboriginal Austrians, all people of dark complexion, known for afro hair styles, but were not part of the transatlantic slave trade.  This gives the term “Afro” a more universal appeal in unifying various groups globally, and now let’s deal with the term “Latin”.

By definition, the term “Latin” includes not only Spanish speaking people, but also French (and French Creole), Italian and the Portuguese.  Over the years of many opposing narratives from new intellectuals, combined with a North American English-speaking perspective, the term “Latin” or “Latino” has been portrayed to only indicate Spanish speakers. 

By design this version of the definition of the word Latino would generate more confusion and debates.  By merely sticking to the original definition, many of these things can be avoided. 

Thus, finally embracing the fact that the “Afro-Latino” identity includes all melinated people of Latin (not just Spanish) ancestry in the entire western hemisphere.  With a clear understanding of the term one can also apply it to people who are from both hemispheres, giving the “Afro-Latino” identity, a global reach, and a new way to connect with the diaspora around the world.”

Thank you, David Rodriguez for taking us on “the journey to uncover a legacy untold…”  

Read More Articles Like This