Reasons why Some Afro-Latinos Don't hold on to Their African Roots

The Caribbean is a veritable melting pot for the world's nationalities. Perhaps predominant among them are the African, but there are also the Indian, Chinese and the Hispanic. Just as common is a mixture of two or more such roots. Among the Afro-Latino number, a large amount aren't keen to even acknowledge they may have any African roots at all. Holding to their often lighter complexion and generally straighter hair, this group more commonly refer to themselves along the line of "white" than the stigmatized "black",


The reasons for this phenomena, highlighted on forms where Afro-Latinos have to classify themselves as one or the other, can be ascribed to a number of factors, not the least of which is language. One needs only think of Haiti and Dominican Republic to understand this. Haitians, who speak Creole, tend to identify as black, while Dominicans, who speak Spanish, identify as white. The issue is that people tend to identify with others who speak their own language, and Spanish is not an African language.

Another reason for the trend is that Latinos, unlike Africans, tend to identify their race with their countries rather than with a people. While Africans from all over the continent are called African, Latinos tend to prefer being identified by their country of origin. One other factor that influenced the preference is that of colonization by the Europeans. Those who conquered the lands of South America declared them peopled by Spanish, Catholic and white peoples. That classification has stuck even though, in a country like Dominican Republic, less than a percent of the population can be called European.

Finally, a stigma that so defines what it means to be African, slavery presents a less-than-savory tie that keeps it largely unmentioned in most non-African societies. The habit of not acknowledging this aspect of African history means that a large chunk of African heritage remains unspoken of and thus, not passed down within the Latino community.

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