On February 11, 2017 I had the wonderful oportunidad to sit down with Angie Galvan- Rodriguez, the Afro Latina Natural and discuss living life in Chicago, being an Afro-Latina in 2017 and how she builds community with fellow people of color and multiracial people. Angie and I have been previously acquainted through her participation in the Hair Story Series with Mixed Chicks and it's a such a treat to meet this vivacious, feliz, and fuerza mujer in person.
As a "Dominican born, Puerto Rico and Chicago raised," blogger, mujer, madre, and maestra, Angie inspires her diverse readership, students, family, and friends by educating them on Afro-Latinidad. If the terms sounds new to you and you find yourself scratching your head, here's a brief definition of the term which describes being Black and Latino. In 2015 Huffington Post asked their Latino Voices and Black Voices readership what their thoughts on the term was and here's what they said:
“Afro-latino is not about being Black and Latino, Afro-Latina means to be a Black Latina/Latino hence why the term Afro-latino came about in the late 70’s. Since Latino is not a race, its really not even an ethnic group, it is false to say that folks are Black and Latino, we are racially Black and then many refer to their ethnicity or i.e Afro-Boricua, Afro-Dominican. "- Rosa Clemente, Ph. D candidate at UMass Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.
“I am black and Latina...I might only be HALF black, but I am still black. It is silly to take pride in black history month yet to singlehandedly exclude those of us who are TREATED like blacks, yet some of our black sisters and brothers refuse to accept us as one of ‘them’. As a biracial minority, we grapple with a constant state of acceptance from both cultures.” — Olivia Love
Some well known celebrities, writers, musicians and scholars who identify as Afro-Latino/Latina/Latinx are Junot Diaz, Celia Cruz, and Roberto Clemente.
When discussing Afro-Latinidad with Angie I was eager to learn how as a spanish speaking women with a bilingual blog she incorporates her heritage and culture into her lessons for her students.
" We have to educate the kids. Mexican gets used for spanish. Mexico is a country- I constantly have to educate and remind them of the diversity among the Latino culture.I love to educate my students, especially because there isn't much literature on being Afro-Latina."
We also discussed everything ranging from her beauty, culture, hair, being bilingual, her position as a mother and living in Chicago. Here are some of my favorite quotes from our interview.
"It's a political statement. My hair says I embrace my beauty. It's not a trend. It's a lifestyle."
"Everything is intentional. Incorporating Spanish (into her blog) was intentional. That's okay to write in English/Spanish or both. There's a duality to me."
"People of color in Latina America don't recognize blackness. I make it a point to embrace my blackness. I live in two worlds. I am multiracial."
"I always love to learn more about myself and be more reflective. Learning more about commonalities within myself. The blog became a channel to self-analyze. I wanted it to have depth."
Meeting Angie was such a joy and I really connected with many things she had to say as writer, mujer, and a fellow mixed-race person seeking to educate the world about her identity. Make sure to read her blog and check out her social media for all things Afro Latina Natural.