Latinos For Black Lives

Following the death of George Floyd, the Latinos worldwide are supporting the Black community during this horrific time. The Black community needs Latin voices to speak up in solidarity.

Latin artists are speaking out following the recent deaths of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was suffocated to death by a Minneapolis police officer during an arrest last week, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black citizens. They have died at the hands of the police. Artists such as Zion, Daddy Yankee, Prince Royce, Becky G, and others have used their platform to speak on this issue.

As a Dominican-American, I support my black brothers and sisters. The mistreatment of people of color needs to stop. Also, I think this is an excellent opportunity for a person like me to continue learning about my background. Latinos have black roots, and we need to start embracing our African roots. This is our problem too. This is about human rights and equality.

In 2016, for the first time in my life, I was told that I was black. It was a mildly snowy day in New York, and I was working in a short film. When I finished filming, the writer, who is African-American, was also the producer and leading actress, told me, “Us black folks we have to create our work.” My reaction was like “huh?” but not in a wrong way. It just caught me off guard. Therefore, I told her that “I’m Dominican.” I thought she was confused or something. She said to me that Dominicans have black roots. I didn’t go back and forth with her because I can’t dispute with someone that probably knows more than I do. It was new to me.

When it comes to my background, I never really paid full attention to it until last year. All my life was “I’m Dominican,” but I never did my homework about my roots. I started to take it more seriously after a small incident that I went through last year.

In April 2019, I was working in my friend’s short film, which took place inside the train station. It was four of us. While we were on the train, we witnessed a drunk white man slurring racist stuff about black people. A black man approached him and shut him down. The white guy comes up to me after the black man leaves the train five or seven minutes later. All I can remember is him saying, “Hey! You’re black (while touching his color).” I couldn’t remember what he was saying afterward because I never dealt with discrimination until that moment, and I feel that things could escalate if I snap out.” I had to figure out a way to get this guy away from me because I tried ignoring him, but he wouldn’t stop. My friend tried to push him away, but he just kept coming. He didn’t go after my friend because he’s light skin, but he’s also Dominican. So I told this man, “I’m not black, I’m Dominican.” When I said that, he left me alone.

After the whole commotion, my friends were amazed at how much composure I showed during the entire time. The reality is that I didn’t feel right about what I said. I didn’t feel good about what I just witnessed. I don’t look for trouble, and I don’t have beef with no one. I have never denied my blackness. I have a caramel skin complexion. When I said those things, it wasn’t my intention to deny my blackness, I just knew all my life that my nationality is Dominican. Do I say I’m black? Am I Dominican? Or am I Afro-Dominican?

Ever since that day, I knew that I needed to study more about the history of my culture. I’m still learning to this day. I’ve always gotten along with the black community. From co-workers to managers to actors, and the list goes on. Us blacks and Latinos have the same swag when it comes to dancing, sports, etc. We have a lot in common. So why we need to deny our blackness? I embrace what I am.

Most of us Dominicans and Latin countries, in general, continue to deny our blackness. We shouldn’t. Look at David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Ventura, etc. Those are some of the biggest names from the Dominican Republic that have dark-skinned complexion.

People around the world are protesting. This is a serious and important issue. Personally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of protesting. I don’t protest because 1) I’m not too fond of crowds, especially since COVID-19 is still here and 2) Almost all the time, it turns into violence. If you’re going to protest, then do it peacefully. When you are destroying businesses and your community, then that’s crossing the line. Minority destroying minority businesses is stupid and unacceptable.

What I do instead of protesting is sign petitions, donate money, send emails, and give my support overall. There are many ways to help and contribute. As for the police, there are good cops and corrupt cops. I can’t say anything horrible about them because I do have family and friends who are people of color, who are in the force. There are good cops who want to make a difference. At the same time, not all black men and women are crooks. You can’t generalize everyone or everything. It’s just unfortunate that we have police who don’t follow the “protect and serve” slogan.

In conclusion, racial profiling and oppression need to stop. This country needs to change now. The Latin community needs to change and start supporting the black community more often. Let’s continue to learn, listen, and appreciate each other.

LATINOS FOR BLACK LIVES!!!

 

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