Against the Current: Collective works on State Violence, identity and Resistance

Afro-Latinas and the Black Feminist Movement

Throughout this course we have analyzed the ways in which race and gender interact and coexist within the context of the movement towards black liberation. In their writings both during the Black Power era and in the contemporary movement against the carceral state, black female activists such as Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Audre Lorde, amongst others, have detailed the complexity of black womanhood within the context of a radical movement. In experiencing an oppression that is two-fold- racialized and gendered- these women explained the need for an activist space that was purely black feminist. In their collective definition of black feminism, these women explained the necessity of this space in order to deconstruct the heteronormative patriarchal view of black liberation that was in direct opposition of the collective progress of black women. Because of both the need to address issues unique to black women and the because of the lack of effort by the mainstream Black Power movement to acknowledge these issues, groups such as the Combahee River Collective worked independently to establish a movement towards progress for black women, specifically. It is from this collective effort that the black feminist movement was established, and, since its inception, the black feminist movement has undergone various structural changes to be more inclusive of other identities within blackness that are not represented by the dominant patriarchal narrative of the movement towards black liberation. The scope of black feminism expands past that of identities that are specifically black and female; instead, black feminism as an ideology is inclusive of the complexities that arise from differences in variables such as class, sexuality, and family structure. Black feminism, as I understand it, is inclusive of all of the identities that come at the intersection of blackness and womanhood.
This critical understanding of the black feminist movement and circumstances from which it was created is what primarily inspired my project. As a young, Afro-Latinx man, I related to the women who created this movement because, like them, I had experienced what it felt like to not feel included in a movement towards my own community’s liberation. I also related to them in my understanding of the necessity to complicate race and our understanding of it, as a narrow minded understanding of racial identity often causes the neglect and erasure of various members of our own community in a collective effort towards liberation. I have witnessed a division between the Latinx and the Black community in the United States, a division that I have come to believe exists as a result of ignorance of the intersection of these two identities. According to the Pew Research Center, “when asked directly about their race, only 18% of Afro-Latinos identified their race or one of their races as black”. As members of two communities that have been oppressed explicitly and implicitly across the span of history, Afro-Latinxs hold a stake in the movement towards black liberation. Because of this, this report is disheartening.

   Therefore, in my project, I use my understanding of the history of black feminism to understand and analyze the Afro-latinx experience, but, more specifically, that of Afro-Latinx women, or Afro-Latinas. Much like the scholars previously mentioned, these women also experience a unique set of oppressions that occur as a result of their identity being at the intersection of racial, ethnic, and gender-based oppressions. According to Petra Rivera-Rideau, author of "Afro-Latinos", "in Latin America, women of African descent have been subject to stereotypes similar to those in the United States, such as common associations between black women and hypersexuality, or standards of beauty that valorize whiteness and European features". Similar to the accounts of Audre Lorde in her essay “Learning From the 60s”, other Afro-Latinxs who I had discussed the topic of liberation with had mentioned how important it is to ensure that any movement towards liberation be truly inclusive. As Lorde states, “if there is one thing we can learn from the 60s, it is how infinitely complex any move for liberation must be”. In my documentary, I attempt to highlight this point through the personal accounts of the women interviewed, and I hope to create a work that can be used by scholars and activists alike to foster inclusion within the black feminist movement while also providing first-hand insight about what it means to be Afro-Latinx.

Continue to: Afro-Latinas and the Black Feminist Movement: The Interviews 


This page references:

  1. Angela Davis
  2. Combahee
  3. better statistics