From The BVX — Recently I read an article on African-American MLB player Torii Hunter, in which he said, among other things, that dark-skinned Latino baseball players are “not us, they’re impostors,” and it sparked the question: how do Latinos see themselves in terms of race?
For me, a couple of elements need to be factored in. I am a tan-skinned Dominican female, born and raised in New York City by non-English-speaking immigrant parents; I have unruly, coarse yet curly hair that I wear out most of the time; and I have curves up and down my figure. Depending on where I am in the world, I am considered Latina — especially when I open my mouth and let out my thick Spanish accent — or, because of my “light brown” skin color and the texture of my tresses, Black.
In the melting pot that is New York City, most people assume I’m Latina and usually hit it on the money by guessing Dominican. When I go to the west coast, specifically San Diego, which I frequent a lot, I’m mixed: Black and White. Even when I open my mouth, they don’t think I’m Mexican (the Latino ethnicity they are most familiar with), they’re just kind of confused. “How can a Black woman have such a heavy Spanish accent?” one friend told me she wondered after meeting me the first time.
On the flip side, when I visit the D.R., I’m simply just not ” Latina enough.” My Spanish is choppy (because English is my second and primary language) and my hair isn’t processed, like most Dominican women with my hair type. In the D.R., I’m called “la Americana ,” or the American. Little do they know that in the states I’m not “white enough” to be “la Americana” either.
For New York’s Hot 97 radio DJ Kast One, an Afro-Latino, his dark skin has been more of an “advantage. I appreciate being able to switch back and forth between the two languages and my Dominican culture and my more Americanized one,” he says. Kast One, who says he’s been more so embraced by the Black community, says he’s faced more acceptance issues from Dominicans themselves. “I remember going to D.R. as a kid and locals who thought I was Black (American) and didn’t speak Spanish asking each other, “quienen son estos malditos cocolos?!” (who are these f–king Black n-ggas?) They were talking about us,” he says.
Photo Source: The BVX