Updated Feb 15, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the Afro-Latino experience

On Tuesday, February 15th, Axios Latino editor Astrid Galván and race and justice reporter Russ Contreras spotlighted the stories and experiences from leaders and change-makers in the Afro-Latino community, featuring Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and “Alma’s Way” creator Sonia Manzano.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat discussed how he’s navigated his own identity as a Black and Hispanic man, why he believes he hasn’t been able to join the Congressional Black Caucus yet, and how he has witnessed public attitudes toward Blackness and Black Latinos shift over the years.

  • On building identity as a Mexican-American: “Well many people may feel that being Afro-Latino, it’s sort of like a new dynamic, but in fact [it] is not. We see throughout history how many Afro-Latinos have played a pivotal role in society…”
  • On shifting perceptions about Black Latinos: “You have a very rich history [in] Costa Rica, a presence of Black Latinos or African descent. People, I think, are more aware of this reality. And I think there is a growing and greater sensitivity to it, and something that we should celebrate. So, Black History Month to me means that as well.”

Sonia Manzano explained some of her experiences growing up Afro-Latino, what sparked her interests in acting and television, and the inspiration behind her new show “Alma’s Way.”

  • On her experience growing up as an Afro-Latino: “I do remember as a kid, everybody kind of trying to deny their darkness and align themselves with being light-skinned…and as a kid, you kind of observe all of these things and you put them in your file, and you don’t try to look at it too closely. Now, as an adult, I can look at it too closely. We have come so far that we are accepting those Afro traits in us.”
  • On her goals to inspire children through her new show: “I noticed a lot of underserved kids…were thinking they’re not as smart as they really are. The point of this show is to tell kids that everybody has a brain, they have a mind, they could think, and they could think things through, and that the way they see the world is just as valid as the way anybody else sees the world.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

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