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Alexa Dolmo-Rochez is a 20-year-old proud Garifuna and Afro-Latina woman who was born in La Ceiba, Honduras. At age 14 she relocated to Houston, TX. Not able to communicate with anyone because Spanish is her first language, she had to work hard to learn English and become fluent in the language. One of her biggest accomplishments was graduating from high school early. When she left her birth place, Alexa was dropped a few grades because she didn't know English. This made her work even harder, and instead of graduating in four years she did it in three. 

"Growing up I always had to prove my identity to others. Everyone questioned my Latinidad because in their eyes I did not "look" Latina. In high school I was always treated different and sometimes bullied because I was the "Black girl who spoke Spanish." I was told plenty of times that I wasn't black, that I did not belong in the states and many other hurtful things. However, all of those comments made me a stronger person and more proud to be a Black Latina. We're different, powerful, smart and talented. I just want the world to know that the color of your skin does not prove who you are." ~Alexa

April 2017 ~ Issue 19

Maya Carr is a Camden, NJ native and founder of Around The Way Girl, a non-profit organization focused on enriching the lives of young women of color in marginalized communities. Through Around The Way Girl, Maya develops unorthodox projects that provide a safe space to address identity, cultural, and societal matters. Most recently, Maya launched Around The Way Girl’s 3rd Annual Hygiene Tour in Washington, DC and is preparing to launch their new initiative in 2017.

Additionally, Maya directs and produces multi-media projects that focus on sparking fruitful conversations about identity, culture, and the arts. Maya was recently awarded by BET's Bronze Lens Film Festival for her lead Directorial work with the new hit series "Cream X Coffee" (creamxcoffee.com). Maya studied radio, television, and film production at Rowan University where the Society of Professional Journalist honored her for her In-Depth Radio reporting. She took her collegiate radio experience and lively personality to the professionals at Radio One Philadelphia, under the mentorship of Dyana Williams and Q Deezy and served as a production/promotions intern. Currently, Maya is working full time in the nonprofit sector and is working on hiring new members for the Around The Way Girl leadership team.

March 2017 ~ Issue 18

"I've been a YouTube blogger for over 3 years now and it has been a fun ride being able to connect with so many people around the world! I never imagined that YouTube would create such a platform for me to be able to reach so many people. Right now I am concentrating on my YouTube channel and making sure I produce great content to inspire and motivate other people when it comes to beauty, fitness and daily struggles we all face.

It takes up the majority of my life and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. I have a little baby project on the way that I am super excited about; I've been working on my makeup line for quite sometime now and I'm planning to release it in August of this year! So as you can imagine I am so hyped about that. It's something I've always wanted to do and now things are finally coming to light so look out for that!

For a long time it was hard identifying as an Afro-Mexicana because for so long Afro-Latinos weren't embraced. I'd have so many people question how I can possibly be Mexican because I didn't look a certain way. There was even a time when I stopped telling people who I was Mexican because I got so tired of explaining myself; people would constantly tell me how I couldn't be or sometimes that I was faking.

Throughout the years being proud to be Afro-Latina has become much easier because of people like Yaya Da Costa & Amara La Negra! Honestly, they are a couple of the people that I look up to because they're beautiful and their hair is kinky curly just like mine. They rock afros and show that all Latino/as don't fit a certain image that the media portrays. I'd like to one day make a difference in the media by being proud of all my roots and showing off my dark complexion and hair to let people know us Afro Latino/as exist!" ~ Linda Elaine

February 2017 ~ Issue 17

"My name is Vilma Peguero, I’m a first generation American born to Dominican parents and a native of Providence, RI. I obtained by Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Rhode Island and earned my Juris Doctor degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Growing up I had to constantly prove my Latinidad. People had a difficult time accepting me as a Latina because of my hair texture, facial features, and dark skin complexion. My complex racial and ethnic identity made a lot of people uncomfortable. I was treated differently by my Latino counterparts and I was often ostracized by them because I wasn’t “Latina enough." On the flip side, my African American counterparts would make comments that I was trying to be something that I wasn’t. Regardless of what people say about me today, I know that my melanin doesn’t make me any less of a Latina because “Latino or Latinx” isn’t a race it’s an ethnicity. I’m proud to be racially black and a Latina. Hopefully Black Latina Negra Bella is able to change the narrow perceptions people have of Latinos/Latinx.

And to the young girls who can relate to my struggles while growing Afro-Latina, the next time someone questions you about what it means to be an Afro-Latino, tell them it's a mixture of Brown Sugar and Sofrito!

About 3 years ago, I Co-founded Black Latina Negra Bella (BLNB) along with my sister Dania Peguero. Black Latina Negra Bella is a campaign to empower Afro-Latinas to embrace what makes them unique and celebrate the diversity among Latinas. BLNB has hosted events to promote positive body image and round table discussions centered on issues affecting Afro-Latinos. Most recently, my sister Dania Peguero released her book Nina Bellas a children’s book about diversity and acceptance."

Read Issue 16

January 2017 ~ Issue 16

Aleichia Williams is a writer, student, traveler, and lifestyle blogger. She blogs for HuffPost Latino Voices and her website aleichia.com. Aleichia also maintains a Youtube channel which she updates regularly. Aleichia will be featured in Oxford University's Introduction to Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Book in 2017. Her upbringing in New York plays a fundamental role in her career as a writer and in her understanding of culture. She is a Honduran Garifuna and a proud Afro-Latina. This fuels her writing and her identity in an ever-changing world.

Aleichia is currently working on her novel, while blogging often and updating her YouTube channel regularly.

"As an Afro-Latina in the U.S. I have had a very unique experience compared to that of my friends who aren’t afro-latinos. My identity allows me to connect and empathize with various groups who are often overlooked in our society. For example, because I am American born and black I am marginalized in similar ways as other African Americans. I've been discriminated against by those who only see me for the skin I live in. But I’m also the child of an immigrant, which means I know firsthand about the struggle of leaving your home country to work towards a better future and an ‘American dream.’"

December 2016 ~ Issue 15

Maria Fernanda Snellings is a poet, writer, and organizer. As a transracial adoptee, she identifies as Black-Ecuatoriana, along with her adoptive parents’ ethnicity stemming from Louisiana. A D.C. native, she is a 2014 VONA/Voices Of Our Nation Fellow, an undergraduate finalist for the 2014 Hurston/Wright Amistad Award for College Writers in Poetry, and a co-recipient of the 2015 Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry, recognizing a poet whose work examines relationships among women as it relates to justice. Upcoming, she is one of three queer poets selected to be profiled in a queer photo ethnography project composed by multimedia artist and producer Danielle Levy. The project ultimately explores the concept of home.

Since moving to New York City in 2015, she has performed at MoMaPS1’s 2015 NY Art Book Fair, LALSA’s 2016 FIESTA, the Queens Festival’s 2016 Lit Crawl, and the La Pluma y La Tinta’s DeclaracionesWords from the Diaspora, a curated reading held at WordUp Bookshop Librería Comunitaria featuring AfroLatinx writers and poets. Maria Fernanda’s poems and translations have appeared most recently in The Wide Shore’s 2016 issue, Kweli Journal 2016 Spring-Summer issue, and the 92nd Street Y’s 2016 Words We Live In series. She has conceptualized and organized with Living In My Skin curator & Bronx-native Yelaine Rodriquez to produce the Quisqueya-centered exhibit’s poetry reading.

Presently Maria Fernanda is co-founding a workshop to support Latinx writers who self-identify as persons of African descent and/or as Black with a connection to Latin American and/or US Latino/a/x culture to explore poetry, find or exchange resources, and strengthen their craft.

She is crafting poems in collaboration with the upcoming Black Liberation Music project and the Daughters of Elysium, a collective of women who integrate modern perspective with myth in the theater. She and fellow queer poet I.S. Jones are slated to release a podcast with the Indie Creative Network, a collective of podcasts reaching as far as Canada and South Africa.

Maria Fernanda is planning a release of her first chapbook in the Summer of 2017.

November 2016 ~ Issue 14

As a DIASPORADICAL cultural advocate and social entrepreneur, Nati "conrazónLinares creates visibility for the world's wildest creators who are re-balancing the world. Hailing from Staten Island, New York City raised by immigrant Cuban mother and Colombian father, she is a digital nomad splitting time between the West Coast and the East Coast - the center and the edge - connecting hearts to minds with her big mouth & open eyes.

A diosa with a decade in the music biz working with artists from Manu Chao to Bomba Estereo to Los Rakas to Zuzuka Poderosa and festivals like NYC's SummerStage, she's worn various hats as a manager, producer, publicist, organizer, promoter and more. Having learned the realities and limitations of the culture industry within the Capitalist structure in her twenties, she's always worked with young women interested in the marketing field to re-balance the industry one new narrative at a time and she's dedicating her 30s to contributing her communication skills to building economic alternatives by investing in new paradigms.

"My favorite quote is by one of my sheros, the African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She says: "The continents of the world met in her blood." It's how I feel as a daughter of a Cuban mom from Havana and Colombian father from the Caribbean coast - who was brought to Staten Island after they researched the "whitest part" of NYC, which in my parents logic meant the education would be the best or at least better in Jackson Heights, Queens where they landed.

I am not the origins of where I come from be them Spaniard, Arabic, Indian, Black, Cuban, Colombian, nor am I of Staten Island even if I was raised there - I am a new synthesis of all of them. A New Yorker. A New Latino. I love what writer Raquel Cepeda said: "In you is everything. Being Latino in an American, kind of new world way is basically being the physical embodiment of how America began as we know it. For me, being Latino is being phenomenal.”  Or I've dubbed it - DIASPORADICAL - a word to describe my active identity as someone who embraces this idea articulated by my amazing partner: "If I am not at home anywhere then I must be at home everywhere." I walk with that as an Afro-descendant mixed-race woman and will work to re-balance the world one story, song and new system at a time!" ~ Nati

Read Issue 13

October 2016 ~ Issue 13

Jolín Miranda is the owner of the online Etsy shop, Boricubi. She was born in Glendale, California to a Puerto Rican mother and Afro-Cuban father. She is a self-taught artist who has been drawing all her life. She fell in love with acrylic painting at the age of 20, when she did her first fairy self-portrait. At the time, she had an obsession with mermaids and fairies but could never find any that represented her. It was then, that she had decided to paint her own paintings in which she could relate to. 

As a child, growing up Afro-Latina in California was a real struggle for Jolín. She had so many questions and faced so much confusion. It was difficult for her to completely relate with her Central American friends, whose Aztec features represented the “traditional” Latino image in Los Angeles. She also couldn’t completely relate to her African American peers, with her first language being Spanish and her main household music being Salsa and Merengue. To make matters even more confusing, Jolín didn’t seem to understand why at school the US Race Census list had a category of “Black not of Hispanic Origin”.

As her peers began to label her as being mixed with Black and Mexican, she began to constantly asking her parents, “Are you sure I’m not Black?” She was never completely satisfied with their response of, "No, you're Latina. You are of African descent but you're not African American."  Of course logically her friends made more sense to her than her parents. California has a high population of Mexican Latinos since it neighbors Mexico. Therefore many Californians have the ignorant mindset of, if you speak Spanish, then you must be Mexican. And if you look Black with kinky curly hair then you must be African American. There were so many times Jolín just wished she lived in the East Coast where she didn’t have to explain her culture and her Afro-Latina features would be accepted. But her wish never happened.

Read Issue 12

September 2016 ~ Issue 12

New Yorker by birth + AfroDominican by bloodline, Suhaly Bautista-Carolina is an artist, educator + cultural advocate. She earned her B.A. in English and American Literature from NYU and her MPA from the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU, where she was named one of “NYU’s 15 Most Influential Students.” 

Her attention to environmental justice earned her the artist name, The Earth Warrior. The Earth Warrior is interested in the way humans interact with and re(imagine) themselves in natural spaces. Her recent artwork explores themes of womynhood, the preservation of memory and the AfroLatinX experience.

Suhaly is currently working on an AfroLatina Portrait Project. "This forthcoming series of portraits + interviews (project name tbd) aims to catalogue how we (as self-identifying AfroLatinas) speak to/honor/dismiss/deal with the memory and existence of our African ancestry.

The final goal is to produce a catalogue of 100 portraits and interviews of AfroLatinas in New York City for a published book. I expect this to be a journey of several years + look forward to sharing this process, time and energy with you all."

Read Issue 11

August 2016 ~ Issue 11

Welcome to a very special edition of Es Mi Cultura, entitled:

“Los Hombres”

As the title suggests, this issue spotlights just a few of the men who are doing their part to further advance our Afro-Latino culture. Through various arts, cooking, and education, Los Hombres featured in this issue are a great representation of people who put their all into the things they are passionate about.

This issue contains a lot of great information and is worth the lengthy time it may take to read through everything…ENJOY!

Read Issue 10

July 2016 ~ Issue 10 *Los Hombres*

Ghislaine Leon is a Harlem, NY native with roots in the Dominican Republic and a passion for Afro-Latino educations and empowerment. She is a Digital Marketing professional by day and the founder of art and spirituality site FearlessLeon.com
"The main thing that being an Afro-Latina means to me is breaking all those mental barriers that have been passed on from generation to generation among all Latinos. For too long we’ve been taught to hate our darker-skinned Latinos, so the main thing that being an Afro-Latina means to me is educating myself and educating people that I come across to not look at Black Latinos as any less. Being able to embrace our rich history; being able to embrace, understand, and continue to push Afro-Latino music whether it’s bomba, whether it’s plena, whether it’s palo, whether it’s Yoruba. It’s not forgetting those things.
Being an Afro-Latina to me means respecting our ancestors; it means honoring our ancestors. It means teaching other people like ‘Yo, I’m the same color as you, I may not speak the same language as you, but we come from the same place.’"

June 2016 ~ Issue 9

Jes Perez in her own words: "In many Latin American countries, and also in the states, the issue of black heritage is considered a bit taboo. There is much talk, but it is known as something no one wants to hear or speak about. Especially being from the Dominican Republic, it is common for many people not to identify with his or her black heritage. I personally think they don't know the truth about their own story.

In my case I still see myself as the only person in my family who really identifies as an Afro-Latino. Most of my family sees themselves as just Latino(a), even though the color of their skin says otherwise. Growing up I remember my grandpa calling me, "La Negra." It wasn't a big deal but I was aware that I was a little darker than my cousins.

Let's take it back to 1804 when Haiti gained its independence and the remainder of the island made a bid for its own independence in 1821. When this attempt failed the Dominican Republic was ruled by Haiti for the next 22 years. And although the Dominican Republic gained independence in 1844, much  of the historic prejudice against Haitians stems from this 22 year period preceding independence. There's no single individual who has been more influential in how Dominicans view their own blackness than El General Rafael Trujillo. During his approximately thirty year dictatorship, he had a long-lasting effect on how Dominicans viewed race, blackness, and their own African heritage.
There is this hiding within the Latino culture, the hiding of the darker ones, the hiding of the ones who have curlier hair or bigger lips or a bigger nose. I have had encounters, even in the Latin entertainment field, where people didn't know where to place me or they didn't get me... because Dominicans can look like anything so..."

Read Issue 8

May 2016 ~ Issue 8