January 2017 ~ Issue 16

"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