I’ve often said that the most annoying part about our misconception about ethnicity and what is called “race” is that people confuse nationality or country with the non-existent “race.”
In other words they are often surprised when a Black person is British, or French or Cuban. Or for that matter that a White person can be Kenyan.
There are people of all colors in most major countries in the world. Nationality and “race” are not synonymous and I appreciate folks who point this out. Which is why I have always liked Latina magazine which has never had a problem showcasing Black Latinas, like Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson. Being Latina is not limited to brown skin as there are Black Latinas and White Latinas as well.
Which brings me to a great piece they did on Lala Vazquez. La La Vazquez, who is married to New York Knick basketball star, Carmelo Anthony, and who is a fashion star all her own, is a Black Latina. In the piece she writes about how hard that is for some people to get.
A lot of people don’t realize that I’m Latina, which is fine. One thing about being Latina is that there isn’t one look that comes with the territory. I don’t expect people to know my cultural background just by glancing at me. I do, however, expect that when I tell people my family is from Puerto Rico, that I will be believed and not accused of trying to be something that I’m not. It usually goes something like this: a person having a conversation with me discovers one way or another that I’m Puerto Rican and fluent in Spanish. That person then expresses their shock over these realizations for any number of reasons—common responses are, “You don’t look Latina” and “I thought you were black!” I never said I wasn’t black. And since when does being black and being Latina have to be mutually exclusive?
Good for her for saying that. She goes on:
I’m not angry with anyone who doesn’t understand the complexities of race and culture. And I’m also not interested in having long, drawn out conversations about how it’s possible for me to look like this and speak Spanish. In fact, sometimes I make it a point not to mention my parents’ birthplace because I don’t always feel like having the inevitable discussion that follows. Instead, I let people look at me and come to their own conclusions. As I start to get my feet wet in Hollywood, I already know that there are certain parts I won’t even be considered for. The character can be Puerto Rican and speak Spanish just like me, but Hollywood defines Latina as Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergara. As beautiful as they are, we’re not all one race in Latin America. But I don’t go to auditions so that I can give history lessons to film executives. I’d rather skip the entire process.
You tell ’em La La. Here is the link to the full article.