What does it mean to be Latino? What does the term mean? What are the implications of this label? Many have brought up that it is an imposed term and we should reject it, while others have cited the historical ‘Latinos’ and ‘Latins’, noting that people from Latin America are not accurately Latinos. All of the above are valid but in the modern context of the ethnic descriptor there is a lot to grapple with what comes with one’s own personal identity. The social construct of race makes the lives of individuals vastly different. Ethnicity seems to complicate it even more. America is such a racialized society, one that relies on stereotypes and boxes because it is easy. Within Latinidad it is just not that simple. Identity is a personal decision. No one can tell you how to identify.
Negro means black in Spanish and the name was intentional. I created this docu-series to explore how color works within ethnicity, and the history that set the tone for present day social dynamics. I have observed race and color are not spoken about in an open, safe space but it is common to use color to describe people in everyday situations. Color and race are used so frequently that it’s surprising that there isn’t more open dialogue. Oftentimes the nuances of our roots and color make for negative social interactions and I felt it deserved a thorough examination.
Throughout my travels and interviews I was blown away at how many people thanked me for giving them that arena to express their opinions on topics that they said are ‘kept quiet about’, discussions that are ‘secret’ or that are ‘forced.’ I had the opposite experience in that my family made it a point to talk about anything and everything because they grew up in a ‘topic taboo environment’ in Latin America.
I wanted to extend that in this series. I left my job, used my savings, received donations from family, friends and supporters and went to the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Armed with my camera, passion and a purpose, I had 2 scheduled interviews and ended up with 32 by trip’s end. The interviews were candid, the experience was unreal and I am thrilled to continue on with this project.
Latinidad does not have one look, one face, one color and our indigenous, African and European influences account for that. It is important to acknowledge, learn and celebrate everything that comprises us and do so with an open and curious mind. Everything starts with education. Educating yourself on your roots and where you come from is the first step in appreciating and loving everything you and we are.
Check out part one of the docu-series: