Posted inOpinion

COMMENTARY: Raíces, Growing up Afro-Latina in LA

I grew up practicing Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian spiritual tradition that is Afro-indigenous at its core, practicing Capoeira at my parent’s Brazilian arts and culture center, and eating foods that were distinct to a Latinx blackness that I didn’t see represented in the world immediately around me. I don’t think you can ever truly strip yourself of who you are, but when I reflect back on that period of my life, I’m aware of how much of myself I did not express because I did not feel that it would be legible to others. I didn’t fit neatly into any category, and it was confusing for a long time to understand. Growing up Afro-Latina in LA asked me to shed parts of myself in order to be comprehensible to others. In a city that is predominantly Black American and Chicano, there were only a handful of Afro-Latinx folks that I knew, and the majority of them were my own family. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time at LACMA in the incredibly powerful exhibition, Afro-Atlantic Histories. Walking in, you are immediately thrown into a timeless space that connects you across waters. To my left, a map of the transatlantic slave trade, and a brief account of the histories. As the daughter of an Afro-Brazilian immigrant, I knew that Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery (In 1888, just 135 years ago), but to see that represented here in the city that raised me, felt important.