Rosa Clemente and Afrolatinidad

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I thought that this last “Latina Theory” podcast elaborated so much in terms of race and the negotiation of latinidad that we have explored in class. Rosa Clemente said something especially poignant in relation to the formulaic approach to race in Puerto Rico; the myth of being an island ethnically constructed as 1/3 Taino, 1/3 Black, 1/3 European. Essentially, this encompasses the extent of ethnic identity in Puerto Rico, which didn’t allow for Rosa Clemente to fully embrace her afrolatinidad until she went to college and decided to pursue Africana studies–much to the dismay of her latinx peers, highlighting that the misconception that one can only pledge one’s allegiance to latinidad or blackness is present in academic spaces.

She also said something that I found to be extremely bold to state: that afrolatinidad was “trendy” to explore academically right now, but with very little critical lens directed towards politics and critical race theory, but instead towards cultural topics such as food and dance. I think she is absolutely right to be concerned over this, for it definitely reduces afrolatinidad to something that is performed and purely cultural rather than embodied and inextricable from identity. She also makes the point that terms such as “latino” and “hispanic” are all state-sanctioned and do not allow for self-identification, which she believes is necessary in order for people to come to terms with their own individual racial, ethnic and cultural realities.

Overall, Rosa Clemente offered some really cutting-edge analysis in terms of afrolatinx identity, and I personally think that her views on the construction of afrolatinidad in the U.S. as well as Latin America and the Caribbean are some of the most provocative to date.

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