Rosa Clemente and Afrolatinidad

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.

Dominican Presence in Academic Spaces Extra Credit

The conference was a great space for integration of ideas and concerns that many Dominicans have at the moment of express their comments about academia. Academic spaces suffer a lack of representation by latino community in general.  On the other hand, it was interesting to learn about people of color that highlight because of their impact in academia and also learn about the ones that did a magnificent work but because of their color there is no recognition for them

The research that the department is doing to support and encourage Dominicans and people, in general, to learn about the culture is important to increase awareness.

Response 11

In “Miss, You Look Like a Bratz Doll”: On Chonga Girls and Sexual-Aesthetic Excess by  Jillian Hernandez, I learned a lot about how minority women are hypersexualized and denounced through others perceptions of them. I am a Puerto Rican woman who moved from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Westchester County, so that my parents could provide my sisters and I with a good life. My mom especially wanted to take me out of the urban environment that is often plagued with perceptions of Latina women being “Chongas.” I remember the women I was often surrounded by wearing necklaces and big hoop earrings that had their names in them and women who overlined their lips and drew on their eyebrows. I did not know that their was a label for these women who just liked dressing the way they did. However, the United States, as it often does, gave a bad rep to these women and decided to hypersexualize them and denounce them by labeling them as “Chongas” as if it was a bad thing. Even though I do not portray all of the characteristics of what it is like to be or look like a “Chonga,” the people I have grown up with and attended school with have made me very aware of my ethnic stature. I have always attended predominantly white, Catholic schools so being the black sheep has always been a thing for me. I was always the thickest girl, the girl with the big lips, the girl with the “Asian” eyes, and the brown girl (even though I do not see myself as that dark). I noticed that while I was growing up, I was often seen in a sexual way to my peers simply because of what I looked like. I remember for my eighth grade graduation, I wore a black dress with red roses printed on it that extenuated my body. I had a full figured body so my breasts filled out the top of my dress and my hips stood out. I wore heels and had my hair twisted at the top, and wore huge heart earrings. Looking back, I cannot even imagine what my classmates and their families thought of me. Probably that I looked like a “Chonga.” Probably that I looked like a slutty, Latina girl, who did not have enough money for a modest dress and nicer hair (little did they know, I did). But that was what I liked and so I was going to be me, entirely and wholly. The hypersexualition of minority women needs to stop. We do not see any of this labeling being placed onto white women. So why do WE have to be generalized and denounced? While reading this piece, it reminded me of how there are so many parody videos on YouTube that praise stereotypes and cliches. Videos such as “How to Know You’re Hispanic” or videos like “Ten Reasons Why You’re A Real Puerto Rican.” I remember watching a video that included reasons of how you knew you were a real Latina, which included cliches such as your grandparents keeping the plastic on their furniture (even though it is true in my case) and the most often praised chankleta and how you would get your butt beat with one if you acted up. In the comment section I would see people praising these videos and agreeing, which would  encourage the stereotypes and cliches even more by making people believe these are ways in which all Latinas/os live. It is literally insane! There are so many things that need to be changed about the stereotyping of Latina women and the change needs to begin with the media.