Last week, Gina Rodriguez rightfully received public backlash for saying the N-word on multiple occasions because she is not a black person, but the discourse seems to have spilled over to Cardi B (who is a black person) for her use of the N-word. Many people cannot conceive of the fact that some Latinxs are black and some of them are not. So many questions can be answered by visiting the public library or utilizing those Twitter fingers to do some online research, yet many of the loudest folks on the internet have a tenuous grasp or race and identity.
Cardi B was accused of not being black and saying the N-word. An issue that has been ongoing in her career as she has constantly asserted that she is Black and Latinx. In February 2018 the “Bodak Yellow” sat down for a Teen Vogue interview with Zendaya, where she talked about the public’s confusion about her race and cultures.
“One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m black.” she told Zendaya. “Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know it.”
Afro-Latinxs are constantly told they’re not black or Latinx enough. Love and Hip Hop Miami star Amara La Negra, an Afro-Latinx with dark skin and an Afro has had to defend her dual identity in the past as well.
When accused of not acting black she asked, “How do you act like a black woman? How do black women act?”
Cardi B then shared a video defending her blackness yet again.
But the crazy shit is when I did videos like this people used to say are you black “but you speak Spanish so I just started saying I’m carribean cause had to always argue and then people started claiming that I don’t claim my blackness.Its like it’s always a L https://t.co/9zrqrXqYfP— iamcardib (@iamcardib) October 17, 2019
Cardi then shared a video from two years ago where she talked about how black publications have taught her about blackness and learning to love her natural hair. Other supporters noted that the reason why everyone is confused is because Latinx and black history is simply not taught well if at all in schools.
“The majority of African captives were enslaved in Latin America & the Caribbean. folks don’t know these histories. the real question is how come? why do American educational institutions (k-12) do such a piss poor job teaching about race, slavery, settlement, and colonialism?” One Twitter user wrote.
Cardi B is of Dominican and Trinidadian descent. These are two Caribbean nations with large black populations who are descendants of enslaved Africans. Nicki Minaj is also from Trinidad and Tobago and has a similar skin tone to Cardi B, yet her blackness is never called into question.
Caribbeans, like many ethnicities that are colonial products, can be born in a spectrum of skin tones and features. Some of us are born black. Being black is a beautiful thing, but the social experience of a Latinx who looks like Celia Cruz is much different than one who looks like Gina Rodriguez. Afro-Latinxs have to navigate anti-black policies and anti-Latinx policies in ways that lighter-skinned Latinxs do not.
According to Pew Research, 1 in 4 Latinxs identify as Afro-Latinx and Latino Carribeans are more likely to identify as such.
“The multiple dimensions of Hispanic identity also reflect the long colonial history of Latin America, during which mixing occurred among indigenous Americans, white Europeans, slaves from Africa and Asians. In Latin America’s colonial period, about 15 times as many African slaves were taken to Spanish and Portuguese colonies than to the U.S. Today, about 130 million people of African descent live in Latin America.”
The Afro-Latinx identity acknowledges the treatment of black Latinxs in the social construct of race relations, without erasing our Latinx heritage so that we no longer have to “choose” which fits best.
Can Latinxs say the N-word?
Anyone who is a non-black person of color does not get a right to say the N-word. That includes non-black Latinxs. Having a small percentage of African ancestry does not make you a black person, it only means that your ancestors were black.
To quote Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, “My identity is the descendant of many different identities. I am the descendant of African slaves. I am the descendant of Indigenous people. I am the descendant of Spanish colonizers… I am a descendant of all sorts of folks. That doesn’t mean I’m Black, that doesn’t mean I’m Native, but I can tell the story of my ancestors.”