Kinky Hair and the Pursuit of Latin-ness


All “real” Latinas have straight hair. That’s what I believed when I was growing up. My beautiful mother and sisters were all fair-skinned Costa Ricans; their long hair had no twists or turns in it but was just bone straight, like the models I saw in Latina or Vanidades. But when I looked in the mirror, I saw a honey brown half-Costa Rican, half-Dominican child with a blossom of coarse kinks on my head. I ate platanos, cried to Juan Luis Guerra’s songs, spoke Spanish to my parents and danced my bachata and merengue, but with this hair and this skin, I wondered: how could I be Latina too?

There was nothing I could do about my complexion—we don’t bleach our skin. But if I could straightened my hair, I was in. Of course, no one told me this directly. They didn’t have to. I saw the proof at the bodega when the guy behind the counter would see my coiling roots and speak to me in English and then speak about me to his friends in Spanish. I saw the proof at the Dominican hair salon when only darker-skinned Dominican women and girls were getting their hair processed. And I saw it at school when the boys would rate the light-skinned, straight-haired Latinas as better because the boys could run their fingers through those girls’ hair. It was a no-brainer: If kinky equaled Black, straight equaled Latina and Latina equaled beautiful, I could straighten my hair and become a beautiful Latina.

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Pearls Negras: They’re “precious, beautiful, warriors” and Rio’s latest sensation

Black Brazil Today

Note from BW of Brazil: Music from Rio’s favela slums has always been disregarded by those from the middle classes. When Samba first came out of morros of Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th century, it was panned as a “coisa do negro” or a “thing of blacks”. The same was said about “Funk Carioca“, a Brazilian take on Florida-based bass music of the 80s and 90s in the US. And like Samba crossing over and also influencing the creation of Bossa Nova in the 1950s, variations of the “Funk Carioca” sound (here and here) has also captured the attention of  middle classes. Now the latest talent to come out of Rio’s majority black favela of Morro do Vidigal may have the goods to take their sound to an international market. As black youth and women are generally ignored by Brazil’s mainstream media, it’s exciting…

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Mi Palabra Mi Alma (my word my soul)

Meet Alika, Afro-Uruguayan Reggae and Dancehall artist! Alika was born in Montevideo Uruguay to Argentine and Urguayan parents in the late 70s. Alika found her niche in the Rastafari culture where she has become a prominent female reggae artist in the “Hispanic World”. Her lyrics provide a style and prose that uplifts all people (especially the youth) and encourages people to be great. She just came out with a new album through Nueva Alianza entitled: Mi Palabra Mi Alma. Alika is known by her natural style and fabulous dreadlocks. Check out her music via youtube ad spotify.


Via Afro-Latino Army

This is How you Lose Her

You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.


Junot Diaz – This is How you Lose Her