In the U.S. and around the world, Latinos are a diverse population. Afro-Latinos, Asian-Latinos and other bi-racial identities are hardly ever explored in the media, and when they are, they challenge us.
For instance, when comedian Louis C.K., appeared on the Conan O’Brien show earlier this year and announced that he “came to America as a little Mexican boy,” the audience’s surprise was palpable.
In a 2009 interview with Travis Smiley, C.K. discusses race and the social perceptions that come with being, what he calls a “white Mexican.”
Which begs the question, where are the Afro-Latinos in American culture today?
As Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. points out on Latina.com, "The real Black Experience, in terms of numbers, is all throughout the Caribbean and Latin America." His series Black in Latin America on PBS explores the African diaspora in Latin American.
"There were 11.2 million Africans who came to the New World in the slave trade and of that 11.2 million, only 450,000 came to the United States," says Gates. In other words, the African diaspora brought more persons as slaves to Latin America than to the U.S.
Let's pause and take a look at the cultural powerhouses whose racial and national complexities challenge social perceptions of who a Latina/o is.