The Afro-Latino experience in the U.S.

The Afro-Latino experience in the U.S.


Rosalba Ruiz

Growing up in South Los Angeles in the 1970’s, Armando Brown never thought about his multiracial identity.
“When I was growing up, I was black,” Brown, a 45-year-old photojournalist, says. “It was never an issue.”

The son of a creole man from New Orleans and a dark-skinned Mexican woman, Brown has a dark complexion and wavy hair.

His family lived in a black neighborhood that remained that way for years because of segregation. But little by little, Latino immigrants started moving in. Then, after the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, black families that could afford it started moving out. The dynamic of the community changed, and so did how people interacted with him.

“Some black people started saying, ‘hey, amigo!’ and Latinos would want to speak Spanish to me,” he remembers. But he couldn’t hold conversations with them because Spanish wasn’t spoken at his home, so he understands some of the language but doesn’t speak it.

Brown’s experience reflects that of the more than one million Latinos of black ancestry in the United States. According to the 2010 Census, 2.5 percent of the 50.5 million Latinos in the country identified themselves as black or African American…

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