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Op-Ed: Anti-Blackness an ongoing issue in the Latino community

Cassidy Casanova

A few years ago, I attended a Mexican Independence Day celebration in downtown Chicago. A man approached me as I shook my head to the surrounding music. 

“What are you doing here,” he asked as he looked me up and down. 

Paying him no mind, I continued enjoying the music. That was until he began speaking again.

“What are you?” he asked.

I sighed as I reluctantly answered the dreaded question. 

“Black and Mexican,” I said. 

He proceeded to tell me to get out of there. My face scrunched up and the man followed up, saying it was a joke. 

Deep down I knew it was not. First of all, telling someone to leave once finding out they are Black is no way to joke. Looking back on it, I could have used it as a teachable moment. Yes, Black Mexicans exist. An explanation is not owed and it is not my job to educate anyone so I let my face do the talking.  

I do not need to pull out my family tree because of someone’s disbelief. Neither should anyone else who has a similar background. Coming from a mixed Black and Mexican family, there have been times where I feel as if I need to give some people a lesson on my genetic makeup. 

I remember one of the first times I explained to someone of Mexican heritage what I was. They looked at me like I had five heads. At the time, I was confused, but as I got older and this happened more, I put the pieces together. 

In one study from the University of California, Los Angeles, respondents were asked how important it is to be an American. They found that Latinos identifying as “more American” have stronger resentment towards Black people. 

The world sees Black people as a monolith. As someone who falls under both Black and Latina, my Blackness will always be first. This is made apparent to me when I take pride in my Mexican side. I was exposed to Mexican culture the same way most others of Mexican descent were, through my family. It is in my blood, so it makes sense. Since I am Black first, it seems as if some people cannot fathom this idea. 

Anti-Blackness in the Latino community will unfortunately continue to be an issue. I have prepared myself to explain the fact that Black individuals can exist in different communities. 

Cassidy Casanova is a junior journalism major at Columbia College. 


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