The setting, Sofrito restaurant in NYC.

The couple, a black Latina and her white Latino boyfriend.

The question, “Why do you feel the need to connect with the girls of Black Latina Movement? Aren’t you just promoting racism within the Latino community? I mean you’re not even black. Not that black.”

Black Latina girlfriend smiles, rearranging the napkin on her lap and replies, “The other day when we went to that little town upstate, you said ‘Oh I bet these people are asking what this white guy is doing with this black girl.’ How about when we were in your car last night and you poked at my face like some damn zoo animal saying, ‘Wow, your lips are so big. And look at how wide your nose gets.’ Today you are telling me I am not black, not that black. That I am simply a Latina. How do you figure you get to be the architect of my identity, and why does it need to be convenient for you on any given day?”

Black Latina girlfriend punctuates the last question with furrowed brows and an open palm held up between them, waiting for an answer. The waiter gently touches white Latino boyfriend’s shoulder and asks if everything is ok.

Black Latina girlfriend goes on to recount the times when her loving white Latino family called her a monkey, black banana, and straight up Blackie, in place of her given name. She explained that it was hard for a little girl to reconcile the fact that the people closest too her, protectors and makers of her favorite food, plantanos con huevos fritos, called her and her black Latino father the same cruel names they had reserved for their African-American neighbors. She went on to explain that it wasn’t until her college years, where she found other black Latinas with similar experiences and studied Latin American history, that she was finally able to come out of the closet as a loud and proud Afro-Latina.

Fast-forward ten years after college, and our Afro-Latina, seeking a new connection, another alien life form committed to promoting positive images of Black or Afro-Latinas, finds herself sitting for a bit of café with Crystal Shaniece Roman and Apryl G. Lopez, founders of Black Latina Movement

Stay Tuned For Part II of Identity Architects

Peace, Love and Black Coffee