Every month, Black Girl, Latin World showcases awesome organizations that champion Afrolatinidad! This month’s addition to the Spotlight of the Month is none other than the social media space Raising Afrolatino Kids. I came across this facebook group some months ago and I enjoy the discussions, resources and insight that the communidad shares on intercultural families and Afrolatino culture. No, I am not a parent but I do share many of the things that I learn with my own family when we discuss intercultural families/dating and the like. Feel free to check out this interview where co-founder Shannon Guzman tells us why she is so passionate about Afro-Latino families, multicultural representation in the media and where she sees RALK going in the future.
Why was Raising Afrolatino Kids founded?
We originally began as a group for black women to share their experiences about being married to and raising families with Latino men but it quickly expanded from there. While there are some blogs and websites about Afro-Latinos, there weren’t any focusing on raising a family, so we decided to create Raising Afro-Latino Kids to fill that gap. We also widened the parameters for membership to include African American, Latino, and Multi-racial/cultural women and men. Not all members are parents, but we want members who have a common interest in Afro-Latino culture through heritage, personal experience, cultural, and familial ties. Our hope is that RALK is a space where people share ideas, information, and resources that help to better understand a variety of issues that include identity, parenting, relationships, food, language, and the varied and complex Afro-Latino experience. And with this information we can help our children to be proud of who they are while navigating between cultures.
You are a mother of children who are both African American and Latino and your group talks a lot about cultural learning. How is that apart of your kids upbringing?
My husband’s family is from Ecuador and I’m African-American. We’re a multi-cultural/multi-racial family and therefore feel it’s important for the kids to learn about, appreciate, and be proud of their African-American and Latino heritage. We speak some Spanish at home, read books about and by black and Latino authors, and listen to lots of Spanish music. I think we can do better with making connections to the Latino community. That’s another reason we thought RALK would be good to possibly make online and offline connections with families that have similar experiences that we do.
What are some challenges to raising Afrolatino children and how can you overcome them?
As black and Latino people our representation in the media: tv, movies, books, news, etc is so limited. Our family was so very excited about the movie Home, featuring a little girl, Tip, an immigrant from Barbados and her adventures with an alien, Oh. My kids loved her character and my daughter commented about how her hair was just like Tip’s. Well after we saw the movie, I ran out to buy whatever merchandise I could find with her image on it. Talk about disappointing. There were no stickers, no coloring books, no t-shirts, pajamas, dresses or hardly anything that my daughter likes with Tip’s image on it. Representation for our kids really matters. We know that a lot of Afro-Latino kids in many countries hardly ever see people that look like them on tv or in movies and the same goes for the US. But like us, people are creating their own spaces through social media to combat negative images and our absence from traditional media, which is a good thing.Colorism is another challenge both for black and Latino communities so reinforcing the beauty and diversity of our skin, hair, and other physical features is very important. And so our job as parents is to make sure that our kids are aware of these differences and take pride in them.
What has been some of the most amazing things that have happened as a result of the group?
Our membership includes people from many different experiences. Members include African American parents who are raising their kids to learn about Latino culture and speak Spanish, Afro-Latino women and men who’ve discussed the challenges of being black and Latino, and people who may be in mixed cultural/racial families who want to share what it’s like when cultures clash. We’ve invited a popular bloggers and authors to join the group to add their perspectives to our conversations. A few have joined and pop in occasionally to share resources, information, and comment.
Where do you see Raising Afrolatino kids going in the future?
I’d really like to see Raising Afro-Latino Kids continue to provide a place where people can share their personal perspectives about Afro-Latino identity both in the US and abroad and also come to the group for resources about Afrodecendientes, parenting, and the diversity of Latino culture.
What do you hope people get out of joining the group?
I hope people join in and have good conversation on topics that are relevant to their lives and experiences. I hope they find interesting and relevant resources, surprises about how deep Latino, African, and African-American cultures run through so many places around the world and finally, learn about our contributions to many societies.
Thank you Shannon for sharing Raising Afro-latino Kids with Black Girl, Latin World. We know this awesome community will continue to be a great support system for many families. Check out the group here.