Spotlight of the Month: Bonaverense

A few months ago, I stumbled upon an awesome project in on my Instagram.   After reading the post introducing the organization, I was immediately struck by the passion and mission of this organization and I just knew I had to share it with you all!  Black Girl, Latin World is all about passion, purpose and changing the world.  We love to support and recognize people and orgs doing great things.


PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

Bonaverense, a non-profit dedicated to providing youth on Colombia’s pacific coast with educational resources, was founded during the summer of 2014 by Jor Alexis Arcila.  Its focus is encouraging youth of the Colombian Pacific through soccer and education.  By providing opportunities for the young folk in this area to play soccer and have a better education, Bonaverense is helping the community to empower themselves.  One of Bonaverse’s goals is to build a soccer academy in Buenaventura, Colombia.  Many in the population of the Colombian Pacific are Afro-descendants and that is why this project struck a cord with me.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

Why is this work important?

It’s a proven fact that health and wellness are important to everyone.  Bonaverense understands that soccer brings health and fitness mentally and physically.  An individual with positive health has a better social, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual state.  Soccer gives youth the avenue to build bonds, gain pride in their community and stay healthy.

Off to a great start

Bonaverense may have started a few months ago but it has hit the ground running!  Already making connections with other orgs, developing a steady presence at local events and receiving nonprofit status!  One of the most recent accomplishments was a youth book drive for the youth of Buenaventura, Colombia.  The book drive reached out to communities in Houston, New York and other cities to provide books for youth overseas.

Over 500+ books here, along with roughly 100 pairs of shoes for the Thankful for education bookdrive. These donations will help communities in Bonaverse empower themselves! PHOTO CREDIT: Bonaverense

How can you get involved?

Follow Bonaverense on social media for opportunities to volunteer and get involved with the non-profit.

Keep up the awesome work, Bonaverense!  We are looking forward to the continued progress of this project. 


5 ways to be like the guy from Bruno Mars’s video when practicing Spanish



If you’ve watched Bruno Mar’s “Uptown Funk” video, I’m sure you noticed more than Bruno Mars rocking that on point roller set.  That guy dancing like there was no tomorrow was Phillip Lawrence, Bruno’s right-hand-man when it comes to scripting hits like “Nothing On You”.  I was captivated by his performance and I laughed at 3:15 when he did a little dance of his own.  Phillip’s performance got me to thinking, what if every language learner committed themselves to speaking the language with the commitment this dancer showed in the video?  What if you committed yourself to being enthusiastic, into it and sin miedo?  Imaginate how much better your speaking skills would be!  What’s holding you back from evoking that Phillip-like flare?  Is it the risk of sounding stupid?  The fear that you won’t be accepted by native speakers if you try?  Whatever your reservation, here are a few tips for you to use your second language with fierceness!

1. Remember why you started in the first place

I remember my first years learning the language as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 13 year old.  I was eager to speak my new phrases to anyone who would listen.  Fumbling over words, developing that ‘r’ roll and lacking sentence structure and conjugations, I went fearlessly into the unknown world of language and culture (different yet connected with my own).   It’s those moments that keep me going when I’m faced with a new word that’s hard to pronounce.

2.You’ll never be perfect, but you will be AWESOME

After high school, something happened.  That boldness left me and I barely spoke up in my Spanish courses and began answering bilinguals who addressed me in Spanish in my native tongue. I could understand what they were saying but I couldn’t respond.  That frustrated me. I felt inadequate and I wanted to wait for my Spanish to be perfect.  Newsflash chic@ it probably never will be.  So just keep going, even if you make mistakes.  Be a sponge and take in everything.  You’re bound to get the hang of it.


3. Practice with anyone who will let you AND WELCOME THEIR CRITIQUES

In 2014, I made it my priority to practice speaking whenever I could.

To my Dad

To my more advanced bilingual and native speaker friends

To my mom’s family members she shows her “Bilingual Daughter” off to. 

To the Spanish speaking customers at my old job

To the waitress who spoke Spanish to my two friends and responded to me in English

Even if I slip up and use Americano when describing myself or have to make up a word (‘slapiar’ is my favorite), I keep on talking because that is the only way you can get better.  I used to be really scared of criticism.  I have a Spanish Teacher/Native Speaker friend who hated speaking Spanish with me during my freshman year of college because I’d always get offended when he’d correct me.  Now, I’ve learned to take it as a growing lesson.

4. Teach others what you learn

Who says you need a fancy degree to teach you new language?  I taught a Spanish course at Upward Bound Program during my senior year of college and I give Spanish lessons to my family.  Even if you are a new language learner, you can still teach.  By teaching, you are reinforcing what you learned in your own mind.   Did you learn a new word from a Celia Cruz tune?  Share it.  Don’t force it down your family’s throat but share it with folks that are genuinely interested.  You never know.  You may be the inspiration that they need to try something new.

5. Tell the naysayers (aka l@s haters) “Don’t believe me just watch”

When you are doing something to better yourself, you will always have those who try to deter you from your goal.  For me, it was high school classmates telling me that by speaking Spanish I was denying my Blackness.  And guess what?  I believed them for a moment. I challenge you not to believe them at all.  Watch your telenovelas.  Jam Los Rakas.  Go to Salsa class if you have to.  Create an environment where you can achieve your goal.

While on your language learning journey, you will face many challenges but you will also receive many rewards.  Being able to survive in a Spanish-speaking country, flirt with a prospective lover or have more job options because of your abilities are just a few.  It opens up a new world of music, films, culture and friends that you can connect with.  So channel your inner Uptown Funky Phillip and get to speaking!

 Were you once scared to speak Spanish for fear of making mistakes?  What are your tips for speaking boldly in your second language? Comment below or tweet me with the hashtag #MultilingualBlackPeople.  

© Jelisa Jay Robinson and Black Girl, Latin World, 2015

Black Girl, Latin World in 2015, let’s go!


When Black Girl, Latin World took flight in 2011, it was purely a hobby.  I was inspired by African American, Latino World, the LatiNegr@s Project and many other bloggers and Afrolatino advocates to share my stories dealing with the subject.  Since 2013, this blog has been connecting me with beautiful readers who keep me inspired as I write about my experiences as an African American engaging in diaspora.  Every email I get from a person who wants to know about Afrolatino theatre work or comment about your experiences keeps me writing.

I’ve taken a bit of the break from this blog because I needed to graduate.  I did it! I’m now a University of Texas at Austin graduate!  Now, as I seek employment, I plan to focus on my passions…writing and Afrolatinidad.

Black Girl, Latin World will be adding some new and awesome projects that I hope you all will love.

  • Spotlight of the Month-Monthly highlights, guest posts and interviews with organizations, artists, writers and everyday people passionate about Afrolatinidad and the diaspora.
  • #MultilingualBlackPeople – A movement, discussion  and empowerment space for multilinguals in the Black Diaspora!  Monthly posts on language learning, Spanish phrases and my own Portuguese learning journey.
  • Connections Across Diasporas: African Americans and Afrolatinos-More posts on the connections between Afrolatinos and African Americans in history, music and the arts.
  • Escribela Negra– A collection of blog posts focused on empowerment through writing for the African American and Afrolatina woman!  Chock full of notes, advice and stories from and about writers of color.

I’m also working on a play centered around Afrolatinidad and I look forward to sharing that progress with you.  And you can follow my work as a Her Campus writer too.

I am stoked about this new year and looking forward to connecting with you all.

Of course, if there is anything you would like to see featured on BGLW or if you’d like to be featured yourself drop me a line at at

Okay, you’ve heard my plans for this new year.  What are your goals? Do you want to start a blog?  A movement? Learn a new language?  Gain a better spiritual relationship?  Gain a healthy lifestyle?  Share it below or tweet me with the hashtag #BLGWGoals.


Diaspora Dialogues: We Are Familia

Last month, I had the chance to connect with writer/creator James Jones about his amazing project “We Are Familia”.   As a writer myself, I was really excited to connect with the creator of the show and get his insight, inspiration and story.


In the style of A Different World and East Los High, “We are Familia” details the untold story of Latino students at historically Black colleges.  One of the few television shows featuring the stories of Black Latino characters, “We are Familia” is set to expand our thoughts on race, ethnicity and culture.

The cast of hit 90s show: A Different World PHOTO:
The cast of hit 90s show: A Different World

Besides Romeo from The Steve Harvey Show, I don’t remember seeing many Afro-Latino characters on my television screen growing up.

Yes!  Excitement feels my heart.  Finally.


“When a Historically Black College gives scholarships to twenty incoming Latino freshmen, the campus falls into a cultural uproar, as the African American and Latino students struggle to coexist. The campus is further disrupted when a Latino student of Afro descent is awarded a scholarship, which in turn challenges everyone’s thoughts on race, ethnicity, and culture. In the end, the students learn that what unites them is stronger than what separates them and that “family” extends past all color lines and language barriers.”  (Synopsis from the website)
Check out the video of a Latino student at an HBCU sharing his story.

The Inspiration

Talking with Writer James Jones, I was curious about his inspiration for the show.  He wanted to explore the side of HBCUs that had not been touched on media.  Jones brought out the example of A Different World and how there were characters of Latino descent.  That got him thinking: What about the stories of Latino characters in this space? It’s an important question as we explore the relations between Latino/Black/Afro-Latino communities.

James Jones’s learned about the diaspora by chance in his ROTC group in grade school.  He noticed certain students were being promoted to superior cadet and which according to Jones “largely had to do with them being bilingual”.  One student who received the scholarship  that Jones had known for many years was a Black young woman with the last name “McDonald”.  Jones was surprised to learn that she was Panamanian and there was a community of students who identified as both Black and Latino in his school.

Why now?

It’s obvious why a television show like this is needed.  Jones noted that images of Latinidad on television very seldom include Black people.  I agree and by supporting this show we can place more of the stories that matter on screen.  Let’s be real.  The images that we see on screen provide knowledge about the world and projects like this reflect diverse experiences.  I am stoked to see this take fold!

The Advice

Jones gave some great advice about writing for film and getting your work out there!

1. Get internships in the industry.  If you want to work in the industry, get a job in the industry.

2. Keep a blog because you never know who is looking at you.

3. Submit to agents! Name Recognition is your friend. The more they see your name, the more likely they are to look at your work.

4. Take a writing class!  You don’t need to get a degree in Film but you do need to hone your craft.

5. Become a script reader.

6. Work on multiple projects.  If you submit something have another project that you are working on!

Check out this Social Media Skit by the We Are Familia Supporters!

This hilarious skit was created by supporters of the show for the social media fundraising campaign.  Although it is not a preview for the show, it diffidently gets me pumped for “We are Familia”.

This skit reminded me of my experience growing up in Houston, Texas.  In a few minutes, they touch on key issues between Black and Brown communities like who owns certain hairstyles, intercultural dating and diversity within communities.  I liked the line “I’m China Latina” because not many people know about Latino communities of Asian descent. It’s awesome how a cute, funny and short skit can share a story in a creative way!


Check out the gofundme page and contribute to the making this show happen!  More info on:

I would like to thank James Jones for talking with Black Girl, Latin World and offering advice on the film industry.  I know we will see this project on screen soon!