Follow me:
unnamed-1

De Mi, Para Ti: Celebrating Diversity Among Latinas

unnamed-1Upon first glance, you probably wouldn’t even think I was Latina. You’re probably used to the fair-skinned, bone-straight hair wearing women you see in movies, on the small screen or on local news programs (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those beauties), but we don’t all look like that.

 

I have women in my family that look like that, but my earliest memories of Latinas have consisted of the curvaceous, brown skinned, kinky/curly haired reinas like my lita, mom, aunts, family friends and las dominicanas that straightened the heck out of my super tight coils.

 

Despite growing up with those queens, I yearned to see myself in the women shown on Univision, in the novelas and in the magazines that arrived in my family’s mailbox. I enjoyed the issues of Essence, JET, Ebony and later Latina that came across the dining room table but couldn’t help but wonder why our images were limited to niche glossies.  Not to mention, it wasn’t until recently that even niche publications, as well as television networks, have shown Afro-Latinas. This disconnect coupled with the barrage of questions that followed any introduction (it was pretty much downhill after I said, “Martinez”) brought on an identity complex. I knew I was Latina and Black, and that both my parents were from Honduras. I also understood there were numerous Latinas out there that looked like me, but did they not speak fluent Spanish, too? Once I confessed that to most Latinos, I received the infamous side-eye. It wasn’t just strangers, it was family, tambien. I’ll admit, I speak very basic conversational Spanish, and won’t break it out until it’s absolutely necessary. (I’ll delve into this in an upcoming blog post.)

 

Fast forward to my college days, it took an experience abroad for me to fully accept my identity as an Afro-Latina. I spent six transformative weeks in Paris, France exploring identity and the African Diaspora. (I’ll write about this experience, too!) A few years after my summer in Paris, I had an “aha” moment. Why not shift the paradigm and go from consumer to producer? I decided to create the platform I never had, and quickly began brainstorming. Hence, Ain’t I Latina? was born.

 

Whether you speak Spanish fluently or not, identify as Afro-Latina, or prefer not to label yourself, Ain’t I Latina? has something for you. Here, you’ll get a daily dose of sazón. The content that exists on this site is inspired by my life and experiences, as well as what I have always wanted to watch or read. You may disagree with some of the views shared here, but doesn’t that make for an interesting conversation?

 

I’m excited to launch Ain’t I Latina? and I hope that you’ll keep coming back—and tell a friend to tell a friend. I’ve shared Ain’t I Latina? with my family, several friends and colleagues to date, and I’m so thankful for their wise words and support. Seeing a concept that started out as an idea come to life is like giving birth. I can’t wait to see my baby grow, but more so I’m looking forward to seeing how she touches the lives of all those she comes in contact with.

 

Enjoy!

 

Janel Martinez

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

  • Congrats on your launch! I look forward to checking out the site and reading your post. I’ll even have Google translate on deck for any word or phrase I don’t know so I can follow along 😛

    • Janel Martinez

      Thanks Jason! I’m lol at the Google Translate remark. Thanks for supporting the Ain’t I Latina? movement. 🙂

  • Reba

    This is wonderful! So very proud of you. Imagine a world where we all can see ourselves reflected and represented positively in this great big place we call a world. Thank you for acknowledging the need for all of our little girls to see themselves truly and beautifully.

    • Janel Martinez

      Thank you, Reba! I really appreciate that. 🙂 We’ve come a long way, but there’s definitely more work to be done. I’m hopeful we’ll get to that place. Thanks for taking the time to read this piece.

  • Sharisse

    I am so proud of you! Represent, mi hermana 🙂

    • Janel Martinez

      Thank you, cinco! From idea to launch, you’ve been super supportive, mi hermana. *inserts celebratory salsa move*

  • Just wanted to say what a fantastic and heart-felt piece. You have touched on an issue not only dealt with by Latinos but people of all cultures whose looks don’t fit into the “label.” It’s nice to see someone define themselves and in sharing the struggle to do so, is helping others. Kudos!

    • Janel Martinez

      Aww, Suncear! Thank you! You’re right, this issue exists among various groups and demos, and the only way we’re going to work through it is through open, honest dialogue. That’s the type of space I’d like to create here. Thank you for supporting the movement 🙂

  • HI!

    Congrats on your launch. This is a great concept as all Latinas and all women should be celebrated and feel wonderful in their own skin. We are also 3 Latinas (alum from Syracuse) starting an online platform and look forward to possible collaborations! Check us out at http://www.bemoxie.org

    Thank you for being that voice for women that are not as well represented it takes courage to start something and put yourself out there! We hope this this platform touches the hearts and minds of many Afro-Latinas !

    • Janel Martinez

      Hey, Joannie!

      Thank you so much! I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences, but Ain’t I Latina? will also feature other women’s experiences and how they identify, their challenges and, for them, what it means to be Latina.

      I was just looking at your site yesterday. Congrats! I love what you, Aline and Macia are doing. Please be on the lookout for an email from me. I’d love to collaborate and support you ladies!

  • Rasheda

    I am so excited for you Janel, my soror! Congrats again! *smooches*

    • Janel Martinez

      Hey Soror! *waves* Thank you for reading and supporting Ain’t I Latina? , Rasheda 🙂

  • I love what you’re doing here! Your voice is so incredibly necessary, so please keep going! Anything I can do, please do let me know. Besos y abrazos a ti.

    • Janel Martinez

      Thank you so much, Vanessa! I really appreciate that. 🙂 Besos y abrazos a ti, tambien.

  • Pingback: Reconnecting With My Roots: 12 Ways to Keep My Latino Heritage Alive | Ain't I Latina?()

  • I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!

    • Janel Martinez

      Thank you!!! Yes, a developer helped create the theme.