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Our Big Afro-Descendant Sisterhood


‘Living Single’ cast. (Image: Oxygen)

I remember sitting with a friend who identified as Afro-Latina.  She beamed with joy as she told me about her Afro-Cuban friend from class, her coworker from Guyana, and me, a Black American she met through a mutual friend. The bond that she felt with all of us was special. Despite our ethnic and cultural differences, we were all Black women. We may go by different names, speak contrasting languages and dance to separate music, but we all are apart of an unspoken sisterhood.

Afro-Latina, Black American, and Afro-Caribbean women move through the world with radiance. We have a light about us. Our smiles light up the room, our skin is illuminating and our hair is wondrous.  It’s true what they say: #BlackGirlsAreMagic.  Unfortunately, the gatekeepers of society don’t recognize or appreciate our uniqueness. But since when do we care? We’ve created our own Queendom.

Our sisterhood stems from our common African heritage.  A lineage that we often hear very little about.  A lineage we may’ve heard about from our elders.  A lineage that maybe we were ashamed of at one point, but became the source of liberation the next.  Our sisterhood comes with complicated relationships with our ancestry and each other.

Our sisterhood congregates in the strands of our hair, the melanin in our skin, and the sounds of our voices.  There is a saying, “Same boat, Different port,” which describes how we all came from one place and ended up being spread out all over.  We are Afro-Descendants and the sisterhood is a bond that can never be broken.

Our sisterhood is complicated.  Although we carry similar features, our forms of identity and the ways in which we call ourselves vary.  And we shouldn’t hold each other in contempt for not identifying the same way.  Our family histories, countries of origin and personal identities play a huge part in what we call ourselves.

Black Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, and Afro-Latinas.  All sisters of the Diaspora.  We are super heroines who can achieve, embrace and enjoy life.  That will only happen if we help each other.  Just as my friend said that she felt a kinship with me, I feel an unspoken bond with all my Afro-Descendant sisters of the world.  It’s only through dialogue and understanding that we can strengthen our diasporic family.

Jelisa Jay Robinson is a writer and playwright. You can catch her musings on fierceness, Afrolatinidad, and art on her blog, Black Girl, Latin World, and Twitter@jelisathewriter.

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