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Entrepreneur Erika Hernandez On How Her Career Change Led to a Life of Purpose

How do you identity? Do you consider yourself Afro-Latina, or use another term to describe your race and/or ethnicity?

I have always identified myself as Hispanic; feisty Cuban-American to be exact.

What is your earliest memory of identifying as Afro-Latina/Blatina/Latinegra, etc? How did you come to identify as such?

From the stories my father has shared with me, his grandfather (mother’s side) was Afro-Cuban and his grandmother, a native Cuban Indian, together created a fabulous mulata, my grandmother. Since I can remember, I’ve understood the reason for my crazy-frizzy ‘fro as a child and why my mother wished she could tan like me.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to explore what specific term would I identify with after being told I wasn’t white enough to be Cuban. I quickly discovered that I had been identifying myself correctly and there was no need for any other specific terminology. The reality is we are all different. How boring would it be if we were all the same?

Being Hispanic/Latina comes light, dark, short, tall, thin and curvy. That’s the beauty of diversity.

Which Latina matriarch do you most identify with and why?

Oh man! Celia Cruz without a doubt. I swear she must have been my grandmother in another life.  Like many people, she had her own obstacles to overcome. When I think about Celia, I think about a strong brave woman. A woman who had to make many sacrifices for what she loved, and no matter the setbacks, she was determined to succeed. Her grace, charisma and azúcar were one of kind.

Who inspires you?

My children! Now, they drive me crazy and sometimes I think God was playing a joke on me, but the truth is, they keep me going. As a human, I have moments of wanting to give up, but then I look at them while they sleep and quickly think, “if not for me, then for them.” At 14 and 10, they are my little cheerleaders. They get excited when I get a new client and they make me laugh when I’m blue.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Life will be hard and cruel. You will cry and fail many times. You will have moments where you may want to give up, but never doubt the life chosen for you because you were built strong enough to keep fighting. You will be okay — I promise!


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