“I’m not Black, I’m Hispanic!”

Written by on January 9th, 2013 // Filed under Journal

by Alberto Padron

The first time I heard that statement coming out of a family member’s mouth, I was confused. In my mind, a violation of logic had occurred. After all, the person making this statement was blacker than the black hair on their head. I mean, this person is Black. Anyone with reasonable vision would agree. So what was meant by this apparently irrational statement made by an otherwise rational person?

I’ve concluded it’s a confusion of color (race) and culture (ethnicity). More specifically, an attempt to distance oneself from the term ‘black’ because of deeply seeded negative connotations associated with the word. This bothers me. The reasons for these unfair connotations will be discussed in a future blog entry.

So let’s address the basics. ‘Black’ refers to race. Culture refers to ethnicity. These terms often get confused. The moment we start hyphenating the term ‘Black,’ a clearer cultural picture begins to emerge. For example, when you encounter the term Black-American (or African-American) or Black-Hispanic (or Afro-Latino), one gains a better feel for the cultural orientation that is being referred to. Indeed, there is a relationship between color and culture, but when we make the two indistinguishable, confusion follows. My point is we should challenge ourselves to be accurate and respectful of who we truly are.

Consider the following:

(1) African-Americans are not the only Blacks. In the U.S., the term ‘Black’ is largely monopolized by the African-American community. I don’t think it’s by design. It’s just the way it has been in the U.S. since I can recall. The dialogue regarding race is either ‘Black’ or ‘White.’ I remind us that there are Blacks from across the globe residing in America. These Blacks who are not of African-American culture should be proud to claim their color (race) without apprehension that they’ll be mislabeled African-American.

(2) All colors are beautiful. To run away from the term ‘Black’ because of a probable misassociation with African-Americans is insulting. Additionally, to look in the mirror, see a Black person and publicly distance yourself from the term is indefensible and technically incorrect. I, for one, look at my Hispanic mom and even more so, my dark-skinned grandparents and cousins and embrace the term ‘Black’ because it’s part of who I am. Conversely, I have fair-skinned Hispanic family members as well, resulting in a mix of races referred to as mulatto. I’d prefer we embrace our color (black) and combine it with our culture (Hispanic in my case) and proudly declare what you truly are, be that Black-Hispanic, Afro-Latino, mulatto or whichever term best describes who you actually are.

In a country historically divided along color lines, let’s start being real about who we are, deny nothing and celebrate our color and culture accurately and respectfully.


*Originally posted on Born Bicultural USA on December 29, 2009


Where Afro-Latino and North American culture converge, you’ll find me, Alberto Padron. My bicultural journey began when I was born in Elizabeth, N.J. to Cuban mulatto immigrant parents in the early ’70s. I’m not a cultural anthropologist but I play one on my blog www.BornBiculturalUSA.com. I’m incurably curious and committed to never stop learning. When I am not discussing culture just for fun, I can be found discussing my observations of culture for work. For over a decade, national brands lean on my skills, experience and education in strategic marketing communications in order to better connect with their key audiences.

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6 Responses to ““I’m not Black, I’m Hispanic!””


    Posted by Cristian
  2. Happy to see your content resonating with others so long after it was originally written. Well-deserved pick-up.

    Posted by Leslie
  3. The word is spreading – great read the second time around. Nice picture by the way ;-)

    Posted by Angela Padron
  4. The person who is working on this “Docu-Series” should consider researching when the term “Black” was used in this country instead of “African American.” At one point and time, there was only two stories in this country… that being Black and White. This isn’t the case any longer. Members of the African Diaspora want to claim there independence from African Americans should do so! However, do it in their respective countries. Go back to DR, PR or wherever and proclaim your Blackness there. The term “African American” was replaced by “Black,” when the MEDIA decided to do so. The only issue that I have, is members of the African Diaspora feeling as though they are privilege to the benefits and programs that African Americans have worked hard for. Imagine me going to DR and saying that I am entitled to the benefits that “Blacks,” were entitled to there. The purpose of this ridiculous series is separation. If this series does not focus on PAN AFRICANISM, you’re working for the wrong people. I cringe when I see brothers of sisters of African descent, (not African American) proudly wearing the costumes of the conquistadors, during some of the parades here in New York City. There needs to be some consistency. You don’t want to be African American… fine. Please round up all of those dark skinned Hispanic kids who received grants and scholarships and attended AFRICAN AMERICAN universities. At least the Mexicans have woken up and refrain from being called Latino, because they realize it equivalent to being called “White.” Your oppressors spoke Spanish. The guy across the street from you had oppressors who spoke English. .. Quien es mejor?

    Posted by Clarke
    • “The only issue that I have, is members of the African Diaspora feeling as though they are privilege to the benefits and programs that African Americans have worked hard for”

      And this is the problem. The African American diaspora does not begin and end with African Americans, but includes all people of African descent living outside of Africa. This kind of arrogant xenophobia is nothing more than a shining example of how colonial politics have infected the minds of this society and divided our people into nice little “labels” that they can use to define us and control how we operate amongst each other.

      Posted by Mwatuangi
  5. I totally agree, when I step onto the street or go out into public I always get asked what my race is?
    I mean I am dark skined, I mean dark like an African American would be, but my heritage goes back towards Hispanic.
    But when people ask, what am I, I say I am black because that is what they all expect to hear and it is the short way around of things, but if people ask me or pressure me, “what are you?” “are you hispanic?” I say yes, because I am, but I contiue to be baffeled if I should lie or if I should tell the truth, but then I will have to go into explanation. So like I was saying, when I look in the mirror sometimes I don’t even know what I see except a person, and to me that should be what and all that matters to people, regardless of race or ethncity.

    Posted by As741852963