In the face of the recent Gina Rodriguez controversy following the actress saying the N-word while rapping along to a The Fugees song on her Instagram story, there have been debates about whether the “Jane The Virgin” star is actually an Afro-Latina. Fans rushed to her defense using that backing, and The TV star has stated herself on “Sway In The Morning”, while addressing another racially charged controversy, that her father is Afro-Latino. The general consensus among the public is that this is not true, and Puerto Rican actress Rodriguez and her father do not qualify as Afro-Latinx.
Here’s what some Twitter users are saying about Rodriguez’s racial identity:
Despite this, various celebrities have come to Rodriguez’s defense. Afro-Latina singer Amara La Negra told TMZ she didn’t believe Rodriguez was using the word maliciously, adding that a lot of Latinx people were raised beside Black people and those individuals believe they are a part of the community. Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman told TMZ he believes Rodriguez is black because of her Puerto Rican heritage.
“A lot of people don’t acknowledge that but she’s Black. She’s from Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, believe it or not, we all here [rubs his skin], just look at the history,” said Stockman.
Who is considered an Afro Latina/Latino?
An Afro-Latino, or Afro-Latinx for those who choose to not identify with a specific gender, is a person who is a descendant of Latin America with African Roots. To simplfy, a Black Latino. People who fall into this category are usually characterized by their darker skin complexion and coarser hair texture. With that said, lighter skin and fine hair doesn’t mean a person is not an Afro-Latinx either. Unfortunately, Rodriguez does not fall in this category, and her use of racial slurs has not been excused by the public.
The following stars are part of the Afro-Latina community and are known to embrace their roots.
Christina Milian booked black roles as an Afro-Latina
Singer, songwriter and actress Christina Milian is no stranger to the stigma against Afro-Latinas in Hollywood. Though known for her role in the successful film “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” with ex-boyfriend Nick Cannon, Milian stated that when she first started her acting career it was hard to book roles. Appearing on the Wendy Williams show, she explained that she did not look Latina enough for the Latina roles and not considered for the black roles, due to her last name Flores, which was from her father.
After some deliberation, she and her mother decided it would be best for her to change her stage name from Flores, to Milian, her mother’s maiden name. No longer having a Hispanic last name, the Cuban-American Star found it easier to be taken seriously when trying to book African American roles.
In 2015, Milian spoke to HuffPost Live about her appearance, stating, “Since early, it’d be like, I’m Cuban but [people] didn’t get it because I was also brown-skinned, and you usually see a fair-skinned Latino, so it was just like, ‘Oh, what are you? Are you black? Are you white?’
“I didn’t feel like I had to make a choice. I am what I am.” Milian also stated, “We’re all different, but you have to accept our differences. As far as Afro-Cuban [goes], I’m finding more and more that there’s people opening their eyes to seeing that. Latinos come in all colors, all shades.”
La La Anthony says Afro-Latina’s come in all colors
La La Anthony, who identifies as an Afro-Puerto Rican woman, stated in an essay for POPSUGAR that when people find out she is Puerto Rican they automatically think that means she can’t be black. She then went on to explain that she speaks fluent Spanish and grew up eating arroz con gandules, plátanos and pasteles. Despite the publics’ confusion, the actress, TV personality and best-selling author doesn’t seem to forget about her black roots and embraces them wholly.
The “Power” star has also spoken on the assumptions people may have about her skin tone. In reference to her Latin roots, she told Latina, “We come in all colors. My grandfather was extremely dark and from Puerto Rico, but his brother had blond hair and blue eyes. There are so many different shades, and I think Hollywood has yet to realize that.”
Like Milian, Anthony has expressed that obtaining Latina roles has been difficult, but this doesn’t stop her as she also told Latina, “It is challenging, but all I can continue to do is try out for the roles and show them, ‘Hey, we come in all shades and with all hair textures and all colors and all everything!'”
Tatyana Ali speaks on discrimination in the Afro-Latina community
Well known and hailed for her role as Ashley Banks, Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air star Tatyana Ali is no stranger to the criticism attached to being Afro-Latina. Per HuffPost, the star reccounted being barraged with questions about her hair from a young age, stating, “I remember black friends and white friends saying, ‘why is your hair different’?” Ali’s unique appearance can be attributed to her background that is rooted in Central America and the Carribean; her mother is from Panama and her father is Indian, from Trinidad.
Ali was not necessarily bullied about her hair, but the star does feel like she was ostracized for having what is considered “good” hair in the black community. In a 2014 interview with Vlad TV, she revealed, “I didn’t want to be different. I grew up wanting to twist my hair and wear my hair like my mom did and like my aunts did.” Ali even went further to say that her fellow Carribean’s take the “good hair” comments far. She said, “Caribbean people do it even worse. They’ll say crazy things like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s so dark but she has good hair.'”
In an interview with Hype Hair, Ali spoke some more on the colorism within the Afro-Latina and Afro-Carribean community as she zeroed in on family members making remarks about “good hair” and grouping relatives by skin tone. It’s safe to say that Ali has faced her fair share of criticism as a result of her background both within her community and outside of it, but it has only made her accept and love herself all the more.
Gina Rodriguez may be a bit darker in complexion than other Latinas in the industry, but it does not warrant her a pass to use the N-word. With “cancel culture” at its height and more attention being brought to racial issues on social media, it’s safe to say that there will be fewer accounts of people that are not a part of the black community casually using racial slurs.
Franca is the Editor-in-Chief of Beyond Archetype, a website intended to defy odds, inspire, and promote endless dreaming. Franca received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Montclair State University in 2019. She is currently in the process of obtaining a Master of Arts in the same field. When Franca isn't writing, she's actively explaining her family and friends' zodiac charts to them, and seeking out her next tarot card reading.