Each ethnic and racial group in society enjoys the right to define itself in a dignified manner, taking into consideration its historical, racial and cultural legacies. But one unfortunate exception exists in the Washington, D.C. Latino community. Spanish-language newspapers (with the exception of El Tiempo Latino) continue to refer to Latinos of African descent by the despicable term of "Negro."
The term "Negro" within the U.S. context connotes an individual without racial consciousness, a sort of Uncle Tom who suffers from internal oppression and is ashamed of his/her African heritage. A classic example of that prototype is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Many of us who are members of the Afro-descendant community do not see him as a dignified member of our racial group.
For many of us with a consciousness of our history as a race and our legacy of struggle, the term "Negro" is very insulting. When Latino or Spanish-language newspapers use this term in their articles to describe Latinos of African descent, they are telling us publicly that they do not respect us. English-language newspapers in the Washington, D.C. area would not dare use the term, aware of the avalanche of criticism they would have to endure from the African-American community.
I share for the benefit of media, Latino leaders and the community in general the politically correct terminology which we consider acceptable to describe our ethnic group:
1. Afro descendant
2. Afro-Cuban (when emphasizing geographic origin)
4. Afro-Latino (when the individual speaks Spanish and is Afro)
Our Afro descendant community has had to combat racism in the past and continues fighting the wave of racism by white Hispanics on a daily basis. We have been able to force the adoption of the right terminology by responsible media circles to describe who we are as a people. But media entities, because of their ingrained racism and discriminatory tendencies that refuse to adopt the correct manner to address and describe our people will suffer our collective rejection, and I will continue publicly to expose their inability to treat us as equals.
Roland Roebuck, Afro-Puerto Rican Community Activist in Washington, D.C. and President of the Commission on Latino Community Development, Office of the Mayor, Washington, D.C., can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Translated by National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP).
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