Empowerment for Afro-Latinx Students
Gloria Ladson Billings, a scholar and former president of American Educational Research Association (AERA) states that students must be empowered emotionally, socially, and politically to understand themselves and strive for academic excellence (Billings, 1995). Highlighting famous African Americans and Latinos during Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month are common ways that teachers help empower students of color. Are Afro-Latinos represented during Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month? Many Afro-Latinos would say no. Edgardo Rodriguez, a Philadelphia native who identifies as a Black Puerto Rican says, “the only Afro-Latino I was exposed to in school was Roberto Clemente” and, “If I had been taught more, I wouldn’t have struggled with my identify.”
Since we live in a world that separates racial identities, Afro-Latino students can become vulnerable and will often struggle with their identify by being culturally and racially misunderstood. If there was more representation of Afro-Latinos in history books and in the curriculum, the classroom would become a safe space where Afro-Latino students can be empowered by gaining culturally enriched information and knowledge and by building healthy cross and same race relationships. Without it, the classroom is susceptible of being an environment that breeds bias, stereotypes, and cultural misinterpretations.
Representation matters, especially in education. Thus, educators should include curriculum that recognizes and highlights the contributions of Afro-Latinos. If educators are consistent in this, they will empower their Afro-Latino students and at the same create a culturally safe place for all students.
Jones, Z., & Jones. B. Jones. (2016). “Designing Afro-Latino curriculum for self-determination. Designing Afro-Latino Curriculum for Self-Determination (zachary-jones.com)
Barrera-Gonzalez, A., & Lopez, G. Afro-Latino: A deeply rooted identity among U.S. Hispanics. Afro-Latino: A deeply rooted identity among U.S. Hispanics | Pew Research Center
Manuel-Krogstad, Jens., & Noe-Bustamante, Luis. (2020). Key facts about U.S. Latinos for national Hispanic heritage month. Facts about U.S. Latinos for Hispanic Heritage Month | Pew Research Center
Ladson-Billings, Gloria. (1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant Pedagogy.