Please join LSA in celebrating September’s Agent of Change: Holly Torpey, Senior GIS Specialist. Holly…
Incorporating Afro-Latin America into one lifestyle can be a challenge. Here’s what LSA’s Jennifer Accilien has to say about how she recognizes her Black heritage while keeping her Latina culture alive.
“Being an Afro-Latina allows me to understand both Black and Latino cultures in different ways. I incorporate them in my everyday life; cooking, how I style my hair, my skincare routines, and my fashion sense,” Accilien explains. “At times, it is a balancing act because there are opportunities for inclusion in both communities. Because of my place in both, I struggle with representing them equally and I feel forced to choose between being Black and being a Latina.”
When asked what Black History Month means to her, Accilien explains that it is a month of celebration that gives everyone time to reflect on the African Americans that have affected change and inspired a new generation to do the same. Accilien celebrates by immersing herself in Black music, film, and books. She educates herself on the issues that Black people fought for and how they have not been forgotten.
Accilien teaches her two young daughters the important messages about Black History Month and makes sure that they both are aware of their culture. While they are too young to fully understand, she and her husband spend time reading about their culture to them. “When they get older, we want them to know beyond what they are taught in school,” says Accilien. “It is important to us that they feel a sense of pride in being Black women and that they feel connected to the achievements of their ancestors.”
Accilien hopes that people of all cultures understand that Black people are not monolithic, and that they come from all walks of life.
“Being Afro-Latina means that I embrace my Black roots without negating or suppressing any of my Latina roots. There is a misconception that you cannot be both Black and Hispanic but that is just not true.”