NewsChannel 21 discusses Afro Latinx heritage with LCA volunteer Joanne Mina
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As we celebrate Black History Month, NewsChannel 21 is recognizing and honoring Black figures in our community who are positively influencing to use their voice.
Bend resident Joanne Mina spoke recently with NewsChannel 21 reporter Arielle Brumfield about Afro Latino heritage and culture and why embracing cultures benefits the community.
Mina identifies as Afro Mestiza.
She's a descendant of African ancestry, born to a Black Latino father from Los Santos, by way of Panama, and a Mestiza mother -- Mestiza being the description for a Latina woman of both indigenous and Spanish descent.
As Mina spoke, she held a picture of her Panamanian grandfather, Antonio, and her two daughters in a teal-colored home in Panama. For her, the picture symbolizes love of her culture and heritage.
“Growing up as a Black Latina in Panama, there is different experiences, there is the beauty and the joy of our music, culture and dances, but also the underlying discrimination and racism," Mina said.
Mina is the volunteer coordinator for the Latino Community Association, and during the pandemic, the organization has been giving out personal protective equipment, grant funding and canned goods to Latino and Indigenous immigrant communities.
Mina’s work and life mission is dedicated to using her platform to show that being “Black” and “Latino” is not mutually exclusive.
She says Black Latinos should be proud of their rich ancestry and acknowledge their Afro heritage and ancestors -- but that it's not always the case.
Mina explained, “Usually in Latin America, there is not a good connection to our Indigenous ancestry.”
She says it has stemmed from colonization and has grown to colorism and racism, with people showing a higher value for European features than African ones.
“The critique of your features, of your hair and your proximity to blackness is deemed as something shameful and not as appealing or attractive," Mina said.
She says that's why celebrating Black history is so important -- because Black and brown people are not monolithic, and identities and culture get lost if not celebrated and embraced.
“We are richer when we are able to bring our culture and diversity into society," Mina said.
Mina discussed how Black and Latino communities have similar struggles. One of the most prevalent is how both groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the pandemic.
She said she believes at this time, it's especially important to make sure Afro Latinx people are present in the community and bring their voice, so that solidarity is built and communities can be served.
“It’s important to identify our identities, so that we can create an equitable outreach to the community,” Mina said.